Heathrow boss says England pre-arrival testing must only be temporary - REUTERS
LONDON (Reuters) - The boss of Britainâ€™s biggest airport Heathrow said that new rules requiring people arriving in England to present a negative COVID-19 test result must only be temporary and the government must plan for how to end it.
â€œIt can only be a temporary measure,â€ Heathrow Chief Executive John Holland-Kaye told BBC Radio on Friday.
â€œWe need to have a roadmap for how we get out of this because aviation is vital to us as a small island trading nation.â€
He also said that vaccination programmes in Britain and other countries gave him hope for a travel recovery later this year.
â€œWeâ€™ll see flights starting to come back and passenger numbers building up through the summer and then into the autumn,â€ he said.
Reporting by Sarah Young; Editing by Kate Holton
How airlines, travel agencies, others share N5b palliative - THE GUARDIAN
By Wole Oyebade
â€¢Remit five per cent to regulatory bodies as debt payment
â€¢Ibom Air misses out of largesse
Details have emerged on how airlines, travel agencies and service providers shared the N5 billion intervention funds for COVID-19 granted to all members of the aviation sector.
In a disbursement memo obtained by The Guardian, the Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON) had agreed to a five per cent deduction from the approved N4 billion given to both scheduled and charter operators, as part payment of debt owed to the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) and Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA).
The Guardian recently reported that some airline operators expressed displeasure over the sharing formula employed in the distribution of N4 billion aviation bailout funds to airlines, saying it skewed the largesse more in favour of a few airlines.
The complainants, who apparently operate smaller capacity, were displeased with the ratio 70:30 adopted between the schedule and non-scheduled carriers.
The likes of Air Peace, Azman, Arik, Aero Contractors, Overland, and Dana Air have been listed as some of the biggest beneficiaries. Akwa Ibom state-owned airline, Ibom Air, was missing from the list of beneficiaries that include the ground handling companies, National Association of Nigerian Travel Agencies (NANTA), Aviation fuel marketers as well as airport car hire services.
In the breakdown, the scheduled commercial operators all got the sum of N3 billion, out of which N150 million was deducted as five per cent debt to the regulators.
The N150 million deductions earned FAAN N75 million; NAMA N37.5 million and the NCAA N37.5 million. Charter operators got a total amount of N1 billion, with N49.9 million deducted as five per cent debt payment to regulators.
The N49.9 million deductions earned FAAN N24.9 million; NAMA N12.5 million and the NCAA N12.5 million. Ground handling companies, Aviation fuel marketers and catering services got N233.3 million each. The National Association of Travel Agencies (NANTA) received N200 million, out of which N4 million was deducted for the regulatory agencies. Airport Car Hire Association of Nigeria (ACHAN) received from the ministry N100 million as COVID-19 palliative.
The special intervention was thrown open to all airlines with a valid Air Operating Certificate (AOC) and distributed according to the size of the carrier. The parameters, however, made some â€˜deadâ€™ airlines beneficiaries of the COVID-19 stimulus package.
In response to the losses incurred during the lockdown, the Federal Government had in May hinted of a plan to bail out airlines prior to restart. Flight operations resumed but nothing came in the form of a bailout.
Defending the Ministry of Aviationâ€™s 2021 budget at the Senateâ€™s panel in November, the minister, Hadi Sirika, disclosed that the bailout of N5 billion was in the offing for aviation.
The sum was a far-cry in the estimate of both the operators and the host lawmakers. The Senate concluded that airlines should get as much as N50 billion for economic and safety reasons.
Meanwhile, Sirika earlier disclosed that the local airlinesâ€™ total debt burden to the regulatory agencies stood at N22 billion. A breakdown showed the sum of N19.37 billion and $6, 993, 284 million (N2.7 billion) as unremitted Ticket Sales Charge (TSC) and Cargo Sales Charge (CSC) collected on behalf of the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) and its sister agencies.
In-between the back and forth, financial and operational challenges of airlines worsened. As an industry that depends 100 per cent on foreign exchange, though earns revenue in weak Naira (N500 to $1), keeping a respectable fleet of healthy planes became the major headache of operators; causing massive disruption and spike in air fares during the festive season.
U.K. Imposes Mandatory Covid Tests on All Incoming Travelers - BLOOMBERG
BY Tim Ross
(Bloomberg) -- All passengers arriving in the U.K. will be required to prove they do not have coronavirus, showing a negative test result taken within 72 hours of the start of their journey.
