Travel News

Vaccine passports - a guide to the different options - BUSINESS TRAVELLER

APRIL 02, 2021

As vaccinations are rolled out in many parts of the world, discussions continue about the possibility of having some kind of digital document to prove that travellers are protected against Covid-19.

It’s important to note that although often referred to as ‘passports’ none of these apps are a passport, and in any case a passport or identity card would need to be presented alongside whatever information is contained in the app. A passport is an official document issued by a government to identify a person as a citizen of that country.

These digital apps are ‘passes’ and simply hold information regarding the Covid-19 health status of travellers such as test results and, eventually, vaccinations. The passes are likely to appear as apps on smartphones, and would have to be recognised by individual governments to allow international travel.

Several different companies and international bodies are suggesting a variety of technological solutions at the moment to document and verify travellers’ health status, while carriers such as Ryanair have launched their own Covid-19 Document Holder systems.

Here, we round up the different passes on trial at the moment.


Who’s behind it?

The International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) has collaborated with International SOS and the SGS Group to create this digital, secure and portable copy of medical records.

How does it work?

Once individuals have medical results, they can enter the information into an app to create a pass. A unique code is generated and shown to the individual and their medical practitioner for them to verify the information. They will then be able to show the QR code for verification at airports.

Where is it available?

Successful trials took place on flights last year between Abu Dhabi and Pakistan. Since then, the following airlines have started to use the technology:

  • Alitalia has begun a pilot scheme to digitise Covid-19 rapid antigen test results via the passport for flights from Rome to New York
  • Passengers travelling to Singapore from Indonesia and Malaysia can use the pass to show their Covid-19 test results at dedicated immigration lanes at Changi airport. International SOS states that this will be rolled out to other international travellers “in the coming months”
  • Etihad will  pilot the digital health passport on routes between Paris and Abu Dhabi
  • Air Caraïbes and French Bee will use the pass on routes from Paris Orly to the French Overseas Territories (Guadeloupe, Martinique, Guyana, La Réunion and Tahiti) from March
  • Air France is trialling the pass on routes from Paris CDG to Pointe-à-Pitre in Guadeloupe, and Fort-de-France in Martinique. This has been extended to include routes to and from Los Angeles and San Francisco for a four-week period.
  • Corsair will pilot the passport on routes between Paris and French overseas territories Pointe-à-Pitre, Fort de France, Réunion and Mayotte from the third week of March. Passengers will be able to store and certify the results of their PCR test on the mobile app for verification at the airports.

Is my data secure?

The AOKpass states that medical records are stored only on your device and will not be shared or stored elsewhere. The pass is verified without the need of showing any personal or medical information, and travellers can “choose when and where to share [their] information”. The information is secured using a “hashing algorithm so that it can’t be read by anyone else”.

Common Pass

Who’s behind it?

The Commons Project has partnered with the World Economic Forum to launch this digital health pass.

How does it work?

Lab results and vaccination records will be accessed through existing health data systems, national or local registries or personal digital health records such as Apple Health and Common Health. Individuals will need to consent to the information being used to validate their Covid status. The technology will then assess whether the results and records come from a trusted source and whether they satisfy the health screening requirements of the country they wish to enter. There will be a simple yes/no answer to whether the individual meets the entry criteria.

Travellers will receive a unique confirmation code that they can show at the airport to board the flight. Common Pass also states that those who lack smartphones will be able to print off a confirmation code and show it at the airport.

Where is it available?

The first trials were completed in October with Cathay Pacific between Hong Kong and Singapore, and United Airlines between London and New York. Since then, carriers including Jetblue, Lufthansa, Swiss and Virgin Atlantic have trialled the technology.

Cathay Pacific recently carried out another trial on a flight from Hong Kong to Los Angeles.

Is my data secure?

Common Pass states that it won’t reveal “any other underlying personal health information” and that Apple Health and Common Health “let individuals store their health records securely and privately on their phones, entirely under their control”.

Health Pass by Clear

Who’s behind it?

The airport biometrics provider Clear has moved into the public health arena in the US, launching a Health Pass within its mobile app.

How does it work?

This service is designed for businesses to keep employees and customers safe.  First, users must add an ID, and verify their identity with a selfie.  They can then complete a real-time health survey and upload Covid-related lab results directly from an approved lab provider. Once at a participating location, users should go to the Clear pod and undergo a temperature scan, and then show or scan their health pass (either by facial recognition or a QR code) to gain access to the location. The pod will show a red or green light to denote whether the user has passed or failed the screening.

Where is it available?

The Health Pass is being used by over 35 organisations across various industries.

Clear has also launched partnerships with the likes of MGM Resorts and the 9/11 Museum in New York to use the app to screen its staff for the virus.

Is my data secure?

The specific answers to survey questions or any specific test results are not provided to third party partners or employers.

IATA Travel Pass

Who’s behind it?

The International Air Transport Association has designed a digital health pass that will support the safe reopening of borders.

How does it work?

The mobile app contains information required by many authorities. The pass enables authorised labs and test centres to securely share test and vaccination certificates with passengers. Passengers can then create a digital passport and share testing or vaccination certificates with airlines and authorities to facilitate travel. In effect the Travel Pass contains the information to verify if a passenger is eligible to undertake their travel journey.

See how it works in the video below:

Where is it available?

IATA has recently partnered with Etihad Airways, Emirates and Qatar Airways to launch the Travel Pass for passengers.

