Emirates cuts loss to $1.1bn as recovery ‘picks up pace’

Emirates has cut its annual loss by 80 per cent to $1.1 billion as the Dubai-based airline added capacity and reinstated more flights.

The airline is now serving more than 140 destinations as Emirates rebuilds its network following the Covid-19 pandemic. This includes flying its flagship A380 superjumbo aircraft to 29 destinations.

Emirates’ revenue rose by 91 per cent to $16.1 billion during the financial year up to 31 March 2022 compared with the previous year. Operating costs also increased by 30 per cent to $3.8 billion year-on-year as its fuel bill doubled due to the expansion in capacity and a 75 per cent rise in the average fuel price.

During this financial year, Emirates also received its final five A380 aircraft, featuring its first premium economy cabin, with these seats due to go on sale next month.

Emirates’ parent company Emirates Group, which also includes ground handler and tour operator dnata, has cut its losses by 83 per cent from $6 billion to $1 billion during the year, with revenue going up by 86 per cent to $18.1 billion thanks to higher travel demand.

Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, CEO of Emirates Airline and Group, said: “This year, we focused on restoring our operations quickly and safely wherever pandemic-related restrictions eased across our markets. 

“Business recovery picked up pace particularly in the second half of the year. Robust customer demand drove a huge improvement in our financial performance compared to our unprecedented losses of last year and we built up our strong cash balance.

“2021-22 was also a significant year as the UAE (United Arab Emirates) marked its 50th anniversary and hosted the world at Expo 2020 Dubai which generated increased global engagement and visitation to the UAE.”

He added that the plan was to “build back better and stronger” in the coming year when the group expects to return to profitability.

“We are working hard to hit our targets, while keeping a close watch on headwinds such as high fuel prices, inflation, new Covid-19 variants, and political and economic uncertainty,” he said.

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Travel nurses raced to help during Covid. Now they’re facing abrupt cuts.

Tiffanie Jones was a few tanks of gas into her drive from Tampa, Florida, to Cheyenne, Wyoming, when she found out her travel nurse contract had been canceled.

Jones, who has been a nurse for 17 years, caught up with a Facebook group for travel nurses and saw she wasn’t alone. Nurses had reported abruptly losing jobs and seeing their rates slashed as much as 50 percent midcontract.

“One lady packed up her whole family and was canceled during orientation,” she said.

Many career nurses like Jones turned to travel gigs during the pandemic, when hospitals crowded with Covid-19 patients urgently needed the help. Some travelers — who made double, sometimes triple, what staff registered nurses earned — gathered on TikTok and other social media platforms to celebrate payday, share tips on how to calculate net income from contracts, and boast about how much they were taking home weekly. So great was their good fortune that federal and state lawmakers considered capping their pay, mobilizing nurses in protest.

The tide has swiftly turned. As Covid hospitalization rates stabilize, at least for now, and federal and state Covid relief funding dries up, travel nurse contracts that were plentiful and lucrative are vanishing. And after the pressure cooker of the past two-plus years led to staff turnover and a rash of early retirements, hospitals nationwide are focused on recruiting full-time nurses.

Nationally, demand for registered nurse travelers dropped by a third in the month leading up to April 10, according to data from staffing agency Aya Healthcare, although openings have rebounded slightly in recent weeks.

When Oregon’s governor declared the pandemic emergency over April 1, state-level Covid relief money evaporated. Oregon Health & Science University Hospital in Portland lost funding for close to 100 travel nurses. That, along with lower Covid rates and more full-time hires, has led to “a bursting of the bubble,” said Dr. John Hunter, CEO of OHSU Health.

The health system had about 50 contractors of all kinds before the pandemic, compared with 450 at its height, when patients, many in need of close monitoring, flooded in and turned the hospital’s recovery room into an intensive care unit.

“It has been very expensive,” Hunter said. But things are turning around, he said, and in recent weeks the hospital has negotiated contract rates with its travel nurse agency down as much as 50 percent.

Staff nurses make far less than their traveling counterparts. Rates for a new staff nurse at Northeastern Vermont Regional Hospital in St. Johnsbury, for example, start at $30 an hour — plus benefits and extra for night shifts. At the pandemic peak, the hospital paid staffing agencies about $175 an hour for each travel nurse. The rate remains well over $100 an hour, but the hospital is trying to negotiate it down. Because the hospital pays the agency directly, how much nurses pocket is unclear, said CEO Shawn Tester.

