Emirates suspends Nigerian and some Europe, US flights

Emirates airline officials attend to passengers leaving Lagos, Nigeria. The airline is expected to suspend flights to and from the West African nation imminently. (Reuters)
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Updated 22 March 2020

Emirates suspends Nigerian and some Europe, US flights

  • German and French routes cut, along with New York and New Jersey, as pandemic continues

DUBAI: Emirates, one of the world’s biggest international airlines, is suspending all flights to France and Germany, Nigeria, and New York and New Jersey in the US, due to the coronavirus outbreak, according to internal emails seen by Reuters.

The state-owned airline has already suspended dozens of international routes, crucial to its Dubai hub that is dependent on millions of passengers passing through it every year.

Flights to France, Germany and Nigeria would be suspended from March 23, until further notice, a company email said.

Emirates operates services to French cities of Paris, Lyon and Nice, Germany’s Frankfurt, Munich, Duesseldorf and Hamburg, and Nigeria’s Abuja and Lagos.

Flights to New York JFK and New Jersey’s Newark EWR would be suspended from March 24 until further notice, another company email said.

Emirates did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The airline said in the emails it was suspending the flights because of measures and restrictions imposed to control the spread of the deadly virus.

Abu Dhabi’s Etihad Airways said on Saturday it was suspending flights to Pakistan’s Karachi, Islamabad and Lahore from March 21, Belgium’s Brussels from March 22 and Switzerland’s Zurich from March 24.

Governments around the world have imposed tight entry requirements and in some instances suspended flights.

The UAE, which has reported 140 cases of the virus, including two deaths, has temporarily banned all foreigners from entering the country, including residents.

Middle East airlines are facing a liquidity crisis, putting hundreds of thousands of jobs across the region at risk because of the virus epidemic that has shattered global travel demand, the industry’s largest body warned on Thursday.


Indonesia turns focus to energy security and renewables amid pandemic

Updated 24 November 2020

Indonesia turns focus to energy security and renewables amid pandemic

  • Govt. aims to use of opportunity presented by COVID-19 outbreak to make transition

JAKARTA: The fallout from the coronavirus pandemic has presented Indonesia with the opportunity to work toward energy security and switch from conventional to renewable sources, officials have said.

“Indonesia has made various breakthroughs such as making use of biodiesel B30,” Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi said during an online press conference on Sunday, quoting President Joko Widodo’s address during the G20 Summit.

“(We) will be conducting tests on green diesel D100 from palm oil – which will absorb 1 million tons of palm oil produced by farmers – and also install rooftop solar power plants in hundreds of thousands of households,” he added.

Widodo also made a reference to data from the World Economic Forum on the massive potential of the green economy, which could generate up to $10.1 trillion and create 395 million new jobs by 2030.

Earlier this month on Nov. 4, energy and mineral resources minister Arifin Tasrif said that the current difficulties posed by the pandemic had spurred Indonesia to accelerate the energy transition, by developing renewable energy, ensure efficiency and work toward maintaining energy security for lasting energy independence.

Energy security and its steady supply were some of the top concerns voiced by Tasrif during the G20 energy ministers’ meeting in September.

“COVID-19 has created an economic crisis and shrunk energy demands. All G20 members must work together to ensure that the energy market is stabilized and maintain supply affordability. These are a top priority for Indonesia,” Tasrif said at the meeting.

He also lauded Saudi Arabia, the summit host, for pushing ahead with the 4Rs issue – Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Remove – in the circular carbon economy (CCE) concept, which was endorsed by the energy ministers after their meetings.

Tasrif said the issue was an “important part of reintroducing the role of biofuel and hydrogen in the CCE platform,” and in line with Indonesia’s adoption of the mandatory use of biodiesel – containing 30 percent palm oil and known as B30 – from January this year, specifically in the transport, power plant, industrial and commercial sectors.

Indonesia, the world’s largest palm oil producer, has set a target to use 23 percent of renewable energy by 2025 and 50 percent by 2050, as part of its national energy mix plan.

The government has listed provisions for renewable energy and its conservation among its seven priority programs for next year and allocated 16.7 billion rupiahs ($1.2 million) for environmental preservation efforts in the 2021 budget.

“Our state budget is very much pro-green ... The government is already on the right track with the implementation of energy transition policy,” Arif Budimanta, a special presidential staff on economic affairs, said during an online discussion recently.

He added that President Joko Widodo had been very “hands-on” with the implementation of the energy transition policy and was directly supervising the progress of the policy.

Government officials claimed that the adoption of B30’s mandatory use – the first in the world – has been successful.

However, its target this year had reduced from the initial 9.5 million kilolitres to 8.3 million kilolitres, with 6 million kilolitres realized so far.

Mandatory use is expected to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 16.9 million tons.

“The switch to a biodiesel program, which has been in place since 2015, has been able to replace almost 25 million liters of imported fossil fuel by June this year, and we have been able to save foreign exchange spending by roughly equivalent of 127 trillion rupiahs,” Eddy Abdurrachman, head of the Palm Oil Plantation Fund Management Agency said during a recent webinar.

Static tests on diesel engines for 1,000 hours of use of the biodiesel blend are underway at the Energy and Mineral Resources Ministry’s research and development lab.

The head of the research and development agency, Dadan Kusdiana, said on Aug. 26 that scientists had managed to conduct studies on the lab’s engine test bench after the COVID-19 outbreak restricted them from testing on the roads.

“We expect to wrap up the tests by the end of the year,” Kusdiana said.