Four Sunni fighters killed, injured in Baghdad shooting

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Baghdad ( – Four Sunni fighters were killed and injured Tuesday after unknown gunmen opened fire at them in northern Baghdad, a security source was quoted as saying.

Speaking to Baghdad Today news website, the source said, “Four fighters of the Sunni Sahwa (awakening) movement were in a car when unidentified gunmen opened fire at them before fleeing the scene.”

“One Sahwa fighter was killed and three others were seriously injured in the shooting,” the source added.

Meanwhile, another security source noted that two people were found dead earlier in the day in southern Baghdad.

“The two are believed to be stabbed to death,” according to the source.

Sahwa fighters have been opposing the violence approach adopted by Islamic State militants in Iraq. to in Iraq’s vast western province of Anbar.

They also stood by the US in the fight against al-Qaeda militants back in 2006 and 2007, promoting Washington to pushing the new Iraqi government to arm the tribesmen to fight IS.

Their wages were first paid by the US, but later Washington requested the Shia-dominated Iraqi government to pay them, causing concern among their ranks.

The Iraqi capital has seen almost daily bombings and armed attacks against security members, paramilitary troops and civilians since the Iraqi government launched a wide-scale campaign to retake Islamic State-occupied areas in 2016.


Source :  Iraqi News

Islamic State provincial commander and mufti arrested in Mosul

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Mosul ( Iraqi police arrested, Tuesday two Islamic State leaders at the south of Nineveh province’s city of Mosul, a police spokesman was quoted saying as security continues to hunt for remnant militants.

Mohamed al-Jubouri, spokesman of the Nineveh police command, was quoted by DPA saying that Islamic State’s “governor of Qayyara” ( a town south of Mosul), Idris (Abu Maryam) al-Kayed, and the group’s regional mufti, Salem (Abu Aesha) al-Luhaibi, were both arrested by the forces upon receiving intelligence information about their presence at an abandoned house.

He said the information was that the pair fled Mosul with fake IDs towards a village in Qayyara.

They had both been behind several beheadings of Iraqi civilians and security members.

Iraq declared victory over Islamic State militants and the recapture of all of the group’s strongholds in December, but forces continue to hunt for remnant militants hiding at desert areas. The group has launched several attacks against civilians and security forces since then, leaving tens dead and wounded.

Iraqi troops recaptured Mosul last July after more than eight months of operations against IS. It was the place from where Islamic State declared its self-styled “caliphate” in June 2014.


Source :  Iraqi News

Central Bank of Iraq Auctions $189,921,893 on 27 February 2018

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Baghdad ( The Central Bank of Iraq (CBI) currency auction on February 27 registered $189,921,893 in sales, a -1.34% volume decline from the US $192,498,405 sold by Iraqi Dinar, credit and transfer at the previous auction held on February 26.

The latest auction was attended by 45 banks and 9 remittance companies. The same institutions attended the auction held on February 27 compared to the previous auction.

Data for the February 27 auction was made public by CBI Announcement Number 3644.

Dollar sales in the in the period January 1, 2018 to February 27, 2018 saw an increase of -1% compared to the sales of US $5.97 billion in the same period in 2017. The total amount of US currency sold by CBI in the calendar year 2017 was US $15.7 billion.

An analysis of the monthly dollar sales by CBI since January 2016 reveals highly fluctuating volumes. During the period from January 2016 to February 2018, sales of US dollars averaged US $1.88 billion per month. Peak volumes were reached in May this year when sales touched US $2.3 billion.

2017 January 2.2
2017 February 2 -9%
2017 March 2.1 5%
2017 April 1.8 -14%
2017 May 2.3 28%
2017 June 0.6 -74%
2017 July 2.2 267%
2017 August 2.1 -5%
2017 September 1 -52%
2017 October 2.2 120%
2017 November 1.9 -14%
2017 December 1.9 0%
2018 January 2.2 16%
2018 February 1.8 -18%


Source :  Iraqi News

Qantas threatens route cancellations if American tie-up fails

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FEBRUARY 27 2018 – 4:02PM

Patrick Hatch

Qantas has warned it could cancel its service between Sydney and Dallas if the United States transport regulator doesn’t approve a new tie-up with American Airlines.

The US Department of Transport (DoT) has already held up the plan once – in November 2016 it rejected the carriers’ plan to co-ordinateon fares, routes, marketing costs and to share ticket revenue on routes between the US, Australia and New Zealand.

