Battle of the Sounds 2020 – A Warrior’s Narrative

Battle of the Sounds 2020 (Lockdown Edition) was one that left the viewers, fans, judges, and contestants with thrilling memories that they all would linger on for a long and lasting time. The first day until the last was indeed fierce. The thrills, the applauds, the rough, and the hilarious performances made it a show to watch and watch all over again.

Warriors (i.e. contestants) were grouped into eight (8) nations (i.e. teams) to battle each other in three genres of music; Rap, Reggae/Dancehall, and Afropop to make them earn points from the judges and fans alike. The Nation with the highest aggregate point was to be declared the champion. 

We had the energetic Red Mercuries, the Electrifying Uranus 77, the fantastic Venus Crew, the Fierce Saturn Stars, the courageous Da Neptunes, the powerful Mars Aliens, and the confident Pluto Gang.

Let us take a sneak peek at some of the contestants who took up the flag of their Nations to battle fiercely.

1. Young Incredible (Pluto Gang):

He calls himself the new school rap king. Born and raised in Abuja before migrating to Lagos, David Samson (real name) stood out among other warriors with his electrifying delivery, massive punchlines, and flawless ability to freestyle on the spot. Young Incredible was so fierce in battles that, he had the highest number of battles for his team and he never lost any, in fact, he had a battle where he crossed into a genre; Afropop, which was not his original genre and still didn’t lose!

Though his team had a rough time agreeing on decisions made internally, he wasn’t distracted, he gave his best and his team eventually emerged champions. 

Young Incredible also won the prize for the ‘Best in Rap’ at the tournament.

2. YoungCrez (Da Neptunes):

If Battle of the Sounds was a person, then it would be this guy!

Youngcrez is the man, the fight, the war, the ‘Indaboski’ of music. Originally signed up to represent his Nation in the Afro-pop category, he ended up battling in all three genres for his team, not once, not twice. Who does three genres of music flawlessly at the same time?

You have to give it up for Johnson     Gospel Oseh (real name) or Crez – as he is fondly called at the battleground, he did it all for his team. A team that originally started out with five (5) warriors on the front line only for three (3) to opt-out after day one of the battles.

Crez was extremely instrumental in making sure his team came in the top three, coming out as the 3rd best nation in Battle of the Sound 2020, a rewarding feat for the hardworking warrior. He also won himself a prize as the ‘Best in Afro-pop’ at the tournament. 

3. Tellz Ikima (Jupiter Clique):

Like Youngcrez, Tellz came from a team where the other warriors chickened-out, but he also flew his Nation’s flag and rode fiercely to battle. He is regarded as one of the favorites in the tournament, coming close enough as champion in the Rap and Reggae/Dancehall categories at the tournament. 

The judges took pleasure in analyzing his lyrics and style every time he battled and kept giving accolades. However, since it was a game of judges as well as fans, Tesem Ikima Linus (real name) had the fans of his opponents to contend with after every battle and this affected his overall journey. Though he came into the tournament as a rap-head, his versatility got him to win the prize of the First-runner up in the Reggae/Dancehall category of the tournament. Check him out on social media, he’s got amazing contents.

4. IBNL (Saturn Stars):

One of the warriors with the ‘dopest’ swag. Ibrahim Hussien a.k.a. IBNL has got bars and has got style also. Always rep’ing the street, IBNL does well on hitting punchlines to ‘praise the street’. He is a fantastic rapper and gave other rappers a tough time in the tournament. He is one of the warriors with the strongest fan base in Battle of the Sounds 2020, He never lost any battle based on fan coins, his fans, and surprisingly his mum, always had his back.

5. L.A.B (Red Mercuries):

Rumour had it that this guy was the secret weapon to his team’s victory. Rated among some of the few artiste who lost the lowest number of battles both on the judge’s side and on the fan’s size, this dude was the magic for his Nation. This very unassuming ‘Rasta-man’ won the prize for the Best Reggae/Dancehall Artiste at the tournament. Kudos to Louis Adeola (real name) for being the real MVP for his Nation.

6. Walexey (Venus Crew):

Once called the “Adekunle Gold” of his Nation, Walexey gave it all for his Nation, and even though his Nation went with a few warriors to battle, this warrior sacrificed everything for his team. Walexey (real name; Olawale Olaniran) was among the Best Afro-pop performers for the show. He came second in the Afropop category at the tournament.

7. Yxng Priince (Uranus 77):

This warrior’s rap skill is so extraordinary that he sounds like a mashup of Falz tha Badguy, Olamide, Oladips, and Zlatan at the same time. One of the 5-Star Generals of his Nation, Obafemi Prince (real name) scored very good points for his team. If there was any warrior there at the battleground who knew what rap music and being commercially viable is all about, it will be this dude who ended up leaving a mark in the hearts of the judges, his fans, and even the organizers simply with his signature cane trade-mark and flawless super-audible rap flows. One can say the only reason why he lost the first position to Young Incredible at the tournament was simply because he took on fewer rap battles than Young. We are all happy he came second though.

