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Australia PM announces new lockdown disaster payments – who’s eligible?

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Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has announced a new “temporary COVID-19 disaster payment”

The disaster payment will be made for people who live in declared COVID-19 hotspots and are unable to work because of a lockdown.

It comes as the nation’s second-biggest state of Victoria remains in an extended lockdown due to a COVID-19 outbreak.

The payment will be made available to those unable to work due to imposed lockdowns.

The Federal Government however revealed there are terms and conditions of the payment which include that the area in lockdown must be recognised as a hotspot from the Federal Government.

The PM also stated that payments will not be made available unless an area is locked down for more than two weeks, meaning a one-week lockdown would see no payments to stood down workers.

The Commonwealth Government also stated they reserve the right to cease payments if they no longer designate an area as a hotspot.

Image / Ticker NEWS

The breakdown

Only workers stood down from employment during a lockdown will be eligible for payments.

$500 PAYMENT PER WEEKFOR WORKERS WHO NORMALLY WORK 20+ HRS
$325 PAYMENT PER WEEKFOR WORKERS WHO NORMALLY WORK UNDER 20 HRS PER WEEK

The new payment is set to cost the Australian Government $50 million a week for every 100,000 applicants it pays.

Melbourne testing clinic /Image AFP

Australia’s Victoria remains in lockdown

Victorian Acting Premier James Merlino says vaccination was the only way out of the pandemic and that the locked down state was waiting on Federal support in relation to the federal vaccine rollout.

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Supersonic flights – Are you ready? | Ticker Original

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It’s the news about Boom supersonics that av-geeks have been waiting for since… well 2003. Why 2003? I’ll explain in a moment.

The leap of faith by US airline United is exactly what aviation startup Boom Technology needed to show the market it was onto a winner with its next-generation supersonic jet.

October 2003 was the last time the world saw a supersonic commercial airliner take to the skies, as the final Corcorde jet landed for the last time and British Airways and Air France retired their remaining aircraft.

The final Concorde flight from British Airways in 2003
The final Concorde flight from British Airways in 2003

It was the end of an era. The romantic super wealthy supersonic jetliner had been fictionalised as the jet of the future. But high fuel costs, low passenger numbers, and a deadly crash in Paris (even though it wasn’t the fault of the aircraft) sealed its fate.

So the decision by one of the world’s biggest airlines to purchase Boom’s new Overture aircraft is huge. Not just because of the delivery, but because of who is buying it. Traditionally, US carriers stick to what they know. Most of the time its Boeing, and sometimes Airbus, but mostly just to keep Boeing on its competitive toes.

“Boom’s vision for the future of commercial aviation, combined with the industry’s most robust route network in the world, will give business and leisure travellers access to a stellar flight experience.”

United CEO Scott Kirby

So for one of the old guard to place an order for 15 Overture jets is a really big deal. But is it a really good idea?

The Boom sales pitch

Before we tear the dream apart, let’s look at the promise from Boom and United.

Supersonic flight is when an aircraft travels faster than the speed of sound. 

At an altitude of 60,000ft (18,300m), that means flying faster than 660mph (1,060km/h). 

A typical passenger jet may cruise at about 560mph (900km/h) but the supersonic Boom Overture is expected to reach speeds of 1,122mph (1,805km/h) – also known as Mach 1.7.

That cuts the flying time over the Atlantic or Pacific literally in half. Something that helped Concorde become the aircraft of choice for busy businessmen.

There’s that great episode of Absolutely Fabulous, where Eddie and Patsie travel to New York and back in a day to buy a door handle, all thanks to the Concorde.

Eddie and Patsy flying to New York on the Concorde
Eddie and Patsy flying to New York on the Concorde

But for the rest of us, and those of us too young to take a keen interest in flash-fashion doorknobs, the Concorde was nothing more than a dream.

Denver-based supersonic developer Boom Technology is promising to bring back the era of supercharged flying.

Is the industry ready?

