Australian bushfires hit businesses

A dog sits among ash from bushfires in Merimbula. The fires have ripped through more than 6 million hectares of land in Australia’s NSW and Victoria. (AFP)
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Updated 07 January 2020

Australian bushfires hit businesses

  • In Victoria, fires are expected to have killed large numbers of livestock, gutting a A$3.3 billion industry

SYDNEY: As Australia’s deadly bushfires rage, many companies are reporting hits to business with resorts shutting their doors, cheesemakers struggling to secure milk supplies and insurance claims on the rise.

As many as 5,850 fire-related insurance claims have been lodged since early November with insured losses estimated at A$375 million, according to the Insurance Council of Australia (ICA). However, with conditions still too dangerous in many areas, the full cost of the disaster is not expected to be known for several weeks.

The fires have ripped through more than 6 million hectares of land in the two most populous states of New South Wales (NSW) and Victoria, killing 24 people so far, razing thousands of buildings and leaving some towns without electricity and mobile coverage.

Aspen Group, which owns tourist parks in idyllic beach towns like Tomakin on the NSW south coast, said on Monday it has turned away holidaymakers from its rentals as a result of the fires and expects a hit of at least A$500,000 to its revenue.

“Fire activity along the NSW south coast has been catastrophic with significant loss of life, housing and infrastructure,” Aspen said in a statement.

“Tourists and residents have been asked to leave the region. It is not known when trading conditions will return to normal,” it said, although none of its properties have been affected by the fires.

Bega Cheese, which operates two sites the NSW district it is named after, said its employees and dairy suppliers had been affected by the bushfires, sending its shares sinking nearly 9 percent on Monday.

In Victoria, which accounts for one-third of Australia’s milk production, fires are expected to have killed large numbers of livestock, gutting a A$3.3 billion industry.

Vitalharvest Freehold Trust, which leases farms to Australia’s largest listed fruit and vegetables grower Costa Group, said the fires had damaged a packing shed, including equipment and vehicles at one of its berry farms.

The farm comprises about 6 percent of Vitalharvest’s berry plantings, it said, adding a full assessment was yet to be carried out.

Kangaroo Island Plantation Timbers requested a trading halt on the stock exchange until Tuesday, pending an announcement on the “current fire situation.”

Kangaroo Island is a popular holiday spot in South Australia where two people died as dangerous fires burned over the weekend.

Last week, Insurance Australia Group said it expected to pay roughly A$400 million in natural peril claims for the six months to Dec. 31. That is more than half of its A$641 million natural peril allowance for the fiscal year.

Rival Suncorp said it had received more than 1,500 claims since the fires began in November. “However, the full impact will not be known for several weeks until areas are safe to access.”


Emirates launches airbridge between Dubai, Lebanon emergency relief 

Updated 14 August 2020

Emirates launches airbridge between Dubai, Lebanon emergency relief 

  • Customers of Emirates will be able to donate cash or pledge their Skywards Miles to the airline for the aid
  • Emirates SkyCargo will also provide 20 percent reduction on air freight transportation charges for approved shipments

DUBAI: UAE national carrier Emirates SkyCargo plans to ramp up its freighter operations to Lebanon with 50 flights to deliver emergency relief in the wake of the Beirut port blast that killed nearly 200 people.
Customers of Emirates will be able to donate cash or pledge their Skywards Miles to the airline for the aid, state news agency WAM reported.
The Emirates Airline Foundation will coordinate shipments of urgent food, medical supplies with NGO partners to ensure donations directly help those affected on the ground.
Emirates SkyCargo will also provide 20 percent reduction on air freight transportation charges for approved shipments, underscoring its commitment to expedite emergency relief efforts to Beirut.
“Today, the world is banding together to stand in solidarity with Lebanon, providing urgent relief and immediate recovery support to those affected by this tragic disaster,” Chairman and Chief Executive of Emirates Airline & Group, Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al-Maktoum, said. 
“Emirates supports the UAE’s ongoing humanitarian efforts to support Lebanon and is committed to bolster its global emergency response to ensure that it can support organizations which provide urgent care, shelter, food and medical support to the Lebanese people,” he added. 
Emirates said that it had dispatched several charter flights carrying food, clothing and medical supplies donated by various grassroots organizations in the UAE to Lebanon.