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PM Johnson charts Britain’s path out of lockdown



UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson said Thursday some English schools and shops would reopen from next week as he tried to end a scandal over what police said appeared to be a “minor” lockdown breach by his closest adviser.

Johnson’s attempts to navigate Britain through a health disaster that has officially claimed 37,837 lives — second only to the United States — and devastated the economy are being complicated by the cross-country travels of his top aide Dominic Cummings.

The Brexit campaign mastermind has become Johnson’s most trusted adviser and one of the chief architects of Britain’s coronavirus response plan.

But police ruled Thursday that “there might have been a minor breach of the regulations” when he made a 60-mile (100-kilometre) round-trip in April to a picturesque castle in northern England from a family home where he had been self-isolating with his wife and four-year-old son.

Durham Constabulary said it had closed the case because other Britons who committed similar offences were not being prosecuted retroactively.

Cummings had justified the journey by claiming he had needed to test his eyesight after experiencing COVID-19 symptoms in late March and subsequently developing blurry vision.

But the controversial aide has also sparked fury for relocating his family from London to his parents’ house about 260 miles away during the lockdown’s strictest phase.

He has insisted the decision was within the government’s guidelines because he needed to ensure he had childcare.

Johnson said the police statement vindicated his decision to stand by Cummings during what has turned into arguably the biggest political scandal of his year in office.

“They are not taking any action and I intend to draw a line under it,” Johnson told reporters.

‘Joyful moment’

The British leader tried to focus the nation’s attention instead on his decision to reopen schools for younger children on Monday and for older students on June 15.

People will be able to meet in groups of up to six people in England — and eight people in Scotland — from next week.

Johnson said that would mark the “long-awaited and joyful moment” when people will be able to see “both parents at once, or both grandparents at once” in cases where families live apart.

All shops still solvent after being forced to lock up for 12 weeks can open their doors on June 15.

But the British leader insisted everyone must continue observing social distancing measures and exercise common sense — a policy that government critics argue is being gravely undermined by the premier’s rule-breaking aide.

Johnson’s most senior adviser — dubbed by some media as Britain’s second-most powerful man — staged an unusual press conference Monday in which he made no apologies and blamed the media for misrepresenting his case.

But the police said they had “examined the circumstances surrounding the journey to Barnard Castle… and have concluded that there might have been a minor breach of the regulations that would have warranted police intervention”.


The police findings could still pose a political problem for Johnson later down the line.

More than 40 members of his Conservative party have called on Johnson to part with Cummings and several top Brexit-supporting newspapers have mounted campaigns to force out the adviser they once adored.

Durham police found that Dominic Cummings committed only a “minor” lockdown violation and have closed their investigation. PHOTO: AFP / Justin TALLIS

Some opposition lawmakers seized on the police report to redouble their calls for Cummings to either be fired or to quit.

Labour leader Keir Starmer — until Thursday relatively reserved in his statements — said Johnson has “shown himself to be weak”.

“I mean, he’s so desperate for this adviser he’ll cling on to him through thick and thin,” Starmer told the BBC.

The left-wing Mirror newspaper separately accused Johnson of acting in a “Putin-esque” manner by jumping in before government scientists could answer questions about Cummings during Thursday’s briefing.

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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