Why is FIFA here? The FFA crisis

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To arbitrate on Australian soccer’s governance crisis. FIFA, while hardly a bastion of integrity, has demanded Football Federation Australia reach consensus on an expanded congress by a final extended deadline of November 30. Fail, and it will install a normalisation committee. To avoid this, a joint FIFA/AFC delegation is holding talks with FFA and stakeholders in Sydney to try and end the protracted impasse crippling the faction-riddled code.

WHAT IS THE CONGRESS?

The body that elects FFA board members and approves changes to its constitution. Currently there are 10 seats – nine to the state and territory associations and one for all 10 A-League clubs, with none representing the players. The power imbalance is regarded by FIFA as one of the least democratic models of its 211 national associations.

AND A NORMALISATION COMMITTEE?

An interim board set up by FIFA to oversee the reform process until the congress issue is resolved, at which point a new board will be elected. Last year FIFA introduced normalisation committees in Argentina, Guinea and Greece. Such a situation in Australia would likely replace the FFA board and remove chairman Steven Lowy, a highly embarrassing outcome.

THE STALEMATE

Revolves around money and power, and who gets how much of each. A-League clubs claim they provide 80 per cent of FFA revenue and therefore deserve a bigger say and cut. FFA is digging in, with Lowy accusing the clubs of plotting a “return to the bad old days of self-interest” that will cost the grassroots and national teams dearly. Months in, neither side will budge and the relationship has turned toxic.

COMPLICATING MATTERS

The clubs, acting collectively under the Australian Professional Football Clubs Association, are set to launch legal action to force FFA to open its financial records, including those pertaining to the failed 2022 World Cup bid. They’re also pushing for an independent commission to run the A-League, much like the English Premier League. FFA has shut down talks on a new operating model until legal threats are withdrawn.

WHY IT’S SO IMPORTANT

Australian soccer is at its biggest crossroads since billionaire businessman Frank Lowy assumed control following the 2003 Crawford Report. Stakeholders have agitated for change before, but never have they been so united. FFA is under immense pressure and facing an emboldened adversary in the A-League clubs, whose cause is championed by Adelaide United chairman Greg Griffin and Melbourne City vice-chairman Simon Pearce, also a director at mega-money Manchester City. If Lowy Jr is overthrown by FIFA it will likely spell the end of the family’s long rule.

WHAT FFA WANTS

A 13-member congress offering two additional votes to the clubs (one for W-League) and one for the players via the union. This so-called 9-3-1 model has been rejected by both the clubs and FIFA.

WHAT STAKEHOLDERS WANT

A-League clubs: 9-6-2, or 9-5-2 at a minimum. This would give them a voting share of more than 25 per cent and the ability to influence votes.

Players’ union: Same as the clubs. Professional Footballers Australia is demanding two seats – one for men and one for women.

State member federations: Divided. Seven states are aligned with FFA. The largest, Football NSW, is with the clubs and PFA. Football Federation Victoria’s position is less clear, having switched sides to conditionally support the 9-3-1 model.

NPL clubs: The newly formed Association of Australian Football Clubs is campaigning for a seat at the table and a national second tier, among other things.

AAP

 

Source  :  The Canberra Times

RAAF retires “legacy” Heron UAV

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Tindal firefighters provide a water cannon salute to mark the last RAAF flight by a Heron RPAS on June 23 during Exercise Diamond Shield. (Defence)

The Royal Australian Air Force is facing a three-year gap in operating an unmanned aircraft (or remotely-piloted aircraft systems – RPAS – to use the RAAF’s preferred nomenclature) following the retirement of the IAI Heron in June.

Three Herons were leased in late 2009 to meet an urgent operational requirement to provide surveillance support to Australian and coalition troops in Afghanistan, becoming the first unmanned aircraft to be operated by the RAAF (the Jinidivik target drone aside).

With Australia winding down its presence in Afghanistan in 2014 Defence elected to extend the lease on two Herons for operations in Australia for a further six years at a cost of $120 million, however Defence has evidently negotiated an early cancellation of that lease.

