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“Pilots were very funny, very smart, very nice guys” – Lion Air boss

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“Pilots were very funny, very smart, very nice guys” – Lion Air boss | The Thaiger
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PHOTO: Indonesian media agency

Indonesia’s national search and rescue agency says it’s located the crashed Lion Air plane’s landing gear, wheels and a large section of the fuselage.

Investigators have also found the flight data recorder, the “black box,” from Lion Air Flight JT610.

The data recorder, more than anything else, will likely provide vital information about the plane’s functions and performance in the minutes before the plane plumetted into the sea, just 19 kilometres off the coast of Java Island, Indonesia.

The Boeing 737 Max 8 crash on Monday killed all 189 people on board.

Muhammad Syauqi, heading up the search, says divers from the agency, the Navy, and the police were sent to sweep the search area. They plan on using a ship crane today to lift up the landing gear debris.

At this stage they have not heard the “ping” from the cockpit voice recorder, which records audio from the cockpit. It remains somewhere on the seabed, some 35 metres underwater. Along with the data recorder, the cockpit voice recorder will capture the actual conversations and communications between pilots and air traffic control.

Capt. Daniel Putut Kuncoro Adi, MD of the Lion Group declined to speculate on the causes for the crash.

“As a company we are waiting for the result from the National Transportation Safety Committee working with the black box” to determine what went wrong, Adi told CNN.

“They were very funny, very smart, very nice guys.”

“We are sure they conducted themselves professionally and they struggled to save the aircraft.”

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Trump announces withdrawal from WHO over China claims

Jack Burton

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Trump announces withdrawal from WHO over China claims | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Al Jazeera

The UN has announced that the US is leaving the World Health Organisation effective July 6, 2021, after official notice from US President Donald Trump, who has been sharply critical of the agency’s handling of the Covid-19 pandemic. He had accused the WHO of being “a puppet of China”. The WHO has denied assertions by President Trump that it promoted Chinese “disinformation” about the virus.

Trump announced the decision over a month ago, and by law, must give a year’s notice of withdrawal from the Geneva-based body as well as pay all Washington’s dues under a 1948 joint resolution of the US Congress. The US currently owes more than US$200 million in assessed contributions, according to the WHO website. After more than 70 years of membership, and as the organisation’s main sponsor, the US is quitting the WHO amid rising tensions with China over the coronavirus pandemic. The virus first emerged in the Chinese city of Wuhan late last year.

US House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi called Trump’s official withdrawal “an act of true senselessness as WHO coordinates the global fight against Covid-19.”

“With millions of lives at risk, the President is crippling the international effort to defeat the virus.”

The number of cases worldwide is rapidly approaching 12 million, with more than 546,000 known deaths worldwide, with about 25% of both cases and deaths in the US. Trump’s decision could be overturned if he is defeated by his Democratic rival, former Vice President Joe Biden, in the November general election.

Trump stopped funding for the 194-member organisation in April, then in a May letter gave the WHO 30 days to commit to reforms. Less than 2 weeks later he announced the United States would leave the organization.

Vice President Mike Pence, was asked in a Fox News Channel interview, whether it was the right time to break with the WHO.

“It’s absolutely the right time.”

“The World Health Organisation let the world down… There have to be consequences to this.”

The WHO is an independent international body that works with the United Nations. UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has said that the WHO is “absolutely critical to the world’s efforts to win the war against Covid-19.”

Since taking office in January 2017, President Trump has quit the UN Human Rights Council, the UN cultural agency, a global accord to tackle climate change and the Iran nuclear deal. He has also cut funding for the UN population fund and the UN agency that provides aid for Palestinian refugees.

SOURCE: Reuters

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

“Travel bubble” scheme likely to be delayed

Jack Burton

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“Travel bubble” scheme likely to be delayed | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Wikipedia

Thailand’s “travel bubble” scheme, which would allow limited numbers of certain groups of tourists from nations or areas deemed Covid-19 free by the World Health Organisation, now appears likely to be delayed. The Civil Aviation Authority of Thailand has announced the delay after several countries, that were considered for the scheme, have now seen resurgences of the virus. The CAAT’s director-general says even though talks about travel bubble arrangements are ongoing with countries including China, Japan, and South Korea, the scheme will be put on hold due to a spike in infections.