The DoT said the agreement would have unfairly concentrated market power, tying up about 60 per cent of traffic between Australia and the US.

But the code-share partners said the decision did not fully take into account the “intense” competition across the Pacific, and on Tuesday filed a new application that highlighted how the deal would be good for the flying public.

They also flagged that current co-operation and some routes could be cut if it was not approved.

“If the joint business is not approved, American and Qantas will have no choice but to further reduce codesharing on their networks,” the two carriers said in a joint statement.

“Qantas may be forced to reduce the frequency of, downgauge or potentially cancel its A380 service between Sydney and Dallas/Fort Worth, and American may further reduce its services between Los Angeles and Sydney and Auckland.”

Being able to book codeshare flights into each airline’s domestic network was crucial to those routes’ viability, the pair said.

Qantas and American had already dropped code-sharing and loyalty-point reciprocity on overlapping routes in early 2017 following the DoT’s intal rejection.

In making their new bid, the carriers said the deal would give them the opportunity to launch new routes between Australia, New Zealand and the US, including between new city pairs not currently served by either.

The agreement would also unlock up to $US221 million ($282 million) in value by expanding their existing codeshare agreement onto more routes, and up to $US89 million by offering a wider range of fare classes on each others’ networks.

Customers would get better frequent-flyer benefits, and the airlines would improve their offerings to serve their combined passenger base.

It took the DoT 17 months to make its initial decision. Virgin Australia and Delta have a similar agreement in place.


Source :  The Canberra Times

“Engine component failure” most likely cause of RAAF Growler fire incident

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Engine component failure has been identified as the most likely cause of the catastrophic engine failure and subsequent fire onboard an RAAF EA-18G Growler at Nellis AFB on January 28.

The aircraft was taking off for a famil flight over the Nellis Test & Training Range in preparation for the commencement of Exercise Red Flag 18-1 when, as it approached rotation speed, it suffered what Defence has described as a “malfunction”, with the crew forced to conduct a high-speed abort.

The two crew stayed with the aircraft until it came to rest off the side of Nellis’s eastern runway, and were able to climb out of the jet and get clear of the rapidly growing fire.

“The highly trained aircrew responded to the emergency situation and performed a ground evacuation,” a Defence spokesman told ADBR on February 27.

“The Directorate of Defence Aviation and Air Force Safety (DDAAFS) Accident Investigation Team (AIT), working in cooperation with the United States Navy, have carried out engineering inspections that indicate the most likely cause is an engine component failure.”

As a result of the right hand side engine’s failure, the RAAF placed an operational pause on all F/A-18F Super Hornet and EA-18G Growler flying on January 30. Both aircraft types, operated by 82 Wing, are powered by GE F414 engines.

“Following continued technical analysis and data processing, the Operational Pause on 82WG aircraft was lifted on 1 February 2018,” the Defence spokesperson said.

“82WG Super Hornet aircraft recommenced flying at RAAF Base Amberley on 5 February, and the EA-18G Growler resumed flying at Nellis Air Force Base on 8 February 2018.”

No power or weight restrictions were placed on the Growler fleet following the lifting of the operational pause, the spokesperson confirmed.

ADBR understands the failure may be attributed to an issue which is restricted to a relatively small number of engines.

However, “As the investigation is still ongoing, Defence cannot comment on the specifics of block build engines,” the spokesperson said.

“The RAAF fleet of F414 engines are interchangeable between the Growler and Super Hornets. Further investigation including the development of actions on specific engine components is continuing.

“ACG (Air Combat Group) has determined that operating certain engines can be carried out within extant and appropriate risk profiles. The 82WG fleet returned to normal operations using these engines.”

Damage to the Growler looks to be extensive from the limited number of images (above and below) seen so far, particularly on the starboard fin and rear fuselage, but Defence has yet to make a formal recommendation to government on the aircraft’s fate.

“Defence continues to assess options in regard to the future of the airframe and will make a recommendation to Government once the assessment is completed,” the spokesperson noted.

Source :  Australian Aviation

Qantas to drop DFW if American alliance knocked back a second time?

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American and Qantas are having a second attempt at gaining approval from the United States government for an expanded alliance.

Qantas says the future of its nonstop Sydney-Dallas/Fort Worth (DFW) service is at risk should it not be able to form a deeper partnership with American Airlines.

The somewhat doomsday scenario is part of Qantas and American’s fresh application to the United States Department of Transportation (DoT) for an expanded alliance with anti-trust immunity (ATI) on trans-Pacific routes.

