Mumbai: Terming “professional and productive work culture” as the key to the airline’s turnaround, Air India chief Pradeep Singh Kharola has said in a message to employees that “we have to perform if we do not want to perish”.
Kharola, who took over as chairman and managing director of the disinvestment-bound national carrier earlier in December, also said the onus to steer the company out of turbulence lies on everyone.
“We have to adopt a professional and productive work culture which will hold the key for our turnaround….your hard work has helped Air India to improve in some of the key operational parameters in recent times, but still, we have miles to go,” the AI chief said in his New Year message.
The government is currently working on modalities for strategic disinvestment of the loss-making national carrier.
Kharola also urged employees to pull out all stops and “cast aside the deterrents that have been holding the flag carrier back from tapping the immense potential”.
“The onus is on us to steer our company out of turbulence into clear skies again with single-minded determination and grit. We must…aim to improve our performance in every sphere to match up to industry benchmarks,” he said.
Air India has been launching new routes in the domestic and international sectors, initiating innovative schemes and upgrading its fleet to become more vibrant and win passenger confidence, he said.
“I implore all of you to sustain this effort to resurrect the pride and glory of the airline….We have to perform if we do not want to perish,” Kharola said.
Air India has to beat competition in on-time-performance, load factor and cleanliness among other parameters, he said, adding, “amidst all the talk about our future identity, we have to stay focused and deliver.”
On June 28, the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs gave in-principle approval to privatise Air India and its five subsidiaries.
SAP shuts India offices after swine flu hits 2 employees
Amid the coronavirus outbreak, business software solutions major SAP India on Thursday said it has shut all its offices in the country for sanitisation after two of its employees were tested positive for swine flu (H1N1).
SAP India”s offices in Bengaluru, Gurgaon and Mumbai were temporarily closed and all the workers have been asked to work from home till the office premises are sanitised.
“Two SAP India employees based in Bangalore (RMZ Ecoworld office) have tested positive for the H1N1 virus. Detailed contact tracing that the infected colleagues may have come into contact with is underway,” the company said in a statement shared with IANS.
“The health of our employees and their families is of utmost priority, as a precautionary measure, all the SAP India Offices across Bengaluru, Gurgaon and Mumbai have been closed for extensive sanitisation,” the company elaborated.
All SAP employees based in these locations have been asked to work from home till further notice.
Symptoms of swine flu, caused by the H1N1 virus, are like those of any seasonal flu and include fever, cough, runny nose, sore throat, body aches chills and fatigue.
The rising graph of swine flu cases has a direct connection with the drop in temperature. As temperatures drop, the possibility of swine flu cases increases.
Swine flu is still prevalent and both swine flu and Coronavirus have almost similar symptoms.
Last month, Amritsar reported one death owing to swine flu.
Kashmir has not yet seen any case of coronavirus but a spurt in swine flu (H1N1) numbers continues to pose a threat in the region. Officials said last week that as many as 18 cases of swine flu have been admitted to SKIMS, Srinagar.
Gold eases, holds near seven-year peak over virus concerns
Gold prices dipped on Thursday after China unveiled measures to soften the economic impact of the coronavirus outbreak, but the metal held close to a nearly seven-year peak scaled in the previous session as concerns over the epidemic prevailed.
Spot gold was down 0.3% at $1,606.62 per ounce, as of 0749 GMT. U.S. gold futures dipped 0.1% to $1,609.60.
“It seems to be a bit more corrective mostly because … it’s not just in gold that we are seeing a bit of a walk-back in risk-off dynamics, but across a variety of assets,” said DailyFx currency strategist Ilya Spivak.
China’s central Hubei province had 349 new confirmed cases of coronavirus on Wednesday, the province’s health commission said, down from 1,693 a day earlier and the lowest since Jan. 25, although it was accompanied by a change in methodology.
Beijing cut its benchmark lending rate to support an economy hit by the epidemic, keeping Chinese stocks supported.
Also limiting any uptick in gold prices, the dollar was sucking up funds across Asia after a steep and sudden slide in the Japanese yen called into question its safe-haven status. The U.S. currency .DXY rose to a near three-year high against key rivals.
Analysts, however, said concerns over the outbreak capped losses in bullion, keeping prices close to a high of $1,612.62 hit on Wednesday, its highest since March 25, 2013.
There’s still a lot of haven-based buying of gold, said Jeffrey Halley, senior market analyst at OANDA.
“I suspect this means not everybody is buying into the hype that China is on the verge of controlling this virus.”
Actions by the Federal Reserve would also continue to determine gold’s trajectory, analysts said.
U.S. Fed policymakers were cautiously optimistic about their ability to hold interest rates steady this year, minutes of the central bank’s last policy meeting showed on Wednesday, even as they acknowledged new risks caused by the epidemic.
“Gold is getting its lions share of equity hedge-related buying, which is clearly showing up in the gold exchange traded funds (ETFs), which are increasing,” Stephen Innes, chief market strategist at AxiCorp, said in a note.
Elsewhere, deficit-hit palladium fell 0.9% to $2,688.40 an ounce, having touched a record high of $2,841.54 in the previous session.
Silver eased 0.5% to $18.30, but hovered near its highest in more than a month, hit on Wednesday.
Platinum slipped 1.2% to $993.40.
Locust attack: India mulls purchase of drones, equipment
India is buying drones and specialist equipment to monitor the movement of locusts and spray insecticides to ward off a new outbreak that could ravage crops, government officials said.
Earlier this year, Indian authorities were able to bring swarms of desert locusts under control, but an outbreak in neighbouring Pakistan has again raised concerns about the safety of crops such as wheat and oilseeds in India.
“Other than ensuring the availability of large quantities of insecticides, we’re buying drones and sprayers to beef up our readiness to deal with the attack,” one of the sources said.
Locust swarms can fly up to 150 km (90 miles) a day with the wind, and adult insects can consume roughly their own weight in fresh food per day. A small swarm eats as much in one day as about 35,000 people.
The plague has already caused extensive damage to pastures and crops and threatened food security in several countries over the Indian Ocean in east Africa, including Somalia, Ethiopia, Kenya Eritrea and Djibouti. Swarms have also spread into Tanzania, Uganda and now South Sudan.
Pakistan, which is facing the worst locust infestation in two decades, has declared a national emergency.
New Delhi is also sending civil servants to some of the most vulnerable areas in western and northern India to asses how prepared local authorities are to deal with any likely invasion of desert locusts, said the officials who cannot be named in line with government rules.
“We’re also monitoring the situation in Pakistan,” the first source said.
Indian and Pakistani authorities have met a number of times to review the overall situation, the sources said.
Asked if India would supply insecticides to Pakistan to help Islamabad deal with the locust outbreak, the first official said: “So far we haven’t received any request from Pakistan.”
India is already selling them to multiple countries.
“If Pakistan needs and our government allows, we can supply to Pakistan. We have manufacturing units in various countries. We can ramp up production of a particular insecticide depending on the demand,” said an official from an Indian pesticide company, who declined to be named.
Islamabad could overlook a ban on trade with its arch-rival to import insecticides from India.
Villages in India’s western states of Gujarat and Rajasthan states, which share a border with Pakistan’s desert areas, are especially susceptible to the locust invasion.
The last major surge was in 1993, when heavy rains created favourable breeding conditions for locusts along the India-Pakistan border.