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LatAm virus cases top 1.5mn as markets fear second wave



A worrying social crisis is brewing in Latin America where the coronavirus pandemic is spiralling, experts are warning, as fears of a second wave in the United States sent shivers through global markets.

More than 1.5 million people have been infected in Central and South America — 70,000 of them are already dead — with no signs of the disease slowing, especially in hard-hit Brazil.

Men bury a COVID-19 victim at an annex of the Parque Memorial Jardin de Los Angeles cemetery, acquired by the municipality to bury victims of the new coronavirus, 14 km north of Tegucigalpa, Honduras. PHOTO: AFP / ORLANDO SIERRA

The crisis could provoke the region’s “worst recession in history”, the UN Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) said.

“We’re worried the region could come out of this crisis with more debt, poorer, hungrier and with more unemployment. And most of all, angry,” said ECLAC general secretary Alicia Barcena.

The fracture lines in Brazilian society are already evident.

A firefighter sprays disinfectant as a preventive measure against the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus in a containment zone in Chennai, India. PHOTO: AFP / Arun SANKAR

Far-right President Jair Bolsonaro has repeatedly downplayed the pandemic’s scale, calling COVID-19 “a flu”.

Protesting that stance, campaigners on Thursday dug 100 graves on Copacabana Beach in Rio de Janeiro, each marked with a black cross, to denounce what they called the “incompetence” of authorities.

“We are here to demand a change of attitude from the president… who must understand that our nation is facing the most difficult moment in its history,” said Antonio Carlos Costa.

Bolivian soldiers escort a Corpus Christi procession heading to the cathedral, in La Paz, amid the COVID-19 pandemic. PHOTO: AFP / AIZAR RALDES

In the US, President Donald Trump was leading the charge to continue reopening the economy, announcing plans for a set of re-election rallies this month.

That is despite signs that the pandemic is not tamed there, with more than 2 million infections and 114,000 deaths.

Figures showed a spike in new infections in key states including Texas, California, Arizona and Florida.

City of Tshwane Health officials conduct screening exercises on people before some of them will be tested for the COVID-19 coronavirus at the Bloed Street Mall in Pretoria, South Africa. PHOTO: AFP / Phill Magakoe

Equities and oil sank Friday in Asian trade, following a day of reckoning on American markets, where the main stock index plunged almost 7 percent to log one of its worst days in recent memory.

Long way from safety

The virus and resulting lockdowns have caused a spike in US unemployment — 44.2 million people have been forced out of jobs since mid-March — but stock markets have seemingly ignored the bad news on Main Street for weeks.

Signs ask visitors to adhere to the British government’s current social distancing guidelines, and stay two metres apart, in Bridlington, northern England. PHOTO: AFP / Oli SCARFF

Analysts blamed profit-taking for the big falls, which came after a huge run-up of up to 50 percent since March, with many saying investors had run ahead of themselves on hopes for a V-shaped recovery as states and countries across Europe reopen.

But at a ceremony in Geneva, World Health Organization chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus warned the world was a long way from safety.

People applaud during a ceremony marking the restarting of Geneva’s landmark fountain, known as “Jet d’Eau”, which was shut down in March following the COVID-19 outbreak. PHOTO: AFP / Fabrice COFFRINI

“The fight is not over. Most people remain susceptible to this virus and the threat of resurgence remains very real.”

That is particularly the case in poorer parts of the world, where the spread of the disease appears to be gathering pace, including in Africa.

“It took 98 days to reach the first 100,000 cases (on the continent), and only 18 days to move to 200,000 cases,” said the WHO’s Matshidiso Moeti.

Healthcare workers protest in Paris to demand better working conditions and increased staffing. PHOTO: AFP / Anne-Christine POUJOULAT

In India, experts are warning the country is still a long way from its peak.

Exhausted doctors at the Max Smart Super Speciality Hospital in New Delhi said they may not be able to cope if the number of cases continues to increase.

“All of us are hoping for the best, but we are mentally and physically prepared for the worst,” said Dr Deven Juneja.

Rideshare drivers impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic line up in their cars to receive free food, hand sanitiser and face masks at a food drive organised by the Mobile Workers Alliance (MWA), in Burbank, California. PHOTO: AFP / Robyn Beck

The long-term effects of the virus could devastate the lives of tens of millions of poor people, the International Labour Organization (ILO) and UNICEF warned Friday.

“As the pandemic wreaks havoc on family incomes, without support, many could resort to child labour,” ILO chief Guy Ryder said.

The two groups noted that the number of children locked in child labour had declined by 94 million since 2000.

But “the COVID-19 pandemic poses very real risks of backtracking.”

According to the World Bank, the number of people in extreme poverty could potentially skyrocket by up to 60 million this year alone.

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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