8. X-Two (Mars Aliens):

Adeolu Idowu (real name) is an indigenous rapper and singer X-two gave the other nations a run for their money. His rap battle with Young Incredible currently holds a record as one of the most viewed battles on Facebook. This dude will give you a show if you want a show. A fantastic entertainer and performer. He was the second runner-up at the 2018 edition of the Battle of the Sounds.

9. Warzpilot (Pluto Gang):

His teammates call him ‘the pathfinder’. He was always underground doing the necessary job needed for his team to win. Known for always speaking with confidence and his opponents on the battleground with his endless brags about winning from the first day of the tournament, Warzpilot (real name; Temitope Adeoye) was among the most instrumental for his team, It could be said that he had one of the strongest fanbases in the tournament. Always underground, but extremely powerful. He also represented his team in two genres, Afro-pop and Reggae, combining both the Judges and fan coins, Warzpilot only lost one battle for fan coins to another nation and so held an almost flawless record in the tournament.

10. Sound Senseii (Jupiter Clique):

One of the Judges’ favorites among the Afro-pop warriors. Confident and vibrant on the mic, Romeo Dasabah (real name) and his teammate Tellz Ikima were fierce, they will usually overpower any warrior in a swift at the battles. Senseii was a part of the 2018 Acapella champion group at Battle of the Sounds. Then he repped the team in the blue costume – Saturn Stars.

Written by Temitope Adeoye (a.k.a. Warzpilot)

Delta to launch first quarantine-free, COVID-free travel to Europe through new testing protocols

Agreement with airports and governments eliminates quarantine requirement on COVID-tested flights connecting Atlanta and Rome.

Delta Air Lines, the Aeroporti di Roma and Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport have joined in a first-of-its-kind trans-Atlantic COVID-19 testing program that will enable quarantine-free entry into Italy, in accordance with a decree expected to be issued soon by the government of Italy.

“Carefully designed COVID-19 testing protocols are the best path for resuming international travel safely and without quarantine until vaccinations are widely in place,” said Steve Sear, Delta President – International and Executive Vice President – Global Sales. “Safety is our core promise – it’s at the center of this pioneering testing effort and it’s the foundation of our standards for cleanliness and hygiene to help customers feel confident when they fly Delta.”

Delta has engaged expert advisors from Mayo Clinic, a global leader in serious and complex healthcare, to review and assess the customer-testing protocols needed for Delta to execute a COVID-tested flight program.

“Based on the modeling we have conducted, when testing protocols are combined with multiple layers of protection, including mask requirements, proper social distancing and environmental cleaning, we can predict that the risk of COVID-19 infection – on a flight that is 60 percent full – should be nearly one in a million,” said Henry Ting, M.D., M.B.A., Chief Value Officer, Mayo Clinic.

Delta has also worked closely with the Georgia Department of Public Health to develop a blueprint for governments to reopen important international travel markets.

The State of Georgia and the Italian government have demonstrated leadership in testing protocols and practices that can safely reopen international travel without quarantine requirements,” Sear added.

Starting Dec. 19, Delta’s dedicated trial will test customers and crew on newly relaunched flights from Hartsfield–Jackson Atlanta International Airport to Rome-Fiumicino International Airport. The tests will exempt from quarantine on arrival in Italy all U.S. citizens permitted to travel to Italy for essential reasons, such as for work, health and education, as well as all European Union and Italian citizens.

To fly on Delta’s COVID-tested flights between Atlanta and Rome, customers will need to test negative for COVID-19 through:

  • A COVID Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) test taken up to 72 hours before departure
  • A rapid test administered at the airport in Atlanta before boarding
  • A rapid test on arrival in Rome-Fiumicino
  • A rapid test at Rome-Fiumicino before departure to the United States

Customers also will be asked to provide information upon entry into the U.S. to support CDC contact-tracing protocols.

Aeroporti di Roma earlier this year implemented a successful intra-Italy COVID-tested flight trial with Delta’s Italian codeshare partner Alitalia and is the only airport in the world to have obtained the maximum five-star rating from Skytrax on its anti-COVID health protocols. Rome-Fiumicino Airport serves over 40 million passengers a year and has been rated Europe’s Best Hub Airport for a third year in a row by Airports Council International .

ExxonMobil Foundation, the NBA and Africare Donate Masks, Sanitizers and Handwashing Stations to 30 ‘Power Forward’ Schools in Abuja

TWO-TIME NBA ALL-STAR VICTOR OLADIPO AND NBA CHAMPION FESTUS EZELI HEADLINE FIRST VIRTUAL ‘POWER FORWARD HUDDLE’ 

ABUJA, NIGERIA, Nov. 13, 2020 – As part of the Power Forward program, ExxonMobil Foundation, the NBA and Africaredonated 30,000 masks, 90 new handwashing stations and hand sanitizer to 30 Power Forward schools in Abuja.  The handwashing stations will reach 35,000 school community users.

