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FDC: External reserves to slide below $43bn





igeria’s foreign exchange reserves will fall to $42 billion this month, analysts at Financial Derivatives Company Limited (FDC) have projected.



The analysts stated this in the September edition of the firm’s “Lagos Business School (LBS) Breakfast Session” presentation obtained by New Telegraph at the weekend.



According to the presentation by the Chief Executive Officer, FDC, Mr. Bismarck Rewane, the projected drop in external reserves will be caused by lower oil prices as well as “increased activities at the Investors and Exporters’ (I&E) window.”

Latest data obtained from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) shows that the country’s external reserves have continued on the downward trend.



As at September 4, 2019, the reserves stood at $43.19 billion, indicating a decline by $419.13million since August 30, 2019 when it dropped to a five-month low of $43.61billion. 



The external reserves have been on a downward trend in recent months, falling, for instance, from $45.18billion on June 10, 2019 to $44.90billion on July 31.



Financial experts attribute the decline to recent downward trend in oil prices, as well as lower foreign portfolio investment inflows.



But, according to the FDC analysts, the over $9billion UK court judgment secured by an Irish firm, Process and Industrial Development Limited (P&ID), against the Federal Government for contract violation, could result in further depletion of the country’s external reserves.

The analysts stated that the $9billion awarded against the Federal Government, which according to them was not “unusual,” accounted for 20.55 per cent of the nation’s dollar buffers and would “likely depress the external reserves further.”

They also projected that with the reserves heading south, the naira would depreciate to between N362 and N363 per dollar.



In a recent note, analysts at Cowry Asset Management Limited had predicted that the naira would likely depreciate against the dollar across the different forex market segments last week.

Although the analysts did not provide the exact margin by which they expect the naira to decline against the dollar, they noted that while the local currency closed flat against the greenback across market segments in the upper week, it was likely to weaken last week, “amid decreasing external reserves.”

Commenting on measures recently adopted by the CBN to boost economic growth even as it tries to maintain exchange rate stability, Fitch Ratings stated  that “the competing goals of preserving naira stability and supporting Nigeria’s fragile recovery are pushing the CBN towards increasingly complex policy measures, with a risk of aggravating external vulnerability or causing macroeconomic distortions.


“We expect the CBN to continue to pursue a combination of tight liquidity management, segmented exchange-rate markets, and foreign-exchange interventions and restrictions.

It will be aided by ample international reserves of more than six months of expected 2019 current account payments, and a small current account surplus conditional (we estimate) on Brent prices averaging at least $60 a barrel.”

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Border closure: Importers reroute cargoes from Cotonou to Lagos




ollowing the closure of land borders in the country, importers are now rerouting Nigeria bound cargoes to Lagos ports from Cotonou.


The Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA)’s General Manager, Corporate and Strategic Communications, Adam Jatto, said  in Lagos that the seaports had the capacity to handle increased cargoes coming into the ports.

He stressed that terminal operators had  the required equipment to meet the increased cargo throughput.


Also, the founder of the National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF), Dr Boniface Aniebonam, explained in Lagos that the impact of the land borders, closure would lead to increased cargoes at the seaports.

He  explained that some of the goods were being re-routed back to Nigerian ports through the normal process.



Already, Nigerian ports had handed a cargo throughput of 38.5 million metric tonnes in the first half of 2019.

According to records, Delta Ports had handled 300 vessels compared to the 268 vessels handled by the port in the first six months of 2018.

Also,  Rivers Ports handled 160 vessels, while Calabar Port took delivery of 82 vessels during the period.


It added that cargo throughput at the Delta Ports rose by 52.2 per cent year-on-year from 2.89 million metric tonnes recorded in the first half of 2018 to 4.41 million metric tonnes recorded in the first half of 2019.

Cargo throughput at the Tin Can Island Port in the first half of 2019 stood at 7.79 million metric tonnes; a growth of 12.7 per cent over the 6.92 million metric tonnes handled in the corresponding period of 2018.

The number of ocean-going vessels that called at the nation major seaports within the period also increased from 2,008 to 2,111, representing 5.2 per cent growth.