The flying public, sick of the ever tightening capacity of 737s or A320s probably love the idea of flying to their destinations faster, if it allows them to unpack their legs out of the vacuum seal and cut their journey times in half.

But as Boeing often reminds us, it’s airlines who buy passenger planes, not passengers. And with the price of oil reaching 100 dollars a barrel, efficiency, not speed, has been on the minds of aviation executives for the past 25 years.

A key challenge will be the logistics of sustainable fuel

Infrastructure burden

It’s one thing to create the supersonic jet of the future, it’s another thing to make it work. Boom says the supersonic Overture will be able to fly on sustainable aviation fuels (SAF) and be the first commercial plane to immediately reach net-zero carbon emissions.

Sounds great, except when you think of the logistics to make this happen. Not every aviation expert believes they can.

“Is there infrastructure in the pipeline and existing to ramp up the supply? if this plane takes off in 2029, that’s eight years away. Can we see the ramp up of sustainable aviation fuel and capacity to power this aircraft?” asks aviation journalist Joran Chong.

“I think there’s been a lot of advancements for stable aviation fuel plants in Europe and the US. The technology and science is coming up with more ways to produce sustainable aviation fuel. That’s the ambition, that’s the hope,” Jordan says.

Singapore Airlines A380s parked in a desert
Singapore Airlines A380s parked in a desert

The lesson from the A380

While Boeing was deciding whether to go for speed or efficiency before eventually deciding on the 787 Dreamliner, the US aircraft manufacturer was also in a semi culture war with Airbus over a simple question. Was the future of aviation about flying hub to hub, or flying point to point?

Airbus believed major airports were reaching capacity for available slots, and invested heavily in the double decker A380. Boeing believed future orders would more likely come from airlines wanting to fly more boutique routes for passengers, and opted for smaller aircraft. Airlines like Qantas who fly both the A380 and the 787 found it would be cheaper to put two 787s on the same route as an A380.

The A380 would suffer an untimely death for passengers. Not just because of COVID, but also because airlines just didn’t buy them, or fulfil the orders they thought they might need. While passengers loved the comfort and space of an A380, airlines found them tough to fill.

But might Boom have the opposite problem?

Boom promises to be carbon neutral
Boom promises to be carbon neutral

Speed v Space

While the Concorde looked stunningly stylish from the outside, the interior of the supersonic jet left a lot to be desired.

“It was a lot more like premium economy,” says Jordan Chong.

In order to fit as many people into the small aircraft as possible, the seats were far narrower than business travellers are used to today.

The tiny Concorde cabin has been described as “premium economy”

Which raises a key question for business travellers who might have to make a choice in 2029. Would you rather fly business class more comfortably, but on a longer journey? Or would you rather fly faster with no flat bed?

“The argument could be made that if you’re flying for only three to four hours, do you really need a lie flat seat given they are short distances? You’re paying for speed rather than comfort or amenity,” Jordan says.

Is there demand for supersonic travel?

Boom Technology seems to think so, but they need more than United to agree. After years of losses, it was only in Concorde’s final years that it began to make a profit for British Airways.

Today, wealthy travellers have many choices. From competitively priced Business Class and First Class fares, to the choice of their own private jets – a lot has changed since the Concorde left our skies.

Boom will begin tests flights of its Overture jets in 2026.

But for now, it’s still only a paper plane.

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DiDi profits dive during pandemic peak

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Didi

Chinese ride-hailing company Didi has revealed a $1.6 billion net loss for 2020

The company will continue to as move ahead with plans for a US initial public offering.

In its first public filing for the IPO the company listed an offering of $100 million.

The company has been considering seeking a valuation of around $70 billion.

Didi has expanded into 15 countries but most of its revenue still comes from its China mobility business.

Didi promises to improve its payment process for drivers, as well as fares for users.

In a statement, Didi said drivers normally receive around 79 percent of what customers pay, but occasionally this will drop below 70 percent.

