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India MRPL to shut crude unit, other facilities for from mid-Apr – source

NEW DELHI: India’s Mangalore Refinery and Petrochemicals Ltd plans to shut a 60,000 barrels per day (bpd) crude unit and some secondary units for maintenance from mid-April for about a month, a company source said.

MRPL, a subsidiary of the country’s top explore Oil and Natural Gas Corp, operates a 300,000 bpd refinery in southern India.

“Apart from regular maintenance, we will be readying the units to hook up a gasoline treating unit towards the end of the year,” this source said.


will be commissioning gasoline treating units to maximise production of Euro-VI compliant petrol. India has set a target for a country-wide roll out of Euro VI compliant fuels from April 2020. MRPL did not respond to Reuters email seeking comments.

Following are the units that MRPL plans to shut for routine turnaround: Units Capacity Shutdown period Petrochemical fluidized 2.2 mln T/yr Apr 15- May 29 catalytic cracker Delayed Coker 3 mln T/yr Apr 17-May 23 Coker heavy gas oil 0.65 mln T/yr Apr 18-May 17 hydrotreating unit Diesel hydro desulphurization 3.7 mln T/yr Apr 20-May 18 unit Crude Distillation Unit-3 3 mln T/yr Apr 17-May 13

India looking at cutting west coast refinery capacity as cost escalates to $60 bn

India is looking at cutting capacity at its biggest oil refinery to match lower fuel demand projections and contain costs which jumped to USD 60 billion due to meeting stringent environment norms and relocation of the plant, top officials said.

State-owned Indian Oil Corp (IOC), Bharat Petroleum Corp Ltd (BPCL) and

Hindustan Petroleum

Corp Ltd (HPCL) together with Saudi Aramco and Abu Dhabi National Oil Co (ADNOC) plan to set up a 60 million tonnes refinery-cum-petrochemical complex on Maharashtra coast.

The refinery was projected to cost USD 44 billion (about Rs 3.08 lakh crore) but meeting stringent environment norms such as not producing petroleum coke, and relocation of the plant has jacked up the cost to an estimated USD 60 billion (about Rs 4.2 lakh crore).

“Supreme Court has mandated that you cannot sell petroleum coke and so to produce fuel without any such residue requires the use of best in class technology and will cost more,” an official said.

Also, the unit will now be set up in Raigad district as land acquisition at a previous site in Ratnagiri district was stalled due to farmer protests.

“Land acquisition is a small cost in the project of such size. To say that the project cost has increased by USD 16 billion or Rs 1.12 lakh crore just because the site was relocated is absurd,” he said. “We would have paid some money for purchasing land at Ratnagiri. We would pay for land at Raigad too, which can be higher or lower, I don’t know. It can be slightly more than Ratnagiri but it certainly cannot be over Rs 1 lakh crore more.”

Maharashtra government will decide on the price of the land, he said.

The consortium has engaged Engineers India Ltd (EIL) to do a cost study which should be out by next month, another official said.

Also, a detailed feasibility report (DFR) is being prepared that will detail the cost. Simultaneously, demand assessment is being done keeping in mind the government push for moving away from petrol/diesel driven vehicles and adopting electric vehicles (EVs).

The two will be married to arrive at an optimal refinery configuration, he said adding that the preliminary cost estimate going up to as much as USD 60 billion from USD 44 billion previously was primarily due to producing fuel meeting the stringent environment norms including those set by the Supreme Court.

“We will come up with different scenarios – should we do a 60 million tonnes unit in one go or should we do a 40 million tonnes refinery first and built another 20 million tonnes later if there is demand for fuel. Alternatively, should we build a 20 million tonnes refinery first and later scale it up depending on the demand,” he said.

The refinery configuration would also depend on financing power of the companies involved.

The three PSU firms can put in Rs 30,000 crore to Rs 40,000 crore as equity and equivalent money would come from Saudi Aramco and ADNOC as they own 50 per cent of the project. But the rest of the money will have to be financed from domestic sources or raised internationally, the official said.

“The final call will have to be taken by the government. Can banks finance about Rs 3.5 lakh crore in just one project?” he said.

The project, he said, will have to be approved by the Cabinet and it will have to take a call on how much financing can be put in one project.

Another official said the DFR, which will include the type of products the refinery will produce, will not be ready before 2021 and it would take 4-5 years to build the project from thereon.