According to the report, the gross registered tonnage (GRT) of ocean-going vessels completed in the first half of 2019 stood at 67 million metric tonnes or an increase of 3.3 per cent over the 64.89 million metric tonnes handled at the ports from January to June 2018.

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UBA grows PAT to N82bn in 9 months



UBA grows PAT to N82bn in 9 months

United Bank for Africa Plc (UBA) has recorded a 32.30 per cent growth in profit after tax to N82.628 billion for the nine months ended September 30, 2019 as against N61.698 billion in 2018.

The group in a filing with the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) also reported a pre-tax profit of N98.233 billion during the period under review in contrast to N79.111 billion posted a year earlier, accounting for a growth of 24.17 per cent.

Its interest income also firmed up by 10.77 to N297.903 billion from N268937 billion reported in 2018.

The pan-African financial institution had delivered double digit growth in its profit before tax as it rose by 21 per cent to N70.3 billion for the half year to June 2019, up from N58.1 billion recorded in the similar period of 2018, just as the profit after tax also improved to N56.7 billion, a 29.6 per cent growth compared to N43.8 billion achieved in the corresponding period of 2018.

The profit for the first half of the year translated to an annualised return on average equity of 21.7 per cent.

According to the results filed with the Nigerian Stock Exchange, UBA recorded a 14 per cent year-on-year rise in top-line, with gross earnings of N293.7 billion, compared to N257.9 billion recorded in the corresponding period of 2018.

Analysts say that this result emphasises the capacity of the group to deliver a strong performance through economic cycles in spite of the overall challenging business environment.

As at  June 30, 2019, the bank’s total assets grew by 4.8 per cent, crossing the N5 trillion mark to N5.10 trillion. Customer deposits also rose by 4.8 per cent to N3.51 trillion, compared to N3.35 trillion as at December 2018.

The growth trajectory underscores UBA’s market share gain, as it increasingly wins customers through its revitalised customer service culture coupled with innovative digital banking offerings. The bank’s shareholders’ funds remain strong at N542.5 billion, reflecting its strong capacity for internal capital generation.

In line with its culture of paying both interim and final cash dividend, the board of directors of UBA Plc declared an interim dividend of N0.20 per share for every ordinary share of N0.50 each held by its shareholders.

Commenting on the results, the Group Managing Director/CEO, United Bank for Africa Plc (UBA), Mr. Kennedy Uzoka, said: “I am pleased with the half performance of the group, having delivered 14 per cent growth in gross earnings and 21 per cent growth in profit before tax. Despite the subdued yield environment in some of our large markets, we achieved a nine per cent growth in interest income and defended the net interest margin.

“We also achieved a 39 per cent growth in our electronic banking revenues, as we broaden and deepened our digital banking play across Africa. Revenues from our remittance and funds transfer businesses grew 69 per cent and 53 per cent respectively. All these factors attest to the efficacy of our strategies and the resilience of our business model.

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Airtel partners Ecobank on mobile transactions



Airtel partners Ecobank on mobile transactions

Airtel Africa has signed partnership agreement with Ecobank Transnational Incorporated (ETI) that will allow millions of Airtel money and Ecobank customers across Africa to improve their access to mobile financial services and carry out a variety of mobile transactions.

According to a statement obtained from the NSE, the partnership, which is subject to regulatory approval in each market, will enable Airtel Money customers, through Ecobank’s digital financial services ecosystem, make online deposits and withdrawals, effect real time domestic and international money transfers, make in-store merchant payments, and access loans and savings products amongst others.

The partnership will also allow Ecobank corporate account holders to make bulk disbursements, such as payroll payments, directly into Airtel Money customer wallets. Additionally, Ecobank will be able to sponsor Airtel Money to issue both virtual and physical debit and pre-paid cards to Airtel Money customers.

Raghunath Mandava, CEO for Airtel Africa, said: “This partnership is a further demonstration of Airtel Africa’s commitment to provide affordable, simple and innovative solutions for our consumers across Africa. We will continue to offer locally relevant M-Commerce solutions with partners like Ecobank in order to enhance the daily lives of our customers.”

