Days after it was disclosed that cash-strapped South African Airways would sell some aircraft in its fleet in line with a restructuring plan, the national carrier is cancelling some foreign routes. This includes flights to neighbouring countries where it has grossed poor revenue in the past years.
The airline has been struggling financially, and failure of the government to disburse the promised $138 million (2 billion-rand) for its operation compounded its situation. This led to the cancellation of Cape Town, Durban and Munich flight from Johannesburg.
The decision to cancel the affected routes is part of South African Airways ways of managing its finances until it receives the new capital injection. The airline is trying to “conserve cash and optimize the airline’s position ahead of any further capital investment,” it said in a Bloomberg report.
South African Airways selling off aircraft: Part of the measures being adopted by the company include selling off its aircraft. Although the airline reportedly made the decision in order to accommodate the new Airbus A350-900s, mismanagement and corruption allegations are the causes of its predicament.
Speaking on the planned sale, the Acting Chief Executive Officer of the airline, Zuks Ramasia, said, “The decision to sell the aircraft has nothing to do with the business rescue process. For some time we had planned to replace our four-engine aircraft with the two-engine ones.”
However, the number of aircraft being sold raises concern as the company already put up nine wide-body aircraft, five Airbus A340-300s and four Airbus A340-600s as well as 15 spare engines for sale.
According to a report, the new A350s will start operating on SAA’s international route network in a couple of days.
Route with poor revenue return: While the airline has disclosed the route it would exclude from its flights, a conclusion has been drawn from the report by former CEO, Vuyani Jarana. He had disclosed some routes that were affecting revenue generation in his report. It was made known that routes outside South Africa were mostly affected.
It was learnt that in the history of South African Airways, just half of the flight revenue was generated from nine destinations outside African routes. According to the report, flights to Hong Kong, Munich, Frankfurt and Ethiopia were some of the low revenue routes; the Hong Kong flights were suspended in November due to protests.
Out of the 21 African routes, Ethiopia was the only African destination that proved tough to crack, and it was understood because Ethiopia also has a state-run airline which is the biggest in Africa. Also, local routes like Port Elizabeth recorded loss.
Money making routes for SSA: Nigeria and Washington D.C are some of the flight destinations that have been profitable to South African Airways. Nigeria, Zimbabwe, Zambia and Mozambique generate about 30% of South African Airways flight revenue. Domestic routes like Durban, Cape Town and East London were also reported profitable, contributing 17% to the company’s revenue.
The South African Airways’ business rescue practitioners, Les Matuson and Siviwe Dongwana are expected to present a turnaround plan to creditors by February 28, 2020. Exclusion of unprofitable routes is expected to be part of their rescue plan as well as the restructuring of the airline’s operations.
Note that in order to keep its revenue high, South African Airways leased fuel-efficient Airbus A350-900 planes to use on some long-haul routes in a bid to reduce international losses.
Africa’s richest woman has assets seized by Portugal
She is being accused of embezzling over $ 1 billion from Angolan state-owned firms.
The Portuguese Government seized shares owned by Angola’s Isabel dos Santos in the Efacec Power Solutions SGPS SA Company, in a bid to help the company find new owners.
Isabel Dos Santos has been battling a corruption probe both home and in Portugal. She is being accused of embezzling over $ 1 billion from Angolan state-owned firms.
Dos Santos owned a 72% stake in the company through a Maltese registered company called “Winterfell 2”. Angola’s Finance Minister, Pedro Vieira said on Thursday that the Angolan government has started plans to sell the stake and already has interest from interested bidders.
Efacec has annual sales of $449 million, according to the Minister.
Efacec announced back in January that Isabel dos Santos had planned to sell most of her majority stake in the company.
Isabel dos Santos had her assets frozen in December 2019 by Angolan courts, she claims the corruption probe against her was based on a fake passport signed by late Hollywood star Bruce Lee. Portugal also froze her assets in February.