Under new rules announced by the British government, anyone failing to produce the evidence of a negative test will be hit with an immediate fine of 500 pounds ($678). Travelers arriving from countries that are not on the governmentâ€™s open travel corridor list will be required to isolate at home for 10 days, regardless of their test results.
The measures, set out by Transport Secretary Grant Shapps, will come into force next week for passengers arriving at a British port by plane, boat or train. The plan is aimed at stopping new strains of Covid-19 coming into the U.K., such as one identified in South Africa, as the government accelerates the roll-out of vaccines, Shapps said.
â€œThe South African variant is worrying the experts because it may be that the vaccine doesnâ€™t respond in the same way,â€ Shapps told LBC radio Friday. â€œIf that was the case it would be a tragedy to allow that into the country.â€
Entry to England will also be banned to those who have traveled from or through any southern African country in the last 10 days, the government announced, including Namibia, Zimbabwe and Botswana.
Ministers were criticized for taking too long to impose border restrictions during the first wave of the pandemic last spring. This week British authorities put the country into its third national lockdown as infection rates soared. The death toll from coronavirus now stands at more than 78,000.
â€˜Line of Defenseâ€™
â€œPre-departure tests will provide a further line of defense -- helping us control the virus as we roll out the vaccine at pace over the coming weeks,â€ Shapps said in an emailed statement earlier.
U.K. Bets 2 Million Vaccine Shots a Week Will End New Lockdown
Officials have been in talks for several days on how to coordinate a border policy across all four nations of the U.K., which have control over their own transport policies. In a separate statement, the Scottish government has agreed to the plan and said the measures will be brought in as soon as possible.
Welsh First Minister Mark Drakeford told the BBC on Friday he strongly supported the new rules and expected them to apply across the U.K.
Passengers will need to show their negative test results before boarding and will be stopped if necessary. There will be some exemptions from the new rules, including for haulers, children under the age of 11, and for travelers leaving countries without an adequate testing infrastructure in place.
On Thursday, Prime Minister Boris Johnson set out his blueprint for a mass vaccination program to protect about 15 million elderly and vulnerable people people across the U.K., and their carers, by a self-imposed deadline of Feb. 15. After that, the government will look at whether to begin lifting some of the lockdown rules.
(Updates with more detail on variant from South African from third paragraph)
IATA Harps on Temporary Waivers to Stimulate Air Travel - THISDAY
BY Chinedu Eze
The International Air Travel Association (IATA) has identified five proven ways that governments can help stimulate the air travel market while avoiding adding more debt to already highly leveraged airline balance sheets due to Coronavirus pandemic. The global body urged governments to grant temporary waivers or suspensions of government charges, taxes and fees to airlines so that they will reduce flight costs and lower travel costs for passengers.
IATA also called for route subsidies for flights to local/regional destinations to support connectivity for rural communities and business, urging government to facilitate financial incentives in the form of rewards for operating flights, or seats flown, which can support airlines while load factors or yields are too low.
In addition, it also called for the adoption of advance ticket purchases that governments can use for future trips or distribute to the traveling public in the form of vouchers to support travel and tourism and urged for passenger travel subsidies in the form of vouchers for passengers or as a percentage cash-back on overall travel costs.
The world body expressed concern that 2020 and 2021 might be the worst years for the aviation industry since the end of World War 2 and urged governments all over the world to adopt these five proven ways to revive their countries airlines. IATA said aviation provides the only worldwide transportation network, which makes it essential for global business and tourism. It plays a vital role in facilitating economic growth, particularly in developing countries.
In listing economic and social benefits of air transport, IATA said aviation transports close to two billion passengers annually and 40 per cent of interregional exports of goods (by value).
The world body said 40 per cent of international tourists now travel by air. The air transport industry generates a total of 29 million jobs globally (through direct, indirect, induced and catalytic impacts). Aviationâ€™s global economic impact (direct, indirect, induced and catalytic) is estimated at $ 2,960 billion, equivalent to 8 per cent of world Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
The worldâ€™s 900 airlines have a total fleet of nearly 22,000 aircraft. They serve some 1,670 airports, through a route network of several million kilometres managed by around 160 air navigation service providers 3. 25 per cent of all companiesâ€™ sales are dependent on air transport. 70 per cent of businesses report that serving a bigger market is a key benefit of using air services.