  • Etihad will offer guests the pass on selected flights from Abu Dhabi in the first quarter of 2021, and if successful, roll this out to other destinations on the airline’s network
  • Emirates will launch the pass for customers travelling from Dubai in April. Travellers will be able to share their Covid-19 test status directly with the airline before reaching the airport through the app
  • Qatar Airways has begun trials of the app on its Doha-Istanbul route
  • IATA has also partnered with the government of Panama and Copa Airlines to trial the pass in March on select flights from Panama City
  • Air New Zealand has announced plans to trial the IATA Travel Pass digital health passport on flights between Auckland and Sydney from April. ANZ said that the trial will initially run for three weeks, with both crew and customers invited to join
  • Rwandair will become the first African airline to trial the IATA Travel Pass, beginning a three-week trial in April for passengers travelling between Kigali and Nairobi in Kenya
  • Malaysia Airlines plans to incorporate the pass into its own mobile app
  • Singapore Airlines is conducting a two-week trial of the app between March 15-28 for customers travelling from Singapore to London
  • Air Baltic will carry out a three-week trial for customers on the Latvian airline’s Riga-Amsterdam and Riga-Oslo routes
  • Virgin is to trial the IATA Travel Pass app on its Heathrow-Barbados route from April 16 for one month, “in close collaboration with the Government of Barbados”. Virgin has confirmed that it will be “the first UK airline to conduct a live trial of IATA Travel Pass”. The carrier also said it would also seek approval from the UK government to expand the trial, to allow for it to be used with customers arriving at the UK border on flights from Barbados to Heathrow
  • Hong Kong Airlines will trial the pass on selected routes

Is my data secure?

IATA says that the Travel Pass “will keep passengers in control of their data and facilitate the sharing of their tests with airlines and authorities for travel”.

Read more about it here:


IBM Digital Health Pass

Who’s behind it?

IBM Watson Health has designed a digital wallet product for smartphones.

How does it work?

The product enables organisations to verify health credentials for employees, customers and visitors entering their site based on their own set of criteria. This might include Covid-19 test results, temperature scans, and vaccine status. It aims to “bring people back to a physical location, such as a workplace, school, stadium or airline flight.”

Where is it available?

At the moment, the National Institutes of Health (part of the US Department of Health and Human Services) and Salesforce have signed on to trial the pass. Salesforce will provide individuals with “a verifiable and privacy-preserving way to manage and share their vaccination and health status in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic” via its Salesforce Work.com platform.

The State of New York has also began a pilot program of the health pass, with the aim to eventually provide residents with “a simple, voluntary, and secure method for showing proof of a negative Covid-19 test result or certification of vaccination.”

Is my data secure?

IBM states that the encrypted digital wallet allows individuals to “control what they share, with whom and for what purpose”. The company adds that, through the use of blockchain technology, the health pass can be “verified, trusted and tamperproof”.

The Mvine-iProov passport 

Who’s behind it?

Biometrics firm iProov has partnered with cyber security group Mvine to launch this passport. It is also backed by Innovate UK – a non-departmental public body funded by a grant from the UK government.

How does it work?

This technology enables people to register a test result or vaccination status without disclosing their identity. The medical professional administering the vaccine will be able to create the online certificate using a phone or tablet and then ask the user to have a selfie added to their electronic certificate.

The technology “does not discrimate against people based on the kind of smartphone they own, and there is a route for people who do not possess smartphones – i.e. a card-based method.

Where is it available?

It is currently being tested by Directors of Public Health within the NHS, with two trials expected to be completed by March 31, 2021.

Is my data secure?

The certificate is completely anonymous and “does not need to include the name, address, NHS number or any other identifying information about the person”. When the person wishes to present their certificate, they show for example a QR code and merely need to verify their face against the image attached to their online certificate using any mobile phone or tablet equipped with the app. According to the providers, “an individual therefore cannot be verified without their knowledge and consent… Apart from the certificate number and the biometric, no other identity information is required or stored online.”


Who’s behind it?

Air Asia has developed this digital health pass in partnership with analytics company GrayMatter.

How does it work?

The app aims to streamline health document checks and determine eligibility to travel. Passengers will be prompted to provide any documents required by the destination country and will then need to scan and upload medical certificates at the time of online check-in. AirAsia will then analyse the documents in real-time and either approve or reject the travel status.

Where is it available?

The technology has already launched on routes from Kuala Lumpur to Singapore, Surabaya and Jakarta.

Is my data secure?

Graymatter states that its cloud-hosted system is “equipped with robust information security”.

Trust Assure

Who’s behind it?

Trust Assure is powered by US-based CLX Health, and provides a global network of Covid-19 testing partners and providers with over 15,000 locations across 50 countries.

How does it work?

Passengers can upload their test documentation in advance of their flight, where it will be “validated using AI, in less than two minutes”. Once confirmed, customers will receive a QR code with a “green verification”, allowing them proceed through check-in.

The provider states that the default life span of a Trust Assure pass is 30 days, so the consumer will need to be retested on or before the expiration date to maintain healthy status on the pass.

Where is it available?

From March 29 customers travelling on Virgin Atlantic’s five currently operating routes from Heathrow to the US (New York JFK, Los Angeles, Miami, Boston and Atlanta) will be able to verify their Covid-19 test results using the technology.

Virgin said that the Trust Assure solution had already proven “extremely effective” in development and trials by the carrier’s joint venture partner Delta.

Is my data secure?

The provider states that it is a “secure portal”.

Vaccine Guard

Who’s behind it?

The product has been built by tech company Guardtime and is based on a six-month collaboration with the Estonian government and WHO.

How does it work?

