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   Vol. 19 No. 20
Monday March 9, 2020

Sanlitun Center Flower Shop
  Face masks amongst the flowers at Sanlitun Center in Beijing, Sunday March 8, International Women's Day.
  The World Health Organization (WHO) in their latest report said that 101,927 cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed globally, of which 80,813 were confirmed inside China with 3,073 deaths so far.

Despite all the negative impact and disruption of the current COVID-19 outbreak, we as business leaders need to adopt a levelheaded approach to navigate and lead our teams through the complexities of this challenging time. This is easer said than done though!
     The biggest challenge we face appears to be how to make sense of fact versus sentiment. Much of this challenge is being driven by a relentless onslaught of media coverage that by virtue of their business objectives are competing for public attention; an objective that in many cases is best achieved by focusing on aspects that drive fear. The media is not the only one at fault though; we as humans, like moths to a flame, are uncontrollably drawn to such excitement and hype, the danger being that we take these reports at face value versus taking the time to investigate further, debate and develop our own informed opinions.
     With the above said, I must admit that the current situation we find ourselves in is not as clear cut as one would like. There is no apparent simple answer to questions such as if we should stop travelling for business and attending or hosting conferences. This beast has many facets that need to be taken into consideration.
     According to the Word Health Organization the restriction of the movement of people and goods during public health emergencies is ineffective in most situations. The organization provides some general guidelines that holds true for both international and domestic travel. The key advice being that if you are ill you should avoid travel and the same holds true “in particular for elderly travellers and people with chronic diseases or underlying health conditions”. They also provide some general guidelines, which as a seasoned traveler I find a bit puzzling, as they are almost impossible to follow at times e.g. “keeping a distance of at least one metre from persons showing symptoms”. This is challenging in airport environments e.g. when lined up for security, customs, boarding your flight etc., and when seated in planes, especially in planes, where cabin air is being circulated; one sneeze or cough and surrounding passengers are most probably impacted.
     To further complicate the matter, an infected individual may be in an incubation phase and not display any symptoms. There is therefore no guarantee, even if you do not encounter no coughing, sneezing etc. during your journey, that you are safe. Does this mean keeping a distance of at least one metre from all persons? And what about touching surfaces such as seats, cups, trays, overhead bins etc. Who knows what may await us there despite airline staff’s best efforts to keep everything sanitized.
     At this point you might be thinking that like the media, I am painting a bleak picture and advocating reasons why international and domestic travel does not make sense. The risk is just too high, right? Well that is not the case! My viewpoint is that if you are still going to work and go about your daily routine as usual, you might as well also continue travelling. With the caveat that you use common sense to avoid areas of high-risk and follow WHO guidance where practical.
     If you hold the very same WHO recommendations and standards true to our daily lives and routines at home, the only conclusion one can reach is that in order to fully protect yourself from the COVID-19 risk, you have to lock yourself up at home and avoid any outside contact.
     Chances are that this is not the case though for most people. Here is the point; despite your best efforts, you face these very same risks multiple times each day i.e. being less than the recommended distance from induvial who display some possible symptom or not if they are in the incubation stage, touched a surface that has been touched by someone that is infected etc.. In our global connected world, you have no idea where these individuals have been, who they or items you are touching have been in contact with, and if they have followed good hygiene practices themselves. Think of going shopping, attending church, commuting, children attending school etc. No matter where you are if a case has been identified in your country, never mind your state, city or town, you are facing the very same risk during these activities as when travelling. So, if we continue with these activities but choose not to fly, are we applying a double standard that makes no sense? Is this any different for the majority of the population to what we generally experience in peak flu season?
     Yes, the risk is higher for certain individuals, but for the majority, from what I have read and can tell, the risk is low and not much different to having flu. However, if you do become infected, you need to keep in mind that you could now have a significance impact on someone else who might be a high risk induvial. It is therefore critically important to take all the WHO and CDC recommended actions when you suspect you might be infected.
     For now I personally will continue to travel for business. In terms of industry events I am torn as I would love to support these important meetings, however I have no doubt that attendance will be down at most of them, and because of this fact, the value of being there both as sponsor and or attendee diminishes. And yes, from a company perspective it makes sense to limit the number of attendees to manage risk.
     My hope is that by Summer this is all behind us and we will see a resurgence of trade, travel, sensibility and a strengthened business environment for all industry stakeholders, with a strong 2020 second half to counter some of the downside we are experiencing in the first half of the year.
Lionel van der Walt
Lionel van der Walt

Lionel van der Walt is CEO of PayCargo. Prior to his most recent duties he served as President of IATA’s Cargo Network Services (CNS). During his tenure at CNS, Lionel initiated several transformational approaches toward strengthening and deepening the airline forwarder partnership. Today the CNS Partnership Conference is the best annual air cargo event for business outcomes between the airline/forwarder partners.