ExxonMobil Foundation, the National Basketball Association (NBA) and Africare, a leading non-governmental organization (NGO) committed to addressing African development and policy issues, also announced that two-time NBA All-Star Victor Oladipo and 2015 NBA Champion Festus Ezeli will headline the first virtual ‘Power Forward Huddle’ on Thursday, Nov. 19.  

The event, which will be conducted virtually for the first time and livestreamed on the NBA Africa YouTube channel at 4:00 p.m. CAT, will celebrate seven years of the Power Forward program for youth ages 14 and under and coaches from 30 schools in Abuja, Nigeria.

“Using the convening power of sports, our successful collaboration with the NBA and Africare allows young people to play the games they love while receiving the life-skills and public health messages they need to stay healthy,” said ExxonMobil Foundation President, Kevin Murphy. “Every year, young people graduate these programs with knowledge on how to protect themselves from infectious diseases like malaria and COVID-19.”   

“We are thrilled to celebrate the seventh year of the Power Forward program in Abuja alongside our partners ExxonMobiland Africare,” said NBA Africa CEO, Victor Williams.  “Power Forward has become an annual celebration for the participating schools in Abuja, and we are grateful to be joined this year by Victor Oladipo and Festus Ezeli, who will make this year’s virtual event even more memorable for participating youth and coaches.”

“Nigeria, like other sub-Saharan African countries, is experiencing a youth bulge,” said Africare President and CEO, Robert Mallett. “The Power Forward project has shown year after year that this model of youth leadership is successful and replicable. It is impactful. It has three elements that make for success: strong partners in ExxonMobil and the NBA, focused objectives and enthusiastic participants.  That is a winning formula anywhere, anytime, and we are very thrilled to be part of the daily transformations we help to make possible.”

Power Forward, a youth development initiative launched in 2013 by the ExxonMobil Foundation, the NBA and Africare, uses basketball to teach health literacy, including malaria prevention and personal hygiene, and life skills, such as leadership, respect and responsibility, to students in 30 secondary schools in Abuja.  

To date, Power Forward has reached more than 80,000 youth in schools and communities in need, and nearly 30,000 people have attended past Power Forward community events.

About ExxonMobil Foundation

The ExxonMobil Foundation is the primary philanthropic arm of Exxon Mobil Corporation in the United States. In 2019, the ExxonMobil Foundation, together with Exxon Mobil Corporation, its divisions and affiliates, along with employees and retirees, provided more than $252 million in contributions worldwide.

About the NBA

The NBA is a global sports and media business built around four professional sports leagues: the National Basketball Association, the Women’s National Basketball Association, the NBA G League and the NBA 2K League.  The NBA has established a major international presence with games and programming in 215 countries and territories in 47 languages, and merchandise for sale in more than 100,000 stores in 100 countries on six continents.  NBA rosters at the start of the 2019-20 season featured 108 international players from 38 countries and territories.  NBA Digital’s assets include NBA TV, NBA.com, the NBA App and NBA League Pass.  The NBA has created one of the largest social media communities in the world, with 1.9 billion likes and followers globally across all league, team, and player platforms.  Through NBA Cares, the league addresses important social issues by working with internationally recognized youth-serving organizations that support education, youth and family development, and health-related causes.

About Africare

Founded in 1970, Africare is the largest and most experienced international non-governmental organization (NGO) focused exclusively on Africa. Through partnering with local communities, NGOs, governments and private sector for more than 40 years, Africare has invested over $2 billion in support of tens of millions of people in 36 African countries. Africare’s programs focus on five interrelated core competency areas: agriculture & food security, health (malaria, maternal health, child health, HIV/AIDS, infectious diseases, community health), nutrition, humanitarian assistance, and women & youth empowerment.

FIRST BRITISH-NIGERIAN MP APPOINTED UK TRADE ENVOY TO NIGERIA

The UK Government has confirmed the appointment of Helen Grant MP, a British-Nigerian, as new Trade Envoy to Nigeria.

UK Trade Envoys are appointed by the British Prime Minister, and Helen Grant’s role will be to provide support to the UK Government’s trade and investment priorities in Nigeria through high-level engagement with Nigerian Ministers, by leading trade delegations, engaging key businesses in the market and promoting bilateral trade. They promote trade for UK businesses in selected high-growth and developing markets around the world, and support the activities of the UK’s Department of International Trade.

Born in London to a British mother and a Nigerian father, Helen Grant is married with two sons. She is a graduate of law, from the University of Hull, and set up her own legal practice specialising in family breakdown and domestic violence before becoming the first female Anglo-African Conservative Member of Parliament,when she was elected MP for Maidstone and The Weald in 2010,winning three consecutive elections since then.

