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A world redrawn: Nobel winner Deaton warns virus could worsen inequality



The coronavirus outbreak has exposed existing inequalities but without reform, argues Nobel prize-winning economist Angus Deaton, it also risks making them much worse.

In an interview with AFP, the Scottish-born Princeton professor called for changes to the US healthcare system and the power of the country’s big tech firms.

“Someone compared the pandemics to an X-ray machine that makes the inequalities already there much more transparent,” the 75-year-old said.

“The educated people, most of us have jobs we can continue to do almost the same way, we talk to people on Zoom and we get paid just the same.”

But those with less formal education are often “essential workers (who) risk their lives with COVID. Or if they are in non-essential things, they might lose their jobs”.

Angus Deaton, who won the Nobel prize in 2015, is lauded for his insights into poverty and health issues — and he sees this as a key area for change. PHOTO: AFP/File / ERIC PIERMONT

In the United States, death rates have risen for those without a university degree and are going down for those with one, he says.

In addition, “mortality rates from COVID are much higher for African Americans than they are for whites”.

He said these factors could not have predicted the wave of protests that have swept the US following the death of George Floyd.

“But I nor you can say it has nothing to do with COVID,” he said.

Healthcare reform

Deaton, who won the Nobel prize in 2015, is lauded for his insights into poverty and health issues — and he sees this as a key area for change.

He expressed hope that the outbreak will finally force reform of US healthcare, as “people will realise that this is just not possible anymore”.

“When people lost their jobs they lost their medical insurance,” he said.

“There are a huge number of people who have been treated for COVID and survived and will end up with huge medical bills.

“There’s a huge number of people that have died from COVID and their families will end up with huge medical bills.

“And they cannot pay these bills — even people who have insurance, because often insurance has huge deductibles.”

Asked what could replace the US system, Deaton rolled off a list that includes the French, Canadian, German, Dutch and Swiss models.

“Anything is better than pretending that the market can deliver healthcare — because it can’t,” he said.

“All you get is this enormous conspiracy to sort of transfer money from ordinary people to much better-off people.

“It’s been a major destroyer of jobs and a major source of inequality.”

He added: “The stumbling block for better welfare state in America has often been race, and maybe what’s happening now will change that.”

However, Deaton is not optimistic: “The most likely thing it that it will end up the same as it was.”

Big tech

The global outbreak has paralysed many economies, although reopenings and government aid in the United States are credited with lowering the unemployment rate to a still-high 13.3 percent.

“I’m worried that unemployment will last for a very long time, that this will strengthen the share of capital relative to GDP,” Deaton said.

“I’m really worried that big tech firms are going to prosper while many other businesses go bankrupt.”

And he warned: “If you have more monopolistic firms, that’s a recipe for GDP to be distributed towards capitalists.”

Deaton warned that reform was needed to break up the big tech companies — along with reform in other areas, such as improving policing in inner cities.

“Unless the system breaks and you get major reform I think all of this, I think all the indicators turn towards making inequalities worse,” he said.

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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