Off hours: Compareit4me co-founder leads from the front

Jon Richards, 32, is the co-founder and chief executive of the finance comparison website compareit4me.com, which is currently live in nine markets across the Middle East. Born and raised by a single mother in South Wales, Mr Richards moved to Dubai in March 2011 to join propertyfinder.ae to manage its digital marketing before launching compareit4me later that year. He lives with his wife and their four-year-old daughter.

How do you spend your weekend?

As any parent will tell you, the weekends are busier than the weekdays. I spend the weekend with my wife and daughter – that usually consists of time at the pool, at the beach, walking the dog and of course you’re never more than a few yards from a mall in Dubai. I love going to the climbing wall and recently found one for my daughter. As a family we tend to do a lot of staycations, we have stayed in the best hotels in the UAE and typically do a few days over the weekend. Nothing makes me appreciate Dubai more than taking a short local break. Around that, I’m constantly working, answering calls and emails and thinking of new ways to grow the business.

How did you become an chief executive?

I have wanted to start my own business since I was a teenager. I previously tried a few, some which made some money, many that failed, but they all formed part of the learning required to become my own boss. The time I spent at propertyfinder.ae really helped me; it was like start-up school. I joined when they were around 15 people and left when it was around 150. I was part of the senior management team and reported directly to the chief executive – that gave me access to the ins and outs of running a start-up. Approximately three months after joining, I had the idea to start compareit4me. I didn’t reinvent the wheel; I took a very successful business model from the UK and localised it for the UAE and then eight other markets in the Mena region. I had some insight as my wife had previously worked for confused.com, one of the largest comparison sites in the UK. I partnered with a friend and a colleague at propertyfinder, Samer Chehab, and continued to work on compareit4me for three years while at propertyfinder. Working on a start-up while employed full-time is hard. You have zero spare time, constantly say no to social engagements and do a lot of work for zero reward. To add to it, both Samer and I had young children so we were pretty tired. Then in March 2014, we closed an angel round of funding and the two of us started to work on compareit4me full-time. Today, we have raised more than US$6 million and employ around 40 people.

What is your go-to gadget?

The iPhone. Like most people, I’m thrown into fear when the battery is on the way out or when I can’t find it for more than two seconds.

What was the lowest point of your career?

When I was 23 I started a legal services website which quickly started to make good money. I ran it for a year, but as quick as it become a success, it hit a brick wall. Shutting that business was heartbreaking and sent me into a state of near- depression. It took months to get over it. The mistake I made then was attributing too much of who I am in the success of my business.

What advice would you offer others starting out in your business?

Find a good co-founder and take as much advice as you can. Being an entrepreneur is amazing fun, it’s all I’ve ever dreamt of so even the bad days are OK. It’s often said that life as an entrepreneur gives you the highest highs or the lowest lows. Having a good co-founder makes the bad days good and gives you someone to celebrate the good days with.

What is your most indulgent habit?

Probably flying business class. It’s naughty, I know but nothing beats business class on an A380.

What do you have on your desk at work?

It’s usually pretty messy but you’ll find headphones, coffee, my Mac, a phone charger and of course a holiday request form from someone.

How do you achieve a work-life balance?

I probably don’t have this right just yet. I get to the office at 7:30am and leave at 7pm. I always make it home to say goodnight to my daughter, but it’s brief. As the chief executive, I want to lead from the front. I want the team to know that I’m there with them and that starts with me being first in and last out. It can be hard running a start-up and being a dad, you want to spend time with your family, but a young business really needs your time and attention.

If you could swap jobs with anyone who would it be and why?

I don’t want to be employed ever again, but the life of a venture capitalist seems the obvious next step for me. Meeting start-ups, working with founders and helping those companies scale must be a lot of fun.

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Money & Me: Dubai yoga instructor maker her finances stretch

Laurence Gibbs is a freelance yoga instructor in Dubai. The French national, 55, has worked in the fitness industry for the past 35 years and slowly transitioned from gym work to yoga because it “spoke to her.” Ms Gibbs has lived in the Dubai for the past eight years with her husband.