Her impressive political career includes serving as Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Justice and for Women and Equalities, under former Prime Minister David Cameron’s coalition Government, and later, Minister of State for Sport and Tourism. She also served as Conservative Party Vice Chairman for Communities, focussing on issues concerning diversity, inclusion, equality, social cohesion, racism and discrimination under former Prime Minister Theresa May’s government.

Speaking on her appointment as the UK Prime Minister’s Trade Envoy to Nigeria, Helen Grant said:

‘I am absolutely delighted with my appointment as the Prime Minister’s UK Trade Envoy to Nigeria.  Both countries are close to my heart, my father being Nigerian and my mother English.  Now I have an opportunity to employ my rich dual heritage to help magnify an already strong UK–Nigerian relationship for our mutual prosperity.

As the largest and fastest growing economy on the African continent, the potential for trade and investment with Nigeria is stunning.  I will do my utmost to help develop that as part of our nation’s collective drive toward an outward looking global Britain.’

As a champion of inclusivity and human rights, in and outside of politics, Helen has also lent her voice to bringing businesses together with people of diverse and under-represented backgrounds as former Chair of the Government’s Apprenticeship Diversity Champions Network, and as a former Trustee of both the Social Mobility Foundation and the Human Trafficking Foundation.

Helen Grant is Nigeria’s second Trade Envoy since the program launched in 2012, succeeding John Howell MP.

She is looking forward to visiting Nigeria before the end of the year. In her spare time, she enjoys tennis, movies, following African affairs and sporting events. 

World Food Day: Emirates SkyCargo maintains supply chains for food and other perishables during COVID-19

LAGOS, NIGERIA;  15 October 2020 – As the world marks this year’s World 
Food Day today October 16th 2020, themed, “Grow, Nourish, Sustain. Together. Our actions are our future”, Emirates SkyCargo is proud to have maintained a supply chain for food and other perishables in this period of COVID-19 pandemic.

With COVID-19 and the disruption to international passenger aviation, the supply chain for food products was put into risk of disruption. 
However, Emirates SkyCargo worked very quickly to restore its international cargo connectivity, growing its network from just around 35 destinations on its freighter aircraft at the end of March to more than 130 destinations by early October on its freighter as well as passenger aircraft. Currently around 500 tonnes of food items are transported every day in the cargo hold of Emirates aircraft across the world.

As a socially responsible carrier, Emirates SkyCargo has ensured that adequate cargo capacity remains available on its widebody aircraft during the COVID-19 pandemic for the transport of urgent medical supplies as well as food items. By doing this, the air cargo carrier is able to help countries and supermarkets maintain their food supplies and at the same time help farmers reliant on food exports continue to make their livelihoods in these challenging times.

Consumers across the world have integrated international ingredients and produce into their daily diets for taste and nutritional reasons. 
Members of international diaspora also look for comfort food offerings from their home countries in supermarket shelves. With Emirates SkyCargo’s global network and flight 

schedule, food items from diverse 
origins retain their freshness as they are rapidly transported to their 
final destinations and the dining tables of consumers.

Emirates SkyCargo’s first freighter flight took off from Guadalajara, Mexico, on the 2nd of October, and the growth of export markets over the last decade has also provided a boost to farming communities and agriculture in the various production markets. Emirates SkyCargo’s flights provide a quick and direct connection for farmers and exporters of food items to their international end customers, thereby supporting their livelihoods and the local economy.

Call for Entries: APO Group African Women in Media Award to Recognise Support of Female Journalists for Women’s Entrepreneurship in Africa

The winner will be bestowed with USD 2,500 cash prize, and online courses from one of the most respected international universities

APO Group (APO-opa.com), the leading pan-African communications and business consultancy, presents the second annual APO Group African Women in Media Award set to recognise, celebrate and empower African women journalists who support female entrepreneurship in Africa.

The Award will be bestowed to the winner at the 6th Africa Women Innovation and Entrepreneurship Forum’s (AWIEF) (AWIEForum.org) Virtual Conference and Awards hosted on 2-3 December 2020, with the theme ‘Reimagining Business & Rebuilding Better.’

AWIEF’s prestigious annual event is a platform that sees global thought leaders, industry experts, policymakers, academics, development organisations and investors gather to dialogue, connect, network, share, collaborate and transact in a combined effort to boost Africa’s entrepreneurship ecosystem for women.

Nicolas Pompigne-Mognard, Chairman and Founder of APO Group said, “The launch of our inaugural award in 2019 was successful in putting a spotlight on the work of female journalists sharing the stories of women entrepreneurs in Africa. We are proud to continue The APO Group African Women in Media Award as part of our commitment to supporting the development of journalism on the continent. We look forward to presenting this award with AWIEF in Johannesburg as we celebrate women in journalism and entrepreneurship.”

Entries for APO Group African Women in Media Award must offer valuable insights into African female entrepreneurs while appealing to a global audience.