For some travel nurses, the abrupt drop in pay has been a shock. Since December, registered nurse Jessica Campbell had extended her 13-week contract at an Illinois hospital without any hiccups. In early April, a week into Campbell’s latest contract, her recruiter said that her rate would drop by $10 an hour and that she could take it or leave it.

“I ended up accepting it because I felt like I had no other option,” Campbell said.

The situation for some travel nurses has gotten so bad that a law firm in Kansas City, Missouri, said it is considering legal action against more than 35 staffing agencies. Austin Moore, an attorney at Stueve Siegel Hanson, said some agencies are “breaching their contracts” and in other cases “committing outright fraud” through bait-and-switch maneuvers on travel nursing contracts.

The firm opened an investigation in March, drawing comments from hundreds of nurses, Moore said. “Our phones are ringing off the hook,” he said. “Nobody has experienced it like this — historically, contracts have been honored.”

How much is a nurse worth?

Stephen Dwyer, senior vice president and chief legal and operating officer of the American Staffing Association, the trade group that represents the travel nurse staffing industry, said in an emailed statement that “as market conditions change, hospitals and other healthcare facilities may change the terms of travel nurse contracts.”

“For rate reductions or contract cancellations that take place mid-assignment, staffing companies often recommend advance notice,” he said.

Moore said that the fine print can vary but that when a staffing agency cancels a contract at the last minute or gives a nurse one or two days to consider a lower rate, the agency is often breaching a contract. According to the contracts, the loss should fall to the agency, not the nurses, when a hospital requests a lower rate, Moore added.

Pay rates have always fluctuated seasonally as the demand for nurses to plug staffing holes at hospitals changes, said XueXia Bruton, an ICU nurse based in Houston. She has traveled since 2018, drawn to the flexibility and financial freedom, and has no plans to return to staff nursing. Along the way, Bruton has cataloged her experiences on TikTok and Instagram, telling her more than 91,000 followers that, for instance, “it may make more sense to wait to take a contract until rates go back up.”

“It was very hard across the board during Covid when cases were really high,” Bruton said. “We were all burned out and exhausted, so it was important to be able to take as much time off as needed.”

Bruton saw crisis rates as high as $10,000 a week. Travel nurse rates now average about $3,100, according to online hiring marketplace Vivian Health. Still that’s higher than before the pandemic, and well above what a typical staff nurse makes.

Last year was particularly profitable for staffing agencies. Cross Country Healthcare, one of the few publicly traded companies that staff travel nurses and other health care workers, posted a profit of $132 million in 2021, compared with a loss of $13 million the previous year and even bigger losses in 2019. Then-CEO Kevin Clark called the company’s 2021 financial results a “historic milestone for both revenue and profitability.”

Big profits across the nurse staffing industry have drawn the attention of lawmakers, including U.S. Rep. Peter Welch (D-Vt.), who said he feared that private equity firms that were buying up staffing agencies were charging exorbitant fees during the pandemic, a pattern reported on by Stat. In January, Welch and U.S. Rep. Morgan Griffith (R-Va.) wrote the White House a letter requesting an investigation of possible “anticompetitive activity” by staffing agencies after receiving reports that they were “vastly inflating price, by two, three or more times pre-pandemic rates.”

Some travel nurses are returning to full-time gigs, drawn by hefty incentives and stability. Jones, whose contract in Wyoming was canceled in early March, considered a staff nurse position in Montana — swayed in part by a $10,000 starting bonus. But she ended up in a travel nurse contract in rural Kansas, where the pay is better than a staff job’s would be but not quite what she’d gotten used to during the pandemic.

Jones said her traveling stint raised a big question: How much is a nurse worth?

On the road, Jones said, she “could breathe financially for the first time in years,” at times making almost double what she made as a staff nurse.

“It’s a tough profession,” she said. “We love doing it, but we have bills to pay, too.”

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Storm Eunice cuts power, disrupts travel across Europe

The storm ripped off part of the dome of London’s O2 Arena and thousands watched a live stream on Friday of planes struggling to land in high winds at the city’s Heathrow airport.

Insurance costs from the storm could reach £200m to £350m, Mohammad Khan, general insurance leader at PwC UK, told the BBC.