American too may have to further cut its Los Angeles-Sydney and Los Angeles-Auckland nonstop flights should the DoT again reject the pair’s bid to forge a closer partnership as part of a proposed revenue-sharing, metal-neutral, joint business agreement (JBA).

The application, dated February 26 2018 and released by Qantas on Tuesday, comes 15 months after the DoT knocked back the pair’s first bid to work more closely together, arguing it would harm competition and reduce consumer choice.

American Airlines chief executive Doug Parker and Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce on board an American Boeing 777-300ER in Miami in 2015. (American/Qantas)

At the time, Qantas and American said the Show Cause Order did not take into account precedent, intense competition in the trans-Pacific market and the benefits a closer relationship between the two carriers had already delivered and would deliver, including new routes.

In response to the original Show Cause Order, the pair had reduced cooperation through “economic necessity”, with Qantas removing its QF airline code from American’s Sydney-Los Angeles flight and American no longer codesharing on the Australian carrier’s Sydney-Dallas/Fort Worth and Sydney-Los Angeles services.

American has also downgauged its Sydney-Los Angeles flight from a Boeing 777-300ER to the smaller 787-9, while it has switched Los Angeles-Auckland from a year-round to seasonal offering.

There were also cuts to frequent flyer earning rates on each other’s flights.

“The parties are not supporting each other’s service, American has been forced to downgrade its service to Australia and New Zealand, and the Parties have stopped codesharing on flights between the United States and Sydney,” the application said.

“These are clear indications that without a grant of ATI to facilitate the proposed JBA, the parties’ existing cooperation will at best stagnate or, more likely, continue to deteriorate.”

And it warned of more reductions to come as the two carriers focused “inward to maximize their own profits from their own aircraft to the detriment of the joint business and the traveling public”.

The application said American’s Los Angeles to Sydney service has “consistently been unprofitable” even with limited Qantas support.

“Without Qantas support, this flight becomes economically unsustainable,” the application said.

“Similar concerns apply to American’s service from Los Angeles to Auckland. Without ATI and revenue-pooling, the viability of this service is in question.”

The application noted the potential consequences for Qantas too would be significant should the DoT again decide to knock back the proposed JBA for a second time, with the number of Qantas codeshare destinations on American-operated services set to be dramatically scaled back.

“If the proposed JBA is not approved, American plans to eliminate codesharing on all 53 destinations from Los Angeles and all eight destinations from San Francisco,” the application said. “American will remove over half of the codeshare connections from Dallas (37 of 64).”

“The choice of codeshare cuts is limited to where American can flow the affected passengers over LAX and onto its own LAX-SYD service.

“Without the proposed JBA it will be more profitable for American to serve passengers directly on American equipment out of Los Angeles, for as long as those flights remain viable.

“Without codesharing support to connect its passengers onto American’s flights beyond DFW, Qantas’s A380 service from Sydney to DFW is unsustainable.”An illustration of some of the codeshare routes at risk without an expanded alliance. (Qantas/American)

The application stated load factors on Qantas’s Sydney-Dallas/Fort Worth flight would drop by 20 percentage points if the proposed reduced codesharing came into effect. Currently, roughly seven out of 10 passengers on this service are connecting to or from a domestic US flight.

Meanwhile, load factors on its services to Los Angeles from Brisbane, Melbourne and Sydney would fall between 9.5 and 14.3 percentage points.

A file image of a Qantas Airbus A380 and American Airlines Boeing 777-300ER at Sydney Airport. American now uses a 787-9 to Sydney. (Seth Jaworski)

Qantas and American have worked closely together on the trans-Pacific market since 2011, albeit without ATI. The pair started codesharing on each other’s flights in 1989 and helped establish the oneworld alliance as founding members. The other two major alliance groups on the trans-Pacific market were the Delta Air Lines-Virgin Australia tie-up and a JV between United and Air New Zealand. The latter covers only New Zealand-USA routes.

However, American’s decision to start flights from Los Angeles to Sydney in December 2015 – and Los Angeles to Auckland in June 2016 – prompted the two carriers to seek ATI as part of an expanded joint business agreement and establish a metal-neutral, revenue-sharing joint-venture to reflect the US carrier’s entry into the market with its own aircraft.

In February 2016, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) authorised the JV for five years, while the New Zealand Ministry of Transport gave its approval in November 2015.