The award is open to African woman journalists and bloggers, whether directly employed or freelancers, working in the continent of Africa who have produced a story that has been broadcast or published in English, French, Portuguese or Arabic in the form of a printed publication, a television feature, a radio story, a website or a blog whose primary audience is based in Africa.

Stories must have been broadcast or published between 1st January and 31st October 2020.

We look forward to presenting this award with AWIEF in Johannesburg as we celebrate women in journalism and entrepreneurship

Stories are judged on content, writing, analysis, creativity, human interest and community impact.

All stories must be submitted in electronic format:

– Print: upload the scan(s) of the published article;

– Radio: upload the SoundCloud link;

– Website: upload the URL or

– TV: upload the YouTube link.

TV material must first be uploaded to YouTube (YouTube.com) and radio material to SoundCloud (SoundCloud.com). If one is not a member of these sites, one will need to sign up in order to upload the video or radio material. Once one has obtained the link, one must enter it in this online entry form when inputting one’s story details.

The online entry form is available here: http://bit.ly/APOaward

The deadline for entries is 31st October 2020. The finalists will be announced on 20th November 2020 while the winner will be announced on Thursday, 3 December 2020.1.  

About APO Group:
Founded in 2007, APO Group (APO-opa.com) is the leading pan-African communications and business consultancy. We assist private and public organisations in sharpening their reputation and increasing their brand equity in target countries across Africa. Our role as a trusted partner is to leverage the power of media and build bespoke strategies that enable organisations to produce a real, measurable impact in Africa and beyond. The trust and recognition granted to APO Group by global and multinational companies, governments, and NGOs inspires us to continuously enhance our value proposition within Africa to better cater to our clients’ needs. Among our prestigious clients: Facebook, Dangote Group, Nestlé, GE, Uber, Microsoft, Nokia, NBA, Canon, PwC, DHL, Marriott Group, Ecobank, Philips, Siemens, Standard Chartered, HP, Hilton, Ernst & Young, Orange.

Headquarters: Lausanne, Switzerland | Offices in Senegal, Dubai and Hong Kong.

For further information, please visit our website: APO-opa.com.

About AWIEF:
AWIEF (www.AWIEForum.org) is a pan-African women’s economic empowerment organisation that promotes and supports female innovation, technology and entrepreneurship across Africa through a portfolio of high impact programmes. AWIEF’s mission is to foster the economic inclusion, advancement and empowerment of women in Africa through entrepreneurship support and development. AWIEF’s programmes and activities include accelerators, capacity-building and training, networking and mentorship, AWIEF Awards, AWIEF Digital Hub, and building the AWIEF community of African women entrepreneurs. The year-round activities culminate in convening and hosting the popular and widely attended annual international and multi-stakeholder AWIEF conference, exhibition and awards event, currently in its fifth edition. Website: www.AWIEForum.org.

Delta Air Lines Announces September Quarter Financial Results

September quarter 2020 GAAP pre-tax loss of $6.9 billion and loss per share of $8.47 on total revenue of $3.1 billion

September quarter 2020 adjusted pre-tax loss of $2.6 billion and adjusted loss per share of $3.30 on adjusted revenue of $2.6 billion

Delta ended the September quarter 2020 with $21.6 billion in liquidity

ATLANTA, Oct. 13, 2020 – Delta Air Lines (NYSE:DAL) today reported financial results for the September quarter 2020. 

“While our September quarter results demonstrate the magnitude of the pandemic on our business, we have been  encouraged as more customers travel and we 

are seeing a path of progressive improvement in our revenues, financial results and daily cash burn,” said Ed Bastian, Delta’s chief executive officer.  “The actions we are taking now to take care of our people, simplify our fleet, improve the customer experience, and strengthen our brand will allow Delta to accelerate into a post-COVID recovery.”

September Quarter Financial Results  

Revenue Environment

Delta’s adjusted operating revenue of $2.6 billion for the September quarter was down 79 percent versus the September 2019 quarter as demand for air travel remains under significant pressure.  Passenger revenues declined 83 percent on 63 percent lower capacity.  Non-ticket revenue streams have performed relatively better than passenger revenues, with total loyalty revenues declining 60 percent and cargo declining 25 percent.

“With a slow and steady build in demand, we are restoring flying to meet our customers’ needs, while staying nimble with our capacity in light of COVID-19,” said Glen Hauenstein, Delta’s president.  “While it may be two years or more until we see a normalized revenue environment, by restoring customer confidence in travel and building customer loyalty now, we are creating the foundation for sustainable future revenue growth.”

