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EU readies trillion-euro aid plan as virus hammers Latin America



A one-trillion-euro recovery plan to get Europe back on its feet after the devastation wreaked by the coronavirus pandemic was set to be unveiled Wednesday, as badly hit Spain started 10 days of national mourning for its thousands of dead.

The massive European proposal follows other unprecedented emergency measures introduced around the world to rescue economies shattered by the disease, which has claimed nearly 350,000 lives with infections rapidly approaching 5.6 million.

While the virus continues to cause havoc in Latin America, Europe has slowly started reopening businesses as outbreaks on the continent slow, but Italy and Spain — two of the hardest-hit countries — lack the firepower of richer European nations to rebuild their economies.

Europe has slowly started reopening businesses as outbreaks on the continent slow. PHOTO: AFP / CRISTINA QUICLER

European Union chief Ursula von der Leyen will deliver a one-trillion-euro proposal to the European Parliament on Wednesday, aiming to help the worst-affected countries using a mix of grants and loans.

That is expected to kick off tough negotiations, as backers try to win the support of some northern EU states that are opposed to paying out aid in grants to nations already under mountains of debt — such as Italy and Spain.

The proposal comes as the continent — which has lost at least 172,000 people to COVID-19 — grapples with the human tragedy and economic destruction.

Spain on Wednesday will begin a 10-day official mourning for the more than 27,000 people who died of the disease in the country, with all flags on public buildings lowered to half-mast.

Healthcare worker holds a sign reading “Universal healthcare from and for all” during a protest in Madrid calling for reinforced healthcare as Spain begins 10-days mourning for those who died of coronavirus. PHOTO: AFP / PIERRE-PHILIPPE MARCOU

The Iberian nation and others hit particularly hard such as Italy, Germany, France and Britain have all started easing their lockdowns, as people head to shops, sunbathe at beaches and run in parks after months of confinement.

The Vatican too has relaxed its lockdown, announcing that Pope Francis will address the Catholic faithful once more from his window overlooking Saint Peter’s Square on Sunday.

And Russia said it had passed its peak of infections, promising to hold postponed World War II victory celebrations next month.

While desperate to kickstart their economies, especially the tourism sector, most governments in Europe are also trying to move cautiously towards a reopen, afraid of a second wave of infections.

Brazil reported the highest daily death toll in the world for the fifth straight day, pushing its total to 24,512, with infections soaring to more than 390,000. PHOTO: AFP / TARSO SARRAF

That fear has meant some activities have been allowed again, while others must wait — including singing.

After horror stories emerged from choirs around the world of mass infections among singers, the activity is now considered dangerous by German authorities.

At the Church of the Twelve Apostles in Berlin’s Schoeneberg district, there have been no choir rehearsals since early March.

“I do miss it,” said Soprano Heike Benda-Blanck. “You can still sing in the shower but it’s not the same.”

‘Still accelerating’

But while many Western nations were inching back towards some form of normality, the virus was continued its march in Latin America, which has outpaced Europe and the United States in the number of daily infections.

“We are particularly concerned that the number of new cases reported last week in Brazil was the highest for a seven-day period, since the outbreak began,” said Carissa Etienne, director of the Washington-based Pan American Health Organization.

Police raided the official residence of one of Brazil President Bolsonaro’s leading critics over the coronavirus response, Rio de Janeiro Governor Wilson Witzel, alleging he embezzled public funds for the virus. PHOTO: AFP / Fabio MOTTA

“Both Peru and Chile are also reporting a high incidence, a sign that transmission is still accelerating in these countries.”

Brazil reported the highest daily death toll in the world for the fifth straight day, pushing its total to 24,512 with infections soaring to more than 390,000.

The virus is also fuelling a political crisis in Brazil, where right-wing president Jair Bolsonaro has downplayed the COVID-19 threat and lashed out at state governors who have asked people to stay at home.

Police on Tuesday raided the official residence of one of Bolsonaro’s leading critics over the response, Rio de Janeiro Governor Wilson Witzel, alleging he embezzled public funds for the virus.

Witzel called the raid “political persecution” and warned: “What happened to me is going to happen to other governors who are considered enemies.”

‘Absolute fool’

The United States remains the hardest-hit nation in the world, and with its death toll approaching 100,000, President Donald Trump has weathered a torrent of criticism for his handling of the crisis — and for not wearing a mask in public despite recommendations from his own administration’s experts.

Trump kicked off a storm by retweeting criticism of his presumptive election rival, Joe Biden, for following guidelines by wearing a mask during Memorial Day commemorations. Biden hit back, blasting Trump as an “absolute fool”. PHOTO: AFP / Olivier DOULIERY

The right-wing leader, battling to get re-elected this year, kicked off another storm by retweeting criticism of his presumptive election rival, Joe Biden, for following guidelines by wearing a mask during Memorial Day commemorations.

Biden hit back, blasting Trump as an “absolute fool”.

Trump is keen for a quick turnaround with the US economy battered and tens of millions unemployed, and has pressured local and state leaders to ease lockdowns.

The pain is acute for those who have lost low-paying jobs, with no clarity on when they will be able to earn again.

“The situation is very difficult,” said Miguel Hernandez, a father-of-three who lost his job at a restaurant and now volunteers at St. Peter’s Lutheran Church in New York City.

“The saddest thing is the children, who do not know what it is to not have a job. What they want is to eat.”

Reporting and photo: 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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