The network is an open platform which allows the secure and reliable sharing of information across systems and borders. According to the tech company, it “provides a feedback loop between all participants in the network for usage cases as diverse as counterfeit detection, vaccine allocation prioritisation, and pharmacovigilance.”

Where is it available?

At the moment, Estonia, Hungary and Iceland have signed up to pilot Vaccine Guard, with additional governments expected to join “in the near future”.

Is my data secure?

The company states that it employs “leading privacy and security features to protect patient and other sensitive information”.


Who’s behind it?

Verifly has been created by software engineering company Daon and consists of a digital health pass app. The app is flexible and aims to cater to various traveller requirements, with Daon adding that it would be possible to add a vaccine credential into the Verifly service in the future.

The app currently has over 100,000 subscribers, and there has been a rapid uptick in the rate of adoption in the past few weeks. Daon is also in discussion with a number of other organisations in the travel ecosystem, including hotels, cruises and conferences whereby the health pass could be more broadly applicable.

How does it work?

The digital health pass streamlines verification of Covid-19 tests and other health documentation. Passengers will first have to consent to the terms and conditions, and provide their first name, surname and a valid email address. They will then need to take a selfie and verify their account by clicking a link in the email. Once validated, passengers can add a pass to the “My Passes” screen and view the necessary travel requirements and instructions for their destination. Users will need to enter flight details and travel details such as nationality and date of birth.

To fulfil the entry requirements for the destination they are travelling to, users will have to fill out forms (such as an attestation for the US, or the passenger locator form in the UK) and will be asked to upload a Covid-19 test result including information such as the date and time of test, type of test, lab location and confirmation that it’s negative. Only Covid test types accepted for the destination will be presented to the user.

Once submitted, trained staff will verify the information through a series of checks and ask the user to provide more information if they are unsure of its legitimacy. Daon is currently putting in place direct connections with lab and testing companies so that it can check the results more easily. Once checked, the app will then provide either a ‘pass’ or ‘fail’ message. The final step is a ‘pre-airport’ checklist that you have a valid passport, a negative Covid-19 test and that you are not experiencing symptoms of the virus. Once users reach the airport, they can present their pass by scanning the QR code at the checkpoint gate or showing it to a pass provider staff member.

Daon states that it is very easy to add new form types or update existing ones to abide by the ever-evolving government policies and visa requirements around the world. This might cover, for instance, the new requirement to declare the reason for travel in the UK – there are ongoing discussions on the exact requirements mandated by the UK government.

Where is it available?

The app is currently being used by British Airways, American Airlines and Iberia.

American Airlines introduced the health passport for travellers on all international routes to the US in January. This followed an earlier trial on select routes from South America and the Caribbean. The airline has said that thousands of customers have already travelled using the app.

British Airways begins the trial on February 4 on all of its transatlantic routes between London and the US (currently New York JFK, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Miami, Washington, Houston and Seattle). The airline states that a second phase of the trial will follow “in the near future”, allowing customers to use the app when travelling from the US to the UK with either BA or American Airlines. The focus is currently on routes to the US, but the airline states that it will roll out the service to other destinations in the future.

The app is a voluntary proposition and passengers can instead provide evidence that they meet US entry requirements at check-in should they prefer. The use of the app, however, will save time when travelling as users can fill in the paperwork at home rather than at the airport – there will also be dedicated check-in desks for certified customers. Previously the app could only accept the details of one user per device, but this has now been expanded to up to nine users, in what BA said effectively amounted to “a family pass”.

[Note that BA is also moving ahead with vaccine certification for travel, with passengers eligible for travel from London to India able to upload negative Covid-19 test results and other travel declaration forms directly into their booking on the airline’s website. This will be rolled out to more destinations over the coming weeks.]

BA states that, despite trialling Verifly, it will continue to work with IATA on the IATA Travel Pass and is hopeful for the integration between various apps to provide solutions to all the countries the carrier flies to.

Iberia has also begun a trial of the Verifly digital health pass app, allowing customers to verify Covid-19 test certificates before arriving at the airport. The two-month trial is running until April 23, on Iberia flights to Miami and New York.

Is my data secure?

Verifly states that its “design ensures the privacy of the individual and keeps the credentials and biometric data of the person on the device. Users have the ability to establish an identity and strongly assert that identity through the smart phone or biometric authentication.”

Users can also delete their account at any time, and all data will be deleted and cannot be restored.

Vaccination Credential Initiative (VCI)

Who’s behind it?

A coalition of health and technology partners including Microsoft, Oracle and The Commons Project.

How does it work?

It aims to allow individuals to access to their vaccination records “in a secure, verifiable and privacy-preserving way”. The coalition is developing standards for organisations administering vaccines to make credentials available in an accessible, interoperable, digital format.

Individuals will obtain an encrypted digital copy of their vaccination records to store in a digital wallet of their choice. VCI also said that people could receive printed QR codes with verifiable information.

Country-specific developments

Various countries around the world are also beginning to develop digital vaccine passes to allow citizens to travel abroad and reopen their societies.


China currently requires international arrivals to undergo 14 days of quarantine in a supervised facility, but has said it plans to unveil a vaccine passport that could exempt travellers from certain travel restrictions.

China’s foreign minister Wang Yi said Beijing is willing to explore reciprocal recognition of other governments’ vaccine passports, which act as proof of inoculation, according to the Global Times.

Travellers from Hong Kong and Macau inoculated with a Chinese or foreign-produced vaccine are likely to be among the first to benefit from such a programme. Although inbound international travellers will likely be exempt from China’s 14-day mandatory quarantine with a vaccine passport, they could still be required to present a negative PCR test result prior to departure.