â€œAviation boasts high occupancy rates of 65 to 70 per cent â€“ which is more than double those of road and rail transportation. Air transport entirely covers its infrastructure costs. Unlike road and rail, it is a net contributor to national treasuries4 through taxation. Modern aircraft achieve fuel efficiencies of 3.5 litres per 100 passenger-km or 67 passenger-miles per US gallon.
â€œThe next generation aircraft (A380 & B787) are targeting an efficiency of less than 3 litres per 100 passenger-km or 78 passenger-miles per US gallon5, which exceeds the efficiency of any modern compact car on the market,â€ IATA said in its report on the benefits of air transport in the world.
It disclosed that aviation created five million direct jobs, adding that the airline and airport industry directly employ 4.3 million people globally. The civil aerospace sector (manufacture of aircraft systems, frames and engines, etc.) employs 730,000 people, while 5.8 million indirect jobs through purchases of goods and services from companies in its supply chain. 2.7 million induced-jobs through spending by industry employees and 15.5 million direct and indirect jobs through air transportâ€™s catalytic impact on tourism. Some 6.7 million direct tourism jobs are supported by the spending of international visitors arriving by air.
IATA noted that as a capital-intensive business, productivity per worker in the air transport industry is very high, at three and a half times the average for other sectors.
In Nigeria, the federal government has released N4 billion to the airlines and it is working with the National Assembly to pass into law the policies of waivers for Customs tariffs on aircraft and aircraft spares, streamlining the aviation agencies and reviewing the acts that established them to make them more purposeful and in tandem with modern development. The Minister of Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika, had said one of the purposes of reviewing the act that established NCAA was to make it business-oriented and to interface with airlines in different ways from safety regulation to business promotion in order to encourage the airlines to survive.
Stowaways arrested for hijacking oil tanker off Isle of Wight face no prosecution - THE TELEGRAPH
Seven men detained by special forces after the suspected hijacking of an oil tanker off the Isle of Wight will face no further criminal prosecution, police have announced.
The men, all from Nigeria, were detained by the British Special Boat Service (SBS) after an incident on board the Nave Andromeda on Sunday October 25.
Two men, Matthew John Okorie, 25, and Sunday Sylvester, 22, had already been charged with an offence relating to conduct endangering ships under Section 58 of the Merchant Shipping Act 1995.
Now, the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) has decided there is insufficient evidence to continue the case or to charge the other five men detained.
Senior District Crown Prosecutor Sophie Stevens said: "The CPS has a duty to keep all cases under continuous review and, after additional maritime expert evidence came to light, we concluded there was no longer a realistic prospect of conviction and discontinued the case."
A Hampshire Police spokesman said the seven men would remain detained subject to immigration procedures.
He said: "We can confirm that seven men, including two men who had previously been charged and who had appeared in court, will now face no further action as part of the Hampshire Constabulary-led investigation into the maritime security incident that took place on board the Nave Andromeda off the coast of the Isle of Wight on Sunday October 25.
"The two men, Matthew John Okorie, 25, and Sunday Sylvester, 22, who were remanded and next due to appear at Southampton Crown Court on January 29 2021, will now face no further action for an offence relating to conduct endangering ships under Section 58 of the Merchant Shipping Act 1995.
"This decision was taken by the Crown Prosecution Service after additional evidence came to light as part of the investigation.
"Five other men, who were arrested on suspicion of seizing or exercising control of a ship by use of threats or force, remained on police bail until January 25 2021.
"They will also now face no further action in relation to the Hampshire Constabulary-led investigation.
"They will remain detained under immigration powers in accordance with published processes."
The SBS raid was authorised by Defence Secretary Ben Wallace and Home Secretary Priti Patel following a 10-hour stand-off while the tanker remained off the Isle of Wight.
The 748ft (228m) Nave Andromeda had been heading towards Southampton, having set sail from Lagos in Nigeria.
The ship's operator, Navios Tanker Management, said the stowaways "illegally boarded" the Liberian-flagged tanker in Lagos.
Abuja-Kaduna-Kano roadâ€™ll be completed by 2023 â€” Ministry - PUNCH
BY Okechukwu Nnodim, Abuja
The ongoing reconstruction work on the Abuja-Kaduna-Kano road project is progressing appreciably and will be completed in the life of this administration, the Federal Ministry of Works and Housing said on Friday.