Initially, the refinery was considered to include three crude units of 20 million tonnes each that could produce petrol, diesel, LPG, aviation turbine fuel (ATF) and feedstock for making petrochemicals such as plastics, chemicals, and textiles.

While the project will give IOC a strong foothold in western states as catering to customers in the west and the south is difficult with its refineries located mostly in the north, for HPCL and BPCL this will increase their capacity as their Mumbai refineries cannot be expanded further.

Currently, the country has a refining capacity of a little over 232 million tonnes, against the domestic demand of 194.2 million tonnes in fiscal 2017. According to the International Energy Agency, this demand is expected to reach 458 million tonnes by 2040.

The country is the world’s third-biggest oil importer. But the fuel demand is slowing due to a slowdown in the economy as well as a shift towards EVs.

IOC has 11 refineries with a capacity of 81.2 million tonnes, while BPCL runs four with a capacity of 33.4 million tonnes and HPCL operates three refineries with a capacity of 24.8 million tonnes.

Saudi’s interest in the project can be seen as securing its future with a large customer as India has been moving away from Saudi to other markets like Africa, Latin America, and even the US.

European efforts to assess Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine stymied by data gaps

The developers of Russia’s Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine have repeatedly failed to provide data that regulators deem to be standard requirements of the drug approval process, according to five people with knowledge of European efforts to assess the drug, providing new insight into the country’s struggle to win foreign acceptance of its product.

Reuters reported last month that the European Medicines Agency (EMA)’s review of the drug’s safety and efficacy was delayed because a June 10 deadline to submit data on the vaccine’s clinical trials was missed, according to one of those people, who is close to the agency, and another person familiar with the matter. The


is the European Union’s medicines watchdog.

The hitches go beyond that one deadline, the person close to the agency said. As of early June, the EMA had received hardly any manufacturing data, and the clinical data the agency had received was incomplete, the person said.

Separately, an assessment of Sputnik V by a French delegation of scientists in advance of the EMA review found that the vaccine developers were unable to document that the so-called master cell bank, the initial building block of the vaccine, complied with specific EU regulation on preventing disease contamination, according to four people with knowledge of the delegation’s findings.

The EMA, which launched its formal review of the Russian vaccine in March, had previously been expected to decide in May or June whether to approve use of the drug in the EU.

The person close to the EMA said notable missing clinical information during the EMA review included case report forms that record any adverse effects people experienced after receiving the jab in trials. It is standard practice for developers to submit such forms, this person added. It was also not clear how the scientists working on the vaccine tracked the outcomes of people given a placebo, the person said.

The watchdog rates such data shortcomings on a scale that goes from “critical” – the most serious – to “major” to “minor.” The person said nothing had met the critical threshold, “but there are several ‘majors,’” indicating issues that can be remedied but require much work. The person added they didn’t expect the review to be completed until after the summer.

Several people who have interacted with Russia’s Gamaleya Institute, which developed Sputnik V and oversaw the clinical trials, attribute the repeated failure to provide some information to lack of experience in dealing with overseas regulators. “They are not used to working with a regulatory agency like the EMA,” the person close to the agency said, referring to Gamaleya’s scientists.

Gamaleya is supervised by Russia’s health ministry. Neither Gamaleya nor the ministry responded to questions for this report. The Kremlin declined to comment.

Sputnik V is marketed overseas by Russia’s sovereign wealth fund, called the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF).

RDIF said Reuters’ reporting contained “false and inaccurate statements” based on anonymous sources who are attempting to harm Sputnik V as part of a disinformation campaign. RDIF suggested the vaccine could be under attack by the “Western pharmaceutical lobby,” without offering evidence of such a campaign.

RDIF added that the vaccine is registered in more than 60 countries and that studies from places including Argentina, Mexico and Hungary that are already using the vaccine show it is safe and effective. It said there had been “no reported serious adverse events.”

On the French delegation’s findings, RDIF said “the Sputnik V cell bank is fully compliant with all EMA requirements.”

RDIF said it is working closely with the EMA, whose inspectors have visited Sputnik V production facilities. “From the inspections already completed we’ve received no major critical comments and none of the issues raised doubted the safety and efficacy of the vaccine,” said RDIF.

One of the people with knowledge of European efforts to assess the drug said they had no reason to doubt that Sputnik is a safe and effective vaccine. A study by international scientists published in the Lancet in February found Sputnik to be more than 90% effective.

The EMA, which is headquartered in Amsterdam, declined to comment on details of the review while it is ongoing. The agency said it applies the same standards to all applicants and to authorise a COVID-19 vaccine the EMA requires “detailed information on its safety, efficacy and quality.”

