Travel News

Bitcoin Needs to Drop 80% Before Marathon Loses Money on Mining - BLOOMBERG

NOVEMBER 18, 2021

(Bloomberg) -- Bitcoin has a long way to drop before mining the digital token becomes unprofitable for North America’s largest crypto mining company. 

After factoring in energy and hosting costs, the breakeven rate on Bitcoin for Marathon Digital Holdings Inc. is roughly $6,500, according to Fred Thiel, the Las Vegas-based company’s chief executive officer. Even with this week’s drop from an all-time high of $68,991 to around $60,000, the world’s largest cryptocurrency would need to plunge 80% before hitting the breakeven level. 

“It’s obviously a very profitable business,” Thiel said on Bloomberg’s “QuickTake Stock” streaming program. “We can ride this market for quite a long time. Bitcoin would have to drop obviously 80% before it starts getting to be a challenging situation for us, so we’re quite comfortable with where our costs are today.”

The breakeven estimate serves as a reminder on how profitable Bitcoin mining can be for larger-scale companies and helps to explain the almost fivefold increase in Marathon’s share price this year. 

Daily miner revenue is hovering near record highs, according to data compiled by crypto derivatives provider FRNT Financial Inc. Marathon has among the lowest mining costs per coin, DA Davidson analyst Chris Brendler -- who has a buy rating on the shares -- told Bloomberg. Miners earn new Bitcoin by solving complex mathematical equations that secure the blockchain network while processing transactions.  

Marathon’s shares plunged about 33% this week after a quarterly filing showed that the company received a subpoena from the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission related to a partnership for a Montana data facility. Thiel declined to comment further on the probe.    

The company is planning upgrades to operations, with 130,000 previously purchased machines expected to go live from now to mid-2022. At the end of the third quarter, Marathon raised their hash rate, or their computational power, to 2.7 exahashes per second and generated 1,252 self-mined coins -- a 91% jump from second-quarter production; it held roughly 7,053 Bitcoin by quarter-end.

Marathon tapped the debt markets this week to sell convertible bonds -- an offering that was increased to $650 million. The proceeds will be used to upgrade mining equipment and potentially fund acquisitions, Thiel said.

“Having cash on the balance sheet allows us to take advantage of opportunities to buy more miners, or we could potentially acquire miner companies, we could invest in technologies that could dramatically lower or improve the energy efficiency of our mining operations,” Thiel said. “We want to be agile, we want to have optionality.”

Kaduna passengers stranded as rail workers commence warning strike - DAILY POST

NOVEMBER 18, 2021

By John Gabriel

Passengers waiting to board trains were on Thursday morning stranded at the Rigasa station, Kaduna.

Some passengers had, as early as 7.00 am, arrived at the Rigasa station to board a train to Abuja but were disappointed as the station was under lock and key.

DAILY POST observed that staff of the station was seen discussing in groups, the passengers were not attended to.

A source, who is a member of staff of the Nigerian Railway Corporation in Kaduna, told DAILYPOST that the three-day warning strike is in effect.

According to him, the workers, through their union leaders; the Senior Staff Association of the Railway and the Nigeria Union of Railway Workers (NUR) – had declared a three-day strike to demand increased wages.

He said several meetings with the management and the Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, ended in a deadlock with the unions insisting on the strike.

“The strike has led to the shutdown of train services operating from Abuja-Kaduna,” he said.

He said the strike has crippled all train activities, adding that the NRC management will further engage the unions to resolve the matter.

One of the passengers, who spoke to DAILYPOST at the railway station in Kaduna, said she was disappointed as there was no formal notice to intending passengers before the staff embarked on the strike.

” I came early this morning, only to meet every office locked and keyed. Nobody informed us,” she said.

All passengers were advised to turn back as there will not be train service this week until they have a positive response from the Federal Government.

Virgin Australia to add seven more planes as demand rises - REUTERS

NOVEMBER 18, 2021

SYDNEY (Reuters) - Virgin Australia said on Thursday it would add seven more Boeing Co 737 NG planes to its fleet, nearly restoring it to pre-pandemic levels, to help meet a goal of obtaining a one-third share of Australia’s domestic travel market.

