Virgin Australia to keep flying to Samoa once JV with government ends

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A file image of a Virgin Australia Boeing 737-800 featuring Virgin Samoa livery.

Virgin Australia has signalled it intends to maintain services to Samoa after its Virgin Samoa joint-venture with the Samoan government is wound up in November.

The airline has applied to Australia’s International Air Services Commission (IASC) for 880 seats of capacity a week between Australia and Samoa.

“Virgin Australia intends to commence five services per week between Australia and Samoa from 13 November 2017,” Virgin said in its letter to the IASC dated July 10 2017.

“These flights will be operated with Boeing 737-800 aircraft configured with 176 seats.”

In May, the Samoan government announced the Virgin Samoa joint venture between Virgin Australia and country would be terminated by November.

Media reports at the time said the move to ditch the JV, which was formed in 2005, was due to concerns over high fares.

Virgin Samoa is 49 per cent held by Virgin Australia, 49 per cent by the Samoan government and two per cent by Samoa-based tourism company Grey Investment Group. It flies from the Samoan capital Apia to Auckland, Brisbane and Sydney.

The airline does not own any aircraft. Instead, Virgin Australia operates services on behalf of the joint-venture airline. However, one Boeing 737-800 has been painted in a special livery that features a special Virgin Samoa livery.

Prior to his sudden departure as group executive for Virgin Australia airlines in late June, John Thomas told Australian Aviation on the sidelines of the International Air Transport Association (IATA) annual general meeting in Cancun, Mexico the airline was keen to maintain air links with Samoa following the end of the partnership with the government.

“At a group perspective we would like to continue to have a presence there so we are working through what could be possible,” Thomas said on June 4.

“Obviously there is the classic VFR market but we do believe there is potential to grow those markets with tourism.

“The nice thing about it with the 737 it is the right gauge of aircraft for that route.”

In July, the Samoan government said it had signed a memorandum of understanding with Fiji Airways to help establish a new carrier Samoa Airways, with the current domestic carrier Polynesian Airlines to be part of the new venture.


Source  :  Australian Aviation

Arsenal jets in to Sydney on Emirates 777

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Emirates Boeing 777-200LR A6-EWJ at Sydney Airport featuring special Arsenal livery. (Noah Mauger)

Arsenal has jetted in to Sydney on board a Boeing 777-200LR from sponsor Emirates featuring a special livery promoting the football club’s summer tour.

The club travelled on board A6-EWJ from London Stansted to Sydney via Dubai Al Maktoum International Airport, touching down in the Harbour City at about 0630 on Tuesday morning.


And judging from the photos on Twitter, the players were well looked after on the 24-hour journey from Europe.

Interestingly, a Boeing 777-200LR costs about A$420 million at list prices, before factoring in discounts airlines usually receive.

Meanwhile, estimates suggest the Arsenal squad is worth close to A$1 billion, or the equivalent of two Boeing 777-200LRs.

Which perhaps gives a new meaning to the term precious cargo.

Arsenal takes on Sydney FC on Thursday before backing up two days later to face the Western Sydney Wanderers. Both matches are at Sydney’s Olympic Stadium.

The club, which finished fifth in the recently concluded English Premier League season, then heads to Shanghai for a match against Bayern Munich on July 19 before concluding its tour against Chelsea in Beijing on July 22.

The Arsenal squad ahead of its flight from London to Sydney. (ArsenalFC/Twitter)


Source  :  Australian Aviation

Rail authority invites companies to provide passenger, cargo services

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RIYADH: The Public Transportation Authority (PTA) has called on international rail service companies and local private sector investment entities to enter into long-term strategic alliances to provide passenger and cargo transport services between Riyadh and Dammam, and for the north route between Riyadh and the northern frontier.
The PTA said it will hold a workshop in Riyadh in September to discuss potential opportunities for the private sector before officially inviting bids, reported the Saudi Press Agency (SPA).
The PTA, the Saudi Railways Co. (SAR) and the Saudi Railways Organization (SRO) are working to develop and strengthen the role of the private sector in building and operating the Kingdom’s railway network.
The PTA’s call comes within the execution of one of the most important Vision 2030 initiatives concerning the development of the railway sector, said Transport Minister Sulaiman Al-Hamdan, who is also the head of the PTA.
This initiative is based on increasing the participation of the private sector in implementing projects, he said, adding that the PTA is coordinating with the National Center for Privatization (NCP) to set up the mechanism for public-private partnerships.
He said the ministry is working on expediting the process to implement initiatives to privatize some main sectors and provide the required infrastructure to form a coordinated transport system.


Source  :  Arab News

Islamophobia continues to increase: OIC report

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RIYADH: The Islamophobia Observatory Report of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) described the growing fear against Islam and Muslims in certain parts of the world.
Presenting the report on Monday at the 44th Council of Foreign Ministers Conference in Abidjan, OIC Secretary-General Yousef Al-Othaimeen said: “The growing trend of Islamophobia has not subsided in any tangible way. Muslims have been terrorized and discriminated against. Islamic sacred symbols have been insulted. People with Islamic attire were targeted with hatred. Women with hijabs were abused on streets and in public spaces. Certain governments outlawed Islamic attire or restricted Muslims from having prayer facilities. Right-wing politicians and media spread evil images of Islam.”
“Acts of radical and extreme groups in the name of Islam have provided xenophobes with excuses to further their agendas. Their statements and acts have not only been irresponsible, but also conducive to the radical narratives of violent groups and terrorists,” he added.
Al-Othaimeen stressed that the OIC has been active in combating Islamophobia at the political, diplomatic and operational levels in order to raise awareness among the international community of the threats that Islamophobia poses to global peace and security.
He noted that OIC member states, together with the international community, need to take more serious actions to address the current challenges of Islamophobia, including enforcing laws which prohibit discrimination, hostility or violence against any religion.