Setting the Foundation for Recovery

Delta has taken a number of actions to position the company to accelerate into a post-COVID recovery:

Taking great care of Delta people

  • Through the voluntary separation and early 
  • retirement programs, voluntary unpaid leaves, job sharing and other initiatives, the company has been able to avoid involuntary furloughs for ground and flight attendant employees
  • Launching a “Stop the Spread.  Save Lives.” campaign to emphasize the six core health actions that protect Delta employees against COVID-19, including wearing masks, social distancing, testing and getting a flu shot.  Delta is providing no-cost COVID-19 testing and flu shots for its U.S. employees  

Improving the customer experience

  • Emphasizing health and safety with the Delta CareStandard, a multi-layered approach that includes intense cleaning protocols, blocking middle seats and requiring masks onboard all aircraft
  • Reducing complexity for customers by eliminating change fees for nearly all domestic fares and redeposit/reissuance fees on domestic reward tickets for SkyMiles Members
  • Taking a customer-centric approach to refunds, with approximately $2.8 billion returned to customers year-to-date.

Simplifying the fleet

  • Restructuring its Airbus and CRJ aircraft order books to better match the timing of aircraft deliveries with network and financial needs over the next several years.  The restructuring reduces aircraft purchase commitments by more than $2 billion in 2020 and by more than $5 billion through 2022
  • Accelerating its fleet simplification strategy, which is intended to modernize and streamline the company’s fleet, enhance the customer experience and generate cost savings.  The company has announced plans to accelerate retirements of nearly 400 aircraft by 2025, including more than 200 in 2020.

I

Cost Performance

Total adjusted operating expense for the September quarter decreased $5.5 billion or 52 percent versus the prior year quarter excluding $3.1 billion in charges related to the voluntary separation and early retirement programs for employees, $2.2 billion in restructuring charges from fleet-related decisions, and a $1.3 billion CARES Act benefit.  This performance was driven by a $1.8 billion or 78 percent reduction in fuel expense, a 75 percent reduction in maintenance expense from parking or retiring nearly 40 percent of mainline aircraft and lower volume- and revenue-related expenses.  Salaries and benefits expense was down 32 percent as a result of approximately 18,000 employees electing to depart the company in addition to benefits from voluntary unpaid leaves, work hour reductions and other initiatives.

Non-operating expense for the quarter was $349 million higher versus the prior year quarter, driven primarily by $221 million in higher interest expense from increased debt levels the company has incurred during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Our results this quarter were underpinned by a strong focus on costs, as we reduced adjusted operating expenses by more than 50 percent, similar to the June quarter, despite flying 23 points more capacity,” said Paul Jacobson, Delta’s chief financial officer.  “That cost focus allowed the increase we’ve seen in net sales to flow directly into an improvement in our daily cash burn, which improved from $27 million per day in June to $18 million per day in September.”

Balance Sheet, Cash and Liquidity

Delta ended the September quarter with $21.6 billion in liquidity.  Cash used in operations during the quarter was $2.6 billion.  Daily cash burn averaged $24 million for the quarter, with an average of $18 million for the month of September. 

At the end of the September quarter, the company had total debt and finance lease obligations of $34.9 billion with adjusted net debt of $17.0 billion, $6.5 billion higher than December 31, 2019.  In September, Delta completed the largest debt offering in aviation history, raising $9.0 billion at a blended average rate of 4.75 percent secured by its SkyMiles loyalty program.  In addition, the company borrowed $1.5 billion at a blended yield of 4.4 percent in connection with the issuance of tax-exempt bonds, that will be used to finance the LaGuardia airport project.  Thecompany’s total debt had a weighted average interest rate of 4.3 percent at September 30, 2020.

Subsequent to the end of the quarter, the company repaid the $3 billion, 364-day term loan that it entered into in March, increasing its unencumbered asset base to $9 to $10 billion of aircraft, engines and spare parts and reducing remaining debt amortization and maturities to $2.3 billion through the end of 2021.  The company also repaid $2.6 billion under its revolving credit facilities drawn down in March 2020.

At the end of the September quarter, the company’s Air Traffic Liability stood at $4.6 billion, including a current liability of $4.4 billion and a non-current liability of $0.2 billion.  The non-current liability represents the current estimate of tickets to be flown, as well as credits to be used, beyond one year.  Travel credits represent approximately 60 percent of the Air Traffic Liability at the end of the September quarter.

CARES Act Accounting, Fleet Restructuring and Voluntary Separation and Early Retirement Program Charges

In the September quarter, the company received $701 million under the payroll support program (PSP) of the CARES Act, consisting of $491 million in additional grant funds and a $210 million increase in the low-interest, unsecured 10-year loan.  The September quarter amount includes an incremental $157 million beyond the initial $5.4 billion Delta was allocated in April 2020.  In the September quarter, approximately $1.3 billion of the grant was recognized as a contra-expense, which is reflected as “CARES Act grant recognition” on the Consolidated Statements of Operations.  The company expects to use the remaining proceeds from the PSP by the end of 2020. 