Australia’s second-largest airline said the agreed letters of intent would give it a fleet of 84 737 NGs, just one shy of the 85 it operated before it entered voluntary administration last year and handed back many of its planes to lessors.

The carrier, now owned by U.S. private equity group Bain Capital, competes against Qantas Airways Ltd and Regional Express Holdings Ltd (Rex) in a domestic market that is beginning to recover as states open their borders.

“This fleet growth underlines the confidence we have in the future of our business and the industry generally,” Virgin Australia Chief Executive Jayne Hrdlicka said in a statement. “Vaccination rates are rising, borders are opening, and demand is returning.”

The airline said that all staff would be back at work by next month and that it would recruit for another 600 roles across the business. Many employees had been placed on unpaid leave because of lack of demand.

Qantas will also bring back all staff by next month at a time when it has reported a surge in bookings as states open their borders.

Rex this week announced plans to start flights on the highly-trafficked Sydney-Brisbane and Melbourne-Brisbane routes from next month.

Rex said it would offer one-way fares as low as A$69 ($50.16), in a challenge to mid-market Virgin Australia and Qantas’ low-cost arm Jetstar.

($1 = 1.3757 Australian dollars)

Lagos ports, where ‘hungry’ train pilots clear multi-million Naira cargoes - NIGERIA TRIBUNE

NOVEMBER 18, 2021

According to the Lagos Railway District Manager of the Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC), Mr. Jerry Oche, the movement of cargoes in and out of the ports by rail has reduced the pressure on the roads

By Tola Adenubi, 

Following the connection of the Lagos ports to the standard gauge rail project in February 2021, more cargoes have left the ports by rail compared to previous years where every cargo left by road. However, the human element involved in the rail evacuation of cargoes has continued to earn starving wages for moving millions of tonnes of cargoes out of the ports, writes TOLA ADENUBI.

For years, Nigerian ports lacked intermodal means of cargo clearance as 90 per cent of containers that departed the ports left via road haulage, a development that piled huge pressure on the nation’s roads and led to the collapse of the ports’ access roads.

However, the reliance on the roads to evacuate cargoes changed in February 2021 when the Federal Ministry of Transportation (FMoT)connected the Lagos premier port in Apapa to the Lagos-Ibadan standard gauge rail.

According to the Lagos Railway District Manager of the Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC), Mr. Jerry Oche, the movement of cargoes in and out of the ports by rail has reduced the pressure on the roads.

“The beauty of this is that we do an average of one return trip to the port a day. A return trip for us is in and out.

“If we look at 40 feet containers, we are talking of 19 containers in (for exports) and 19 containers out (for imports) each day. That is equivalent to 38 trucks off the road a day. If we carry 20 feet containers, we move 38 containers per trip. That is 38 export containers into the ports via rail and 38 import containers out of the ports, also via rail. That is 76 trucks off the road.

“This is just a rough average of what we are doing daily and we hope that soon we will increase freight shuttles because there are many measures we are trying to put in place to improve our efficiency,” the NRC District Manager told newsmen recently in Lagos.

Poorly paid pilots

With many cargoes being moved in and out of the ports via rail, the pilots who drive these locomotives have remained underpaid, investigations have revealed. Speaking to the Nigerian Tribune exclusively, the President General of the Nigeria Union of Railway Workers (NUR), Comrade Innocent Ajiji lamented that in this part of the world, we hand over assets like the very expensive locomotive engines, multi-million Naira port cargoes and even human lives to train pilots that are being paid starving wages as salaries.

In the words of the NUR President General, “The pilots who man and drive all our standard gauge trains, be it Lagos-Ibadan, Abuja-Kaduna and Warri-Itakpe are all poorly remunerated. Even the ones that drive cargo trains out of our ports, they all earn below N30,000. Are we not toying with danger? When the people that we entrust to carry passengers and cargoes on our standard gauge trains are not well motivated, can something bad not happen along such voyages?

“Most earn around N20,000 that is when you deduct all the necessary fees like union fees, health fees and others fees usually deducted at source, then most of them are left with something just above N20,000. These are the same set of people we entrust with containers out of the ports. These are the same sets of people that we entrust with the lives of passengers along the Lagos-Ibadan, Abuja-Kaduna and Warri-Itakpe passenger train services. Are we not playing with fire in this country?