How did your upbringing shape your attitude towards money?

I’ve never been money-orientated. If we go on holiday, we don’t go to a deluxe hotel, but a budget hotel where we can meet and talk to the real people who live there. We live a budgeted life, but we don’t deprive ourselves of anything. We live well, but we don’t overspend. We live within our means. If we can’t afford something we don’t buy it. I’ve never been in debt or owed money to anybody or anything.

How much did you get paid for your first job?

I’ve always been paid peanuts. The first job I did was about 30 years ago and I can’t remember what I was paid. If I had been doing what I do for the money, I would be a really sad person. I am doing it because I enjoy it; I teach yoga because it gives me pleasure because I provide a service that helps people deal with stress and problems that society now creates. If I give them a moment of peace, then money is secondary. Since being in the UAE, I started doing private teaching and this is where I make money.

Are you spender or saver?

I am a saver. But I have my mom­ents too. I am a woman, I like my shoes.

Have you ever had a month where you feared you could not pay the bills?

No. We buy what we can. If we can’t, then we don’t buy it. I don’t take credit. My husband is 61 and I am 55 and we treat ourselves within our means. I think this goes well with yoga. It is not all about what you can seek, but about what is inside. There’s a good quote that says “things are made to be used and people are made to be loved”. But people tend to forget that when they overspend or overeat.

Where do you save your money?

In the bank. In the beginning of our married life, we lived in Kuwait and saved some money. We got a mortgage on a small two-bedroom house in England. This house is paid. We also bought a one-bedroom flat for investment that we rent in England as well. We’ve been living in a pretty big house in Dubai that we don’t need, because our kids grew up. And now we are looking into buying a two-bedroom flat in Dubai.

What has been your best investment?

Having two children. One of them works in Dubai and the other one lives in Bangkok. They are 27 and 28.

What do you most regret spending money on and how much was it?

In general I regret spending money on clothes – not like it was a huge amount – but every now and then, I would say what the heck? Why do I have all of these clothes? Possessions are something that we get tempted into because of society and the way it bombards us to need things and want things. But I would never spend Dh3,000 on a handbag.

What financial advice would you offer your younger self?

Invest in property early. I should have invested in my late 20s, early 30s. At the time, we had a retirement plan with a financial adviser, but we realised they were cowboys. We didn’t do well and we lost. I would definitely not do that again. Property is yours, you own it, you can live in it or rent it, or sell it.

Do you have a plan for the future?

We don’t know where we would like to retire yet. It could be somewhere in Europe. It doesn’t have to be England or France, but anywhere. We are quite open. Your home is where you make it. But my husband and I would like to work for charity or give some of our time where money is minimal. It can be Vietnam or a country that needs us. We could live simply for few years and give back.

What would you raid your savings account for?

I would buy a small villa in Portugal.

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Aviation deals likely to sit and wait out Europe's terror turbulence

The string of terror attacks across Europe will put the brakes on the recent rise in mergers and acquisitions in the continent’s aviation sector.

Earlier, it appeared that airlines had regained their appetite for deals. Lufthansa’s ambitions to expand its Eurowings subsidiary, Alitalia eyeing a stake in Air Malta and Qatar Airways’ investments in both the Italian carrier Meridiana and IAG – the parent of British Airways and Iberia – pointed to renewed confidence in the outlook for the industry.

But after attacks such as the massacre in Nice, combined with the failed coup attempt in Turkey and Britain’s vote to exit the European Union, investors are likely to hold off on any further deals until stability returns, analysts say.

“Anyone who is willing to invest in Europe now is very brave,” says Addison Schonland, a founder and partner of AirInsight, a US aviation consultancy. “Brexit is just another weird thing like the Turkey coup – so much ­crazy stuff at the mom­ent. I think smart money waits for more dust to settle.”