However, the DoT’s rejection killed off the JBA.

Currently, Qantas flies from Brisbane, Melbourne and Sydney to Los Angeles. There is also a Qantas-operated service from Los Angeles to New York. The Flying Kangaroo also offers nonstop services from Sydney to Honolulu, Dallas/Fort Worth and San Francisco, as well as seasonal flights to Vancouver. Qantas’s Sydney-Honolulu service is not part of the partnership with American.

Qantas and American said the proposed JBA would result in up to US$310 million in consumer benefits by opening up more connections to more destinations (up to US$221 million) and offering a wider range of fare cases across each other’s networks that included lower fares and discounts (up to US$89 million).

“The proposed JBA will unlock hundreds of millions of dollars in annual consumer benefits that are not achievable through any other form of cooperation,” the application said.

“The bold promise of metal-neutral joint businesses like the proposed JBA has proven accurate, empirically, time and again.

“In short, there is a choice to be made between a grant of ATI leading to incremental consumer benefits estimated at up to $310 million annually, or continued deterioration of the parties’ existing cooperation and respective networks that leaves passengers worse off.”A summary of the estimated consumer benefits from an expanded American/Qantas alliance. (American/Qantas)

Further, the application referenced a study on international airline cooperation that showed average fares as part of a revenue-sharing ATI were 7.98 per cent lower compared with simple codeshare or interline fares.

The application also stated ATI would stimulate up to 180,000 new passengers, or “new demand for air travel”.

“Of course these estimates do not account for rival carriers’ response to the increased competition of the Proposed JBA,” the application said.

“An immunised Qantas-American joint business will impose an even greater competitive constraint on the two other alliances operating immunised joint business to Australasia, who will be forced to respond with quality, schedule, and price improvements of their own, adding to the public benefit of the proposed JBA.”

One concern that was raised in response to the pair’s original application was that immunised alliances such as the one Qantas and American were seeking made it more difficult for independent carriers to reach arm’s length, pro-competitive codeshare or interline agreements with international alliance members.

In response, Qantas and American said the new JBA had been amended to remove the exclusivity provisions that were present in 2015.

“Qantas and American remain free to enter into codeshare and frequent flyer relationships with other carriers,” the application said. “Any potential concerns about access to feed traffic is therefore misplaced.”Market share of the major operators between Los Angeles and Sydney in 2017. (Qantas/American)


Source : Australian Aviation

Crown Prince wishes newly appointed military commanders all success

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Crown Prince Muhammad Bin Salman, deputy premier and minister of defense, receiving Chief of the General Staff Gen. Fayyad Al-Ruwaili in Riyadh on Tuesday –SPA

Saudi Gazette report

RIYADH – Crown Prince Muhammad Bin Salman, deputy premier and minister of defense, received in Riyadh on Tuesday the high ranking officers who were appointed and promoted to new military ranks by royal decrees on Monday evening.

The Crown Prince decorated them with the new military ranks. He wished them all success in their service to their religion and homeland.

On their part, the officials thanked Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman and the Crown Prince for the trust reposed in them.

The officers who attended the reception included the new Chief of the General Staff Gen. Fayyad Al-Ruwaili; Commander of the Joint Forces Lt. Gen. Prince Fahd Bin Turki; Deputy chief of the General Staff Lt. Gen. Mutlaq Al-Azaima; Commander of the Strategic Missile Force Lt. Gen. Jarallah Al-Olweet; Commander of the Land Forces Lt. Gen. Fahd Al-Mutair; Commander of the Air Defense Forces Lt. Gen. Muzaid Al-Amr; and Commander of the Air Forces Lt. Gen. Prince Turki Bin Bandar.

The Crown Prince also chaired a session of the Council of Economic and Development Affairs (CEDA) in Riyadh on Tuesday.

During the session, the council reviewed a number of issues on its agenda, including the presentation by the Ministry of Finance of the fourth quarter report on the performance of the Kingdom’s budget for the previous fiscal year. The report included a review of the financial performance of the state budget, the index of operating and capital expenses and deficit and public debt indicators.

The council discussed the annual report on the Kingdom’s Vision 2030, presented by CEDA’s Strategic Management Office, which included a detailed presentation of the progress achieved during 2017 in all the Vision realization programs, developments of macroeconomic indicators, as well as indicators of the Vision objectives, impact and outcome analysis and the most prominent risks. — SG/SPA


Source :  Saudi Gazette

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