In Germany, where the storm is named Zeynep, the nation’s shipping agency issued a warning for the nation’s North Sea coast, predicting waves as high as 2m. A 270-year-old windmill in eastern Germany collapsed, according to a local media report.

Rail operator Deutsche Bahn said on Saturday afternoon that “massive” disruption is ongoing in northern parts of the country. The state-owned firm said that more than 1,000km of the country’s rail network has been damaged and 2,000 people are working to help resume services. Still, disruptions will continue until Monday afternoon.

Train traffic was progressively getting back to normal in the north of France, after several train lines were damaged, according to SNCF. Meteo France is warning of strong coastal winds from the tip of Brittany to the north of France.

At least 12 people across the continent have been killed, AP reported, many due to falling trees. Three people died in the UK, all in vehicles that were hit by toppled trees or debris, while in Belgium a 79-year-old man drowned after falling from his pleasure boat in the port of Ypres, Le Soir reported. 

In Germany three people died, according to news agency DPA, including a 17-year-old who was in a storm-related car accident. A man on the North Sea coast fell through a damaged roof he was trying to repair, and a man drove into a fallen tree near the Dutch border. Winds in the country on Friday evening were measured at as high as 143km/h.

Bloomberg News. For more articles like this please visit Bloomberg.com.

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Heathrow begins rebuilding team following pandemic cuts | News

Heathrow has begun recruiting for over 600 new frontline roles as the restart of transatlantic travel and easing of international restrictions boosts confidence in the aviation sector.

While passenger numbers at the hub remain 56 per cent down on pre-pandemic levels, the airport has begun replacing staff let go over the past 18 months.

The move to end the US travel ban has revived the airport, as the market accounts for a fifth of passenger traffic and a third of cargo tonnage.

The airport is kicking off this recruitment drive now to ensure that it is well equipped to handle a predicted rise in passenger numbers ahead of next summer.

The new security and engineering jobs will be among the first frontline roles to have been created at Heathrow since the start of the pandemic.

Heathrow is also advertising a wide variety of engineering opportunities for colleagues to help keep the airport running smoothly as passenger demand returns.  

The new recruits will undergo an extensive training programme in order to achieve the required security accreditations.

Heathrow chief people officer, Paula Stannett, said: “This is an incredible time to start a career in aviation and to be at the forefront of a world-class organisation determined to build back better as we recover from the impacts of the pandemic.

“Many of Heathrow’s security officers have gone on to have long and fulfilling careers in various parts of our airport and the wider aviation sector, so this really is a rewarding opportunity at a pivotal time for our industry.

“We look forward to welcoming our new joiners before the summer, at the beginning of what we are sure will be an enriching time at the UK’s only hub airport.”

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COP26 draft deal calls on countries to boost emissions cuts by end of 2022. Here’s what else is in it

Typically draft COP agreements are watered down in the final text, but there is also a chance that some elements could be strengthened, depending on how wrangling between countries pans out.

The document “recognizes that the impacts of climate change will be much lower at the temperature increase of 1.5 °C compared to 2 °C and resolves to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5 °C.”

Scientists say the world must limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels in order to avoid the climate crisis worsening and approaching a catastrophic scenario.

A key analysis published on Tuesday said the world is on track for 2.4 degrees of warming. That would mean the risks of extreme droughts, wildfires, floods, catastrophic sea level rise and food shortages would increase dramatically, scientists say.
Key takeaways from Tuesday at COP26: On track for 2.4 degrees of warming, and is America really 'back?'

The British COP26 presidency’s overarching goal was “to keep 1.5 alive,” so this firmed-up language is what it and other climate-leading nations were hoping for.

Several countries, including Saudi Arabia, Russia, China, Brazil and Australia, have shown resistance to this change at various meetings over the past six months in the lead-up to COP26.

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson spoke with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman on Wednesday in which they “discussed the importance of making progress in negotiations in the final days of COP26,” a Downing Street readout of the call showed.

“The Prime Minister said all countries needed to come to the table with increased ambition if we are to keep the target of limiting global warming to 1.5C alive.”

The draft also recognized that achieving this shift means “meaningful and effective action” by all countries and territories in what it calls a “critical decade.”

It “recognizes that limiting global warming to 1.5 °C by 2100 requires rapid, deep and sustained reductions in global greenhouse gas emissions, including reducing global carbon dioxide emissions by 45 per cent by 2030 relative to the 2010 level and to net zero around mid-century,” using language that is in line with the latest UN climate science report.