This follows growing criticism around the company’s operations.

Didi says it will “try its best” to prevent further cases from happening in the future.

“Our platform is huge, but our capability is not enough,” Didi said in the statement. The company also said it welcomes criticism and supervision from the public.

“We still have a long way to go to ensure passengers can afford rides and drivers can enjoy steady growth in their incomes.”

DIDI RIDE-SHARING PLATFORM IN A RECENT STATEMENT

Mounting consumer pressure

Consumers have been questioning why users of the rideshare service are paying more for fares and drivers are making less.

This has also led to a push for regulators to take action.

Didi says, “We still have a long way to go to ensure passengers can afford rides and drivers can enjoy steady growth in their incomes.”

Didi’s increasing profit margins

Didi had a net margin of 3.1% for 2020, according to the statement.

The company has filed confidentially with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission for an initial public offering that could raise several billion dollars, Bloomberg News reported in April.

The SoftBank Group Corp.-backed company is stepping up efforts to increase its presence in strategically important sectors like autonomous driving and technologies including artificial intelligence chips.

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Will Indonesia’s ‘Work From Bali’ save the island? | TICKER VIEWS

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Indonesia is launching the ‘Work From Bali’ program to revive the Island’s battered economy – but will it go far enough?

The Indonesian Ministry of Tourism and Creative Economy has announced their upcoming ‘Work From Bali’ scheme, which will allow public servants to live and work in Nusa Dua. The program will send 25 per cent of Indonesian public servants from seven different Indonesian ministries to live and work from hotels in Nusa Dua. This comes in an effort to boost tourism on the island.

“We hope that with the arrival of government and state-owned company employees, the gears of Bali’s economy will start moving.”

Hermin Esti Setyowati, ministry of Tourism and Creative Economy
Nusa Dua is an island resort in Bali, indonesia.

As Bali suffers, does ‘Work From Bali’ go far enough?

The COVID pandemic hasn’t been easy for any of us, but it’s been tougher on Bali than most. International travel bans brought tourism in Bali to a jarring halt.

Official figures released by the Indonesian government suggest over 80% of Balinese locals have been impacted as a result of the island’s COVID tourism slump.

The tourism industry is crucial to Bali’s economy, with many locals relying on international guests for income. In 2019, 6.3 million international tourists visited the island. In 2020, that number dropped to about 1 million.

This year, the island welcomed just 25 foreigners from January to March. Last year 1.1 million tourists visited the island in the same period. The pandemic has seen more than 4.3 million Balinese people out of work.

Kuta’s streets were once bustling with tourists. Now, they’re unrecognisable.

Will the scheme help the people who need it?

Australian expat Amanda runs the ‘Let’s Help Bali’ Facebook group, which has almost 14,000 members. She explains that many Balinese locals leave their villages to get jobs in tourism, which are more often than not in the city.

“This means the impact doesn’t just affect that immediate person but the whole family who rely on that income,” she told Ticker NEWS.

Amanda says she thinks the scheme “will help very few people”, and the Indonesian government needs to reopen Bali’s borders to support locals in a meaningful way.

“Until the borders are open, I don’t see much changing here,” she said.

“Bali needs help from everywhere”

While support for the program isn’t universal, it appears as though everyone can agree that Bali is suffering. Ketut Ardana, Vice Chairman of the Bali Tourism Board, says the Work From Bali program is a step in the right direction, it doesn’t go far enough.

Health risks of COVID

Despite these efforts to reopen Bali to tourists, COVID remains an issue on the island with almost 2 million total cases, and over 500 active cases.

Nusa Dua is one of Indonesia’s three “green zones,” where the vaccination roll-out has been prioritised. Local newspapers have reported more than 8,000 staff in Nusa Dua, have received a second dose of the vaccine.

Ketut Ardana says he’s “not worried” about the potential health risks of opening borders for travel.

“We are ready and safe to receive tourists,” he said.

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