Emirates to temporarily suspend flights to South Africa

Emirates planes are seen on the tarmac in a general view of Dubai International Airport in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, January 13, 2021. (Reuters)
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Updated 14 January 2021

Emirates to temporarily suspend flights to South Africa

  • Emirates statement: Flights to/from South Africa will temporarily be suspended from Saturday 16 to 28 Jan. 2021 due to operational reasons
  • Inbound travel to South Africa has dropped since mid December when the country identified a new, more contagious variant of the coronavirus

JOHANNESBURG: Dubai-based airline Emirates said on Thursday it would temporarily suspend all flights to and from South Africa from Saturday due to operational reasons, without elaborating.
“Emirates flights to/from South Africa will temporarily be suspended from Saturday 16 January to 28 January 2021 due to operational reasons,” the largest carrier in the United Arab Emirates said in a statement.
Inbound travel to South Africa for leisure and business has dropped since mid December when the country identified a new, more contagious variant of the coronavirus, forcing countries such as England, Germany, Switzerland and several in Asia to cancel flights to and from the country.
The new variant is said to be behind a major spike in daily infections and rising deaths for the last month, with total cases currently standing at close to 1.3 million and over 35,000 deaths.
“Customers holding tickets with final destinations in South Africa from 16 January to 28 January will not be accepted for travel at their point of origin,” Emirates said.
Its local partner in South Africa — Airlink, which sells airline seats provided by Emirates for local destinations, did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment.

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GM teams up with Microsoft on driverless cars

Updated 54 min 35 sec ago

GM teams up with Microsoft on driverless cars

  • Auto companies have been joining forces and bringing technology firms on board to try to spread out enormous costs
SILVER SPRING, Maryland: General Motors is teaming up with Microsoft to accelerate its rollout of electric, self-driving cars.
In the partnership announced Tuesday, the companies said Microsoft’s Azure cloud and edge computing platform would be used to “commercialize its unique autonomous vehicle solutions at scale.”
Microsoft joins General Motors, Honda and other institutional investors in a combined new equity investment of more than $2 billion in Cruise, bringing its valuation to about $30 billion. Cruise, which GM bought in 2016, has been a leader in driverless technology and got the go-ahead from California late last year to test its automated vehicles in San Francisco without backup drivers.
Auto companies have been joining forces and bringing technology firms on board to try to spread out the enormous costs — and by nature, risks — of developing self-driving and electric vehicles.
Honda is in on the Cruise project with GM, Volkswagen and Ford have teamed up with Pittsburgh autonomous vehicle company Argo AI, and Hyundai joined with Fiat Chrysler last summer in a deal to use Waymo’s driverless car technology.
Toyota and Uber are also working together, while Amazon skipped over the automaker part of the equation and last summer bought self-driving technology company Zoox, which is developing an autonomous vehicle for a ride-hailing service.
Mass adoption of driverless vehicles — and profits — are still a ways off, said industry analyst Sam Abuelsamid of Guidehouse Insights.
“The reality is that the automated driving landscape is taking much longer to mature that had been anticipated a few years ago,” Abuelsamid said. “It’s probably going to be mid-decade before we start to see significant volumes of these vehicles.”
Abuelsamid added that the importance of adding a company like Microsoft to the mix is its cloud computing power and the ability to analyze data from the vehicles to improve the technology.
“Microsoft is a great addition to the team as we drive toward a future world of zero crashes, zero emissions and zero congestion,” said GM Chairman and CEO Mary Barra. “Microsoft will help us accelerate the commercialization of Cruise’s all-electric, self-driving vehicles and help GM realize even more benefits from cloud computing as we launch 30 new electric vehicles globally by 2025 and create new businesses and services to drive growth.”
General Motors has been aggressively revamping its image, saying the industry has reached a history-changing inflection point for mass adoption of electric vehicles. The 112-year-old Detroit automaker this month unveiled a new corporate logo to signify its new direction as it openly pivots to electric vehicles. It wants to be seen as a clean vehicle company, rather than a builder of cloud-spewing gas-powered pickups and SUVs.
GM scrapped its old square blue logo for a lower-case gm surrounded by rounded corners and an ‘m’ that looks like an electrical plug.