Net zero is a state where the amount of greenhouse gases emitted into the atmosphere are no greater than those removed, whether through natural means like planting more trees to absorb carbon dioxide or capturing gases with technology.

“It is important that this agreement recognizes the importance of the 1.5 degree goal,” as well as the science that shows deep emissions cuts are needed over this decade, said William Collins, professor of meteorology at the University of Reading.

But he added: “The current pledges in Glasgow are not even close to meeting these cuts by 2030. If countries do not start straight away on a path towards these 2030 emission levels it will be too late to update them in 2025,” he said, referring to the next time countries are obliged to revise their targets.

“The hope was that this level of ambition could have been achieved in Glasgow; if not, countries will need to be brought back to negotiations again next year.”

On countries’ emissions plans

To limit global warming to 1.5 degrees, every country needs to have a plan that aligns with that goal.

The most notable line in the draft is one that urges signatories to come forward by the end of 2022 with new targets for slashing emissions over the next decade, which scientists say is crucial if the world wants to have any chance of keeping warming below 2 degrees and closer to 1.5.

World is on track for 2.4 degrees of warming despite COP26 pledges, analysis finds

David Waskow, director of the International Climate Initiative with the World Resources Institute, welcomed the 2022 target as progress.

“So this is crucial language because it does set the time frame around when countries need to come forward with strengthened targets in order to align with Paris,” he said, referring the 2015 Paris Agreement, which set a global warming limit of 2 degrees, with a preference for 1.5.

Although that was agreed six years ago, many parties’ emissions plans do not align with that goal.

He warned that there were “certainly parties who have been pushing back on that,” naming Saudi Arabia and Russia as nations against new commitments by the end of 2022. CNN had reached out to those countries on the same issue on Tuesday and is seeking new comment.

Some experts like Waskow are welcoming this progress, as it requires countries to make new plans before 2025.

But after the UN’s climate science report in August showed climate change was happening faster than previously thought, some countries and groups had hoped for a rise in ambition more quickly.

“This draft deal is not a plan to solve the climate crisis, it’s an agreement that we’ll all cross our fingers and hope for the best,” Greenpeace International executive director Jennifer Morgan said in a statement, pointing to a recent study by Climate Action Tracker that shows the world is heading for 2.4 degrees of warming, even with the new pledges made ahead of COP26.

“The job of this conference was always to get that number down to 1.5C, but with this text world leaders are punting it to next year. If this is the best they can come up with then it’s no wonder kids today are furious at them.”

WRI’s director of climate negotiations, Yamide Dagnet, said it was climate-vulnerable countries that pushed for the stronger language on 1.5, but said what they wanted was for the agreement to set stronger obligations for particular nations. They are also seeing the 2022 goal as difficult for them to achieve without a bigger boost in funding.

“For them, it’s going to be very difficult … to come back home and to say, after all of your efforts … you have to do another adjustment effort within a year,” she said.

On fossil fuels

The draft agreement asks governments to “accelerate the phasing-out of coal and subsidies for fossil fuels.” This seems obvious as phasing out fossil fuels is necessary if greenhouse gas emissions are to decline. But the inclusion of specific language on this is a big step forward, since previous agreements haven’t mentioned coal and fossil fuel subsidies specifically.

The language is likely to be opposed by major fossil fuel-producing nations.

Humanity needs to ditch coal to save itself. It also needs to keep the lights on.

There are a couple of caveats though on phasing out coal and ending fossil fuel subsidies.

“It doesn’t give a date for either of these and for both it just says ‘accelerating the efforts’ to do so,” WRI President for Climate and Economics Helen Mountford said in a briefing.

COP26 chief Sharma had said before coming to Glasgow that a firm exit date on coal was one of his priorities.

There are also questions being raised over whether the clause on fossil fuels can even survive the next two days of negotiations.

“It does mention fossil fuels and everybody saying that’s amazing, but it doesn’t say that the world has to actually phase out coal as soon as possible, and then decarbonize by removing both natural gas and oil,” Mark Maslin, climate scientist at University College London told CNN.

So the problem here is that suddenly we have a statement that acknowledges that fossil fuels are the issue, but doesn’t actually say in a strong terms that this is what we have to get rid of … and this is the actions of countries like Saudi Arabia, Russia and Australia, who are basically sort of agitating from the background to make it weak,” he added.

