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.

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 

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.

Five ways Delta is keeping lavatories safe and clean for you

  • Hand sanitizer stations will be available near boarding doors and lavatories on every Delta aircraft – a first for U.S. airlines 
  • Dispensers developed in partnership with Delta Flight Products
  • Builds on extensive layers of protection from curb to claim as part of the Delta CareStandard

Cleanliness across travel and particularly in airplane lavatories is of utmost importance, especially in the COVID-19 era, but Delta customers can rest easy.  

“Over the past few months, our customer satisfaction scores have skyrocketed by double digits, including those for onboard lavatory cleanliness,” said Bill Lentsch, Chief Customer Experience Officer. “But that’s not stopping us from going even further to make sure customers feel safe and comfortable when they travel with Delta.” 

Here are five ways we are keeping lavatories – and the rest of your onboard experience – safe, clean and comfortable on every flight, with even more enhancements to come:

1.    Hand sanitizer stations are coming to your flight soon: Delta will become the first U.S. airline* where customers can find hand sanitizer stations near the boarding door and bathrooms on every Delta aircraft. Now, you’ll truly never be more than a few feet away from hand sanitizer, with stations available from curb to claim. 

Depending on the size of the aircraft and the number of customers, each Delta aircraft will have up to five hand sanitizer stations. Installations begin on Aug. 28 with the Boeing 757-200 fleet.

2.    Flight attendants are wiping down high-touch surfaces in lavatories frequently during each flight: While in the air, flight attendants regularly make sure lavatories are clean, tidy, fully stocked with supplies and ready for customers. Using kits that include disinfectant spray, wipes and gloves, flight attendants ensure the thorough sanitization completed prior to boarding stays fresh.

3.    Look out for hands-free features already in many lavatories: Bathrooms on Delta’s A350s, A330-900neos, 767-400s and 757-200s already have some hands-free features such as touchless faucets, flush levers and waste lids. As we continue to look for more ways to reduce touch points, we’ll be exploring how we can bring touchless features forward throughout the travel experience.

4.    Hand-washing reminders will be in each lavatory: Already installed on more than 130 planes, all aircraft bathrooms will soon feature hand-washing reminders.

5.    We will continue to use electrostatic sprayers before every flight, every day:Every interior surface is thoroughly sanitized prior to boarding using electrostatic sprayers. Following this process, cleaning crews complete an extensive checklist of cleaning procedures using this same high-grade disinfectant to wipe down personal and common areas of the cabin – including lavatories. Our employees then perform spot checks throughout the aircraft and if it doesn’t meet their high standards before you board, our teams are encouraged to hold the flight to call back the cleaning crew.

Delta and Delta Flight Products developed the new hand sanitizer stations 

The new hand sanitizer stations were designed in partnership with Delta Flight Products – the airline’s innovative industrial manufacturing subsidiary that quickly shifted its capabilities earlier in the year to focus on responding to the pandemic. In June, Delta and Delta Flight Products teams went to work to find ways to make hand sanitizer accessible and available on board. They quickly created, tested, refined and certified the units you’ll experience on the plane – complete with PURELL® Advanced Hand Sanitizer. Since the pandemic started, DFP has also manufactured face shields for medical professionals, developed plexiglass safety barriers in use across Delta touch points and worked with Delta TechOps to produce a military transport pod for the U.S. Air Force.

Delta’s new Global Cleanliness Division is working with teams across the airline and with partners to advance safety and cleanliness throughout travel. For example, Delta’s partnership with RB, the makers of Lysol®, will inform the development of future disinfecting solutions and protocols for both the airport and onboard experience, and the lavatory is one of the team’s first areas of focus. 
Building on Delta’s already robust onboard cleanliness efforts as part of the Delta CareStandard, these new, industry-leading cleanliness features create a safer, more comfortable onboard experience for customers and employees alike. From blocking middle seats into January 2021 to changing high-grade HEPA air filters twice as often as recommended, the airline is constantly updating best practices and improving the new standard of care based on expert medical advice and the feedback of customers. Using the same innovative spirit we’re known for, we continue to evolve, always with cleanliness and safety top of mind.

Learn more about the Delta CareStandardand Delta’s health and safety protocols.