Before the bombings at Brussels airport in April, Lufthansa had, for example, been weighing a deeper collaboration between Eurowings and Brussels Airlines, in which the German carrier already has an interest.

“We have agreed with Brussels Airlines to give ourselves a further three months to conclude our negotiations on the acquisition terms and devise the mig­ration concept required,” said the Lufthansa chief executive Carsten Spohr after the attacks.

And on July 20, Lufthansa trimmed its ambitions further, saying that the chilling effect of terror attacks means the airline’s operating profit will fall rather than rise this year.

Last week, the budget carrier easyJet warned that airlines are facing one of their most challenging periods because of sec­urity issues in Europe and the Brexit uncertainty.

Europe’s largest discount airline Ryanair surprised investors on Monday by reiterating its fiscal 2017 profit forecast of between €1.38 billion (Dh5.62bn) and €1.43bn. But it warned that its targets may come under pressure following the Brexit vote and as the effect of the terrorist attacks hits demand.

According to the International Air Transport Association, European international traffic grew by 2.1 per cent year-on-year in May. The association cautioned that uncertainty in the post-Brexit world is likely to hit the continent the hardest in the coming months.

Longer-term, Peter Morris, the chief economist at the UK aviation consultancy Ascend, says that further M&A would be constrained by ownership limits that negatively impact non-EU investors in the continent.

“The history of success has been patchy, and the best targets have probably gone. So my feeling is that caution will be the order of the day, unless there is a real bargain at hand,” Mr Morris says.

Analysts say that as national security takes centre stage, airlines’ rivalry will not be a priority as in the previous couple of years. The mood has changed from two years ago. In 2014, prompted by criticism from Lufthansa and Air France-KLM, the European Commission looked into Etihad Airways’ investments in European carriers such as airberlin. Etihad has also had to fight a court battle in Germany to uphold the legality of some of its code-shares with airberlin.

“Mrs Merkel’s government is far more involved with the train terror event and trying to prevent the next one,” says AirInsight’s Mr Schonland. “Elections are coming and terror will be a key item that voters will be concerned with. The airline fracas is not on anyone’s political radar at the moment.”

Reports in German media this month said that Lufthansa was looking at taking over some of airberlin’s aircraft and routes and operating them under the Eurowings banner in what might be a win-win for both sides. Such a move would allow airberlin to focus on its more profitable operations while giving Lufthansa a boost against its non-German competitors easyJet and Ryanair.

selgazzar@thenational.ae

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Aviation deals likely to sit and wait out Europe's terror turbulence

The string of terror attacks across Europe will put the brakes on the recent rise in mergers and acquisitions in the continent’s aviation sector.

Earlier, it appeared that airlines had regained their appetite for deals. Lufthansa’s ambitions to expand its Eurowings subsidiary, Alitalia eyeing a stake in Air Malta and Qatar Airways’ investments in both the Italian carrier Meridiana and IAG – the parent of British Airways and Iberia – pointed to renewed confidence in the outlook for the industry.

But after attacks such as the massacre in Nice, combined with the failed coup attempt in Turkey and Britain’s vote to exit the European Union, investors are likely to hold off on any further deals until stability returns, analysts say.

“Anyone who is willing to invest in Europe now is very brave,” says Addison Schonland, a founder and partner of AirInsight, a US aviation consultancy. “Brexit is just another weird thing like the Turkey coup – so much ­crazy stuff at the mom­ent. I think smart money waits for more dust to settle.”

Before the bombings at Brussels airport in April, Lufthansa had, for example, been weighing a deeper collaboration between Eurowings and Brussels Airlines, in which the German carrier already has an interest.

“We have agreed with Brussels Airlines to give ourselves a further three months to conclude our negotiations on the acquisition terms and devise the mig­ration concept required,” said the Lufthansa chief executive Carsten Spohr after the attacks.

