Travel News

Canada likely to toughen travel curbs as Omicron concern grows - CBC - REUTERS

DECEMBER 15, 2021

Dec 14 (Reuters) - Canada is expected to toughen restrictions on international travel with new measures to be announced on Wednesday as it looks to limit the spread of the Omicron coronavirus variant, CBC News reported.

Possible measures, including a ban on all non-essential foreign travellers coming to Canada, including from the United States, were discussed in a call between Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and provincial premiers but no decision was reached, the CBC reported.

The measures could include stricter quarantine and testing for travellers who are allowed into Canada, including returning Canadians and permanent residents, it said.

Canada has already announced a ban on people who recently travelled to 10 countries in Africa. read more

Omicron, which health officials say is more contagious than the Delta variant, has started spreading within communities in Canada since being first detected in November.

The CBC said there was widespread agreement between Trudeau and the premiers of Canada's 10 provinces on the need to dramatically increase the pace of third-dose booster shots.

Reporting by Rhea Binoy in Bengaluru Editing by Robert Birsel

Ghana airport to fine airlines that bring unvaccinated passengers - REUTERS

DECEMBER 15, 2021

ACCRA, (Reuters) - The operator of Ghana's main international airport will fine airlines $3,500 for every passenger they fly in who is not vaccinated against COVID-19 or who tests positive for the coronavirus upon arrival, it said on Monday.

The rule comes into effect on Tuesday at Kotoka International Airport in the capital Accra, Ghana Airports said. It follows a health ministry move last week to require all people entering Ghana to be vaccinated.

The measures are some of the strictest in Africa, where vaccine uptake has been challenged by lack of supply and logistical issues even as the new Omicron variant raises concerns about quicker transmission of the virus.

Ghana's tightening of restrictions comes as the European Investment Bank announced a 75-million-euro ($85 million) investment loan to support its pandemic response - the largest such support for a COVID-19 programme in Sub-Saharan Africa.

"Ghana has taken significant steps to manage the impact of COVID and to unlock long-term investment," EIB President Werner Hoyer said in a statement.

The authorities launched a massive vaccination drive this month ahead of the enforcement from Jan. 22 of a vaccine mandate for targeted groups, including government employees, health workers and students. It plans to recruit more health workers to be able to double daily inoculation from 140,000.

Ghana, one of West Africa's largest economies that runs on exports of cocoa, gold and oil, has so far vaccinated slightly more than 5% of its population of 30 million, data compiled by Reuters showed.

Its health service has recorded 131,412 infections and 1,239 deaths from COVID-19, according to the data.

Over the last two weeks, COVID-19 cases recorded at Kotoka airport accounted for about 60% of total infections in the country, the health service said on Friday. ($1 = 0.8857 euros)

Editing by Bernadette Baum

Ottawa to toughen international travel restrictions as omicron concerns escalate - CBC

DECEMBER 15, 2021

The federal government will announce new and expanded travel measures on Wednesday in a bid to limit the spread of the omicron coronavirus variant.

Multiple sources told CBC News and Radio-Canada that the government is expected to renew an advisory against non-essential international travel, which had been in place for most of the COVID-19 pandemic but was quietly lifted in October.

Sources say much stronger measures were discussed with premiers and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau during a Tuesday evening call. The proposed measures included whether to implement a ban on all non-essential foreign travellers into Canada, including from the United States, and stricter quarantine and testing measures for travellers who are allowed into Canada, including returning Canadians and permanent residents.

But no decision was reached.

Sources say the goal is to slow down the spread of the virus.

There was also widespread agreement among the premiers and the prime minister on the need to dramatically increase the pace of third-dose booster shots.

If implemented, stricter international travel rules would reverse months of progress to reopen Canada's borders after the country effectively shut down to non-essential travellers during the early stages of the pandemic.

Those restrictions were slowly lifted during the summer and fall as COVID-19 cases declined and vaccination rates increased.

However, the emergence of the omicron variant in late November — which appears highly contagious and capable of infecting vaccinated people more than previous variants — has prompted renewed caution by the federal government.

"We are in the midst of a global wave of a variant that just turns out to be extremely, extremely, extremely contagious," Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland said on CBC's Power & Politics earlier Tuesday.

"We have a chance to keep this under control. But we can only do that if all of us really act, and the federal government is committed to doing its part."

The omicron variant is already being widely reported in Canada and is expected by public health officials and epidemiologists to soon become the dominant strain of the coronavirus circulating in the country.