Delta brings back more flights across the Atlantic this winter and summer 2021


As Delta works to restart service in line with the lifting of travel restrictions, potential vaccine availability and the gradual return of demand, customers will see more trans-Atlantic and trans-Pacific flights to top business and leisure destinations for the winter 2020-2021 and summer 2021 seasons. While the airline expects pre-COVID level recovery for international flying tocontinue to lag U.S. domestic, Delta plans to add over 50 transoceanic flights next summer, compared to the summer 2020 schedule.

Delta will focus its strengths in its core markets and with the support of its partners, offer customers a wide array of onward connections.

“While significant hurdles remain in the global fight against the pandemic, we are ready to connect customers to the people, places, opportunities and experiences they’re longing for,” said Joe Esposito, S.V.P. – Network Planning. “Customers flying internationally can look forward to a modernized fleet featuring our latest cabin products and a travel experience that prioritizes their health and the health of our employees from check-in to baggage claim.”

As customers consider future travel, whether international or domestic, Delta’s multi-layered approach to their health and safety ensures peace of mind throughout the travel journey. These include, but are not limited to:• Sanitizing all aircraft with electrostatic spraying before departure and extensive pre-flight disinfection of high-touch points throughout the aircraft interior.• Using state-of-the-art air circulation systems with HEPA filters that extract more than 99.99% of particles, including viruses. • Blocking all middle seats and limiting the number of customers per flight through Jan. 6, 2021.• Requiring face masks throughout the airport, in Delta Sky Clubs and on board the aircraft

Delta’s partners have also introduced measures to ensure that customers enjoy a hassle-free, seamless and safe experience from start to finish, with regular updates posted on their websites as service returns.  

Delta will operate the adjusted schedule with a more efficient, upgraded fleet of Airbus A350-900s, A330-900neos andrefurbished Boeing 767s, following the retirement of its Boeing 777 aircraft by the end of October 2020.

Customers can also enjoy greater flexibility in case their plans change, as Delta has extended its change-fee waiver for new flights purchased through Sept. 30, 2020.

Delta’s schedule remains subject to change due to the evolving nature of COVID-19, customer demand, government travel regulations and federal health guidelines. Specific restart dates may vary for previously suspended routes due to travel restrictions and other operational requirements. Delta will make decisions about resuming additional service on other routes at a later date.

Trans-Pacific Schedule 

Delta is maintaining its global presence and investment in Seattle (SEA) over the next year, which continues to be a premier gateway for travel to Asia. Continued daily service next year from Sea-Tac to Tokyo-Haneda (HND), Seoul-Incheon(ICN), Beijing (BJS), and Shanghai (PVG) will allow customers to connect further within the region through Delta’s partners, Korean Air and China Eastern.

With the opening of the new international arrivals facility at SEA, Delta will offer an entirely upgraded experience for local and connecting customers with direct or one-stop partner access to over 95% of Asia markets. Customers traveling from Seattleto any destination the airline serves in Asia will enjoy an enhanced experience on efficient, next-generation aircraft featuring the award-winning Delta One suites and the popular Delta Premium Select cabin.

At Delta’s partner hub at ICN, customers can connect on Delta’s current flights from Atlanta (ATL), Detroit (DTW) and Seattle to over 70 destinations throughout Asia via partner Korean Air. In April 2021, Delta plans to return to service between Minneapolis(MSP) and Seoul-Incheon.

Delta also remains committed to the Japan market and by summer 2021, will offer service from seven U.S. cities to Haneda, Tokyo’s closest and most convenient airport. Currently, the airline offers up to 14 weekly flights across its Atlanta, Detroit, Los Angeles (LAX) and Seattle gateways. Beginning in December 2020, Delta plans to add up to four-times weekly services between Haneda and Honolulu (HNL).

Between the U.S. and China, Delta is working closely with governments in both countries to increase service in response to high demand. Currently, Delta operates four weekly flights to Shanghai (PVG) from Detroit and Seattle. Subject to approval, the airline plans to increase service between these destinations. In summer 2021, Delta hopes to operate daily service between Shanghai and Detroit, Seattle and Los Angeles, plus daily service connecting Sea-Tac with Beijing’s new Daxing Airport, subject to government approval.

To Australia, Delta plans to maintain a minimum of thrice-weekly service between Los Angeles and Sydney (SYD) before resuming daily service in 2021. The flight will be operated on Airbus 350-900 aircraft beginning in November, which offers more luxury and comfort with the Delta One suite, Delta Premium Select cabin, large in-flight entertainment screens and more personal space.