And on July 20, Lufthansa trimmed its ambitions further, saying that the chilling effect of terror attacks means the airline’s operating profit will fall rather than rise this year.

Last week, the budget carrier easyJet warned that airlines are facing one of their most challenging periods because of sec­urity issues in Europe and the Brexit uncertainty.

Europe’s largest discount airline Ryanair surprised investors on Monday by reiterating its fiscal 2017 profit forecast of between €1.38 billion (Dh5.62bn) and €1.43bn. But it warned that its targets may come under pressure following the Brexit vote and as the effect of the terrorist attacks hits demand.

According to the International Air Transport Association, European international traffic grew by 2.1 per cent year-on-year in May. The association cautioned that uncertainty in the post-Brexit world is likely to hit the continent the hardest in the coming months.

Longer-term, Peter Morris, the chief economist at the UK aviation consultancy Ascend, says that further M&A would be constrained by ownership limits that negatively impact non-EU investors in the continent.

“The history of success has been patchy, and the best targets have probably gone. So my feeling is that caution will be the order of the day, unless there is a real bargain at hand,” Mr Morris says.

Analysts say that as national security takes centre stage, airlines’ rivalry will not be a priority as in the previous couple of years. The mood has changed from two years ago. In 2014, prompted by criticism from Lufthansa and Air France-KLM, the European Commission looked into Etihad Airways’ investments in European carriers such as airberlin. Etihad has also had to fight a court battle in Germany to uphold the legality of some of its code-shares with airberlin.

“Mrs Merkel’s government is far more involved with the train terror event and trying to prevent the next one,” says AirInsight’s Mr Schonland. “Elections are coming and terror will be a key item that voters will be concerned with. The airline fracas is not on anyone’s political radar at the moment.”

Reports in German media this month said that Lufthansa was looking at taking over some of airberlin’s aircraft and routes and operating them under the Eurowings banner in what might be a win-win for both sides. Such a move would allow airberlin to focus on its more profitable operations while giving Lufthansa a boost against its non-German competitors easyJet and Ryanair.

selgazzar@thenational.ae

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Aviation mergers likely to sit and wait out Europe's terror turbulence

The string of terror attacks across Europe will put the brakes on the recent rise in mergers and acquisitions in the continent’s aviation sector.

Earlier, it appeared that airlines had regained their appetite for deals. Lufthansa’s ambitions to expand its Eurowings subsidiary, Alitalia eyeing a stake in Air Malta and Qatar Airways’ investments in both the Italian carrier Meridiana and IAG – the parent of British Airways and Iberia – pointed to renewed confidence in the outlook for the industry.

But after attacks such as the massacre in Nice, combined with the failed coup attempt in Turkey and Britain’s vote to exit the European Union, investors are likely to hold off on any further deals until stability returns, analysts say.

“Anyone who is willing to invest in Europe now is very brave,” says Addison Schonland, a founder and partner of AirInsight, a US aviation consultancy. “Brexit is just another weird thing like the Turkey coup – so much ­crazy stuff in EU at the mom­ent. I think smart money waits for more dust to settle.”

Before the bombings at Brussels airport in April, Lufthansa had, for example, been weighing a deeper collaboration between Eurowings and Brussels Airlines, in which the German carrier already has an interest.

“We have agreed with Brussels Airlines to give ourselves a further three months to conclude our negotiations on the acquisition terms and devise the mig­ration concept required,” said the Lufthansa chief executive Carsten Spohr after the attacks.

And on July 20, Lufthansa trimmed its ambitions further, saying that the chilling effect of terror attacks means the airline’s operating profit will fall rather than rise this year.

Last week, the budget carrier easyJet warned that airlines are facing one of their most challenging periods because of sec­urity issues in Europe and the Brexit uncertainty.

Europe’s largest discount airline Ryanair surprised investors on Monday by reiterating its fiscal 2017 profit forecast of between €1.38 billion (Dh5.62bn) and €1.43bn. But it warned that its targets may come under pressure following the Brexit vote and as the effect of the terrorist attacks hits demand.