The delay could allow rival vaccine makers to sew up key markets. The stumble is one of several for the developers of Sputnik V in dealing with some overseas drugs watchdogs reviewing the vaccine, who have identified a lack of data, insufficient documentation of methodology and non-compliance with what they view as standard protocol.

Brazilian regulators initially rejected imports of Sputnik V after technical staff highlighted “inherent risks,” citing a lack of data guaranteeing its safety, quality and effectiveness. Slovakia’s drug agency said it had insufficient data from Moscow before the government ultimately gave a limited go-ahead for the vaccine. Hungary gave emergency approval for the jab despite what several people with knowledge of the process said were concerns raised by some specialists working on the review at Hungary’s drug regulator about insufficient documentation.

Brazilian regulator Anvisa last month gave conditional approval for imports of Sputnik V. The conditions imposed “seek to overcome the information gaps in the process and ensure minimum conditions of vaccine safety and quality,” Anvisa told Reuters. It added that Sputnik V has not been distributed to people in Brazil.

Hungary’s regulator, at the time it approved Sputnik V in January, publicly acknowledged that there can be conflicting opinions during an authorization process and that it had received reassuring answers to its questions regarding the vaccine. The Slovakian government this month said it sold most of its Sputnik V back to Russia, citing low interest.


Sputnik V is named after the Soviet-era satellite that triggered the space race, in a nod to the project’s geopolitical importance for Russian President Vladimir Putin. EMA approval would lend legitimacy to the vaccine, which initially faced scepticism by some Western scientists and politicians, and speed up its availability in Europe.

Moscow’s efforts to obtain EU approval hit obstacles before it submitted its application.

In November 2020, the French government dispatched a team of scientists to Moscow to help Paris decide if it should use Sputnik V and manufacture the drug on French soil, in the event of EMA approval.

The four people with knowledge of the delegation’s findings said that the paperwork the scientists reviewed showed that fetal bovine serum had been used in the culture to nurture the master cell bank and that the developers hadn’t documented the serum’s origin.

After this story was published, RDIF in a statement said that assertion was “false,” without going into specifics.

Fetal bovine serum is commonly used around the world in vaccine development. But since the outbreak of mad cow disease in the 1980s, European and North American regulators have required that vaccine developers document it is from a safe source.

One of the four people familiar with the delegation’s work is French scientist Cecil Czerkinsky, a member of an international advisory board set up by RDIF and who was separately briefed on the delegation’s concerns about the master cell bank. The French team felt “frustration” with the answers they received when they asked the vaccine developers about the issue, Czerkinsky told Reuters.

Czerkinsky, after this story was published, said in an email that since he last spoke to Reuters in May it had been “scientifically refuted” that the Sputnik vaccine had a potential problem with the master cell and fetal bovine serum. He did not respond to a follow up question from Reuters asking who had refuted this.

He also said in the post-publication email that “the harmlessness of the Sputnik vaccine is also difficult to dispute after it was administered to the population at large in a number of countries.”

The French delegation informally shared their conclusions — including their questions regarding the master cell — with the EMA, one of the people said.

RDIF told Reuters the Gamaleya Institute “never used ‘non-traceable bovine serum’ for cell bank preparation.” It added that the Sputnik V cell bank has been independently verified not to contain prions – the proteins associated with conditions like mad cow disease. RDIF didn’t identify who conducted the independent verification.

The EMA in early March announced the launch of a “rolling review” of Sputnik V, a faster process that checks data as it lands. But the drug’s developers did not submit the first data until a month later, delaying the process at the earliest stages, said an official in the French government briefed on the matter.

France’s ministries for health and research, which sponsored the delegation to Moscow, did not respond to a request for comment on the delegation’s findings.


Brazilian regulator Anvisa’s rejection in April of Sputnik V imports kicked off a testy public exchange with RDIF, which threatened to sue the Brazilian agency for defamation.

A crucial issue for Anvisa related to the adenovirus, the virus that causes the common cold and which is used in Sputnik V to carry into the body information that triggers an immune response. Anvisa publicly said there was a risk the adenovirus in Sputnik V could replicate, potentially causing a negative reaction in recipients. Anvisa’s manager for medicines and biological products called this possibility a “serious” defect. The Russians said there was no evidence of replication and Anvisa had misinterpreted the documentation.