Trans-Atlantic Schedule

As travel restrictions lift and Delta begins to restore its global network, the airline plans to increase flying in the trans-Atlantic market from winter 2020-2021 to summer 2021.

Between September and October, Delta will resume service to several major business and leisure markets, including a buildup at its hub in New York-JFK.

Delta will resume Atlanta – Lagos*(LOS) – subject to Nigerian government approval for resumption of international flights operation.

In September Delta will resume:• Boston – London-Heathrow (LHR)• New York-JFK – Accra* (ACC)• New York-JFK – Barcelona (BCN)• New York-JFK – Madrid (MAD)• New York-JFK – Rome (FCO)

In October, Delta will add: • New York-JFK – Brussels (BRU)• New York-JFK – Dublin (DUB• New York-JFK – Frankfurt (FRA)• New York-JFK – Zurich (ZRH)• Seattle – Paris-Charles de Gaulle (CDG)

Service between Boston and Paris will return in November.

Following this resumption of service in the fall, Delta expects tomaintain a similar schedule across the Atlantic through winter 2021.

Moving into next summer, Delta will expand its hub-to-hub flying between the U.S. and Europe, offering nonstop daily service to Amsterdam (AMS), Paris and London-Heathrow from Atlanta, Boston, Detroit, New York-JFK and Minneapolis. From Seattle and Salt Lake City, customers will have nonstop daily access to Amsterdam and Paris. Delta’s LAX hub will offer nonstop service to Paris. This expansion also marks a restart of trans-Atlantic service for L.A., Minneapolis and Salt Lake City.

Additionally, Delta will add back service to Paris from our focus cities Cincinnati (CVG) and Raleigh-Durham (RDU), as well as service to Amsterdam from Portland (PDX).

From AMS, CDG or LHR, customers will then have access to over 160 destinations throughout the region via partners Virgin Atlantic and Air France-KLM.

Delta remains committed to ensuring customers benefit from easy access across the pond through its key hubs in ATL, BOS and JFK. By next summer, customers traveling through JFK will have direct access to six more seasonal destinations popular with leisure travelers. Delta will also resume popular vacation spots from Atlanta, such as Barcelona, Dublin, Rome and Madrid. Service from Boston to Paris, London-Heathrow and Dublin will increase to daily.

IT’S CRITICAL TO ELIMINATE BUREAUCRATIC DELAYS IN CARGO CLEARANCE – Comptroller MUSA MBA, Customs Area Controller of Tincan Island Port Area Command.

The severity of the negative impact of the global pandemic called Corona Virus and otherwise known as Covid-19 on all facets of the world cannot be overemphasized. Unfortunately, and very worrisome too, the virus has continued to spread across the world with more than 12.7million confirmed cases in 188 Countries and more than 560,000 deaths as at Sunday 12 July, 2020. Since a potent cure has not been found for the virusyet, and it seems that we might be living with the virus for a while, we at IWA decided to go into the market to find out from market leaders how they plan to cope with the new normal occasioned by the pandemic. IWA, paid a visit to the Customs Area Controller of Tincan Island Port Area Command, Comptroller Musa MBA, below is an extract of the interview we had with him:

IWA: Sir, how do you intend to steer the ship of this area command to successfully cope with the negative impact of the Corona Virus?

MUSA: It is obvious that with the advent of this ravaging Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, what we knew and had accepted as normal are fast giving way to a new yet very fluid normal that for the moment changes on a daily basis. We are clearly in a transitory state, coping with the COVID-19 crisis, which has continued to adversely disrupt all the facets of our lives – health, economy, education, government, businesses, social order, religion, etc. It is an unusual situation and as a frontline government regulatory agency vested with the responsibility of facilitating trade and collecting revenue among other statutory functions operating in the midst of these uncertain times, having first-hand clear knowledge and understanding of the pandemic from health experts is imperative to safeguard lives and livelihoods. It is for this reason, that apart from the efforts we have continued to make at the area command level and zonal office, the management of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), led by Colonel Hammed Ali (RTD), had right from the start ensured that all officers and men of the service have first-hand knowledge and understanding of the pandemic. Like in most other countries, the first major response of the Nigerian government to the pandemic was to lockdown the nation, for the people to stay at home and maintain safe distance to prevent the spread of this infectious disease. As you know officers working in the ports, were exempted from the lockdown because we provide what the Government categorized as essential services.  