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Cycling In Beijing

Right now as we enter the second week of March 2020, world focus continues on emerging new locations stricken by COVID-19.
     Back in China, it is now post Lunar New Year.
     But in the factories where exports are created, especially in Wuhan, part of Hubei Province the industrial heart of the country where the virus began, the lights are on, but people in that stricken area are slow-walking rather than rushing back to work.
     The ripple effect of the China pandemic is also felt in places like Vietnam where all schools are closed from kindergarten through college and have been for the past month.
     Professor Christopher Balding of Fulbright University, who was in China for over a decade gathering analytics and tracking progress as that country emerged as a world economic power, and is now based in Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) describes the return to work in Wuhan and elsewhere in China as a “trickle, but not any significant move back.”
     Speaking to the YouTube program “War Room Pandemic”, Balding predicted the back to work ramp up of China’s workforce “at the current pace means it could take six weeks to two months before return to any kind of normal activities.
     “We track morning and evening rush hours to and from work via the internet, and note volumes are trending up a little bit,” Balding said.
     “But daytime traffic is virtually non-existent as is subway travel in the (Wuhan) area.
     “Also,” Balding pointed up, “we are not seeing movement of the enormous workforce that went home to locations all over China for Lunar New Year, back to cities where they have jobs in the factories.
     “China today is nowhere near the level where you could say OK there has been a serious restart of economic activities.”
     Skies remained clear last week above a country where 80% of power is generated by coal, creating the worst pollution on earth, seemingly the one positive to report.
     “Coal consumption is at 40% as compared to normal,” Christopher Balding said.
     “One area of activity has been an increase in truck traffic where more than 50% of truckers are back and in fact moving more cargo than other sectors.
     “But we are not seeing the level of logistics and long-haul trucking movement that you would expect to see normally.”
     Big back up at the ports of both import and export goods with ships waiting to be unloaded is the significant word up here.
     While the story of COVID-19 continues worldwide, so does the brilliance and tenacity of the Chinese people who have shut down a part of their country as big as France, with 80 million people quarantined.
     The authoritarian dictatorship in China may have been slow out of the gate and secretive, allowing this horror to spread too far too fast, but now with everybody in the fight coupled with aggressive containment procedures seems to be having the effect of slowing the virus down, according to reports.
     A template made in China has been developed for containing this menace, wherever it pops up in a cluster, including Milan, Seattle and elsewhere.

Report From Turin  The situation is not easy. We are close to the peak of the infections. Measures have been adopted to contain the proliferation, but it is difficult to have Italians to spontaneously abide by stringent rules. Anyway the public starts to understand that they have to modify their habits and I can tell by the road traffic that most are limiting their commuting habits. Let us hope for the best and see if the curve starts declining in the next 5 - 7 days.

Winners & Losers

     Right now various high-profile industries are being impacted by COVID-19 in the U.S.
     Severe and sudden drop off in business no doubt will force the government to pick winners and losers.
     As example, it is understood that the U.S. cannot allow Boeing or the airlines to go down.
     Impacted carriers with airplanes parked and schedules disrupted for any length of time will force the U.S. Government to get creative and find a way to extend a lifeline.
     Cruise ships as purely a leisure industry are another matter and most probably will not get a sympathetic ear as losses mount and people stay home.
     Best short-term view is the continued effort to identify and define the threat.
     Based on past viral health attacks, with the threat of COVID-19 moving forward, reasoning is that prevention through a policy of separation and lock down confinement will get a handle on the outbreak.
     According to several reports, as the weather warms up, the spread of the virus should diminish.
     The unexpected, sudden and irrevocable change in everyday life that COVID-19 has brought to the world, has also been met with a certain amount of reservation, even disbelief.
     On Monday Elon Musk, the CEO of Tesla automobiles said:  “The coronavirus panic is dumb.”
     Microsoft founder Bill Gates on Monday was less dismissive, more safety first, stating:
     “In the past week, COVID-19 has started to behave a lot like the once-in-a-century pathogen we've been worried about," writes Gates.
     “I hope it's not that bad, but we should assume that it will be until we know otherwise,” Bill Gates declared.