Ecobank Group CEO, Ade Ayeyemi, commented: “We believe that financial inclusion can ultimately contribute to economic development, collaborating with major telecommunications providers in Africa is therefore a key strategic driver towards closing the gap between the banked and the underbanked. Hence this partnership with Airtel Africa which makes Ecobank financial services available to any Airtel line registered on Airtel Money, in our markets where regulatory approvals are in place. This potential extensive reach will further provide convenience to customers, intra-country and particularly for cross-border transactions and remittances across Africa.”

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Stanbic IBTC rewards long serving staff



Stanbic IBTC rewards long serving staff

Stanbic IBTC Holdings PLC, a member of Standard Bank Group, has held the 2019 edition of the company’s long service awards.

The annual event is an avenue for the organisation to recognise and reward workers, who have put in significant years of service to Stanbic IBTC.

Delivering his welcome remarks, Dr. Demola Sogunle, Chief Executive, Stanbic IBTC Bank PLC, described the event as being in line with the bank’s tradition of honouring employees who have distinguished themselves through hard work, dedication and commitment to Stanbic IBTC Holdings PLC.

He said: “Ladies and gentlemen, you will agree with me that recognition is not just about instituting an award system. It is also about how the awards are executed. With the array of distinguished achievers at this occasion, I believe that today will be etched in the history of every awardee and their family members present as a memorable day indeed in recognition of their long term commitment and excellent contribution to the growth and development of Stanbic IBTC.

“This year is fundamental for Stanbic IBTC as it marks a significant 30 year milestone since the Group commenced its journey and we are celebrating 170 of our loyal and dedicated staff who have contributed to this significant milestone.”

He further commended the awardees for keeping faith with the organisation despite the highly competitive and challenging business environment.

“Your loyalty, dedication and continued efforts have contributed to helping us overcome challenges, convert opportunities and unite to deliver profitable outcomes. Now is the time to return that loyalty.

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LCEF, Ecobank to partner on trade settlements



LCEF, Ecobank to partner on trade settlements

As it gets ready to start trading in a few weeks, the Lagos Commodities and Futures Exchange (LCFE) has indicated its readiness to partner with Ecobank to enable the seamless settlement of trades across Africa.

The Managing Director of the exchange, Akin Akeredolu-Ale,   noted that the exchange needed a bank that has the required African spread and superior technology like that of Ecobank that can support it to accomplish its mandate to formalize trade across the continent.

He said the Lagos Commodities and Futures Exchange was determined to give Africa trade the needed structure that will enable everyone measure and determine growth within the continent both at national and regional levels. This, he noted, would position Africa to compete better globally.

According to Akeredolu-Ale, partnering with Ecobank will “enable us easily accomplish our vision of enabling trade across the continent. Ecobank had set up a technology that facilitates trade and currency exchange with its wide footprint across Africa and it is only natural for us to seek to partner with such an organization.”

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Heritage Bank empowers young entrepreneurs with ‘Next Titan’



Heritage Bank empowers young entrepreneurs with ‘Next Titan’

Citing the key role entrepreneurs play in driving nations’ economic growth, Heritage Bank Plc has reiterated its support for young men and women who have the courage to venture into the business world.

The lender stated  this when the  ‘Next Titan,’ an entrepreneurial reality TV show  that it sponsors annually,  unveiled the top 16 contenders for the season six of the competition.

The 16 lucky candidates were selected from among 50 contestants who made it to the Bootcamp after the auditions that saw thousands of Nigerian young entrepreneurs jostle for selection at the audition centres in Lagos, Port Harcourt, Enugu and Abuja

This year’s contest is for the N7 million cash prize  provided by the chief sponsor, Heritage Bank and a brand new Ford car donated by Coscharis Ford Motors.

In a statement, the lender noted that the cash prize has been increased to N7million from N5million in the last five seasons. It explained that the 16 lucky candidates would proceed to the Next Titan House where they will be involved in a-10 week entrepreneurial and social service tasks including trainings and mentorship under the guidance and supervision of astute business leaders who serve as judges.