PM Prayut Chan-o-cha himself expressed serious concerns about the scheme. The government had decided to launch travel bubbles with several countries that had a low coronavirus risk and initially, the arrangements were to be adopted with the first group of international leisure travellers in August at the earliest. The CAAT director-general says local tourism is crucial to rebuilding the country’s aviation industry and pointed out that demand for domestic travel is picking up after airlines resumed operations. Many business operators also launched promotional campaigns to boost travel. He expressed confidence that further stimulus measures to be rolled out by the government will increase spending power and that the aviation and transport sectors will begin to recover.

Echoing the words of the PM, Thailand’s transport minister says “public safety is the top priority” for the government as it considers reopening the country to international travellers. When asked about reports over airlines preparing to resume international flights in September, he called on all airlines to wait for a clear policy from the government and the CAAT.

An epidemiologist at Chulalongkorn University is also urging the government to “exercise extreme caution” when considering travel bubble arrangements because the Covid-19 pandemic is still ravaging many parts of the world. And the chief of the Communicable Disease Division yesterday urged the public to “keep their guard up” even though the country has reported no community transmissions of coronavirus for 43 consecutive days.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Locals not rushing to book Singapore ‘staycations’

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Locals not rushing to book Singapore ‘staycations’ | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Todayonline

Tokyo residents can escape the city with a hike up Mount Fuji. New Yorkers can head to Long Island for a weekend. In Indonesia locals will be able to fly to the beaches of Bali. And in Thailand anyone living here now can visit the island of Phuket for a beach retreat.

Such is the Covid era ‘staycation’, the solution for domestic tourist economies around the world. Or is it?

Residents of Singapore have less of an option as, well, Singapore is tiny so any staycation won’t take you far away from home. With the island’s borders closed to foreigners, hotels and tourist attractions are hoping ‘staycationers’ will plug the gap in the battered $20 billion-a-year tourist industry. But despite industry enthusiasm, the Singapore locals haven’t been rushing to book staycations just yet.

Michael Issenberg, CEO Accor South East Asia, the largest hotel operator in Singapore says that unless there is a return to international business, the hotel industry is going to be decimated.

“Up to 90% of our bookings come from international travellers.”

While tourism internationally has been profoundly hit by the Covid-19 pandemic, a gradual re-opening of some domestic travel is giving a shot in the arm to airlines and hotels. Both industries, and the downstream travel agents, tour companies, taxi and passenger bus drivers, and cleaners, etc, have been particularly hard hit as border closures and lockdowns have shuttered hotels and ground entire fleets of planes.

Locals not rushing to book Singapore 'staycations' | News by The Thaiger

Singapore’s tourism sector faces an even tougher challenge with hotels given a green light just last week to request approval to welcome domestic tourists. But locals have been saying they’d prefer to save their money and wait for travel to resume in nearby holiday spots in Thailand and Malaysia rather than spend it on a hotel just around the corner in Singapore.

Thailand and Malaysia are also promoting local versions of ‘staycations’. In Thailand the government is rolling out a three month stimulus package which gives users a 3,000 baht digital ‘wallet’ to use for expenses on rooms, flights and food.

Back in Singapore, the 5.7 million Singaporeans are now rebooting their economy after two months of lockdown, including a huge spike of new cases in April, the borders are still mostly closed. The city-state registered a historic low of just 750 foreign visitors in April, down from 1.6 million in the same month last year. May wasn’t much better – 880 visitors.

Selena Ling, head of treasury research and strategy at Oversea-Chinese Banking Corp says that in the short term, hotels, restaurants and attractions can shuffle their businesses to draw interest to staycationers by adding attractions and food discounts,.

“However, our inherent small domestic market size implies it may not be a longer-term sustainable solution.”

Tourism has been an increasingly vital industry for Singapore, helping to re-invent the economy from its traditional finance and shipping hub strengths. World class attractions including – Marina Bay Sands hotel, casino, Universal Studios and the Singapore Zoo have drawn tourists from around the world. The island has found its advantages as a cheap shopping stop-over and financial hub have been taken over by other south east Asian mega cities.

Last year, Singapore hosted a record 19.1 million visitors, while tourism receipts rose to S$27.7 billion (US$19.8 billion), fun 3% from the year before. Singapore’s tourism industry, employing about 65,000 people, contributes about 4% to the island’s GDP.

The border closure means Singapore needs to persuade locals to spend more money at home. Tourism Board CEO Keith Tan is confident the locals will be keen to travel locally and support the Singaporean economy.

“They may therefore be open to take time off in their own city and rediscover all that Singapore has to offer.”

“Singapore has set aside S$90 million for the tourism sector and a task force is developing domestic and international recovery plans to be shared soon. The board also aims to strengthen Singapore’s brand abroad by spending S$2 million to encourage content creators to produce compelling stories about the city-state.”

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