According to the International Air Transport Association, European international traffic grew by 2.1 per cent year-on-year in May. The association cautioned that uncertainty in the post-Brexit world is likely to hit the continent the hardest in the coming months.

Longer-term, Peter Morris, the chief economist at the UK aviation consultancy Ascend, says that further M&A would be constrained by ownership limits that negatively impact non-EU investors in the continent.

“The history of success has been patchy, and the best targets have probably gone. So my feeling is that caution will be the order of the day, unless there is a real bargain at hand,” Mr Morris says.

Analysts say that as national security takes centre stage, airlines’ rivalry will not be a priority as in the previous couple of years. The mood has changed from two years ago. In 2014, prompted by criticism from Lufthansa and Air France-KLM, the European Commission looked into Etihad Airways’ investments in European carriers such as airberlin. Etihad has also had to fight a court battle in Germany to uphold the legality of some of its codeshares with airberlin.

“Mrs Merkel’s government is far more involved with the train terror event and trying to prevent the next one,” says AirInsight’s Mr Schonland. “Elections are coming and terror will be a key item that voters will be concerned with. The airline fracas is not on anyone’s political radar at the moment.”

Reports in German media this month said that Lufthansa was looking at taking over some of airberlin’s aircraft and routes and operating them under the Eurowings banner in what might be a win-win for both sides. Such a move would allow airberlin to focus on its more profitable operations while giving Lufthansa a boost against its non-German competitors easyJet and Ryanair.

selgazzar@thenational.ae

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Etisalat reports 51% increase in second-quarter profit

Abu Dhabi-listed Etisalat on Wednesday reported a 51 per cent rise in second-quarter net profit, mainly thanks to lower costs and forex exchange gains.

Etisalat, which operates in about 17 countries across the Middle East, Africa and Asia, made a net profit of Dh2.3 billion in the three months ending June 30, the company said in a statement . This compares with a profit of Dh1.53bn a year earlier.

Second-quarter revenue was Dhs 13.3bn, up 2 per cent from the same period a year ago.

“The increase in profit is attributed to lower finance costs, incurring forex gain during the period as compared to forex loss in the same period last year,” Etisalat said in a statement.

The results beat analysts’ expectations. Sico Bahrain had forecast Etisalat would post a quarterly net profit of Dh1.92bn. Egyptian investment bank EFG-Hermes predicted a net profit of Dh2bn.

“The year-on-year net profit surge is due to non-operating items,” said Omar Maher, a telecoms analyst at Cairo-based EFG-Hermes. “In the second quarter of 2015, Etisalat’s net profit was impacted by foreign exchange losses, losses from Mobily [Etisalat’s Saudi unit] and other discontinued operations.”

By the end of the second quarter, Etisalat had 163 million subscribers, up 1 per cent from a year earlier. Subscriber growth was driven by Etisalat’s operations in UAE, Egypt, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Etisalat said.

In the UAE, Etisalat’s subscriber base reached 12.1 million, representing a year-on-year growth of 7 per cent. Etisalat said that growth in its home market was thanks to strong performance in the mobile and home segments.

“Etisalat’s results for 2Q16 underline the continued importance of domestic operations to the group, despite its international expansion,” said Mathew Reed, a Dubai-based analyst with consultancy Ovum.

“We can expect to see Etisalat pushing ahead with the launch of new services in the UAE in order to maintain its momentum in its home market.”

Capital expenditure during the second quarter was at Dh600,000, down 33 per cent compared to the same period last year.

“Etisalt’s growth in the UAE is interesting,” said Mr Maher. “It is a proof that the UAE economy is still growing and not slowing down. This is a good indicator,”

Etisalat said it is proposing an interim dividend of 40 fils for the first half of this year.

In March, the telecoms operator appointed Saleh Abdullah Al Abdooli as new chief executive, after former chief executive Ahmad Julfar resigned for personal reasons.