FBI seeks help finding 6 Nigerians accused of fraud totaling over $6 million
The Nigerians are also accused of working with money launderers, romance scammers, and others.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has announced, through its Twitter handle, that it needs the help of the public to find six Nigerians who were complicit in Business Email Compromise (BEC) schemes, which led to the loss of over $6 million.
Help the #FBI find six Nigerian nationals wanted for their involvement in business email compromise (BEC) schemes resulting in over $6 million in losses. Read more about each defendant at https://t.co/Q1OToaIVsl, and submit tips at https://t.co/iL7sD5efWD. #FugitiveFriday pic.twitter.com/67TZPHLgHA
— FBI (@FBI) June 27, 2020
The accused Nigerians in the FBI’s Cyber Most wanted are Richard Izuchuckwu Uzuh, Alex Afolabi Ogunshakin, Felix Osilama Okpoh, Abiola Ayorinde Kayode, Nnamdi Benson, and Micheal Olorunyomi.
The FBI says that over 70 different businesses were defrauded of the amount. The fugitives are accused of sending spoofed emails to thousands of businesses requesting fraudulent wire services.
The Nigerians are also accused of working with money launderers, romance scammers, and others involved in BEC schemes “through a complex web of witting and unwitting people in the United States and abroad.”
Uzuh and Ogunshakin are alleged to have conducted their own BEC Schemes; while learning from Uzuh, Ogunshakin provided the bank accounts to him, Benson, Kayode and Okpo, whose accounts were used to receive fraudulent wire transfers. Okpoh alone is accused of providing bank accounts for receiving fraudulent transfers valued at $1 million.
Uzuh was indicted in October 2016 in the United States District Court, District of Nebraska, Omaha, Nebraska, on wire fraud charges and conspiracy to commit wire fraud, while the other co-conspirators were indicted in August 2019 at the same district court and had Federal warrants issued for their arrests.
Meanwhile, Micheal Olorunyomi, who was indicted in November 2019, is accused of defrauding victims of over $1 million by targeting vulnerable elders or widows through romance fraud schemes.
Trump halts access to green cards, employment-based visa till end of 2020
Workers who are already in the United States will not be affected by this order.
President of the United States of America, Donald Trump, is set to sign an order temporarily halting access to several employment-based visas, and issuance of green cards for the rest of the year.
This decision, which comes as a result of the 13.3% unemployment rate caused by the coronavirus pandemic, will restrain hundreds of thousands of people seeking to work in the U.S. However, workers who are already in the United States will not be affected by this order.
According to a senior administration official quoted on Bloomberg, the order will freeze new H1-B, H2-B, H-4, L and most J visas through the end of the year, the official said.
The only exceptions are the food processing workers who will still be allowed to access H2-B visas.
In a Saturday interview with Fox News, Trump had stated that he wanted Americans to take the jobs that would otherwise go to those granted the visas.
“We have plenty of people looking for jobs,” he told Fox. “I think it’s going to make a lot of people very happy. And it’s common sense.”
Trump had earlier hinted at plans to temporarily suspend migrations to the US, amid concerns from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the Information Technology Industry Council, that such moves could disrupt business.
Employment based visas
H-1B visas cover temporary work authorizations for people with highly specialized knowledge, while H-4 visas are issued to immediate family members of H-1B visa holders.
The H-2 visas allow temporary work in agriculture, construction, forestry and many other industries.
L visas are for temporary intracompany transfers for those who are in management positions or have specialized knowledge, while J visas are for work- and study-based exchange visitor programs.
Although the American technology industry has relied on H-1B visas to hire foreign talent, particularly in the fields of science and engineering in the past years, critics say some companies have abused the program to displace American workers.
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Bloomberg reports that there are plans to restructure the H1-B program to rewrite rules in which applicants will get priority for H1-B visas, giving reference to would-be immigrants with the highest salary offers.
In the 2019 fiscal year alone, the US issued more than 900,000 visas in these categories.