Some Airline News:

      In Seattle, Washington, home of Boeing aircraft and several high-tech organizations including Microsoft, Facebook and Google, cases of COVID-19 have hobbled the second greatest tech city in the world. Schools are closed, officials are advising people not to go to work but to tele-commute.
     Over at Boeing, the prime economic driver in that city, news that carriers are slashing services follows no new aircraft sales for January. Boeing, selling no new aircraft for a month, was matched by Airbus saying Friday it sold no new aircraft In February.
     Meanwhile, Lufthansa said that it is slashing half or about 7,000 of its flights in March, while IATA predicted that the global airline industry could take a USD$113 billion hit in sales or 19% of their business if the coronavirus is not contained soon.

chuckles for March 9, 220

Elizabeth Warren We Can Do It

     Rosie the Riveter has died. Rosalind P. Walter, also known as “Rosie the Riveter,” passed away on March 4, 2020, in New York City. She was 95 years old.
     In the early years of WWII, Rosalind worked the night shift at a plant in Connecticut, driving rivets into F-4U Corsair fighter planes (incidentally, my paternal grandfather flew the same model aircraft in the war). Her work inspired Redd Evans and John Jacob Loeb to write the song “Rosie the Riveter” in 1943. Rosalind went on to serve on several boards—the International Tennis Hall of Fame, the Museum of Natural History, the North Shore Wildlife Sanctuary, Long Island University, the Paley Center for Media, and others. She was also a lifelong philanthropist, supporting organizations like PBS, the Piermont Morgan Library, and WNET in New York.

     In 2018, we lost Naomi Parker Fraley, the physical inspiration for the wartime Rosie the Riveter poster. When she was just twenty years old, Naomi began working at the Naval Air Station in Alameda, California. She and her 18-year-old sister, Ada, worked in the machine shop. An Acme photographer snapped a picture of Naomi at her lathe, her hair secured in the polka-dot scarf that would become one of Rosie’s signatures. A short while later, J. Howard Miller’s famous industrial poster was born.
     Over the years, several Rosies have come forward to claim they were the original “Rosie the Riveter.” A Michigan woman named Geraldine Hoff Doyle who worked as a metal presser believed she may have been the inspiration for Rosie, having also had her picture taken while working at her machine. Norman Rockwell found his Rosie in a 19-year-old phone operator named Mary Doyle Keefe. He painted her for the cover of the May 29, 1943, edition of the Saturday Evening Post.
     One could assert that all of their claims are correct. They were all Rosie the Riveter, as were thousands of women who left their homes to work in factories across the nation during the war.
     Rosalind P. “Rosie the Riveter” Walter died on March 4, 2020. A day later, Elizabeth Warren withdrew from the Democratic Presidential race. The synchronicity felt disheartening. “We Can Do It!” Can we? However you may have felt about Warren as a candidate, it was thrilling to watch a woman dominate a debate stage and drum up so much spirited support. I remember in the 2016 run when so many people said they would never support Hilary—that someone like Warren was a better option. That had it been Warren instead of Hilary, Democrats might have won in 2016. Now, looking at the last few months, I wonder at the sincerity behind all those sentiments. I can’t shake the feeling that in 2020, the electorate still considers the presidency of the United States to be a man’s job in the same way factory work was once considered the province of men.
     Over the course of her campaign, whenever Senator Warren met a young girl at an event, she would lock eyes and a single pinky with the youth and say, “Hi, my name is Elizabeth and I’m running for president, because that’s what girls do.” And she would make the girl promise to always remember: That’s what girls do—they run for president. When Senator Warren dropped out of the campaign, she said, “One of the hardest parts of this is all the pinky promises and all those little girls who are going to have to wait for four more years.”
     To all the women reading this: you are a Rosie and an Elizabeth; you hold within you infinite potentialities that have nothing to do with gender. Those pinky promises were so many seeds planted. We will see a woman in the White House. We Can Do It.
Flossie Arend

Robbie Robertson

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Publisher-Geoffrey Arend • Managing Editor-Flossie Arend • Editor Emeritus-Richard Malkin
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