The Danish government introduced its plans for a “corona passport” in early February to facilitate the reopening of travel. By the end of February, Danish citizens will be able to see their vaccination status on an online health platform. This will be followed by a digital pass on your mobile phone which will include documents showing that you have been vaccinated. It is expected that the passport will be ready in three to four months time, and will be used for trips such as business travel. The government has not yet made a decision on whether the passport will also apply to other walks of life, such as attending a sporting event.

Morten Bodskov, Denmark’s Finance Minister, commented:

“It is absolutely crucial, for us to be able to restart Danish society, that companies can get back on track”.


Emirates and the Dubai Health Authority (DHA) have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to create a digital health pass.

Under the MoU, Emirates and the DHA will work to link the IT systems of DHA-approved laboratories with Emirates’ reservations and check-in systems in order to enable the efficient sharing, storing and verification of passenger health information related to COVID-19 infection, testing and vaccination – all in a secure and legally compliant manner.

The project has begun already, with the aim of bringing it to “live” implementation to benefit travellers in the coming months.


Greece has signed agreements with Israel and Cyprus to enable vaccinated citizens to move freely between the three countries.

Kyriakos Mitsotakis, the Greek prime minister, said:

“I expect what we will be doing with Israel to be a trial run of what we can do with other countries.”


Israel’s health ministry has issued a “green passport” app which is eligible for people one week after the second dose of the Covid-19 vaccine or for those who have recovered from the virus.

Green passport holders can access hotels, sports and cultural events, swimming pools and places of worship.


Health minister Salvador Illa said that the country will create a database of people who refuse to be vaccinated, with the information shared with other European nations. The list would not be made public or accessible to employers. Speaking to La Sexta television, Illa stated:

“People who are offered a therapy that they refuse for any reason, it will be noted in the register… that there is no error in the system, not to have given this person the possibility of being vaccinated.”

Spain is also considering introducing bilateral deals with countries such as the UK to boost travel this summer, according to the country’s Tourism Minister.


Sweden followed its Nordic neighbour’s example and announce that it will create a digital vaccine certificate to prove vaccination status. The Swedish government has stated that it hopes to have the infrastructure in place by June.


Initially, the UK’s vaccine minister Nadhim Zahawi said that the UK has “no plan of introducing a vaccine passport”, stating the technology would be “discriminatory”. Nevertheless, the UK is currently in talks to introduce vaccine passports for international travel, with Transport Secretary Grant Shapps confirming that he is speaking to counterparts in the Singaporean and US governments regarding the initiative. IATA’s CEO Alexandre de Juniac also revealed that he is in discussions with the British government regarding such passports but that there is no planned date for the UK’s adoption of the Travel Pass.

While the government has repeatedly ruled out the use of vaccine passports on a domestic basis, foreign secretary Dominic Raab suggested that they might be used within supermarkets and restaurants when speaking to LBC Radio:

“It’s something that hasn’t been ruled out and it’s under consideration, but of course you’ve got to make it workable.

“Whether it’s at an international, domestic or local level, you’ve got to know that the document being presented is something that you can rely on and that it’s an accurate reflection of the status of the individual.

“I’m not sure there’s a foolproof answer in the way that it’s sometimes presented but of course we’ll look at all the options.”

The Times also reported that the NHS app is set to be converted into a digital Covid-19 health certificate to provide proof of vaccination or test results.


Ireland to replace British travel ban with stricter testing - minister - REUTERS

JANUARY 01, 2021

DUBLIN (Reuters) - Ireland plans to end a ban on travel to the country from Britain on Jan. 6 and replace it with stricter COVID-19 testing measures as it seeks to stop the spread of a highly infectious new variant of the virus, Foreign Minister Simon Coveney was quoted as saying on Friday.

Ireland banned passenger flights and ferries on Dec. 21. Some 30,000 people had travelled to Ireland from Britain in the previous two weeks, during which time the new variant was spreading rapidly in parts of Britain.

Passengers flying on non-essential business from Britain after Jan. 6 will need to produce a negative test taken three days before their flight, Coveney told the Irish Independent newspaper.

They will also be asked to restrict their movements for at least five days from their arrival and can move freely only if they then receive a second negative test.

“We’re planning to end the travel ban with the UK on January 6 but replace it with a more restrictive set of travel regulations between Britain and Ireland,” he said.

“We are anxious to move away from a travel ban, which we don’t think is realistic and there does need to be travel facilitated between Britain and Ireland for lots of reasons.”

COVID-19 is spreading rapidly again in Ireland and health officials have said that it has found seven cases of the new variant from 77 positive tests that subsequently underwent genomic sequencing.

Reporting by Padraic Halpin; Editing by Frances Kerry

Health tourism warning after mother-of-three dies following liposuction in Turkey - THE INDEPENDENT UK

JANUARY 02, 2021

Her husband is now suing the firm and the surgeon responsible, for £1 million, claiming medical negligence

The family of a British mother-of-three who died following liposuction treatment in Turkey are warning others about the risks of health tourism.

Abimbola Ajoke Bamgbose, a 38-year-old social worker, died in August after buying an overseas package deal with Mono Cosmetic Surgery.

Her husband Moyosore Olowo is now suing the firm and the surgeon responsible, Dr Hakan Aydogan, for £1 million, claiming medical negligence. Proceedings have been issued in the Turkish courts.

He told the PA news agency: “She was the backbone of the family.