“The Heron is leased from MacDonald, Dettwiler and Associates Ltd (MDA). The lease was negotiated to expire in 2017,” a Defence spokesperson told Australian Aviation via emailed statement earlier this month.

“Defence does not have a requirement to extend the lease because the Heron is a legacy RPAS. It has limited potential to provide experience in the more complex aspects of RPAS operations.”

That will leave the RAAF without an unmanned aircraft capability until the early 2020s when an armed medium-altitude, long-endurance (MALE) unmanned aircraft system is acquired under Project AIR 7003, the contenders for which are the General Atomics MQ-9 Reaper and the IAI Heron TP.

“Air Force has taken steps to retain and further develop medium-altitude, long-endurance RPAS knowledge and experience, including embedding RAAF personnel in the United States Air Force flying the MQ-9 Reaper,” the spokesperson said.

“These personnel will form the core of the future ADF capability to be delivered by AIR 7003.”

Between January 2010 and November 2014 RAAF Herons flew over 27,100 hours in support of operations in Afghanistan, while between April 2015 and June 2017 the two Herons based in Australia flew a further 710 hours. The two Australian-based Herons have mostly flown from RAAF Base Woomera, South Australia, but have also flown from RAAF Base Amberley and participated in Exercise Talisman Sabre 2015.

Operated by 5 Flight, approximately 75 remote pilots and 75 sensor operators were trained on the Heron in its time in RAAF service.

The unmanned aircraft operated its last mission for the RAAF from Tindal on June 23 when it flew the last of 17 sorties as part of Exercise Diamond Shield in support of the RAAF’s inaugural Air Warfare Instructor Course.

“I want to congratulate the 5FLT team, including our technical workforce from the contractor MDA and our embeds from No. 87 Squadron, JEWOSU and No. 1 Combat Communications Squadron, who all worked together to ensure that 5FLT and Heron closed for business on a high,” CO 5FLT Wing Commander Lee Read said in a statement.

5 Flight is due to be disbanded at the end of the year.

 

Source  :  Australian Aviation

Ninety-nine per cent there on OneSky contract – Airservices chair

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OneSky will replace both Airservices’ The Australian Advanced Air Traffic System (TAAATS) to manage civil airspace and the ADF’s Australian Defence Air Traffic System (ADATS).

Airservices Australia board chair Sir Angus Houston has told a Senate committee that the air navigation service provider is “99 per cent ready to go” to sign contracts for the new OneSky air traffic management system.

Since February 2015 Airservices has been negotiating with Thales as its preferred supplier for the OneSky project for a new civil and military air traffic management system (or CMATS), but the main acquisition and support contracts for the new system, which will be funded by both Airservices and the Department of Defence, have yet to be signed.

“We’re getting close, 99 per cent of the paperwork is contract ready, that means we’re getting very close,” Sir Angus told members of the Senate Rural & Regional Affairs Transport Legislation Committee on Wednesday.

Some risk mitigation work for OneSky has already been undertaken under advance supply contracts, but finalising the main acquisition contract has been delayed while Airservices and Thales agree to terms, especially in the light of a recent Australian National Audit Office auditwhich raised concerns about the tender evaluation process’s ability to deliver value for money on the near billion dollar project.

But Sir Angus told the committee that Defence is close to seeking government approval for its share of the program from the National Security Committee (NSC) of Cabinet.

“Right now we are about 99 per cent ready to go into contract on our side, we just need to finalise the arrangements with Defence after they’ve been through [the NSC approval process].”

However, the Airservices chair did indicate that Defence’s share of the OneSky project is likely to be greater than a previously agreed “not to exceed” price of $244 million.

“We’re at a stage where Defence are going back to the National Security Committee of Cabinet for a final approval on the project with some form of cost increase,” he said.

Airservices has not publicly put an exact number on the value of its own share of the OneSky program, however the organisation’s new five-year corporate plan, released on Tuesday, records that “OneSKY and its enabling projects account for $652 million” in capital expenditure over the next five financial years, through to the end of 2021-22.