Sergio Rezende, a former science minister advising Brazilian state governors who are looking to import the Russian vaccine, said that in discussions with Gamaleya, the Russians appeared unfamiliar with the expectations of Brazilian regulators. Rezende told Reuters he urged the Russians to rework their application, which they initially resisted but ultimately did.

Anvisa told Reuters its requirements “are aligned with the regulations of other agencies of reference around the world.”

On the possibility of the adenovirus reproducing, Anvisa said studies and documents supplied by Gamaleya indicated the “occurrence of replicating adenoviruses” and lacked adequate assessment of the relationship between that and the vaccine’s safety. Anvisa added that the conditions it imposed included demonstrating the absence of replication in all batches sent to Brazil.

RDIF, in its responses to Reuters, said Gamaleya “has confirmed that no replication-competent adenoviruses (RCA) were ever found in any of the Sputnik V vaccine batches that have been produced.”

Standard Chartered appoints Gaurav Maheshwari as CFO – India

MUMBAI: Standard Chartered Bank (India) on Monday announced the appointment of Gaurav Maheshwari as its new Chief Financial Officer effective 22 June 2020. He has taken over from Subhradeep Mohanty, who was elevated as CFO, Africa & Middle East (AME) region.

This would be Maheshwari’s second stint at the foreign lender where he had put in 17 years in various roles in the finance team. In his career spanning over 23 years, he has also worked with companies like Coca-Cola and Reuters.

In this role, Maheshwari will report to Jean Fernandes, Regional CFO, Asean and South Asia and Zarin Daruwala, India, CEO.

“The India franchise has scripted an inspiring performance over the last few years and we look forward to Gaurav playing a vital role in continuing with this momentum,” said India chief Daruwala.

Maheshwari did his Bachelor of Commerce from Sydenham College of Commerce and Economics and then completed his Chartered Accountancy

Olympics: Virus outbreaks at Olympic hotels sow frustration, stoke infection fears

Coronavirus outbreaks involving Olympic teams in Japan have turned small-town hotels into facilities on the frontline of the pandemic battle, charged with implementing complex health measures to protect elite athletes and a fearful public.

Infections have hit at least seven teams arriving in Japan barely a week out from the July 23 opening ceremony and after host city Tokyo reported its highest daily tally of new COVID-19 infections since late January.

Health experts and hotel staff say the outbreaks underscore the risks of holding the world’s largest sports event during the middle of a global pandemic in a largely unvaccinated country.

In one example, 49 members of Brazil’s judo team are being kept in isolation after eight COVID-19 cases were discovered among the staff at a hotel where they are staying in Hamamatsu, southwest of Tokyo.

None of the judokas have tested positive but frustration over their isolation is mounting as health officials work to contain the outbreak.

“People from the city’s public health centre are tracking down close contacts here,” a staff member at the Hamanako hotel who did not want to be identified told Reuters. “There are dozens of regular guests as well but we’re getting cancellations now.”

The staff member said athletes are using designated lifts and those who work with them are prioritised for COVID-19 testing. Meals are held in the dining area in separate spaces and the athletes are staying on separate floors.

City official Yoshinobu Sawada said teams were required to sign formal agreements to follow coronavirus protocols on eating, movement and transportation restrictions. The infected hotel staff have been moved to quarantine centres.

Other outbreaks among athletes include members of Olympic delegations from Uganda, Serbia, Israel and several other nations either testing positive or isolating in their hotels after being designated as close contacts.

The organising committee did not immediately respond to Reuters’ questions seeking comment.

Games organisers tell hotels to report people with a high temperature during Olympic team check-ins and say organisers and public health centres will handle outbreaks or suspected cases, according to documents the organisers sent to hotels.

Hotels need to provide room service or food delivery to athletes in isolation, and run different hours or separate spaces for meals between Olympic guests and regular guests.

The documents say organisers will not cover costs for hotels to equip rooms with acrylic piders or provide separate dining spaces for the athletes.

Tokyo 2020 playbooks for athletes and sports federations call for attendees to physically distance themselves from others, to wear masks, and to get tested daily.

Those playbooks are working and being enforced, International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach has said, and there was “zero” risk of Games participants infecting residents..

Tokyo entered its fourth state of emergency earlier this week amid a rebound in cases that pushed Games organisers to ban spectators from nearly all venues. More than 1,300 new cases were reported on Thursday, the most in six months.

Most people in Japan think the Games should not go ahead and only 18% are fully vaccinated.

Six hotel officials spoken to by Reuters were mostly worried about separating athletes from regular guests as well as the safety of their staff.