“My wife was an excellent mum. My son has special needs and she was a calming influence on him.

“Now I am left alone caring for the children and it is really, really painful.”

Ms Bamgbose travelled abroad for the treatment at Mono Cosmetic Surgery Clinic in Izmir, a city on the country's Aegean coast.

Although she had initially hoped to have surgery in the UK, she looked abroad after finding it was too expensive, Mr Olowo said.

Having compared options, she eventually settled on spending £5,000 in Turkey, with Mono also providing airport transfers and accommodation.

Mr Olowo said Ms Bamgbose began experiencing severe abdominal pain after receiving the treatment.

Four days later, he said, she was seen by another specialist at the hospital and had a second surgery.

At this point Mr Olowo, who said his wife was his “best friend”, flew to Turkey, where he was told by medical staff at the hospital an error in the initial procedure had led to complications.

After returning home to take care of his family, Mr Olowo then received a WhatsApp call from the surgeon, where he was told his wife had died. The couple, originally from Nigeria, had been together for 15 years.

In the post-mortem examination, the North West Kent Coroner Service found Ms Bamgbose died from peritonitis and multi-organ failure following a complication of the liposuction surgery.

Mr Olowo said his “beautiful” wife had suffered from low self-esteem after giving birth to her three children, Morayo, 13, Eyitayo, 10 and Titilayomi, seven.

Mr Olowo has not been able to return to work as a Network Rail contractor since she died because of childcare commitments.

He said he would advise anyone thinking of having surgery in Turkey to “not go”.

“I am not going to label all medical practitioners in Turkey as below par, but there is the language barrier,” he said.

He said he fears communication issues may have contributed to signs of her complications being missed.

“Do your due diligence, but remember the rules and regulations are different over there. If something goes wrong you will want to be in your home country,” Mr Olowa added.

The surgery was booked via the Mono Clinic, a Turkish company that uses appeals on its website and social media to attract potential health tourists from countries such as the UK, Germany and Sweden.

Britons looking into surgery abroad are advised to speak directly to a hospital surgeon or use those recommended by their UK doctor.

Mr Olowo's Turkish lawyer Burcu Holmgren, of London Legal International, said: “I warn everyone who wants to book surgery in Turkey to not use an agent firm, speak to your surgeon directly, speak to their patients and never pay for a package deal of flights, hotel, surgery, etc.

“There are incredible surgeons in Turkey and they are too busy operating they won't be getting into deals with agencies to bring patients to their clinics. So please do your research and be careful.”

The Mono Clinic and Dr Aydogan have both been contacted for comment.

Ms Holmgren added: “We say Abimbola's death is due to medical negligence.

“We do realise these procedures are risky, however medical experts we spoke to who have reviewed her hospital records indicated her operation has not handled the way it should have been.

“Now a loving wife and a caring mother is gone, and we are looking for answers. We also want to hold people responsible accountable.

“Nothing will bring back Abimbola but the one million pound compensation claim is for her children to be able to have a future. We are confident we will prove our claim.”


Spain Will Have Final Say on Who Enters Gibraltar, Minister Says - BLOOMBERG

JANUARY 02, 2021

(Bloomberg) -- Spain will have the last word on who enters Gibraltar under a preliminary deal on border arrangements for the U.K. territory, Foreign Minister Arancha Gonzalez Laya told El Pais in an interview.

Responsibility for overseeing the new passport-free Schengen agreement terms for entry to Gibraltar’s port and airport, as envisaged in the accord, would be Spain’s, Gonzalez told the newspaper..

“Evidently, there must be a Spanish presence to carry out the minimum tasks of Schengen control,” she said.

Under the deal, however, neither government has given an inch in their claims to sovereignty over the territory, she told El Pais.

“What we have seen is a change of paradigm which is not made up with concessions but by a convergence of interests between Gibraltarians and Spaniards, both of whom are pro-European,” Gonzalez said. “This is the fruit of Brexit.”

Spain and the U.K. sealed a last-minute accord on Dec. 31 to avoid stricter controls on movement and people and goods to the territory at the entrance to the Mediterranean that has been under British control since 1713.

Under a four-year implementation period, officials from the European border agency Frontex will assist with controls at the port and airport, with Spain as the party responsible for overseeing the new Schengen arrangements.

The U.K. remains steadfast in its support for Gibraltar and its sovereignty has been safeguarded, Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said in a statement on Thursday.

Third Mainland Bridge to be opened February - PUNCH

JANUARY 02, 2021

BY  Joseph Olaoluwa

Lagos State Commissioner for Transportation, Frederic Oladeinde, has said the Third Mainland Bridge would be opened fully to vehicular traffic in February.

Oladeinde said this on Friday in an exclusive interview with our correspondent, noting that the rehabilitation of the bridge had to be pushed from January 2021 to February due to the effect of the #EndSARS protests.

He said, “It was supposed to be January but it is now February 2021. It has been moved by a month. The first phase is finished, the second phase has started.”

The Federal Government had announced that the bridge would be closed for six months for maintenance works. Construction was scheduled to be done in two phases, three months on each carriageway.

Speaking on the outlook of transportation for Lagos State, the commissioner said the state was trying to integrate all transport modes into a card that can be utilised by residents.

He said, “The government is going ahead with the rail. We are still constructing the blue line and we have reached an advanced stage with the red line which would soon commence.“

He added, “We are ramping up water transport, we are connecting it with the Bus Reform, making sure that all our transport modes are integrated. We are extending the common ticketing system which we currently use on the Bus Rapid Transit System to the waterways and when the rail comes on board, we will extend it to the rail as well.