Competition On South African Routes As SAA Relaunches Flights To Lagos - DAILY TRUST

DECEMBER 15, 2021

By Abdullateef Aliyu

Competition has deepened on the South Africa-Lagos route following the resumption of South African Airways flight to Lagos.

South Africa Airways made a return to the Johannesburg-Lagos route 18 months after temporarily withdrawing from the lucrative route as the airline went through a rebranding process.

Nigeria’s foremost carrier, Air Peace, had earlier resumed its flights following the lifting of flights restrictions by the federal government.

But the SAA also relaunched its flight on Sunday, opening up a vista of competitiveness on the highly lucrative routes.

South African Airways Commercial Manager for Africa, Ohis Ehimiaghe, said SAA is excited to be back in Nigeria.

He said, “December is a very interesting month as an airline because I recall almost 23 years ago of flying into Nigeria on Dec 3, 1998, and Dec 12, 2021, we are making a return back to the Nigerian skies after almost 21 months of not operating to Lagos.

“The flight touched down this evening and it was a very impressive flight and we were greeted with the usual water cannon by the airport authorities. It was awesome. It was very nice. It gave everybody goose pimples.”

He noted that in the face of the pandemic, Africa is opening up, stressing that South African Airways is pleased to be back to the Nigerian skies.

Understanding The Intrigues Of Airfares - DAILY TRUST

DECEMBER 15, 2021
    By Abdullateef Aliyu

There has been disquiet in the aviation industry in recent times over the high cost of airfares on some routes, especially the South East and South-South routes, resulting in some passengers taking a swipe on Air Peace. 

It was learnt that some passengers who were trying to book on the airline’s website were confronted with fares reportedly higher than their expectations.

“If the first 10 seats of N23,000 fare finishes, the system will automatically start showing the next fare which is N27,500. If the allocated seats on this are booked, it will migrate to the next until it gets to the last 14 seats pegged at N60,000.

“As the aircraft gets fuller, the higher fares start showing up. The eastern routes, because of traffic, get sold out faster than some places thereby showing higher fares faster. But the other destinations, though slower, will also pay the same higher fares as they get fuller.” 

For instance, one of the start-up airlines, Green Africa, which recently commenced operation, advertised what stakeholders described as the most ridiculously cheap fares of M16,500 to N18,000. That could be the cheapest on any route for any airline in Nigeria today.

Even low-cost airlines, as findings by our correspondent showed, may not have the cheapest fares.

With several classes of tickets on their website, the cheapest comes with conditions that might not be favourable to the passengers.

A passenger who recently patronized the airline said, “I bought their ticket from Lagos to Abuja for N22,000 but when I got to the airport, I was told I’m entitled to only one hand luggage. I paid close to N10,000 to be able to travel with my luggage. In the end, the fare was about N35,000.”

Also, Dana Air recently said it had rolled out a flash sale of N18,000 fare for Enugu, Asaba and Owerri. But checks by our correspondent as of the time of filing this report showed that Asaba flight costs N37,800 for Economy Discount; N44,100 for Economy Saver; N60,300 for Economy Flexible; N95,400 for Business Saver and N117,000 for Business Flexible.

Operators who spoke with our correspondent said given the liberalisation of airfares, air tickets are now a function of demand and supply. For instance, passengers booking the first 10 seats on an airline tend to get the cheapest fares. And as more people book, the fares continue to rise.

The mathematics, according to the operators, is the earlier a passenger books, the cheaper the ticket.

Commenting on the development, an aviation stakeholder, Mr. Olumide Ohunayo, said there was nothing unusual with the airfares pricing, saying December and January always come with higher fares because of the huge demands.

He said, “This is a norm in the commercial air transport industry; where demands are high and passengers are willing to pay a premium, also have higher fares.

“If you look at it, in Nigeria, Lagos to Port Harcourt route is always expensive. Akwa Ibom is also expensive. When you compare that to neighbouring Calabar, you have about 15,000 to 20,000 naira. The demand determines fares. 

Mr Sam Adurogboye, a spokesman of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) said there was nothing like exploitation in airfares, adding that the pricing is a function of demand and supply. 

“It is now left for you as a passenger to decide whether you want to buy the ticket or not,” he said.

NiMet Warns Of Impending Poor Visibility - INDEPENDENT

DECEMBER 15, 2021

By Chidi Ugwu

ABUJA – The Nigerian Meteorological Agency NiMET hasl cautioned Nigerians on possibility of poor visibility in the coming days.