Azusa Takeuchi from the Lake Biwa Otsu Prince Hotel, which is hosting 53 members of New Zealand’s rowing team, said staff were taking COVID-19 tests every four days, wearing masks and providing contact-free services.

Similar measures were in place at the Ebina Vista Hotel on the outskirts of Tokyo, according to an Olympic official staying there, who said he was housed on the seventh floor but not permitted to use a lift.

“There are guards at each floor 24/7 preventing us from using them. Instead we are allowed to go from hotel restaurant to our rooms and back using only external evacuation stairs,” said the official, who did not want to be identified.

Other measures, confirmed by the hotel, include breakfast for the athletes served before 6:30 a.m. at the restaurant or through meal boxes delivered to hotel rooms.

Koichi Tsuchiya, the hotel manager, said he worried about his staff.

“I’m scared someone from the cleaning staff would get infected. People entering guest rooms are scared,” said Tsuchiya, adding that some staff were not vaccinated. “This is making us nervous.”

Tsuchiya also worried about his visitors.

“Travel agents brief the athletes before arrival: you can’t do this, this is not allowed, that is banned. I’m sure the athletes are extremely stressed,” he said.

“As staff, we’re doing our best to help them relax. But this is the situation we’re in, so the infection countermeasures are the priority.”

Twitter to expand rules against misinformation on mail-in ballots, early voting

Twitter said late on Wednesday it plans to expand its rules against misinformation regarding mail-in ballots and early voting in the U.S. elections this year. The move, reported earlier by Politico and confirmed by a Twitter executive, will involve coming up with new policies “that emphasize accurate information about all available options to vote, including by mail and early voting.”

“Ahead of the 2020 U.S. Election, we’re focused on empowering every eligible person to register and vote through partnerships, tools and new policies,” Jessica Herrera-Flanigan, Twitter’s vice president for public policy in the Americas, told Reuters in an email.

The social media platform also said it would roll out measures on new tools, policies, and voting resources in the next month. Twitter said it is exploring how to expand its “civic integrity policies” to address mis-characterizations of mail-in voting and other procedures, including registration. The finer details of the step are still being finalized.

U.S. President Donald Trump has repeatedly claimed without evidence that voting by mail, which is expected to increase dramatically this fall due to coronavirus outbreak, is susceptible to large-scale fraud. Voting by mail is not new in the United States – nearly one in four voters cast 2016 presidential ballots that way.

Routine methods and the decentralized nature of U.S. elections make it very hard to interfere with mailed ballots, experts say. Late last month, Facebook Inc placed a “voting info” label on a post by Trump that said mail-in voting would lead to a “CORRUPT ELECTION.”

Experts feel China should set an average growth target of around 5% for 2021-2025

China should set an annual average economic growth target of around 5% for the 2021-2025 period, a senior economist at a Chinese state think tank said on Tuesday.

Li Xuesong, deputy director of the Institute of Industrial Economics at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, made the remarks during a press briefing in Beijing.

Policy sources told Reuters earlier in November that Beijing is close to setting an average annual economic growth target of around 5% for the next five years.

China’s exports seen maintaining momentum; import growth cools: Poll

BEIJING: China’s foreign trade is expected to have grown quite strongly in October due to a recovery in global markets and the domestic economy, a Reuters poll showed, but there are fears that the coronavirus upsurge overseas could slow trade in coming months.

In October, exports are expected to have risen 9.3% from a year earlier, according to a median estimate of a Reuters poll of 20 economists, down slightly from the 9.9% gain in September.

Imports likely rose 9.5% on year, which economists regarded as a solid increase though it would be slower than in September, when imports rebounded 13.2%.

China’s trade surplus is expected to have widened to $46 billion in October from $37 billion in September, according to the poll.

The forecasts could suggest the recovery in the world’s second-largest economy from the initial impact of the coronavirus pandemic remains intact.

China’s economy is expected to expand around 2% this year – the weakest in over three decades but still much stronger than other major economies as it emerged faster from the coronavirus crisis, having been the first country to be hit by the pandemic.

The upward momentum was also evident in China’s official manufacturing survey for October, as the new export orders sub-index expanded at a quicker pace.

Analysts at Nomura said in a research note that a pause in the re-opening of some overseas economies due to a resurgence of COVID-19 cases, and a high base last year would have weighed on October’s import growth. They also expected less growth in crude oil imports.