“Basically, people will have a card that can be used over various modes of transport.”

Oladeinde sought private sector investment to boost water transport, adding that on their part, plans had been made to expand the Lagos Ferry Services Company fleet.

He said, “We are encouraging the private sector to run water transportation. We are increasing LagFerry’s fleet from 12 to 18  and we are also in a constant dialogue with the private sector who are trying to buy more boats.

“For example, we have about 307 boats plying our waterways, including the private sector. We want to increase it by another 50.”

Regarding the gridlock situation, Oladeinde said the state government had begun to resolve all bottlenecks responsible for gridlocks in the state.

So far, he said, six points had been identified and were currently being worked on.

FAAN raises safety protocols over COVID-19 second wave - TRAVEL

JANUARY 02, 2021

BY  Joseph Olaoluwa

The Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria has stepped up measures to ensure the safety of travellers across the nation.

In a statement obtained by our correspondent on Thursday, the authority said this was in a bid to prevent a second wave of COVID-19 at the airports.

The statement titled ‘New wave of COVID-19: FAAN beefs up security protocols at airports’ outlined FAAN’s plan to secure travellers safety from the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja, to Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos, Port Harcourt International Airport, Mallam Aminu Kano International Airport and others within its network.

The statement signed by the General Manager, Corporate Affairs, FAAN, Henrietta Yakubu, explained that several car parks had been rearranged for seamless pick-up and drop- off to avoid congestion.

The authority added that new drop-off zones had been introduced for passengers with reduced mobility.

How to future-proof your holiday for 2021 - INDEPENDENT UK

JANUARY 02, 2021

BY  Helen Coffey

Under normal circumstances, when a traveller books a holiday and something goes wrong, they enjoy a certain level of peace of mind.

If their package holiday gets cancelled, the tour operator must refund them within 14 days. If it’s their flight that gets canned, the airline must pay them back within seven days (and possibly compensate them handsomely, depending on how short notice the cancellation is).

All manner of other issues, from lost luggage to emergency medical care, would be covered by any comprehensive travel insurance policy.

But 2020 unravelled all of that certainty. The coronavirus pandemic led to unprecedented travel restrictions across the globe, causing widespread disruption to holidays and leaving travellers out of pocket for months on end while companies struggled to pay millions of pounds worth of refunds.

Travel insurers, hit by huge swathes of claims, changed their policies to exclude Covid-related issues.

Despite it all, with a vaccine providing much-needed light at the end of the tunnel, many travellers stymied by 2020’s strict rules will be keen to get planning for a 2021 getaway.

Here’s how to book your next holiday without ending up out of pocket – whatever next year throws at us.

Packages are preferable

If you’re the kind of person who usually books each element of your trip separately, it might be time to consider plumping for a package. In essence, you are much better protected should the travel rules change, and your destination is off limits by the time the departure date rolls around.

The UK’s biggest tour operator, Tui, has followed the Foreign Office’s (FCDO) advice since international travel restarted – if a place isn’t deemed safe enough to be put on its list of countries exempt from the otherwise blanket advice against all non-essential international travel, Tui will cancel all its holidays there and offer customers the option to rebook or get a refund.

Yes, some tour operators failed to refund customers in a timely fashion for the first part of 2020, as they struggled to handle thousands of simultaneous claims – volumes they weren’t set up to deal with. But since then, the vast majority of holidaymakers have received their money back.

Many companies also offer extra reassurance, having changed their T&Cs to allow customers to amend bookings last minute if they receive a positive Covid test, have been told to self-isolate, or are impacted by local lockdown rules banning travel.

Some tour ops have even added built-in coronavirus cover. All Club Med guests are entitled to free Covid-19 cover until 30 April 2021: if a holidaymaker contracts the virus while travelling, medical expenses will be covered as part of the holiday package, including Covid-19 testing, transportation costs to testing facilities, GP appointments and medical expenses in case of hospitalisation. If a lockdown or quarantine is required, housing will be provided for guests and, if they cannot fly home, new flights will be provided once it’s safe for them to travel.

Similarly, Covid cover is automatically included for all customers travelling on any TUI holiday and applies to all new and existing bookings. Customers can amend their holiday for free if they contract Covid-19 or are officially required to isolate prior to travel, or if their local area goes into a regional lockdown over their departure dates. It also covers medical assistance if a customer contracts Covid-19 while on holiday, plus costs associated with an extended stay and a new return flight home if customers are asked to self-isolate.

In contrast, when you book flights separately, there are no such guarantees. So long as the flight is still running, passengers can’t claim a refund – even if the rules from the UK’s own government legally ban travel, or a passenger tests positive for coronavirus beforehand and need to quarantine. Most airlines are currently letting customers rebook flights free of charge in such instances, but are not offering refunds; basically, they operate the flight regardless and keep hold of your money.

Shop around for insurance

Back in the early days of the pandemic, nearly all travel insurers did a hasty redrawing of their policies to exclude coronavirus. The change left many holidaymakers at risk from the very issue most likely to scupper their travel plans.

Thankfully, a number of providers have changed tack since and now offer some sort of Covid cover – the important thing is to note whether a policy just covers medical cover if you contract the virus while on holiday, or whether it also covers you in the event that you need to cancel your trip because you test positive before you go or are told to self-isolate by NHS Test and Trace.

Insurers that provide the latter include AllClear, Trailfinders, Staysure, Allianz Assistance and Virgin Money. However, none of these cover you in the event that there is a local or national lockdown introduced in the UK that prevents you from travelling.