“Much of the delay in finalising this contract is because the board will not sign a contract until such time that it is satisfied that we can protect Airservices commercially under these arrangements,” Tim Rothwell, Airservices board member and chair of the board’s audit and risk committee, told the Senate.

Another of the ANAO report’s criticisms was that the Airservices business case for OneSky had not been reviewed or updated since January 2011.

“The latest cost estimates have been included in Airservices’ corporate plans, including the one tabled yesterday, so it’s not as if the cost estimates were unknown, but the final business case will be provided to the board as part of the approval process, hopefully towards the end of this year when we do hopefully contract to get this project underway,” Rothwell said.

Fellow Airservices board member David Marchant, chair of the board’s technology committee, told the Senate committee Airservices had moved to an open book process as part of contract negotiations to ensure value for money.

“We’ve stopped going to contract until we’ve got the definition and the design absolutely right and it’s absolutely in agreement with Defence and ourselves,” he said.

“Secondly, we’ve moved to a full ‘open book’ process for every cost, for every activity and are going through and assessing those against that design criteria, so we don’t have to go retrospectively back [to make changes once contracts have been signed].

“And the reason for the comment about the business case and the rest is that until that’s concluded and the risks and contingencies all through those things are put out in the open and mitigated down, that’s when we’ll get to a final cost and a final risk and a final mitigation.”

Open book contract management is a contracting arrangement favoured in government procurements in the United Kingdom. It allows “the scrutiny of a supplier’s costs and margins through the reporting of, or accessing, accounting data,” according to the UK’s Crown Commercial Service.

“This transparency allows both parties to be clear on the supplier’s charges, costs, and planned return. It also provides a basis to be able to review performance, agree the impact of change and to bring forward ideas for efficiency improvements.”

 

Source  :  Australian Aviation

Air Arabia Boosted By Cost Cuts And Qatar Fallout

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LONDON: Air Arabia’s second-quarter profit jumped by 19 percent, helped by a cost cutting program and the fallout from a boycott of Qatar by some of its neighbors.
The low-cost Gulf airline posted a profit of 150.7 million dirhams ($41 million) in the second quarter. But profits were down by 13 percent compared to the previous quarter.
The profits exceeded analyst expectations, with some suggesting Air Arabia was able to take market share from Qatar Airways after a boycott of the country imposed by Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt.
The four countries, known as the Anti-Terror Quartet, accuse Qatar of supporting extremist groups and helping destabilize the region.
“All the routes and slots awarded to Qatar Airways had to be re-allocated to other carriers after the ban and we believe that it helped tremendously Air Arabia in maintaining strong load factors while slightly growing their traffic,” said Amine Wafy, research analyst, at Renaissance Capital, based in Dubai.
Saj Ahmad, aviation analyst at Strategic Aero Research said that the airline may have also indirectly benefited from the now-lifted US ban on laptops and other electronic devices being carried on some flights out of Middle Eastern airports.
“They’ve also benefitted from transit travel out of Sharjah for passengers who’ve flown to Europe and other gateways to avoid the laptop ban,” he said.
Air Arabia said it carried more than 2.05 million passengers in the second quarter, while the average seat load factor — or passengers carried as a percentage of available seats — stood at 79 percent. In the same quarter last year, the airline carried 2.01 million passengers, with a load factor of 78.3 percent.
Analysts say the airline’s cost-cutting program launched at the end of last year also helped boost second-quarter profits.
“These cost cutting initiatives (mostly on operations and maintenance expenses) which started to deliver positive results in the first quarter 2017 already, were even more significant during the second quarter and it helped to push up EBITDA margin to 29 percent, from 23 percent in the second quarter 2016,” Wafy said.
Nishit Lakhotia, head of research at Sico Bahrain, said: “Air Arabia has been able to control costs very efficiently and margins have improved. These aspects have improved the bottom line.”
While market conditions for the region’s aviation sector remain challenging, Lakhotia sees Air Arabia’s performance continuing to improve in the next six months. “We are seeing a stabilization in yields and in the month of July the airline maintained high stable load factors. We could see a strong second half for the airline,” he said.
Traffic growth among Middle Eastern airlines grew at the slowest rate recorded for a first half since 2003, according to June data from IATA. The Middle East was the only region to see growth decelerate in the first half compared to the same time period last year.