Some analysts also noted there were fewer working days last month compared with same period last year due to the long national holiday, which might lead to a slightly softer reading.

And they said China’s trade performance could suffer over the next few months as stringent virus control measures are re-imposed by trade partners due to recent resurgence of COVID-19 infections in Europe and the United States.

Some companies reported that second wave in infections abroad had lengthened procurement periods for imports of raw materials and increased transport costs.

French IT firm Atos makes $10 billion DXC takeover approach: Sources

LONDON: France’s Atos has made a more than $10 billion takeover approach for U.S. rival DXC Technology in what would be the deal-hungry IT consulting group’s biggest acquisition, two sources with knowledge of the matter said.

Atos, which is working with advisers on a bid for the former Hewlett Packard Enterprise business, made a formal approach to New York-listed DXC this week, the sources told Reuters on condition of anonymity.

Atos and DXC did not respond to requests for comment.

A tie-up with DXC would boost Atos’ presence in the United States, giving it access to a wide range of clients and B2B products including analytics and cloud applications as well as IT outsourcing services.

Discussions are still at a preliminary stage and there is no certainty that a deal will be agreed, the sources added.

If successful, a deal with DXC would also lead to synergies and cost savings for Atos, which has been on an acquisition spree in recent years, the sources said.

The French firm spent $3.4 billion to buy Michigan-based IT services provider Syntel Inc in a cash deal in 2018, ranking as its biggest deal so far.

DXC, founded in 2017 when Hewlett Packard Enterprise spun off its enterprise services business, has been grappling with rising debt, with boss Mike Salvino taking the helm in 2019 and subsequently announcing a strategic review of non-core assets.

“DXC is too small to operate on its own in a low margin world,” one of the sources said.

DXC unveiled plans on Wednesday to sell its Fixnetix unit – which provides outsourced front-office trading services to investment banks, hedge funds and exchanges among others – to Options Technology for an undisclosed amount.

Last year it pocketed $5 billion from the sale of its healthcare technology business to private equity firm Veritas Capital.

The Tysons, Virginia-based firm, which has a market value of $6.7 billion, saw its revenues fall to $19.6 billion in 2020 from $20.75 billion in 2019 while its total debt rose to $9.9 billion in 2020 from $7.4 in 2019.

Atos, led by CEO Elie Girard, has recently embarked on a series of bolt-on acquisitions, buying cybersecurity, artificial intelligence and digital consultancy firms in a bid to grow its revenues by 5% to 7% in the mid-term.

It bought artificial intelligence and data science firm Miner & Kasch in April and U.S.-based cloud consulting group Maven Wave in 2020, as well as cybersecurity firm IDnomic and energy specialist X-Perion in 2019.

After cancelling its 2020 pidend payout in April, Atos said it would maintain its pidend policy and use remaining free cash flow to finance further acquisitions.

Etihad flags more cabin crew job cuts, to keep Airbus A380s grounded

DUBAI: Etihad Airways told cabin crew on Wednesday there would be layoffs this week, an internal email seen by Reuters showed, and a company source said the airline will keep its Airbus A380 superjumbos parked “indefinitely” due to a slower than expected recovery in air travel demand.

In the internal email, cabin crew were told those affected would be notified within 24 hours, without saying how many would lose their jobs.

The warning was sent out two days after a similar notice was sent out to pilots at the Abu Dhabi state carrier.

Etihad has already cut jobs and salaries as its losses widened this year.

Staff were told in the email that Etihad believes it will become a much smaller airline as air travel demand has not been recovering fast enough, leaving the carrier with a larger workforce than it needs.

A company source said up to 1,000 cabin crew job cuts are expected, including senior cabin staff and cabin managers.

The airline employed around 4,800 cabin crew as of February.

The source said that Chief Executive Tony Douglas had told staff its A380s would continue to be parked “indefinitely.”

They have been grounded since March due to the pandemic that has shattered air travel demand.

An Etihad spokeswoman told Reuters the A380s would remain grounded unless there was sufficient demand. She did not respond to questions about the planned job losses.

The International Air Transport Association has said that inconsistent border rules are hampering the airline industry’s recovery, making it difficult for airlines to plan ahead.

A new wave of infections and lockdowns across Europe and elsewhere has created further uncertainty for the aviation industry as it faces its worst ever crisis.

Etihad this week said it would push ahead with plans to shrink the airline into mid-sized carrier concentrating on its wide-body fleet, raising questions about the future of its 30 narrow-body Airbus A320 jets.