Mr Al Abdooli said that the restructuring of the company, which was initiated earlier this year and finalised during the second quarter, has helped Etisalat to improve “overall performance”.

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Tourism could take biggest hit from attempted coup in Turkey

The fallout from this weekend’s Turkish coup attempt will hurt the country’s consumers and companies, especially those in the tourism field, analysts say.

The coup attempt “highlights deep political fractions in the Turkish economy”, said Ketaki Sharma, the founder and chief executive of Algorithm Research, a Mena and India-focused research company in Dubai.

Ms Sharma said the coup attempt will damage the Turkish economy in two main ways – by reducing domestic consumption and tourist arrivals amid political uncertainty, and by making it harder for companies to obtain financing.

According to figures for May, visitors from Russia were down by 92 per cent. Russia has been the country’s second-biggest source market for tourists, but relations between the countries were chilled after Turkey shot down a Russian fighter jet near the border with Syria on November 24.

Analyst company Oxford Economics has predicted that Turkey’s dwindling tourism sector will shrink by 5 per cent this year and 5.4 per cent next year.

Turkish Airlines, perhaps the country’s most high-profile company, is expected to bear the brunt of the economic fallout from the coup attempt, according to analysts. The company is attempting to carry out an aggressive plan to turn Istanbul into a global transit hub that connects the Americas, Europe and Asia.

In 2018, a new airport is to open in Istanbul that will serve more than 80 million passengers in its first phase, with plans to reach 150 million at a later stage.

“Turkish Airlines unfortunately will face the heat from this,” said Mark Martin, the chief executive of Martin Consulting in Dubai.

“Should events that follow the military coup be linked to regional instability and the state detaching from the country’s leadership, it is likely that Turkish Airlines may face both financial and market share retardation.”

Even before the coup attempt, the airline, which derives 60 per cent of its revenue from transit passengers, was still recovering from an attack on its hub barely two weeks ago. On June 28, 41 people died and another 239 were wounded when suicide bombers attacked Istanbul’s Ataturk airport.

Meanwhile, many carriers have suspended or limited flights to Turkey.

Emirates cancelled flights to Istanbul on Saturday and said it would continue to “closely monitor the situation” before a decision is made regarding later flights and flights to Istanbul’s second airport, Sabiha Gokcen.

Etihad said it had cancelled all flights to the Istanbul airports on Saturday.

Qatar Airways said on Saturday afternoon that its flights to Istanbul had resumed, but service to Ankara remained discontinued.

The IMF said in April that Turkey’s economic growth would slow from 4 per cent last year to 3.8 per cent this year, 3.4 per cent next year and 3.5 per cent in 2018.

“For an economy that depends on external savings to plug its current account deficit, a military coup makes the nation even more vulnerable to economic shocks at a time it can do without one,” Ms Sharma said.

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* with additional reporting by agencies

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Qatar Airways has continued its acquisition spree by signing an agreement to buy a 49 per cent stake in Italian airline Meridiana.

The agreement is “subject to the fulfilment of certain conditions, before the closing which is planned for early October”, the airline said in a statement.

In June, negotiations between Qatar Airways and Meridiana stalled over the conditions of the labour unions. As the second largest airline in Italy, Meridiana has an extensive domestic network and provides connectivity with hubs in Europe along with the United States and Africa. Its fleet consists of Boeing 737s, 767s and MD-82s.

In June, Qatar Airways said it has aggressive plans for the Italian airline. “You will see when Qatar Airways becomes an investor what their [Meridiana’s] size will become,” chief executive Akbar Al Baker said during the International Air Transport Association meeting in Dublin.

“You don’t expect me to be a substantial shareholder and fly MD-80s,” Mr Al Baker said, referring to the 30-year-old McDonnell Douglas MD-80 series aircraft the Italian carrier now operates.