There has been some progress on fossil fuels in Glasgow. Twenty-eight countries so far have signed on to an agreement to end the financing of unabated fossil fuel projects abroad by 2022. Unabated projects would be those that do not capture greenhouse gas emissions at the source before they escape to the atmosphere, which is a good start.

Dozens of new countries signed up to phase out coal at COP26, but the end date was the 2030s for developed nations and 2040s for developing countries — a decade later than Sharma and climate leaders had hoped for. The world’s three biggest emitters, China, India and the US, did not sign up. They are also the biggest coal users.

On who should pay what

The draft makes some strong points in a long section on the need to deliver on the promise made by the world’s richest countries more than a decade ago to provide $100 billion a year in climate financing to the developing world. That target was supposed to be met in 2020 but has been missed. It is supposed to go to helping developing countries reduce their emissions but also so they can adapt to the impacts of the crisis.

While countries wrangle over who should pay for the climate crisis, a community on Lagos Island is being swallowed by the sea

The developed world is historically responsible for far more emissions than the developing world, but many of the countries on the front line of the crisis have made little historical contribution to climate change. There is an understanding that the rich world needs to pay for some of the energy transition and adaptation.

“[The conference] notes with serious concern that the current provision of climate finance for adaptation is insufficient to respond to worsening climate change impacts in developing [countries],” the draft says, using fairly strong terms.

But it makes no movement on when the $100 billion should be delivered, pointing to 2023, which is three years past the deadline and currently what it is on track for. US climate envoy John Kerry and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen were hoping for a 2022 date last week.

However, the draft does not give any specific details, reflecting the fact that the US, the European Union and other big players have been pushing against the idea.

“It is fuzzy and vague. The missed deadline for the $100 billion promise doesn’t get acknowledged — and this is a key ask from vulnerable countries,” said Mohamed Adow, director of the climate think tank Power Shift Africa.

But for the first time, the draft agreement also includes more specific language on “loss and damage” financing for the developing world, which is essentially financial liability for climate crisis impacts. Some of the countries most affected by the crisis are asking for more money to deal with the loss and damage they are already experiencing because of global warming, which is essentially the idea behind climate reparations.

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Coronavirus live updates: New York City cuts vaccine mandate deal with unions

Missouri Attorney General Eric S. Schmitt led the coalition — which includes the attorneys general in Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Iowa, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Wyoming — joined by private and nonprofit groups in filing the document denouncing Biden’s latest mandate as “unconstitutional, unlawful, and unwise.” All but Iowa have a Republican attorney general.

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MLB Cuts Spring Training Travel | News, Sports, Jobs

NEW YORK — Major League Baseball revamped its spring training exhibition schedule because of the pandemic, cutting travel for Florida-based teams in an effort to minimize coronavirus risks.

College baseball teams, which often play big league clubs but are not subject to major league testing protocols, were dropped from the revised schedules announced Friday.

Split-squad games, traditionally used in the first half of the exhibition season to allow evaluation of more players, also were eliminated.

Florida-based teams may decide to dress at their own ballparks and travel in uniform for road exhibitions to increase distancing while putting on uniforms. Arizona-based teams traditionally dress at home and take batting practice at home, then trave for road exhibitions.

Pitchers and catchers open spring training workouts Wednesday, and the exhibition season starts Feb. 28, two days later than initially announced on Sept. 16.

The regular season remains on track to start April 1 after the Major League Baseball Players Association rejected the clubs’ proposal to delay opening day until April 22 and cut each team’s schedule from 162 games to 154. The rejected plan would have pushed back the start of spring training until March 22.

Teams were divided into three groups for the Grapefruit League season to eliminate longer bus rides:

∫ Florida East Coast: Houston, Miami, New York Mets, St. Louis, Washington

∫ Florida West Coast: Baltimore, Detroit, New York Yankees, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Toronto

∫ Southwest Florida: Atlanta, Baltimore, Boston, Minnesota, Pittsburgh, Tampa Bay

Baltimore, based in Sarasota, and Pittsburgh, in Bradenton, are part of both West Coast groups.

Because of the changes, most teams have more days without exhibitions than usual once schedules start for the Grapefruit and Cactus leagues. While most teams usually have one or two such days during most spring trainings, Washington has six this year.

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