Luckily, some aspects of cargo clearance procedures were already being done remotely. For example, with the aid of NICIS II software recently approved by the Comptroller General of Customs, submission of e-manifest, submission of e-declaration, generation of assessment, online/e-payments (banks). E-release for transactions that are selected green, e-terminal release and e-exit of cargo are being done seamlessly. In addition, other procedures like fast track, transit and free trade consignments were moved to owner’s premises, terminals and zones respectively for other inspection protocols to be done there and so it has been easy to minimize human contacts without unnecessarily upsetting our operations in this area command. Essential imports are given expeditious treatment and release as officers of certain categories alternated duties, while the use of face masks, sanitizers, physical distancing are enforced in providing and maintaining a safe and conducive work environment. 

IWA: Are there things that you were already doing in your area command before now that are likely to come in handy in the new normal? 

MUSA: The Nigeria Customs Service is a member of the World Customs Organisation (WCO) which is the umbrella body of all Customs Administrations around the world. As I have enumerated in my answer to your first question, most of WCO’s conventions, for example, the Revised Kyoto Conference, or the ‘Arusha Declaration’ of the WCO are meant to achieve best practices, transparency, harmonization, integrity, speedy clearance of goods, fast track, risk management-based operations etc. Specifically, most of the trade facilitation innovations like transmission of e-manifest, e-declaration and e-payments are in line with the new normal, as they make for reduction in human to human contact, thus making keeping of safe distance, easy.

IWA: What are the strategies you consider necessary for you to deploy to successfully cope with the new normal?

MUSA: Essentially, we are aware that we need to be more innovative and creative in our operations. Like the saying goes, ‘necessity is the mother of invention’. So, the necessity to live with the new normal requires us to take a complete assessment of our processes and procedures with a view of identifying existing gaps and fixing them. One critical area that we want to quickly fix, is to reduce or completely eliminate bureaucratic delays and focus on facilitating speedy clearance of cargoes from this area command. It is very apparent that we need to find a way of working more remotely, the era of crowding or staying long hours in the office is over. The focus now is to speed up operations in the ports and swiftly solve problems, which is why I think government and terminal operators need to urgently invest in the provision of scanners at all entry points for scanning of cargos, I believe this will be a worthwhile investment in the short and long run. It is also necessary to automate some aspects of vehicle clearance like the issuance of ex-factory values for used vehicles such that the declarant can submit declarations online and officers will only need to login and do the verification accordingly, create flexible and shorter supply chains with more and prompt value additions, use of trade free zone for production of essential products like pharmaceutical drugs and related items to reduce contact and work with businesses as partners to create value.

IWA: What are the likely challenges you think you may face in trying to build a new normal survival mechanism and how best do you intend to cope with them, get round them or overcome them?

MUSA: At a time like this, which is full of uncertainties and eventualities, it is important to generally develop the capacity to take on challenges and forge ahead. Therefore, I am essentially building confidence in my officers and men to stabilize the workplace and ensure that our primary responsibilities which are essentially facilitation of trade, revenue collection and suppression of smuggling are successfully carried out. We have also developed a robust infrastructure for the deployment of appropriate risk management tools/system capable of handling the transactions, guarding against cyber-attacks, manage the work force effectively by bringing them back to workplace and creating a sense of belonging, common purpose, shared responsibilities and some sort of re-assurance of safety and livelihood to officers and stakeholders.

IWA: What are the low hanging fruits to harvest in the new way we have started to do things because of the impact of the Corona Virus or everything is all bad?

MUSA: ironically, the ‘new normal’, has helped us to believemore in and deploy Information and communication technology (ICT), than we use to in our operations. I must say that we have had to continue to fine tune our operations along the way as we now more than ever constantly and carefully examine our operations. As an area command, the ‘new normal’, has made us improve substantially on the safety protocols of our officers and men. It has also helped us to have a cleaner working environment. Other “fruits” are deployment of efficient software for quality operations, increased transparency and harmonization and faster turnaround in the long run.

Delta teams up with CVS Health to accelerate employee COVID-19 testing

Delta Air Lines is partnering with CVS Health to accelerate employee COVID-19 testing with a rapid-response option for flight crews, a move that will build confidence about traveling with Delta among our people and customers alike. The CVS Health Return Ready SM testing will be overseen by a CVS Health clinician at Delta hub crew lounges and takes fewer than 15 minutes to diagnose whether the active COVID-19 virus is detected.