 

Source  :  Arab News

Algerian FM concludes regional tour to mediate Qatar crisis

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RIYADH: Algerian Foreign Minister Abdelkader Messahel concluded a regional tour aimed at resolving the Qatar crisis.
Algeria’s ambassador in Riyadh, Ahmed Abdulsadouq, on Tuesday told Arab News that the minister is now in Iraq, from where he will wrap up his tour of Arab countries.
The envoy said the minister started the tour last week in Saudi Arabia, and on Sunday held talks with Qatari leaders.
While in the Kingdom, Messahel met with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman at Al-Salam Palace in Jeddah.
They discussed the latest regional developments, including the Qatar crisis; joint efforts against terrorism; and developing bilateral cooperation in various fields, the Saudi Press Agency (SPA) reported.
The Anti-Terror Quartet (ATQ) — comprising Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt and Bahrain — cut ties with Qatar in June, accusing it of backing terrorist groups, which Doha denies, and developing ties with Iran, which has destabilized the region.
Algeria is taking on the role of mediator after attempts by Kuwait, the US and Turkey. Earlier, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan toured the region and held talks aimed at defusing the crisis.

 

Source  :  Arab News

All Saudi Airports To Be Privatized This Year @o_antagonista @joicehasselmann

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JEDDAH: All Saudi airports will be privatized this year, the head of the General Authority for Civil Aviation (GACA), Abdul Hakim Al-Tamimi, told Aleqtesadiah daily.
GACA’s privatization strategy aims to transfer all Saudi airports to companies wholly owned by the Saudi Civil Aviation Holding Co., then transfer ownership of the holding company to the Public Investment Fund (PIF).
The aim “is to improve the level of services provided to passengers, and to convert the targeted sectors into a profitable center to cover costs and to be a source of income for the owner,” Al-Tamimi said, adding that the privatization will be implemented via three methods.
The first relates to the transfer of an airport to a company, similar to what is happening at King Khaled International Airport in Riyadh, where a minority holding is sold. Then an airport board of directors is formed that has powers in the management of the company.
The second method is operation and maintenance, similar to what happened at the new King Abdul Aziz International Airport in Jeddah.
GACA will bear the capital cost of establishing the project, and will share the income with investors.
The third method is the BTO (build, operate and transfer) system, such as what was done with Prince Mohammed bin Abdul Aziz Airport in Madinah, and with Taif, Hail, Qassim and Yanbu airports, which signed contracts with investors.
The employees will be transferred to the investor’s responsibility, who bears the capital cost of the project and shares the income with the authority.
The head of GACA said the privatization will be completed in stages and in the form of groups.
“GACA will be the regulator and controller of the aviation sector in the next phase, in the event of concluding the privatization process,” he said.
Saudi Arabia has hired Goldman Sachs to manage the sale of a stake in King Khalid International Airport, the first major privatization of an airport in the Kingdom, three sources familiar with the matter told Reuters.
The sources said the Saudi Civil Aviation Holding Co. plans to sell a minority stake in the airport, without disclosing a timeframe for th sale.
The size and estimated value of the stake were not immediately known, but the airport is Saudi Arabia’s second-largest after Jeddah’s King Abdul Aziz International Airport.
Faisal Al-Suqair, chairman of the Saudi Civil Aviation Holding Co., said the conversion of airports to companies is the first step in the privatization of airports.
“These airports, after being transferred to companies, will be re-arranged to operate on a commercial basis and become more efficient practically and financially before they are privatized,” he said.

 

Source  :  Arab News