Nigeriaâ€™s current government administrationâ€™s tenure elapses in 2023.
The Director, Highways Construction and Rehabilitation, FMWH, Funso Adebiyi, disclosed this during the ongoing visit to the project site to assess the progress of work on the project.
He was quoted in a statement issued in Abuja by the ministryâ€™s Deputy Director, Press, Salisu Haiba, as saying, â€œWe are satisfied with the quality of work going on and we are working to increase the pace of work.
â€œWork is going on simultaneously on all sections of both lanes of the dual carriage 375km long road from Abuja to Kaduna and to Kano.â€
Adebiyi explained that the road was initially meant for rehabilitation, but noted that full reconstruction work was currently ongoing.
He appealed to road users to bear the discomfort being experienced everyday as a result of blockages and diversions.
He stated that it was a necessary action in the construction of an infrastructure of such magnitude, adding that the volume of vehicular traffic on the road was high.
On the level of work done so far, Adebiyi said, â€œWe have made a lot of progress. Over 100km, although not at a stretch, have been completed under section one to three (Abuja-Kano).â€
â€œAlso, 40km has been completed under section two (Kaduna-Zaria), and 70km completed under section three (Zaria-Kano).â€
He stated that while some sections of the road were also at different levels of completion, remedial works were being carried out on the sections that were critically bad in order to facilitate movement.
The Abuja-Kaduna-Zaria-Kano road reconstruction project was awarded to Julius Berger Nigeria Plc on December 20, 2017.
The project commenced on May 21, 2018 with 36 months completion period.
Sriwijaya Air crash places Indonesia's aviation safety under fresh spotlight - REUTERS
By Jamie Freed, Stanley Widianto
SYDNEY/JAKARTA (Reuters) - Indonesiaâ€™s chequered air safety record is again in the spotlight after a Sriwijaya Air jet carrying 62 people crashed into the Java Sea minutes after take-off on Saturday, marking the countryâ€™s third major airline crash in just over six years. Before the crash there had been 697 fatalities in Indonesia over the last decade including military and private planes, making it the deadliest aviation market in the world - ahead of Russia, Iran and Pakistan - according to Aviation Safety Networkâ€™s database.
The Sriwijaya crash of a Boeing Co 737-500 follows the loss of a Lion Air 737 MAX in October 2018 that contributed to a global grounding of the model and the crash of an AirAsia Indonesia Airbus SE A320 in December 2014.
The Lion Air crash, which killed 189 people, was an outlier in that it mainly revealed fundamental issues with the plane model and triggered a worldwide safety crisis for Boeing. Even excluding the deaths from that crash, Indonesia would rank above Russia if there are no survivors from Saturdayâ€™s crash.
Indonesia, an archipelago of thousands of islands, is highly dependent on air travel and its safety issues illustrate the challenge relatively new carriers face as they try to keep pace with unstoppable demand for air travel in developing nations while striving for standards that mature markets took decades to reach.
From 2007 to 2018, the European Union banned Indonesian airlines following a series of crashes and reports of deteriorating oversight and maintenance. The United States lowered its Indonesia safety evaluation to Category 2, meaning its regulatory system was inadequate, between 2007 and 2016.
Indonesiaâ€™s air safety record has improved in recent years, receiving a favourable evaluation by the United Nations aviation agency in 2018. But in a country with a large death toll from vehicle and ferry accidents, the safety culture is battling against a mindset that makes it inevitable for some crashes to occur, experts said.
Saturdayâ€™s â€œcrash has nothing to do with the MAX, but Boeing would do well to guide Indonesia - which has a chequered air safety record - to restore confidence in its aviation industry,â€ said Shukor Yusof, the head of Malaysia-based aviation consultancy Endau Analytics.
Authorities located the Sriwijaya jetâ€™s flight data recorder and cockpit voice recorder on Sunday but experts said it was too early to determine the factors responsible for the crash of the nearly 27-year-old plane.
The flight took off from Jakartaâ€™s Soekarno-Hatta International Airport, the same airport from which the Lion Air jet took off and soon crashed into the sea. The Sriwijaya jet climbed to 10,900 feet within four minutes but then began a steep descent and stopped transmitting data 21 seconds later, according to tracking website FlightRadar24.