Speaking at the Premiere Night in Lagos on Sunday, where the top 16 were unveiled, the Regional Executive, Lagos and South West, Heritage Bank, Dimiri Dike, said the programme was one of the ways the bank drives social and economic change as a responsible corporate citizen.

Dike said: “On the economic level, you know that entrepreneurship drives employment, it drives social change, so we are really doing it for both social and economic change. And also, time it was in the past when a lot of people entered entrepreneurship without proper training. This platform, the Next Titan, offers you a very good beginning.

“Some of the advantages and benefits that entrepreneurs in the past never had are what these ones are enjoying. So this is an opportunity for them to be schooled and at least stand the fighting chance from the perspective of knowledge and experience of those that had gone before them to succeed”.

Advising the top 16 contenders, Dike said: “First, be yourself, you have to be humble. The fact that you made it to the top 16 doesn’t mean you are better than those who didn’t get here.  It could have been just one thing or another.  So, if you now go and be thinking that you have now arrived, that lack of humility could be your undoing.  And more importantly, enjoy the experience because even after you have won; it is the memories of your journey to victory that will keep you going, long after you have become a successful entrepreneur”.

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Analysts: New CBN directive may affect demand for T-bills



Analysts: New CBN directive may affect demand for T-bills

Investors in Nigerian treasury bills (T-bills) have been advised to trade cautiously in the coming weeks and months,  as the  recent directive issued by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), which bars bank customers with loans (including those enjoying CBN intervention loans) from purchasing  treasury bills, may affect demand for the debt instruments.

Analysts at Afrinvest Securities Limited gave the advice in a note to investors obtained by New Telegraph yesterday.

In what industry watchers said was an additional measure aimed at ensuring that deposit money banks (DMBs) comply with its directive to increase lending to the real sector by achieving a minimum Loan to Deposit Ratio (LDR) of 65 per cent by December 31 this year, the CBN had, last Thursday, directed lenders to cancel any customer requests for purchase of treasury bills at primary or Open Market Operations (OMO) auctions, if such customers are borrowing customers of such banks or those of other banks.

Commenting on the new CBN directive, the Afrinvest Securities analysts advised investors “to trade cautiously and position in T-Bills and OMO offers with attractive yields as the impact of this policy may sway demand in the short term.”

However, in their reaction, analysts at CSL Research stated that the new CBN directive “may have many unintended negative effects.”

The analysts said: “While the objective of the CBN is clear in terms of improving the flow of credit to the private sector to stimulate growth, we are concerned that these unorthodox methods being deployed to achieve this aim may have many unintended negative effects. We are also not certain how CBN intends to monitor compliance.”

The CBN had in July 2019 sent a circular to all DMBs mandating that they maintain a minimum LDR of 60 per cent by September 30 2019 subject to a quarterly review. At the expiration of the deadline, the apex bank announced that lenders must now maintain a minimum LDR of 65 per cent by December 31, 2019. The punitive measure for non-compliance by DMBs is a levy of additional Cash Reserve Requirement (CRR) equal to 50 per cent of the lending shortfall of the target LDR and some banks were debited in September 2019 for failure to meet the CBN’s initial 60 per cent minimum LDR target.

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Lawan advocates citizen participation in governance



Lawan advocates citizen participation in governance

Senate President, Ahmad Ibrahim Lawan, yesterday called for the active involvement of citizens in the process of governance.

This was as he described as share misrepresentation of facts to say that journalists were not allowed to cover the budget defence sessions going on at the National Assembly.

Lawan said active involvement of citizens in governance would substantially deepen Nigeria’s democracy, as well as ensure transparency and accountability on the part of lawmakers elected to deliver on effective representation to the people.

He made the call when a delegation from the Westminster Foundation for Democracy, United Kingdom, and local officials of Inter-Parliamentary Union paid an official visit to the Senate President at the National Assembly, Abuja.

The purpose of the visit was to announce the inauguration of the Young Parliamentary Forum (YPF), which had been scheduled for today at the National Assembly complex, Abuja.

Members of the forum comprised legislators at both the National Assembly and the state assemblies, who were 45 years and below.