Source  :  Arab News

Abe mulls major Cabinet reshuffle, Kishida intends to leave

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File photo: Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe attends a press conference with Denmark’s Prime Minister Lars Loekke Rasmussen in Copenhagen.  Photo: AP

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is considering replacing a majority of his Cabinet members in a planned reshuffle early next month, sources close to the matter said Tuesday.

Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida, viewed as a front-runner to be Abe’s successor, intends to leave his current post in step with the shake-up and aims to secure a key post in the Liberal Democratic Party, according to the minister’s aides.

Abe is planning to overhaul his Cabinet and senior LDP posts possibly on Aug. 3 following its historic defeat in the Tokyo metropolitan assembly election earlier this month, according to the sources.

The premier has started working on the new Cabinet lineup, as he returned home Tuesday from his roughly weeklong European tour that took him to Germany for the Group of 20 summit and other countries in the region.

On Sunday in Sweden, Abe told reporters that the government framework should “not be changed over and over again,” while stressing he would like to “actively promote” talent to the Cabinet and key party posts.

While Abe plans to retain key posts, including Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Taro Aso and Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga, the prime minister is expected to change more than half of the 19 Cabinet members.

Political experts say Defense Minister Tomomi Inada and Justice Minister Katsutoshi Kaneda are likely to be replaced after they have faced questions about their competency.

Kishida, who has assumed the post of foreign minister since the beginning of Abe’s second term as prime minister in December 2012, has recently conveyed his intention to leave the Cabinet to his aides, telling them his term as foreign minister has been “long enough,” according to one of them.

The House of Representative lawmaker from Hiroshima Prefecture is not interested in extending his tenure as the second-longest-serving foreign minister in the post-World War II era, another aide said.

Kishida has not assumed any of the party’s three key posts of secretary general, general council chairman and policy research council chairman. In an attempt to prepare for the party’s leadership race in the future, he aims to solidify his support base within the party.

Still, while LDP Policy Research Council Chairman Toshimitsu Motegi is regarded as one of the leading candidates for the top diplomat post, one of Kishida’s aides said the foreign minister might not be able to refuse Abe if he asks him to remain in the current post.

Source  :  Japan Today

Takata adds 2.7M vehicles to air bag inflator recall

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This Sunday, June 25, 2017, photo, shows TK Holdings Inc. in Auburn Hills, Mich. Takata is adding 2.7 million vehicles from Ford, Nissan and Mazda to the long list of those recalled to replace potentially dangerous air bag inflators. The inflators are a new type that previously was thought to be safe. Vehicles affected are from the 2005 through 2012 model years. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

Takata is adding 2.7 million vehicles from Ford, Nissan and Mazda to the long list of those being recalled to replace potentially dangerous air bag inflators.

The inflators are a new type that previously was thought to be safe. Vehicles affected are from the 2005 through 2012 model years.

Takata inflators can explode with too much force and spew shrapnel into drivers and passengers. At least 17 people have died and more than 180 injured due to the problem. The inflators have caused the largest automotive recall in U.S. history with 42 million vehicles and up to 69 million inflators being called back for repairs.

Takata uses the chemical ammonium nitrate to inflate air bags. But it can deteriorate when exposed to high airborne humidity and high temperatures. Previously the company believed that a drying agent called a desiccant stopped the chemical from degrading and the inflators were safe.

But the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says in a statement Tuesday that tests done by Takata show that for the first time, a type of desiccated inflator “will pose a safety risk if not replaced.” The agency says it has no reports of any inflators with the desiccant rupturing.

Nissan said the new recall affects just over 515,000 Versa subcompact hatchback and sedans from the 2007 through 2012 model years. Mazda said its recall covers about 6,000 B-Series trucks from 2007 through 2009. Ford, which has the most vehicles involved in the latest recall, is reviewing the information and will file a list of models within the five days required by law.

Takata said in documents filed with the safety agency that it tested inflators returned from Nissan and Ford vehicles which use calcium sulfate as a drying agent. Although none of the inflators blew apart, some showed a pattern of deterioration in the ammonium nitrate propellant over time “that is understood to predict a future risk of inflator rupture.”

NHTSA said in a statement that not all Takata inflators with a desiccant are being recalled. Takata used different drying agents in other inflators, the agency said.

The latest recall raises doubts about the safety of other Takata Corp. inflators that use ammonium nitrate and drying agents. The company has agreed to recall all original equipment inflators without a drying agent in phases by the end of 2018. NHTSA gave Takata until the end of 2019 to prove that inflators with the drying agents are safe, or they must be recalled as well.

U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., said Tuesday that NHTSA needs to move faster to figure out whether all remaining Takata inflators are safe. “This recall now raises serious questions about the threat posed by all of Takata’s ammonium nitrate-based air bags,” Nelson said in a statement. “We certainly can’t afford to wait until the December 2019 deadline for that determination.”

Crushed by mounting recall and legal costs, Takata filed for bankruptcy last month in the U.S. and Japan, saying it was the only way to ensure it could keep supplying replacements for faulty inflators. Most of the company’s assets will be bought by rival Key Safety Systems for about $1.6 billion (175 billion yen). Remnants of Takata’s operations will continue to make inflators to be used as replacement parts for 19 affected automakers.

NHTSA said Takata has assured the agency that it will keep making parts available.

The agency is urging people whose inflators have been recalled to get them replaced as soon as possible. To find out if your car or truck is part of the recall, go to and key in the 17-digit vehicle identification number. It may take a few days for models in the most recent recall to show up in the database.

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Source  :  Japan Today