During the September quarter, the company made the decision to retire its 717-200 fleet and the remainder of its 767-300ER fleet by 2025 and its CRJ-200 fleet by 2023.  As a result of these decisions, the company recorded $2.2 billion in fleet-related charges, which are reflected in “Restructuring charges” on the Consolidated Statement of Operations. 

The company offered voluntary separation and early retirement programs to employees during the September quarter.  Approximately 18,000 employees participated in the programs, with most leaving the company August 1, resulting in a $3.1 billion restructuring charge in the September quarter, which 

is reflected in “Restructuring charges” on the Consolidated Statement of Operations.  Cash payments in connection with these programs totaled $813 million in the September quarter, and these payments are excluded from daily cash burn figures.  The company anticipates an additional $150 to $250 million in cash payments in the December quarter, $600 million in 2021 and the remaining payments in 2022 and beyond.

September Quarter Results

September quarter results have been adjusted primarily for the CARES Act grant recognition and restructuring charges described above.


SAHCO INTRODUCES ANKARA UNIFORM FOR OPERATIONAL STAFF, BUILDS SANITISING STATION

Skyway Aviation Handling Company (SAHCO) PLC has introduced a branded ankara uniform for its frontline operations staff.

The introduction of the ankara patterned uniform is to showcase the Nigerian culture to the world through the company’s day to day operations.  As an indigenous company with a global soul that was an arm of the Nigerian Airways before it was acquired by SIFAX Group and now listed in the Nigerian Stock Exchange with an all Nigerian top Executives, SAHCO has always been proud to showcase Nigerian culture to the world through quality services to clients. More so, the introduction of the Ankara uniforms coincides with the 60th Anniversary of the existence of Nigeria as a country

The new uniform’s theme is a fusion of abstract shapes of orange and dark grey which is SAHCO’s brand colours all incorporated in a Nigerian themed Ankara design. These uniforms will help create more awareness about SAHCO’s brand while also promoting the Nigerian culture since the first point of contact to SAHCO as a company is usually through the front-line staff.

SAHCO is the first Ground Handling company to adopt Ankara design uniform. The focus of the uniform is not to change the ones used by operations staff, but to have an additional uniform that aims at projecting the “Buy Nigeriato Grow the Naira” slogan and to promote the Nigerian cultural heritage and pride.

For clarity’s sake, SAHCO is not changing the officialuniform, but the company is giving operational staff a different option for their convenience and comfort, using our indigenous Ankara fabrics.

In another development, SAHCO has produced a Contactless sanitizing station in a bid to contain the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic to all visitors to SAHCO’s facilities.  The sanitizing station which was constructed from locally sourced materials is fitted with a speech sensor system that senses human presence after which it automatically plays Covid-19 educational information to the hearings of users.  The sanitizing machine is contactless and fitted with different compartments- running water, liquid soap, alcohol base hand sanitizer, wipes, hand dryer and waste-bin. All these are controlled with pedals so as to prevent contacts by multiple users.

Furthermore, the station is solar powered in a bid to promote green energy. It is worthy to note that this is not the first equipment that has been produced by the Engineering and Maintenance team of SAHCO, not too long ago, the team produced a fuel bowser that is used to fuel Ground Support Equipment on the ramp and they have also produced baggage carts, all from locally sourced materials.

SAHCO PLC has been adjudged as a pace setter in providing Ground Handling services across West Africansubregion, this is as a result of SAHCO’s continuous innovations, through human and technology to provide speedy, safe and efficient Ground Handling to all its clients 

NIGERIA TO BENEFIT AS UK ANNOUNCES COVID-19 RESEARCH SUPPORT WITH TWENTY NEW INTERNATIONAL PROJECTS.

UK government invests £7.2 million in 20 new research projects to address the impact of Covid-19 in vulnerable communities• Projects include delivering mass vaccination capacity in Bangladesh, protective equipment for refugees in Jordan and remote healthcare access for patients in Nigeria  

On September 5th, 2020, the UK government announced its continued support of vulnerable communities through the impact and challenges of CoVID-19 with funding in areas of research and technology.

In partnership with some of the UK’s leading research institutions, twenty new projects will benefit from a share of £7.2 million of UK government funding to develop new technology and processes to address challenges.

Some of the projects announced today include:• The University of Birmingham, working with BracUniversity and Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology will lead a project to increase vaccine access in developing economies, by researching more effective ways of storing and transporting vaccines from manufacture to the point of use. Weak supply chains with inconsistent temperature control can reduce the effectiveness of vaccines by up to 25 per cent, so this vital project will help fast track Covid-19 vaccine delivery.• King’s College London will lead a training programme for healthcare workers across Nigeria and Tanzania enabling them to deliver trusted and safe care to patients over the phone where internet availability is limited. Trials will involve 20 health clinics in each country to test the effectiveness of remote health appointments, recommended by the World Health Organization during the pandemic, to help minimise physical contact that could spread the virus. King’s College London will work with University of Ibadan, Nigeria; Makerere University, Uganda; and St Francis University College of Health and Allied Sciences, Tanzania.• The University of Bath and the University of Lagos aim to address the issue of limited Covid-19 testing capacity in Africa by leading a project to measure the disease in domestic wastewater, which can help reveal the health status of a population. By studying wastewater, real time information about infection prevalence across South Africa and Nigeria can be accessed, enabling rapid identification of Covid-19 hot spots, and helping to shape decisions around entry and exit from ‘lockdown’ periods.