A statement by the Agency’s Central Forecast Office, noted that the development is as a result of fresh dust plumes raised at the dust source region (Faya Largeau in Chad Republic).

This, according to the statement is expected to advect into the country and reduce horizontal visibility.

“Dust haze conditions are expected to intensify before the end of the day over most of the Northern cities, horizontal visibility should further deteriorate from 0600 local time of 15th December 2021; as thick dust haze should be observed over some of the Northern cities keeping visibilities to 1000m and below over places like Maiduguri, Yobe Nguru, Potiskum, Dutse, Gombe, Yola, Bauchi, Katsina, Kano, and Kaduna.”

NiMet therefore warns that flight operations may be disrupted and airline operators are advised to pick up their flight folders and adhere to regulations, especially at aerodromes in the Northern parts of the country while road users should exert caution while driving along areas with poor visibility during this period and people with respiratory problems should take caution.

Meanwhile, in its High Temperature Outlook, NiMet warns that High-temperature between 35°C and 40°C is expected over parts of Kebbi, Sokoto, Kaduna, and Zamfara in the northwest.

Similarly, in the northeast, temperature greater than 35°C and less than 40°C is expected over parts of Taraba, and Adamawa. In the north-central, parts of Niger, Kwara, Kogi, FCT, Nasarawa, Benue, Kogi, and Plateau are also expected to experience 35°C and less than 40°C.

Areas in the south that are expected to record the same temperature range (35°C and less than 40°C) include parts of Ogun, Oyo, Ondo, Edo, Enugu, Ebonyi, Anambra, Imo and Cross River.

The Agency therefore advised Nigerians to drink plenty of water to prevent dehydration, avoid leaving humans or animals in the car, especially young children.

It also advised that people should stay in the shade such as under trees if you have to wait outside, Wear light and bright clothing, avoid wearing dark colors.

‘Blockchain Technology Essential For Digital Transformation’ - INDEPENDENT

DECEMBER 15, 2021


LAGOS  – Blockchain technology has been stated to be a veritable catalyst that supports the digital transformation agenda of the Agency and will facilitate the development of Nigeria into a Digital Economy. 

Mallam Kashifu Inuwa, Director General of the National Information Technology Development Agency,NITDA, who was represented by Dr Usman Gambo Abdullalhi, Director, Information Technology Infrastructure Solutions department, at the Abuja Blockchain and Crypto-Assets Conference/Exhibition 2021 held at Sheraton Hotel, Abuja ,said that Blockchain Technology acquaints people with vast opportunities and help overcome challenges. 

According to Kashifu Inuwa, Blockchain is an emerging technology that provides a secured distributive ledger platform for seamless transactions which can lead to new opportunities that can benefit industries through greater transparency, enhanced security and easier traceability. 

He said NITDA, through its Strategic Roadmap and Action Plan (SRAP) is committed to promoting emerging technologies with the purpose of building a healthy and enviable IT ecosystem. 

Inuwa, however, expressed concerns on the need to enforce regulations that will protect citizens and ensure fair markets without stifling innovation as the Agency’s commitment to implementing regulatory instruments and implementation strategies will drive adoption of technology by both public and private sectors. 

“I am glad to say that, NITDA’s efforts towards the development of a National Blockchain Adoption Strategy document advances the efforts of Mr President and the Federal Ministry of Communication and Digital Economy in creating and fostering an efficient, safe, and economically productive and viable Digital Nigeria using the Blockchain Technology”, the DG averred. 

He remains optimistic that the developed strategy for Blockchain will unleash potentials in all sectors leading to improved efficiency, transparency and accountability in governance. 

“Blockchain Technology would surely key into the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan of the Federal Government by increasing the contribution of ICT and innovation to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP)”, he said. 

While giving assurances of NITDA’s utmost support to technology and innovation ecosystem, the DG noted that technology policies, frameworks and guidelines are important parameters in building a lucrative IT industry. 

Inuwa then urged participants at the event to brainstorm and develop initiatives that will assist the government on devising best ways and practices to help surmount challenges faced by the country. 

Arik Air Returns To Owerri For Christmas, Increases Frequency To Asaba - INDEPENDENT

DECEMBER 15, 2021

LAGOS  – Arik Air said effective from Wednesday, December 15, 2021, it would resume daily flight operations from Lagos to Owerri and Asaba airports. 