Lawan recalled that the passage of the Not-too-Young-to-Run Act by the 8th National Assembly was a conscious effort to widen the political space for young politicians to be part of governance.

He, therefore, urged the YPF to embrace opportunities to make sure that Nigerians have representation within the age bracket as provided in the Act after elections every four years.

Speaking on attaining inclusion in governance, Lawan said: “While we emphasise on those elected, I think democracy can only be deepened if there is participation from those who are not in office.

“Those of us who have been elected of course represent the people, but we can do little really, if there is no participation in the governance process by those who elected us.

“Hardly ever are we understood on what our roles are by those who elected us. They think we are sometimes supposed to behave like the executive arm of government.

“There is need for those who are not elected to also properly come on board; those of us elected should be checked just as we check the executive arm of government.

“People should be interested in what we do. Those who elected us should continuously give advice and ask questions; and where there are questions, we should be able to provide explanations. This is very important.” he said.

He said: “I will continue to advocate that we bring political education down to the primary school level. We shouldn’t be looking only at those already in office. What will make our democracy work for us is citizen participation.”

Earlier, the representative of the Westminster Foundation for Democracy, Lucy Armstrong, lauded the National Assembly for its support to ensure that the Youth Parliamentarians Forum succeeded in the delivery of its mandate.

Secretary, Inter-Parliament Relations and Protocol of the YPF, Joseph Oru, said the group, besides working with parliaments across 30 countries around the world to strengthen democracy and political parties, sought the inclusion of youth, women and persons with disabilities in the process of governance.

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Cabo Verde Airlines set to begin direct Lagos-Cape Verde flights



Cabo Verde Airlines set to begin direct Lagos-Cape Verde flights

National carrier of the Cape Verde Islands, Cabo Verde Airlines, has indicated its plans to commence direct flights from Lagos, Nigeria to Cape Verde December 9, 2019.

This was made known at a media briefing to officially launch the airline to the Nigerian public.

The airline’s Boeing 757-200 will fly five times a week from the Lagos international airport to its hub in Sal, Cape Verde.

Chief Executive Officer and President, Cabo Airlines, Jens Bjarnason, said: “We are excited to add the most populous country in Africa as one of our destinations. Nigeria has a vibrant travel sector and we look forward to servicing our customers and connecting them to Cape Verde and beyond, seamlessly.”

Bjarnason stated that passengers could look forward to comfort, quality and a memorable travel experience on their aircrafts which have 161 Economy class seats and 22 Executive Morabeza Premium Class seats.

Nigeria Country Manager, Cabo Verde Airlines, Tariye Orianzi, said of the airline “we are targeting African entrepreneurs, leisure and business travellers as well as world travellers with our competitive pricing and offers, including a Cape Verde stopover program at no additional ticket costs. Interestingly, Cape Verde is a member of ECOWAS making it visa free for Nigerians.”

“Cape Verde has some of the most beautiful untouched natural Islands in the world. We hope to bring the Cape Verdean culture and colours to all corners of the world, as our mission suggests – connecting four continents while also serving as the gateway for fast travel. We also believe the addition of this route will improve tourism in Africa” she added.

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Qantas: Human guinea pig for long haul flight



Qantas: Human guinea pig for long haul flight

For decades, travellers have stoically endured jet lag as an unavoidable menace on long journeys. As airlines push for record-breaking non-stop flights, WOLE SHADARE writes on debilitating symptoms of extra-long haul flights



It is scary but it is going to happen as Australian carrier, Qantas, wants to figure that out with its first ever non-stop flight from New York to Sydney, a venture it calls Project Sunrise.

This has caught the eyes of the world on the endurance limit of man. The feat is expected to surpass the 18-hour flight, which was then a record. Can a 20-hour flight ever be bearable?

These ultra-long-haul flights are becoming more efficient and economically viable. They’re also a slog for passengers.  But is there a point where a super-long flight becomes a public health risk?

If all goes to plan, travellers might be able to make an uninterrupted 20-hour flight from London or New York to Sydney. Qantas, the Australian national airline, is trialling “ghost flights” with 50 passengers and crew.

