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Ramadan rule-breakers: Indonesians try to beat Eid exodus ban



Indonesians are turning to smugglers and bogus travel documents to get around bans on an annual end-of-Ramadan exodus that could send coronavirus cases skyrocketing in the world’s biggest Muslim majority nation.

Thousands are using any trick in the book to reach their hometowns in time for celebrations at the end of Islam’s holy fasting month this weekend, a festival known as Eid al-Fitr.

“It is a critical moment,” said Doni Monardo, head of Indonesia’s COVID-19 mitigation task force.

“I’m afraid people who go to other regions will come back infected and all of our efforts will be wasted.”

Every year, millions of travellers pack into airports, train stations and ports across the nearly 5,000 kilometre (3,100 mile) long archipelago in a mass migration similar to China’s Lunar New Year holiday or Christmas.

Fearing a public health disaster, the government last month slapped a ban on domestic sea and air travel and set up roadblocks to stop the cross-country movement.

It later relaxed those rules over concerns about a collapse in Southeast Asia’s biggest economy, but only for those who could prove they were virus-free and had a professional reason to travel.


That loophole was not lost on Kamal and his wife who set about getting a fake certificate for their daughter, a university student in the capital Jakarta — the country’s virus epicentre.

A food seller (L) gestures to health officials at a clinic in the Indonesian capital Jakarta. PHOTO: AFP / BAY ISMOYO

With the help of friends, the couple said they managed to obtain a government-agency stamped letter that claimed their daughter was hired to distribute pandemic supplies in her hometown Makassar on Sulawesi island.

“We’re very worried about her health if she stays in Jakarta,” said Kamal, who asked that his real name not be used.

“But the most important thing of all is that we miss her so much. We want to celebrate Eid al-Fitr together like in past years,” he added.

Frustrated police are battling a tide of fake travel documents being sold online and through word of mouth, with authorities on holiday island Bali last week arresting seven people suspected of peddling bogus papers.

Markets have also been packed with throngs of shoppers buying food and clothes for Eid celebrations.

Some of the Southeast Asian nation’s mosques are expected to draw big crowds despite official calls to pray at home.

Widespread social distancing violations have generated a slew of angry responses — under the hashtag #WhateverIndonesia — from social media users fed up with fellow citizens’ blatant rule breaking.

‘Trick us’

But that has not done much to convince the people playing a cat-and-mouse game with police by hiding inside vehicles, under tarpaulins slung over the back of trucks, or even, reportedly, inside a concrete mixer.

Malls and markets in Indonesia have been packed with throngs of shoppers buying food and clothes for Eid celebrations. PHOTO: AFP / CHAIDEER MAHYUDDIN

Authorities say they have nabbed hundreds of drivers paid to smuggle travellers.

“There are lots of ways people are trying to trick us,” said Jakarta police spokesman Yusri Yunus.

“We’re not trying to make their lives difficult. This is all meant to reduce the spread of coronavirus,” he added.

Indonesia recorded its biggest one-day jump in virus cases this week with the nationwide death toll at 1,326 — the highest in Asia outside China.

But infections and deaths are widely believed to be much higher in the country of more than 260 million, where testing rates have been among the lowest in the world.

Laid-off Jakarta bus driver Maulana Arif Budi Satrio became a local media sensation after he claimed to have made the 500-kilometre journey to his hometown Solo on foot after his car was turned back at a checkpoint.

Whether he had vehicular help along the way remains an open question.

But the trip earned the exhausted Satrio an official scolding — and quarantine — when he arrived at his destination.

The 38-year-old said he did not have the luxury of staying put as the global pandemic threatens to push millions of Indonesians into poverty.

“The company I worked for laid off drivers like me,” he said.

“So I only had two options — stay in Jakarta with no money or go back home.”

Reporting and photos: AFP


Emirates undertakes largest known fleet retrofit project



Emirates has kick-started its plans to upgrade the entire interior cabins of 120 Airbus A380 and Boeing 777 aircraft – two of the largest commercial aircraft types in service today.

This ambitious project, representing a multi-billion dollar investment to ensure Emirates’ customers “fly better” for the coming years, officially commences in November and is managed entirely by Emirates’ Engineering team.

The target is to completely retrofit four Emirates aircraft from start to finish every month, continuously for over 2 years. Once the 67 earmarked A380s are refreshed and back in service, 53 777s will undergo their facelift. This will see nearly 4,000 brand new Premium Economy seats installed, 728 First Class suites refurbished and over 5,000 Business Class seats upgraded to a new style and design when the project is complete in April 2025.

In addition, carpets and stairs will be upgraded, and cabin interior panels refreshed with new tones and design motifs including the iconic ghaf trees which are native to the UAE.

No other airline has handled a retrofit of this magnitude in-house, and there’s no blueprint for such an undertaking. Therefore Emirates Engineering teams have been planning and testing extensively, to establish and streamline processes, and identify and address any possible snags.