Business Secretary Alok Sharma said:

Defeating coronavirus is a truly global endeavour, which is why we’re backing Britain’s scientists and researchers to work with their international counterparts to find tech solutions to treat and combat this virus around the world.

“The research projects we are backing today will ensure that we equip some of the most vulnerable communities with the resources they need to tackle Covid-19 and build their long-term resilience to respond to future pandemics, making us all safer.”

Other projects receiving funding include:• The University of Oxford will work with the University of Cape Town to develop a parental advice app for families affected by COVID- 19 school closures across Africa;• Birmingham City University will partner with Lusaka and Ndola Colleges of Nursing to help improve the clinical decision making of nurses in Zambia, helping to free up their time and prevent healthcare systems from becoming overwhelmed;• The University of Sheffield will work with the UN Refugee Agency to make personal protective equipment with digital and 3D printing for Jordan’s Zaatari refugee camp, home to approximately 80,000 Syrian refugees, helping to protect those living in crowded conditions that are most vulnerable to the virus; and• The University of Edinburgh will work with the Open University of Tanzania to identify measures to make voting safer and more secure in African elections to promote social distancing and to slow the spread of coronavirus.

Professor Andrew Thompson, International Champion, UK Research and Innovation said

Covid-19 is demonstrating how the world’s biggest problems transcend rich and poor countries. To find lasting, sustainable solutions to help us all during this current pandemic as well as to make us all more resilient for the future, we require global thinking, the mobilisation of global expertise and a global response. That is exactly what these new projects provide. 

“Working together, researchers in the UK and across the Global South will combine their knowledge and experience to develop innovative solutions to help empower local communities to overcome the wide-ranging challenges created by Covid.”

The funding follows the launch of the government’s ambitious R&D Roadmap in July, which committed to boosting international collaboration in research and development and establishing global scientific partnerships that will create health, social and economic benefits across the world.

It will be managed by UK aid programmes- the Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF) and the Newton Fund- through UK Research and Innovation

Emirates resumes flights to Lagos and Abuja.

Lagos, 6 September 2020 – Emirates flights to Nigeria will resume this week. Passenger services to Lagos will start again on 7 September and daily flights to Abuja from 9 September. The resumption of flights to both Nigerian cities takes Emirates’ African network to 13 destinations, as the airline works hard to help its customers travel safely and confidently, implementing industry-leading health and safety measures at all points of the travel journey.
Flights to Lagos will operate four times a week on Monday, Wednesday,
Friday and Sunday. Flights to/from Abuja will operate daily.
Passengers travelling from both cities in Nigeria to the Americas,Europe, Middle East and Asia Pacific can enjoy safe and convenient connections via Dubai, and customers can stop over or travel to Dubai as the city has re-opened for international business and leisure visitors.
To ensure the safety of travellers, visitors, and the community, COVID-19 PCR tests are mandatory for all inbound and transit passengers arriving to Dubai (and the UAE), including UAE citizens, residents and tourists, irrespective of the country they are coming from. From sun-soaked beaches and heritage activities to world class hospitality and leisure facilities, Dubai is one of the most popular global destinations. In 2019, the city welcomed 16.7 million visitors and hosted over hundreds of global meetings and exhibitions, as well as sports and entertainment events. Dubai was one of the world’s first cities to obtain Safe Travels stamp from the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) – which endorses Dubai’s comprehensive and effective measures to ensure guest health and safety.  Emirates’ booking policies offer customers flexibility and confidence to plan their travel. Customers who purchase an Emirates ticket by 30 September 2020 for travel on or before 30 November 2020, can enjoy generous rebooking terms and options, if they have to change their travel plans due to unexpected flight or travel restrictions relating to COVID-19, or when they book a Flex or Flex plus fare. Customers can also now travel with confidence, as Emirates has committed to cover COVID-19 related medical expenses, free of cost, should they be diagnosed with COVID-19 during their travel while they are away from home. This cover is immediately effective for customers flying on Emirates until 31 October 2020 and is valid for 31 days from the moment they fly the first sector of their journey. This means Emirates customers can continue to benefit from the added assurance of this cover, even if they travel onwards to another city after arriving at their Emirates destination.
Emirates has implemented a comprehensive set of measures at every step of the customer journey to ensure the safety of its customers and employees on the ground and in the air, including the distribution of complimentary hygiene kits containing masks, gloves, hand sanitizer and antibacterial wipes to all customers.