“Just like there’s no single method to reducing the transmission of the virus, there’s no one solution to testing our global workforce that is always on the move,” said Joanne Smith, Delta’s Executive Vice President and Chief People Officer. “That’s why we’re excited to be partnering with CVS Health and their clinicians to offer an additional convenient and reliable option to our people.”

The rapid-response nasal-swab test is the newest testing option Delta is providing employees so a baseline understanding of the infection can be established across Delta.

“It’s not feasible right now for everyone to take a test every time they walk out the door,” Smith said. “That’s why our baseline testing is so important, and we’re grateful to have partners who share our values and our vision to make testing easy and accessible to all Delta employees. We intend to use what we learn from this round of testing to make sure our re-testing program is one that continues to instill confidence among our people and with consumers about traveling with Delta.”

“Our relationship with Delta and their commitment to testing underscores Delta’s leadership in taking swift action in response to the pandemic, serving as a model for organizations with large, diverse and geographically dispersed workforces, and shows the important role that Return Ready COVID-19 testing can play in supporting continuity for the business community across many different industries,” said Troyen Brennan, M.D., M.P.H., Chief Medical Officer, CVS Health. “This is also another example of two values-based companies working together in innovative ways to keep people working while providing services people rely on.”

Health experts agree that a multi-layered approach that includes testing, regularly checking symptoms, wearing masks, distancing and personal hygiene are the greatest inhibitors to spreading COVID-19.

COVID-19 HAS COMPELLED STAKEHOLDERS IN MARITIME SECTOR TO BECOME INTERNET COMPLIANT –Comptroller Abba-Kura, Customs Area Controller, Apapa Area Command, Lagos

Undoubtedly, about six months since Coronavirus otherwise known as Covid 19 hit the world and Nigeria and their economies like a scourge in a very grievous and negative way, the stark reality is that the virus and its negative effects are most likely to continue to live with us for some time. It is for this reason that Inside Watch Africa (IWA) decided to visit the market to find out how industry players intend to ply their trade in the ‘new normal’, occasioned by the Coronavirus. IWA paid a courtesy visit to the Customs Area Controller of Apapa Area Command, Comptroller Abba-Kura to inquire from him how he intends to steer the ship of the command in the ‘new normal’. Below are the extracts from the interview:
IWA: Sir, how do you intend to steer the ship of this area command to be able to cope with the negative effects of the Coronavirus?
Abba-Kura: Right from inception, when a lot of people did not take the Coronavirus seriously, the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) was probably one of the first government agency in Nigeria that started to put structures and measures in place. First of all, the management of the Service led by the Comptroller General, Col. Hammeed Ali (retired) sent a medical team from the headquarters to all zonal headquarters and area commands. They lectured us on how to stay safe, we were taught on when and how best to wash our hands, use hand sanitizers, and the proper use of face masks. As you must have seen as you came into the area command, there are buckets of water with soaps and sanitizers stationed at the gate and these have been strategically placed all around the command right from the beginning. The front desk officers always take the temperature of everyone that comes into the area command and if it is discovered that anyone’s temperature is higher than the expected mark, such a person will not be allowed into the area command. Apart from the fact that people without face masks are not allowed into this command and even when somebody is allowed in, he or she will still be required to use the sanitizers by the door before entering the offices.
IWA: Are there things that you were already doing in your area command before now that are likely to come in handy in the “new normal’’?
Abba-Kura: As you know the services we rendered in the ports are categorized as essential service by the Federal Government of Nigeria. When the first full lockdown was declared by President Muhammadu Buhari in March, he directed that all the sea ports should remain open and we have been coming to our offices since then except on public holidays. My point simply is that, human and vehicular movements in and out of the ports are usually high, therefore, it is expedient to put a robust strategy in place to effectively and efficiently manage these movements. To directly answer your question one of the things we have been doing in this area command that I believe will come in handy in this ‘new normal’ is ‘capacity building’ of our officers and men as well as all our major stakeholders. We were able to train more than 403 senior officers last year and the main purpose of this training is to ensure that our officers and men as well as all stakeholders in this port are on the same page. We believe that this to a great extent will help minimize unnecessary disruptions in the clearing process. Although, the training has suffered some set back because of the coronavirus, we will soon resume Last week the committee on capacity building of this area command met and they are now working on the modalities to resume the training.
IWA: What other things do you consider essential to successfully cope with the Covid 19?
Abba-Kura: Two things that come straight to my mind are Infrastructure and non-intrusive examination of containers. I am sure that as you were coming down to the port you faced heavy traffic caused by the gridlock on the access road to Apapa. Once the issue of infrastructure is addressed the inflow and outflow of the port will improve and this will directly positively impact on the turnaround time of vessels coming into and leaving our ports. The other thing we need to get right is our scanners, we must ensure they are in good condition or purchase new ones. This I believe will make it a lot easier to observe social distancing because when containers are scanned there will be less people hanging around at examination bays to conduct physical examination and since this will make the process faster, it means more revenue will be generated for the government. Talking about revenue generation, let me quickly mention that not minding all the constraints induced by the coronavirus, we were still able to make great strides as far as revenue generation is concerned in this area command as we generated N227.3 billion in the first half of the year which is 10.59 per cent higher than what was generated in 2019.
IWA: What are the likely challenges you think you are likely to face in trying to build a new normal survival mechanism and how best do you intend to get around them?
Abba-Kura: Apart from what I mentioned above, the other challenge I foresee is how to get major stakeholders especially the representatives of the importers who are the clearing agents to buy into plying their trade strictly by the extant laws as laid down by the World Customs Organizations (WCO). They need to understand that we can only facilitate legitimate trade. It is also expedient to mention that we will find it easier to observe social distancing in our ports if those who do not have any business doing in the ports stay away from the ports.
IWA: What are the low hanging fruits to harvest in the new way we have started to do things because of the impact of the coronavirus or is everything all bad?
Abba-Kura: The very obvious thing to harvest is that we should be self-reliant and look inwards, we should devise other means of doing everything we do as a people. What I mean is that the way we do businesses should change because of this pandemic. Before now importers will most often travel to different countries to physically place orders for consignments, but with the recent restrictions on international travels globally everybody has had to embrace the internet to ply their trade. Those who were skeptical about the internet banking have braced up to deal with whatever phobia they had for internet banking.
It has become almost impossible to physically enter banks in Nigeria to transact any meaningful business because of the need to observe social distance. More people have now realized that certain social events can actually be conducted online.
I know a lot of schools that have been teaching their students online and some had even done exams. In fact we have even conducted a meeting with a unit of headquarters by making use of the zoom app and even on Saturday. I belong to the Chartered Institute of Loans and Risk Management of Nigeria and I am also a member of the governing council. The governing council held a meeting through zoom on Saturday where we deliberated on a lot of issues.
Going forward I will advise that all stakeholders who ply their trade in ours ports whether it is the sea, air or land borders particularly the importers or exporters as well as their clearing agents to get themselves acquainted with the use of internet as this has become the norm and the inescapable way for them to remain in business.