“If not that our members are well cultured and well trained, something bad could have happened with those cargoes that are being moved out of the ports via rail every day. We are talking of containers that have imported items worth millions of Naira inside them. Yet, our government does not see anything wrong in ensuring that the people that move these cargoes are well remunerated.

“Aside the containers or the wagons, the locomotive engine itself is worth around N600 million Naira. If we add the value of each container that a locomotive carries, 19 containers when it is 40 feet and 38 containers when it is 20 feet, then the value of one single trip out of the ports is above N1 billion Naira. Yet, we employ a pilot who earns below N30,000 to drive these trains. Is that not ridiculous? It’s only in this country that such things happen.”

Depleted workforce

For many who couldn’t bear the starving wages paid to workers of the NRC, such workers have left enmass for greener pastures elsewhere, thereby depriving the NRC the much needed man-power to improve its operations. Disclosing this to the Nigerian Tribune exclusively, the Secretary-General of the NUR, Mr. Segun Esan explained that from 2011 till date, over 2,000 of the workers employed by the NRC have left the Corporation.

“The salaries earned by railway workers as at today are the poorest when compared to other agencies under the FMOT or even when compared to other ministries of government. Many professionals who were employed and could have helped in improving the rail sector have left because of the starving wages given to railway workers.

“Between 2011 and 2021, the NRC has done about three to four rounds of recruitment, bringing in about 2,500 people to come and work in the Corporation. But do you know that as of today, we don’t have up to 500 of the 2,500 people employed between 2011 till date still in the NRC. Many of them have left because they couldn’t just cope with the starving wages that are being handed out every month as salaries.

“With the departure of these good hands, the NRC has lost human elements that could have helped in driving the sector forward,” Segun Esan told Nigerian Tribune.

The hungry workforce

For most of the pilots, the likelihood of getting financial tips when driving passenger trains is another reason many jostle to get assigned to passenger train duties instead of cargo train duties. Speaking to the Nigerian Tribune, a train pilot who wouldn’t want his name in print due to fear of persecution, explained that sometimes, during passenger train rides, benevolent passengers reach out to workers onboard trains when the ride is smooth and devoid of unnecessary delay.

“Sometimes, when the train ride is not delayed and we arrive on time, some benevolent passengers reach out to us (train workers). Due to the very poor salary, I always pray against being assigned to move cargo trains because there is no hope of any goodwill from anywhere since everything you are carrying is goods.

“But when you drive passenger trains, sometimes, you get encouraged by passengers. It can be in words or in cash. At least, that augments the poor salary that we are paid. For some of my colleagues who are permanently assigned to drive cargo trains at the ports, they tell us that they are trying to influence their way out of the ports and into the passenger trains. These are married men with families who earn below N30,000 monthly. With what is happening in Nigeria as of today, many can barely feed their families not to talk of pay school fees and other needs,” the pilot said.

In spite of the huge investment in the water sector by the government and international organisations, water scarcity has grown to become a perennial nightmare for residents of Abeokuta, the Ogun State capital. This report x-rays the lives and experiences of residents in getting clean, potable and affordable water amidst the surge of COVID-19 cases in the state.

Airport Concession: Disquiet Over Petition Against 3 Bidders - DAILY TRUST

NOVEMBER 18, 2021

The ongoing process of airport concession by the federal government may be stalled following a petition to the Ministry of Aviation challenging the qualification...

The ongoing process of airport concession by the federal government may be stalled following a petition to the Ministry of Aviation challenging the qualification of three bidders.

Foremost Human rights lawyer, Mr Femi Falana in a petition asked the Minister, Senator Hadi Sirika and the Director-General, Infrastructure Concession and Regulatory Commission (ICRC) to disqualify three bidders for the concession of the four major airports in the country.

Falana alleged that the three bidders have violated the Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission (Est.) Act 2005 and the National Policy on Public-Private Partnership (N4P).

The three bidders are TAV Consortium, GMR Consortium, and Airport De Paris (ADP).