Trials began on an A380 in July, where experienced engineers literally took each cabin apart piece-by-piece and logged every step. From removing seats and panelling to bolts and screws, every action was tested, timed and mapped out. Potential impediments to completing the installation of Emirates’ new Premium Economy Class or the retrofit of the remaining three cabins in just 16 days were flagged and documented for expert teams to review and address.

As part of the programme, new purpose-built workshops will be set up at Emirates Engineering to repaint, re-trim and re-upholster Business and Economy Class seats with new covers and cushioning. First Class suites will be carefully disassembled and sent to a specialised company to replace the leather, arm rests and other materials.

From the trials, Engineers discovered several unexpected solutions for instance: that existing food catering trucks could be easily repurposed to move parts destined for refurbishment from the aircraft to the workshop for their refresh, as these vehicles had doors of the right width and offer sufficient space.

Until the retrofit programme starts in earnest in November, a cross-disciplinary team has been assembled to regularly review the planning process, address any issues, and track updates on various aspects of the project such as procurement, staffing, and training.

Emirates’ new Premium Economy cabin class, which offers luxurious seats, more legroom, and a service to rival many airlines’ business offering, is currently available to Emirates customers travelling on popular A380 routes to London, Paris, Sydney. More customers will be able to experience the airline’s new Premium Economy cabins starting from year end, as the retrofit programme picks up momentum.

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Eleanor helps over 30 Maldives hotels elevate guest services



Eleanor has been named as one of the top 10 concierge software providers globally.

Based on accurate, timely reviews from real users, the HotelTechAwards rank the world’s best hotel software firms and products and it also provides hoteliers direct access to a growing network of hotel technology professionals and decision-makers.

“The guest experience is the cornerstone of our platform. Our unified resort wide solution, Eleanor, has been built for resorts off the back of many years working in the industry and addresses the needs of both Sales and Marketing departments and perhaps just as importantly, the operational requirements of the team on the ground at the property. The days of resorts working with disjointed systems are now behind us,” says Darren Caple, co-founder and CEO.

“We are on a mission to make the guest’s resort experience as easy and as frictionless as possible. Whereas traditional providers in the market have come at this purely from a guest communication perspective, our background in resorts has allowed us to combine this basic requirement with the streamlining of operational processes. The result is truly a resort wide solution that removes the need for countless different systems to be deployed.

Eleanor allows resorts to deliver consistent, superior service levels to guests across all stages of their journey with contactless features helping to alleviate sensitive touch-points in the post pandemic period. More than 30 properties in the Maldives use our Eleanor platform to help butlers and guest services elevate the guest experience. These properties are seeing an increase in incremental revenue by over 30% and operational efficiencies of 600+ man hours per month. We are also beginning to roll out the platform in some Caribbean properties!”

Eleanor is making waves in the hospitality industry by pushing the conventional limits of what a resort guest app can achieve through its unique ability to facilitate direct bookings for services and activities. The traditional ‘request to book’ feature that is common amongst almost all other hotel apps is removed by a power booking and operational platform sitting at the heart of the solution that covers all the resorts’ departments. It’s this module which realises enormous operational benefits and insights for the resort.

“We, at Eleanor, are humbled and honoured that our clients have provided such positive reviews. Feedback from our clients, partners and hoteliers are incredibly valuable for us and we will continue to improve our offering and services”, said Caple.

To celebrate this success, Eleanor is currently offering resorts a free one month trial, together with free setup and training and discounted monthly fees.

Eleanor, founded in 2018 and has its headquarters in the United Kingdom. Created from over 15 years of hands-on expertise, Eleanor allows resorts to deliver consistent, superior service levels to its guests across all stages of their journey with contactless features helping to alleviate sensitive touch-points in the post pandemic period. Eleanor also helps to unlock operational efficiencies and boost incremental revenue and guest loyalty.

Hotel Tech Report’s Best Concierge Software 2022 Runner Up, reviewed as a preferred and reliable hotel software product by the global hotelier community.

For more information, visit

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Emirates’ recruiters scour the world for cabin crew talent with 30 city stops



Emirates, the world’s most global airline, is seeking talented people with a passion for service to join its award-winning cabin crew team.

As air travel returns with a vengeance, the airline’s recruiters are busy meeting and hiring candidates in 30 cities from now until the end of June. In this latest drive, Emirates’ teams will travel from Australia to the UK, and dozens of European cities in between, as well as Cairo, Algiers, Tunis and Bahrain.

Abdulaziz Al Ali, Emirates Group’s Executive Vice President for Human Resources said: “There’s no more exciting airline than Emirates for anyone interested in a flying career, and we’ve received tremendous interest since we began our recruitment drive for cabin crew in November.”

“While parts of the application process are done online, we always make the effort to meet our candidates in person whenever we can, and that is why our Talent Acquisition team is doing a whirlwind 30-city tour over the next 6 weeks to assess prospective candidates.”

Emirates’ truly global cabin crew team represent 160 nationalities, reflecting its customer mix and international operations in over 130 cities on six continents.

All Emirates crew are based in the exciting cosmopolitan city of Dubai, with company-provided accommodation, tax-free salary and more benefits.

Interested candidates can read more about the Emirates cabin crew role, and apply online at:

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