Bristow shows commitment to safety with COVID-19 Rescue

Bristow Helicopters Nigeria, one of the leading providers of the aviation services to the global offshore energy industry swung into full safety mode to tackle the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic.

In accordance with safety measures and efforts to halt the spread of COVID-19, Bristow instituted temperature checking across all its bases in collaboration with its primary aeromedical provider.

In addition, nurses were provided throughout the working day to provide staff and clients going offshore with the safety assurance that every passenger transiting their facilities in Lagos and Port Harcourt.

With zero case of COVID-19, Bristow is leveraging the wealth of experience garnered during the Ebola outbreak of 2014 and their experience with Search and Rescue operations worldwide.

Bristow has also taken a bold decision to outfit a primary and ‘back up’ helicopter dedicated to providing ‘best in class’ COVID Rescue for the offshore Industry. To date this is the only service of its type available in Africa.

The offshore helicopter firm debut with a specially retrofitted a Leonardo AW 189 aircraft which is equipped with two isolation pods and 2 seats for a doctor and a nurse, which boost to be the first of its type to be operated in Africa. 

With several successful missions carried out with the aircraft, Bristow Managing Director, Capt. Dapo Oyeleke said, “Bristow has once again  demonstrated its commitment to leading  from the front when it comes to safety and the provision of proactive solutions to the Nigerian Oil & Gas Industry’.

This service has brought a layer of additional safety to the Industry as COVID-19 cases can be transported without any risk of infection to crew and support personnel. The patient is transported in a fully sealed and ventilated isolation pod. 

“We are proud to have been able to offer this service and remain grateful to the Oil & Gas Industry for recognizing the value this service brought at a time of heightened risk” said Mayowa Babatunde the Senior Manager Business Development for Bristow Helicopters Nigeria.