â€œThere has been a lot of noise made about the speed of its final descent,â€ said Geoff Dell, an air accident investigation expert based in Australia. â€œIt is indicative of what happened but why it happened is still in many ways a guess really. There are multiple ways you can get an aeroplane to go down at that pace.â€
He said investigators would look into factors including mechanical failure, pilot actions, maintenance records, weather conditions and whether there was any unlawful interference with the plane. Most air accidents are caused by a combination of factors that can take months to establish.
VARIOUS FACTORS UNDER SCRUTINY
Sriwijayaâ€™s operating record will also be placed under scrutiny.
â€œIts safety record has been mixed,â€ said Greg Waldron, Asia managing editor at industry publication FlightGlobal. He said the airline had written off three 737s between 2008 and 2012 due to bad landings that resulted in runway overruns, with the 2008 accident resulting in one death and 14 injuries.
The airline in late 2019 ended a year-long partnership with national carrier Garuda Indonesia and had been operating independently.
Just before ending the pact, more than half of Sriwijayaâ€™s fleet had been grounded by the Transportation Ministry due to airworthiness concerns, according to media reports at the time.
Sriwijaya did not respond immediately to a request for comment. The airlineâ€™s chief executive said on Saturday the plane that crashed was in good condition.
Like other Indonesian carriers, Sriwijaya had slashed its flight schedule during the COVID-19 pandemic, which experts said will be examined as part of the investigation.
â€œThe challenges that the pandemic brings impacts aviation safety,â€ said Chappy Hakim, an Indonesian aviation analyst and former air force official. â€œFor instance, pilots/technicians were downsized, salaries not paid in full, planes are grounded.â€
Reporting by Jamie Freed in Sydney and Stanley Widianto in Jakarta; Additional reporting by Matthew Tostevin in Bangkok; Editing by William Mallard and Frances Kerry
China to continue suspending flights to and from Britain - REUTERS
BEIJING (Reuters) - China will continue to suspend flights to and from Britain, the countryâ€™s airline regulator said on Sunday.
The Civil Aviation Administration said in a notice that the new suspension will take effect on Monday.
Reporting by Yew Lun Tian; Editing by William Mallard
FG to shut down Third Mainland Bridge for two weeks - DAILY POST
The Federal Government will shut the Lagos Island-bound traffic on the Third Mainland Bridge for two weeks from Wednesday, January 13, 2021.
This is part of ongoing rehabilitation works.
The Federal Controller, Works Lagos, Engr. Popoola Olukayode confirmed this in a statement on Saturday.
Olukayode called for cooperation and understanding from the public, especially motorists.
â€œThe contractor plans to shift the current diversion point 2 kilometres towards Oworonsoki and close to traffic the Lagos Island-bound carriageway including the Adekunle bound slip road beside the current diversion points for two weeks starting from Wednesday, January 12, to 27, 2021 to enable her to remove, replace and cast in place joint 23 after the current diversion point alongside the other two joints, 16 and 17 she is working on presently on the Lagos Island-bound carriageway,â€ he said.
He further explained that after casting of the three joints and asphalting, the whole Lagos Island-bound carriageway will be reopened to traffic.
Olukaydoe also assured that the repairs would not be delayed unnecessarily to allow for smooth traffic.
MMA records 551,380 passengers in five months - PUNCH
BY Joseph Olaoluwa
The Murtala Mohammad Airport, Ikeja, domestic terminal, recorded a total of 551,380 passenger movements (landing and take-off) between July and December 2020.
Speaking in an interview with journalists, the Terminal Manager of the airport, Mr Adekunle Aderibigbe, said passenger numbers were impressive despite the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to the statistics released, inbound passengers recorded 270,828 while departures stood at 280,552 passengers.
He said that 3,068 aircraft landed at the airport between July and December 2020 while 3,193 aircraft took off from the same airport during the period under review.
Aderibigbe explained that initially, passenger turnout at the commencement of flight operations after the easing of the lockdown was not too impressive but disclosed that it gradually picked especially during the Yuletide.
He noted that airlines last December witnessed a surge in passenger traffic but were able to manage their passengers as more aircraft were deployed to accommodate passengers.
Similarly, the Managing Director, Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria, Capt Rabiu Yadudu revealed at the weekend that new international terminals in Lagos, Kano and Enugu will be completed and inaugurated before January 20, 2021.