The petition signed by Mr Femi Falana (SAN), was dated November 3, 2021, with the title, “Request to Disqualify TAV Consortium, GMR Consortium, and ADP”.

Falana in the letter stated that his law firm had confirmed that two consortia owned by ADP submitted an expression of interest and that the first consortium led by TAV Airport Holding, ADP owns 49% and the Second submission done by GMR Airports Limited, ADP owns 46%.

“It is pertinent to note that it is expressly stated in Section 2.2 of the RFQ that no applicant single or a consortium can be part of more than one bid. Section 2.2.3 is further clarifying that the eligibility shall apply to an applicant and/or to the parties consisting of the applicant i.e shareholders”.

Daily Trust reports that the Federal Government recently closed submission of requests for qualifications while the bid opening event was done last Wednesday with only the bidders invited.

During the meeting of the Bid Evaluation Committee, all bids received in physical format as per the RFQ requirements were expected to “Be opened, announced and subsequently taken for detailed review by the committee.”

Director of Information in the Ministry, Mr James Odaudu who spoke with Daily Trust yesterday said he was not sure if the petition by Falana had gotten to the Ministry.

“I cannot confirm if his petition has reached the ministry. Secondly, the ministry did not release the list of those who submitted bids. So I don’t know where Falana got his information from. And thirdly, if it is confirmed that his petition has reached the ministry, of course, the relevant office would respond to it,” he said.

Efforts to get the reaction of the affected companies were unsuccessful. A separate enquiry sent to each of them was not replied at the time of filing this report 24 hours after.

7 Years After Launch, Air Peace Eyes More Routes -DAILY TRUST

NOVEMBER 18, 2021

By  Abdullateef Aliyu

Seven years after launching into the domestic airline market, one of Nigeria’s foremost carriers, Air Peace, has transformed into the biggest carrier in West and Central Africa amid plans to expand into more international routes.

Since Nigeria returned to democratic rule in 1999, many airlines have come and gone, and looking at the mortality rate of airlines from the post-independence era, no fewer than 50 airlines have gone into extinction. Many factors have been attributed to this short lifespan of Nigerian carriers, which largely border on the operating climate, which operators say is not friendly enough for them to withstand the challenge of remaining in business.

In a sector largely dependent on the availability of foreign exchange to acquire aircraft, conduct c-checks, purchase spare parts and so on, sourcing forex has been an uphill task for the operators. With the dollar- -to-naira exchange rate skyrocketing on a daily basis, it reflects seriously on the operating cost of airlines.

Many carriers who could not withstand this chickened out amid the heat of the difficulty of operating in a tough climate.

While more airlines are coming up today as information from the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) shows, analysts say surviving for seven years in a challenging operating environment is not an easy task.

From five aircraft at inception in 2013, checks by Daily Trust indicate that the airline has increased its fleet to over 30, while servicing 19 domestic routes, six regional routes and two international destinations. In what was unprecedented in the recent aviation industry, the airline, with a mixed fleet of B737 classics, B777 and EMB 145, made a firm order of 13 brand new planes.

“The Embraer aircraft is the right aircraft; it breaks even with low passenger figures; your maintenance cost is low; your operational cost is low. Another factor is that the new aircraft is absolutely great for the environment; it does less pollution. I am really proud that I am DG when this paradigm shift is happening.”

With glaring indications of more airlines entering the system, stakeholders say the prospect of more employment opportunities for operators is high, in addition to the over 3,000 currently employed by Air Peace.

The airline’s Chairman/CEO, Mr Allen Onyema, said the airline was fulfilling the purpose of its establishment, which was to create jobs for the teeming youths, insisting that every step taken by the airline in terms of fleet expansion, route expansion was geared towards opening more job opportunities for Nigerians.

He said, “I started the airline just to create jobs and give back to society; that is all. My promise to God in the year 2000 is what I am trying to fulfil, that is the motivation. My motivation is seeing the over 4,000 faces of people working in Air Peace and knowing that they are feeding about over 20,000. So that is the motivation that makes me happy.

“In addition to that is the motivation of moving my country’s people from one place to another. The fact that I am helping with the development of the nation, trying to energise the economy, and energise the economies of some forgotten places through air connectivity helps. So, it helps in job creation, not only Air Peace employing people, but the multiplier effects of what we are doing are helping the country, and that I know very well.”