It’s worth bearing in mind that standard travel insurance policies won’t cover you if you go to a country that the Foreign Office advises against visiting – at the moment, this blanket advisory is applied to all countries barring a very specific list. This is changing on a weekly basis – it can be hard to predict in advance which destinations will continue to get the all-clear.

One option is to book a policy with Travel Bag; this covers you if the FCDO advice changes while you’re away. However, it doesn’t cover cancellation costs if the FCDO advice changes before you leave and you no longer wish to travel.

There are other insurers that specifically offer policies covering countries on the no-go list. Battleface is one such insurer, covering travellers for Covid-related medical expenses while away – there’s no cover relating to cancellation, curtailment or lock-down/quarantine expense coverage though, and policies are only available to those aged 59 or under.

Insurefor.com has also launched single-trip policies that cover you when travelling against FCDO advice to European countries. As well as medical expenses while abroad as a result of coronavirus, it also covers policy holders for cancellation in the event that they, their travelling companion or people they are due to stay with on holiday are diagnosed with Covid-19.

Book extra time off

The government’s travel corridors scheme, introduced in the summer, applied a blanket 14-day quarantine for all UK arrivals unless they were coming from a small set of approved destinations. This list has continuously evolved, and is currently updated every week on a Thursday afternoon.

This is finally changing from 15 December, when incoming travellers will get the option to pay for a Covid test on day five of their self-isolation which, if negative, means they can end quarantine early.

For those lucky enough to be able to work entirely from home – and for whom there are no obligations that would make leaving the house necessary, such as childcare responsibilities – this shouldn’t present too much of a problem, even if a holiday destination is unexpectedly removed from the travel corridors list.

But for holidaymakers who can’t work from home, a swift change resulting in a mandatory quarantine upon their return could turn a relaxing time away into an incredibly stressful one. If you’re in this position, consider booking an extra few days off work after your trip – enough that, should you need to quarantine, you have enough built-in time for the minimum five days before you can be tested. You can always lean into the staycation vibes or take a few last-minute UK day trips if it turns out no quarantine is required.

Go domestic

If you want to play it safe, booking a UK-based holiday might be the way to go. Of course, no one knows what tiers (and fears) are around the corner, or whether another national lockdown might be necessary at some point. But, for one thing, there are no FCDO or travel corridor complications to worry about; and, for another, UK hotels should be pretty accommodating should local restrictions prohibit you from travelling. Call up beforehand and check what their policy is regarding coronavirus-related cancellations for extra reassurance.

If you’re travelling by car, there’s also no risk of ending up out of pocket when it comes to travel expenses, and many train companies are allowing passengers to amend ticket dates should restrictions stop them from travelling.

Last-minute booking

If you have the flexibility to book last-minute, it could help reduce the risk of plans going belly up. Waiting until the week before means you can choose a destination based on the latest FCDO and travel corridors lists, meaning less chance of travelling against government advice or needing to quarantine when you return. You can also look at up-to-date information on the particular restrictions in potential countries and whether they are letting in British travellers without requiring a period of self-isolation.

If the UK has entered another lockdown in the interim, you won’t be left frantically chasing refunds. Of course, the travel landscape is changing at lightning speed in this pandemic, and even within a few days things could change – but you’ll be in a much better position to make an informed decision about the best destination to pick.

Book direct

The Independent’s travel team often hears horror stories about holidaymakers attempting to get their money back when they are entitled to a refund. But however hard you think it might be chasing up your airline, hotel or tour operator, it can be a thousand times harder to claim your money back if you’ve booked through a third party. It places a buffer between the actual service provider and customer, and online-only travel agents can be hard to contact (many only offer an email address rather than a phone number for this very reason).

They may promise cheaper prices, but if things go awry or plans change, it’s arguably not worth the hassle.

Wait for a vaccine

If you want the ultimate in peace of mind, wait until there’s a viable vaccine (and until you’ve been vaccinated). In which case, travel problems should revert to the good old standbys of lost luggage and emergency medical care…

Ba Bird Strike Incident Exposes Poor Emergency Response At Lagos Airport - THISDAY

JANUARY 04, 2021

By Chinedu Eze

An incident, involving the British Airways Flight BA75 flight to Lagos, which was grounded due to bird strikes, has exposed the poor emergency response at the at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport (MMIA), THISDAY investigation has revealed.

It was learnt yesterday that during the incident, which occurred on December 30, 2020, the delayed response by the Fire Department of the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) at the airport could have worsened the incident as smoke engulfed the plane due to hydraulic leakage after the bird strikes.

The BA flight operated by Boeing B777-300 aircraft, which left London to Lagos on December 30, 2022, suffered multiple bird strikes on its final approach to land at the international runway, 18R but it managed to land successfully.

Reports indicated that the bird strike caused hydraulic leakage, but the aircraft touched down safely and taxied out of the runway but it could not reach the apron because it lost its nose wheel steering, as the hydraulic system in the aircraft indicated zero quantity and smoke was seen from the main landing gear, forcing the aircraft to stop on the taxiway.

The pilot of the flight, THISDAY gathered, called for emergency but there was no response until after 11 minutes when two firemen came to the aircraft with handheld portable fire extinguisher instead of a fire fighting truck, which arrived 16 minutes later.

But on careful examination by the BA engineer that accompanied the flight, it was established that hydraulic fluid was dripping onto the hot brakes of the main landing gear of the aircraft, causing the smoke, which could have snowballed into a fire outbreak.