Earlier this week, Qatar Airways announced the acquisition of a 10 per cent stake of Latam Airline, South America’s biggest airline. The airline also holds a 15 per cent stake in IAG Group, the parent company of British Airways and the Spanish carrier Iberia.

Qatar Airways is the second of the big three Gulf carriers to show interest in an Italian airline. Etihad Airways acquired a 49 per cent stake in Alitalia, Italy’s national airline, in 2014.

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Emirates to put Chicago's O'Hare International Airport to the test with A380 flight

Emirates airline will fly a one-off A380 flight to Chicago after being invited by O’Hare International Airport to test the special gate for the double-decker plane.

Famous for being the world’s largest operator of the A380, the world’s biggest passenger aircraft, Emirates said it will fly the jet to Chicago on July 19. The flight is meant to test “the gate, operations and significant infrastructure improvements that have been implemented to accommodate A380 service”, the Dubai carrier said.

The A380, which can carry about 540 passengers, has been key to Emirates’s global route expansion and the surging traffic numbers through its hub at Dubai International Airport, which is the world’s busiest airport for international travel.

The Dubai airline currently operates 81 of the superjumbos, including four to the United States. It has another 61 A380s on order.

On Wednesday, Airbus, the European manufacturer of the A380, said that it is sharply cutting the production of the superjumbo aircraft due to lack of demand. Airbus said it will only make one aircraft a month in 2018, down from the 27 built last year. Emirates affirmed the deliveries of the A380 in 2018 “will not be impacted”.

Meanwhile, the coordination between Emirates and Chicago O’Hare International Airport comes amid on-going strife between US carriers and Arabian Gulf airlines over claims that the latter receive state subsidies worth billions of dollars – a claim denied by the Gulf’s big three airlines, Emirates, Etihad and Qatar Airways.

The dispute has been simmering for almost two years, with claim and counterclaim of alleged anti-competitive practices. However, both sides have avoided tit-for-tat allegations in recent months.

In June, the UAE’s aviation chief said that he would hold “technical talks” with US officials in mid July, during which the subject of airline subsidies would be discussed.

Emirates said that its existing Boeing 777 service to Chicago provides US$383 million in annual economic benefit, contributes more than $153m in annual spending by visitors, and helps to support more than 3,000 US jobs, according to Campbell-Hill Aviation Group.

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Strata Manufacturing has continued to build on a string of deals signed with aerospace companies with a new contract to make parts for the Boeing 787.

The wholly owned subsidiary of Abu Dhabi government investment firm Mubadala will build the composite vertical fin at the Nibras Al Ain Aerospace Park.

In 2013, Mubadala agreed to supply up to US$2.5 billion in advanced composites and aerostructures to Boeing’s aircraft manufacturing programmes.

Strata is Boeing’s first direct composite supplier in the Arab world. It is delivering components of the 777 and 787.

“[The announcement] is testament to the trust that one of the world’s largest aerospace companies has placed in its partnership with Strata,” said Badr Al Olama, Strata’s chief executive. “The expansion of our relationship with Boeing further demonstrates our ongoing commitment to develop a global aerospace manufacturing hub in Nibras – the Al Ain Aerospace Park.”

On Wednesday, Strata signed $1bn worth of contracts with European plane maker Airbus to build composite components and completed major assemblies for the company’s small and midsized aircraft. It said it will make the horizontal tail plane for the single-aisle Airbus A320 and inboard flaps for the wide-body Airbus A350-900.

Also on Wednesday Mubadala and Rolls-Royce confirmed plans for a new facility to carry out maintenance on the Trent XWB engine that powers the Airbus A350 XWB.

The agreement for the maintenance centre will be finalised in the second half of this year and construction is expected to begin as early as next year. This, too, will be in the Nibras Al Ain Aerospace Park.

The high-tech manufacturing facility falls under Abu Dhabi’s 2030 vision to diversify the capital’s economy away from oil by investing in other sectors, including aerospace.

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