Analysts say many more domestic carriers like Air Peace could emerge with more support from the government.

“As an oil-producing nation, one would have thought that we should be able to produce Jet A1 to ease the endlessly escalating price of fuel for our airlines. This has to be addressed in collaboration with the oil majors and the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) in particular, more so now that it has been unbundled,” said Comrade Olayinka Abioye, former General Secretary of the National Union of Air Transport Employees (NUATE).

An aviation analyst, Dr Daniel Young, said the airline must strive to protect its brand equity by trying as much as possible to meet the passengers’ demand and improve on the timing of flights.

He said, “If somebody has done well, I will say it, if he has not done well, I will also say it. The most important thing is that the interest of the average Nigerian must come first. In that regard, I must say Air Peace has come out strong and has done well so far.

“Timing in terms of being able to pick up passengers on schedule is also affected and that impacts negatively on the profile of the company. Growth must deliberately be orchestrated.”

Europe Returns to Work From Home to Stem Soaring Covid Cases - BLOOMBERG

NOVEMBER 18, 2021

(Bloomberg) -- European countries are increasingly forcing reluctant companies to let employees work from home in an effort to break the rapidly spreading fourth wave of the coronavirus pandemic.

Germany is poised to agree on mandatory remote working as long as there are no “operational reasons” that stand in the way, while in Ireland people have been instructed to work from home where possible starting Thursday. The Belgian government on Wednesday agreed that employees should work from home four days a week into mid-December.

The moves are part of a wider effort to contain a surge in coronavirus infections across the region, despite vaccination rates of around 70% and higher in many countries.

New measures are being introduced which restrict access to public places for people who aren’t inoculated as authorities try to increase pressure on those who’ve resisted getting a Covid shot.

Chancellor Angela Merkel has called the situation in Germany “dramatic” and warned on Wednesday that the fourth wave of the pandemic is hitting Europe’s biggest economy  “with full force.” 

The eastern state of Saxony, which has one of the country’s lowest vaccination rates, is considering across-the-board lockdown restrictions, the Bild newspaper reported on Thursday.     

Volkswagen AG, Europe’s largest automaker, advised its German employees to start working from home wherever possible as of Monday. It’s preparing to adopt new rules that only allow access to factories and offices for people who are vaccinated, tested or have recovered from a Covid infection.

The industrial giant also plans to ramp up its own capacity for vaccinations at its sites toward the end of this month, including for booster shots.

The number of coronavirus cases in Germany rose by more than 60,000 for the first time in the 24 hours through Thursday morning, according to the latest data from the RKI public-health institute. Covid infections surged by 65,371, while the number of deaths from the disease jumped by 264, taking the total to 98,538.

Merkel and Olaf Scholz, the Social Democrat set to replace her as chancellor early next month, will hold talks with regional premiers to coordinate the next steps -- including the work-from-home measure -- later on Thursday.

70% of Nigerians living in Turkey are illegal immigrants – Diaspora group - PUNCH

NOVEMBER 18, 2021

BY  Friday Olokor

About 70 per cent of Nigerians resident in Turkey are undocumented migrants whose papers or residency permits have expired, international businessman and Vice President of Nigerian Community in Turkey, Enifome Ubogu, said on Thursday.

According to him, about 600,000 Nigerians, including students, were currently residing in Turkey.

Ubogu, who is also the Chief Executive Officer of Vuslat and Fome Nigeria Limited, stated these in an interview with journalists in his office in Abuja after a two-day Nigerians in Diaspora Investment Summit organized by Nigerians in Diaspora Commission.

While stating that most Nigerians in Turkey had refused to renew their residency or return to Nigeria after the expiration of their visa, he warned Nigerians, especially the youths on the risks of illegal migration.

Ubogu said, “Turkey is a very lovely country. The government hardly deports illegal immigrants perhaps due to the fact that it takes a lot of documentary works to do that. Nigerians should know that when you go to a country, the first thing you do is to make sure you are legitimate in the country.