The airline in a statement by Mr. Adebanji Ola, its Spokesman, said that both Owerri and Asaba flights would operate from the Murtala Muhammed Airport Terminal 1 otherwise known as General Aviation Terminal (GAT), Lagos. 

The statement hinted that flights from Lagos to Owerri would depart at 7:00 am, while the inbound from Owerri would leave Sam Mbakwe Airport at 8:30am. Asaba flights would depart Lagos at 1:30pm while inbound flights leave Asaba Airport at 3:00pm. 

The airline emphasised that the resumption of flights to Owerri and Asaba was to enable customers to celebrate the festive season with their family and friends, stressing that as a caring airline, Arik Air also wanted customers to have a safe and peaceful yuletide. 

Similarly, Arik Air is increasing frequency from Lagos to Jos from four weekly flights to daily effective December 15, 2021. 

The additional frequency to Jos is to enable customers to have more choices and connect with their loved ones for the festive season. 

Arik Air Chief Executive Officer, Captain Roy Ilegbodu said: “We are aware that many of our customers in Owerri and Asaba have been yearning for our services. This is why we are resuming flights to these destinations”. 

U.K. Travelers to France Face Stricter Rules to Slow Omicron - BLOOMBERG

DECEMBER 16, 2021

BY  James Regan and Adam BlenfordBloomberg News

(Bloomberg) -- France will impose tougher rules on people arriving from the U.K., including requiring them to self-isolate, as it tries to slow the spread of the omicron variant. 

“We are going to put in place more drastic controls at the border with the U.K.,” government spokesman Gabriel Attal said on Thursday in an interview with BFM television.

The plan comes after the U.K. recorded on Wednesday its highest number of positive Covid-19 cases since the beginning of the pandemic, with 78,610 infections. The new French measures will kick in at midnight on Friday.

Among measures to be imposed, France will reduce the validity of covid tests to 24 hours from 48 hours currently, Attal said. The rule will apply to all arrivals, including the fully vaccinated. People traveling to France from the U.K. will also have to self-isolate for seven days. This restriction can be lifted after 48 hours on proof of a negative test. 

Justifications for coming to France will be limited, with all non-essential tourist and business travel to France to be barred. French citizens and their families as well as residents can return home. The French government called on people planning on visiting the U.K. to delay their trips. 

The moves are aimed at allowing more time for French people to get Covid vaccine boosters, Attal said, adding that 240 omicron cases had been detected in France so far and that others were being investigated.

“What we need to do is delay its development in France as much as possible,” he said. “We think the majority of cases in the U.K. will be the omicron variant in the coming hours or days if they aren’t already.” 

England’s chief medical officer, Chris Whitty, said Wednesday that omicron was spreading at a “phenomenal pace” and that “substantial numbers” of people will need hospital treatment in the coming weeks. 

Officials estimate that omciron infections are doubling roughly every two days. On Monday, Health Secretary Sajid Javid said there could be 200,000 new cases that day.

U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson is battling to ensure Britons are able to socialize freely at Christmas after imposing tight restrictions a year ago. A recent tightening of curbs saw the return of mandatory mask-wearing in many indoor spaces, a call for people to work from home, and the introduction of Covid passes for venues. 

However, a rebellion in Parliament by members of Johnson’s own party cast doubt over the prime minister’s ability to introduce further measures in future. On Wednesday, Whitty said people should limit social contacts in the run-up to Christmas.

Ghana Aims to Vaccinate Its Entire Adult Population by Year-End - BLOOMBERG

DECEMBER 16, 2021

(Bloomberg) -- Ghanaian President Nana Akufo-Addo has called for the country’s citizens to take advantage of an inflow of Covid-19 vaccines and help avoid a new wave of infections.

“Getting the jab is the best route out of the pandemic,” Akufo-Addo said in a video message posted on his Facebook page late Wednesday. “It is for this reason that we have committed ourselves to vaccinating 20 million Ghanaians -- that is the entire adult population -- by the end of the year.”

Earlier inoculation drives faced supply disruptions after administering 6.4 million doses. The government now expects to secure a total of 26 million doses by the end of the year, 17.7 million of which have already been delivered to authorities, he said. 

“We have enough vaccines in the system,” said Akufo-Addo. “We are rolling an aggressive campaign of vaccination so that as many Ghanaians as possible have the opportunity to be vaccinated.”


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