The 10,000-mile trip, which took off Friday night from New York and landed Sunday morning local time, would be the world’s longest nonstop flight, and Qantas wants travellers to get on Sydney time as soon as possible.

The test flight included 50 people including pilots, crew and passengers, along with researchers watching how everyone handles the ride. Success could pave the way for regular service between Sydney, New York and London.

Watchful eyes

Qantas teamed up with researchers from the University of Sydney and setting up the Boeing 787-9 as a laboratory, testing recipes, lighting schemes, temperatures and stretching exercises specially designed to combat jet lag on six volunteer passengers. They all sat in business class.

Airlines have recently been testing limits on long-haul flights, with Singapore Airlines reviving its 18.5-hour flight from Singapore to New York in 2018.

As the proliferation of super-long flights increases, efforts to counter the debilitating symptoms of jet lag are turning into a billion-dollar industry.

From optimizing pilot rotation to flight attendant breaks, to minimizing passenger jet lag and improving both physical and mental wellbeing, we’ve reached the ‘final frontier’ in passenger jet travel. Now it’s time to find out how we’ll hold up, and how airlines can adapt in a uniquely marketable way.

Risky to health

A medical doctor, who spoke to New Telegraph, said that from a purely medical standpoint, a 20-hour  flight can be risky.

She added that long flights increase the occurrence of Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT); in layman’s terms, serious blood clots, stressing that lack of physical movement can also lead to anxiety and breathing recycled air for that long has its own list of side effects. I’ll take the layover.

One of the more serious effects of a long haul flight is, of course, jet lag. But beyond the obvious symptom of being sleepy in the day, or awake at night, jetlag according to a United States based Aero Medical doctor, Dr. Sesi Michael affects the whole physiology including cortisol levels, which affect passengers physical functioning.

Ways to recover

It can take travellers up to 48 hours for their diurnal rhythms to recover from long haul flights and Dr Michael advises postponing important functions such as business meetings — particularly for passengers travelling east into shortening days.

Ankle exercises to mitigate cramps

One may assume that deep vein thrombosis (DVT) and the dull business of compression stockings is best left to the bingo brigade. But anyone with a DVT risk — for example, with a family history of DVT — needs to keep up their circulation on a plane.

Evidence suggests that anyone on a journey four hours or longer should get up and walk around because foot and ankle exercises need pressure — namely, your own body weight — to work best.

Loud noises damage hearing

People often spend a long haul flight watching films or listening to music, but given the ambient noise from fellow passengers and the nearby 140-decibel jet engine, passengers are likely to jack volumes to dangerous levels.


me people fly, they are exposed to cosmic ionizing radiation from space, which has been linked to cancer and reproductive problems by the World Health Organization.

For most occasional passengers, it’s not really a consideration. Pilots and crew members, however, are exposed to so much radiation that they’re officially considered radiation workers by the US Centers for Disease Control, with the largest average annual effective dose of all American radiation-exposed workers.

However, the radiation most travellers are exposed to in a given year falls comfortably within the recommended radiation exposure for a member of the public. “The very frequent travellers who are flying on long-haul flights could potentially go above the recommended limits of radiation exposure,” says Barrett, who has calculated how much radiation flyers are exposed to.

“But that’s not within the region where you’d have any real health concerns.” It’s unclear how harmful these still-low levels of radiation exposure are, or if they are harmful at all, he says.

Medical emergencies

Flying stresses the body. The combination of very low air pressure, oxygen and humidity is no one’s friend, while dehydration and cramped conditions leave most people feeling pretty irritable. For the elderly, or those with a pre-existing condition, ultra-long-haul flights can sometimes precipitate things going wrong. Cardiovascular issues, such as fainting and dizziness, do happen, though they are rare. They are more likely on very long flights, however.

Pilots and other flight crewmembers do spend enough time in the air that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention consider them radiation workers. The agency recommends they try to limit their time on flights that are very long, fly at high altitudes, or fly over the poles.

Last line

For customers, the key will be minimising jet lag and creating an environment where they are looking forward to a restful, enjoyable flight.

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