“Most of Nigerians living in Turkey like 70 per cent are undocumented. Some have expired residency or visa. We Nigerians create these problems for ourselves because we know what we do. The Nigerian government won’t come to Turkey to force the country to give us residency.

“Nigerians abroad should always follow the right protocol to get a valid residency.”

Speaking on demands by the Federal Government for more diaspora investment, he stressed the need for government to create an enabling environment for businesses to thrive.

Ubogu described the focus by the government on Diaspora Direct Investment over foreign direct investment as a step in the right direction.

According to him, the initiative would give more citizens abroad the confidence to invest in the country.

“Yearly, Nigerians in Turkey make about $20 million remittance to Nigeria. But what is the output of these investments? Most times, we hear a lot about situations where people send money to their relatives for investment but the money is diverted for other purposes.

“But this NDIS platform, if harnessed properly, would make investors more confident in bringing their money to the country knowing that they are safe”, he said.

Ubogu called on the government to ensure uniformity of foreign exchange (Forex), adding that multiple exchange rates would hinder diaspora investment.

“Aside from logistics challenges, the exchange rate is also a problem. Until we unify our exchange rate, there will always be a problem. We need to get a universal rate where everyone would be treated equally. People go to the extent of establishing offshore companies to beat the system but we can still capture all those revenues by having a single exchange rate,” he emphasised.

Poor Visibility May Disrupt Flight Operations – NiMET - INDEPENDENT

NOVEMBER 18, 2021

Agency warns of extreme dust weather in North, thunderstorm in South

LAGOS – The Nigerian Meteorological Agency (NiMET) has warned that the expected poor visibility across the country may cause flight cancellations and delays.

NiMET also cautioned against extreme dust weather conditions in some parts of the Northern states of Nigeria, just as it said that the Southern states should expect thunderstorms.

The regular weather forecast released to journalists by Professor Mansur Matazu, the Director-General, NiMET, said that the expected flight delays and cancellations are for the safety of air travellers.

According to NiMET, the expected extreme weather conditions would occur throughout the country from November 17 through 20, 2021.

NiMET pointed out that the significant visibility deterioration was expected on Saturday, November 20, in some northern cities such as Maiduguri, Kano, Katsina and Sokoto with visibility values ranging from 5,000-2,000m with isolated cases of visibility below 1000.

It said most parts of the central states are expected to be partly cloudy with sunny intervals, while the southern states are expected to be cloudy with prospects of isolated thunderstorms.

The statement hinted that dust is expected to be raised at Faya Largeau in Chad Republic, a major dust source region for Nigeria and West Africa.

He emphasised that the Saharan high-pressure cell and its pressure belt across the Saharan deserts with centre value at 1021hPa on November 17, 2021, is expected to intensify further to about 1025hPa on 18th and 1027hPa on both 19th and 20th.

The statement added: “The tightening of its (Saharan) pressure gradient is expected to be strengthened on 18th and 19th. Stronger surface (10m) winds at the dust source (Saharan) regions is expected.

“Strong upper-air wind speed of about 40 – 45 knots, at the dust transport (925hPa) level, with the direction that favours dust dispersion from this source region to the northern parts of Nigeria.”

According to the statement, two major dust plumes are expected to be successively raised at Faya Lareau in Chad Republic on November 18 and 19, adding that the dust is expected to progressively reduce the horizontal visibility values in the extreme northern parts of Nigeria from Friday, November 19, 2021, to less than 5000m.

Matazu, thereby, advised motorists to drive with caution especially in the extreme northern parts where reduction in visibility is envisaged.

Ho Chi Minh City Again Orders Bars And Spas to Shut Amid Virus - BLOOMBERG

NOVEMBER 18, 2021

(Bloomberg) -- Vietnam’s commercial hub of Ho Chi Minh City ordered the temporary closing of bars, karaoke establishments, spas and other entertainment venues immediately over fears of the spread of the virus just two days after allowing their re-opening.

The city government reversed course because the outbreak of the coronavirus “is still complicated with hidden risks,” according to a statement on the city’s website. Officials had lifted restrictions on the establishments Nov. 16.

The city has seen an increase in the number of new Covid-19 cases almost everyday since Nov. 8, when the numbers began exceeding 1,000 per day again, according to the health ministry.


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