Construction, consumption steer German economy back to growth path

A worker walks on scaffolding at the Axel Springer Campus, still under construction, in Berlin on February 23, 2019. (AFP)
Updated 15 May 2019
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Construction, consumption steer German economy back to growth path

  • Gross domestic product in Europe’s largest economy expanded by 0.4 percent quarter-on-quarter
  • Growth figures a ‘first ray of hope’ following two quarters without expansion

BERLIN: The German economy returned to growth in the first quarter, helped by higher household spending and a booming construction industry, preliminary data showed on Wednesday.
Gross domestic product (GDP) in Europe’s largest economy expanded by 0.4 percent quarter-on-quarter, the Federal Statistics Office said. This was in line with analysts’ expectations.
Compared with the same quarter of the previous year, the economy grew 0.7 percent, calendar-adjusted data showed. This was also in line with the forecast.
Economy Minister Peter Altmaier said that the growth figures were a “first ray of hope” following two quarters without expansion, but this was no reason to give the all-clear.
“The international trade disputes are still unresolved. We must do everything possible to find acceptable solutions that enable free trade,” Altmaier said.
Altmaier, a confidant of conservative Chancellor Angela Merkel, repeated a call to support companies by cutting red tape and taxes. Finance Minister Olaf Scholz, a Social Democrat, has declined to cut corporate taxes.
The Statistics Office said growth was mainly driven by construction and increased household spending.
It confirmed that the German economy contracted by 0.2 percent in the third quarter of last year and stagnated in the fourth.


British Airways to resume Pakistan flights next week after a decade

Updated 23 May 2019
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British Airways to resume Pakistan flights next week after a decade

  • BA halted service to Pakistan in the wake of the 2008 Marriott Hotel bombing in Islamabad
  • BA will begin the London Heathrow-Islamabad service with the Boeing 787 Dreamliner

ISLAMABAD: British Airways will resume flights to Pakistan next week a decade after it suspended operations following a major hotel bombing, becoming the first Western airline to restart flights to the South Asian country.

BA halted service to Pakistan in the wake of the 2008 Marriott Hotel bombing in the capital Islamabad that took place during a period of devastating Islamist militant violence in Pakistan.

Security has since improved, with militant attacks sharply down in the mainly Muslim country of 208 million people, reviving Pakistan as a destination for tourist and investors.

“The final touches are coming together for the airline’s return ahead of the first flight on Sunday June 2,” British Airways said in a statement. It will launch a three-per-week service to London Heathrow, it said.

“We’re on board,” Pakistani Civil Aviation spokeswoman Farah Hussain said about the flights resumption.

BA, which is owned by Spanish-registered IAG, will begin the London Heathrow-Islamabad service with the airline’s newest long-haul aircraft, the Boeing 787 Dreamliner.

At present, only loss-making national carrier Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) flies directly from Pakistan to Britain, but its ageing fleet of planes is a frequent source of complaints by passengers.

Middle Eastern carriers Qatar Airways, Etihad Airways and Emirates have a strong presence in Pakistan and have been eating into PIA’s dwindling market share. Turkish Airlines also lays on a regular service to Pakistan.

Islamabad has been running international advertising campaigns to rejuvenate its tourism sector, which was wiped out by Islamist violence that destabilised the country following the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks in the United States and the U.S.-led war in Afghanistan.

“We hope customers in both the UK and Pakistan will enjoy the classically British service we offer, with thoughtful bespoke touches,” Andrew Brem, Chief Commercial Officer at British Airways, said in BA’s statement.

BA said there will be a halal meal option in every cabin and the airline would also ensure sauces in every meal do not contain alcohol or pork.