THISDAY investigation revealed that the fire department officials did not prepare for the emergency because the department is on the listening line between the Air Traffic Control and the pilot, so the officials in charge during that time ought to know the situation on ground, as they have direct information about the development.

A former senior official of the Fire Department who has retired, made enquiries about the incident and told THISDAY that the firemen were not ready because those on duty when the incident happened were supposed to be kitted in their boots and other insignia but they were not dressed for the emergency.

"If they had kept to the standard of operation, they would have been ready before the final stop of the aircraft because they are abreast of the interaction between the flight crew and the Air Traffic Control. They also have binoculars, which they ought to use to sight the aircraft from a distance and prepare for its landing.

"The officials in the watch/listening room have binoculars and should have watched the aircraft approach and should have known that there was a problem and were supposed to have alerted the ground staff. I don't know why they did not go with the vehicle because hydraulic leakage can cause fire when it gives out fumes, which are ignitable. When hydraulic falls on hot metal it ignites fire," he said.

The Regional Terminal Manager of the Lagos airport, Mrs. Victoria Shin-Aba, who confirmed the incident, confirmed that the Fire Department is on the listening line with ATC and pilots.

She said FAAN has its processes in responses to different kinds of emergencies, adding that bird strike is a natural phenomenon associated with flights, which is not exclusive to Nigeria.

Managing Director of Aero Contractors, Captain Ado Sanusi, told THISDAY that the airline's aircraft has suffered bird strike many times but noted that the rate has reduced in recent times.

He said that to reduce the incident, FAAN's Wildlife and Bird's Department should ensure that the grasses at the airport, especially the runway area, are cut regularly, adding that the catering companies at the airport dump waste on the premises to attract birds.

"We have had a couple of bird strikes but usually our take offs and landing don't happen at the times birds come around at the Lagos airport. We agreed during a recent meeting that the catering companies should stop dumping rubbish at a place near the runway, which attracts the birds. I think they have agreed and moved their dumping ground but the birds are still coming," he said.

Air Peace Director of Flight Operations, Captain Victor Egonu, however, told THISDAY that the airline has a record of bird strikes but noted that bird strike is a well-known situation in aviation and there is nothing that could be done to stop it from happening but its occurrence could be reduced, just like the airport management in Singapore did.

He added that Singaporean airport authorities created a place for birds, which are attracted to the place, thereby staying away from the runway.

"It is difficult to manage birds because they could be migrating for warmer climate from Europe. They could converge during the cutting of grasses because that happens during the day time," he said.

THISDAY gathered that the British Airways flight remained on the ground for about 10 hours until temporary repairs were completed, then it departed for the return flight BA-74 and reached London with a delay of six hours.

THISDAY contacted the Corporate Manager, Public Affairs, FAAN, Mrs. Henrietta Yakubu who promised to get back with a response but had not done so as at press time.

FG Bans 100 Nigerians From Foreign Travels For Six Months - THE TIDE

JANUARY 04, 2021

The Federal Government has placed travel restrictions on 100 passengers, for non-compliance with the mandatory protocol on tests upon arrival as outlined by the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on Covid-19.

The Chairman of the PTF on Covid-19, and Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Mr Boss Mustapha, disclosed this in a notice to the affected passengers, last Saturday.

The notice explained that the 100 defaulters would be restricted for six months, for failure to comply with the mandatory Day Seven Post-Arrival Covid-19 Polymerise Chain Reaction (PCR) test.

Mustapha emphasised that the six months restrictions, which took effect from January 1, would last till June 30, 2021.
He gave the International Passport details of those affected by the travel restrictions, which have also been displayed at the various airports.

UK travellers blocked from entering the Netherlands following Brexit - THE INDEPENDENT UK

JANUARY 04, 2021

UK travellers have been blocked from entering the Netherlands following the end of the Brexit transition period.

Dutch border police have turned away 10 British nationals since 1 January, after the UK officially left the European Union, reports broadcaster NOS.

New coronavirus rules dictate that passengers arriving from non-EU countries will only be permitted entry into the Netherlands for essential reasons and not for leisure travel.

“They all had a negative PCR test,” a border police spokesperson said of the 10 Britons, “but had forgotten the basic rule, that they need to have an urgent reason to come, such as work or serious family issues.”

He added: “Some of them wanted to visit Amsterdam and one man wanted to fly to Spain via Amsterdam to teach his children to ski. But that is not the idea.”

According to the UK Foreign Office, the Dutch Government announced that from 1 January 2021, non-EU/EEA nationals and nationals of non-Schengen states, including UK nationals, “will not be permitted entry to the Netherlands for non-essential purposes due to EU-wide Covid-19 restrictions.”

However, the measure does not apply to UK nationals who are legally resident in the Netherlands. These people will be allowed to re-enter the country, provided they show proof of residence.

Prior to the UK officially leaving the EU, Britons were permitted to freely enter the Netherlands as long as they had a negative PCR test result.

“As of 00:01 (CET) on Wednesday 23 December the Dutch Government will permit passengers from the UK with a negative COVID-19 test to travel to the Netherlands,” read the previous government advice. “The test must be no older than 72 hours and must be presented before travel.”

It’s not the only country where British travellers are experiencing difficulties post-Brexit.

On the first weekend since the Brexit transition phase ended, UK residents of Spain seeking to return to their homes were wrongly turned away by British Airways staff at Heathrow as they prepared to fly home.

With the ending of the transition, British passport holders are no longer granted automatic access to the European Union. In addition, Spain – in common with many other EU countries – is imposing tough rules to try to minimise the spread of coronavirus.

Only Spanish nationals and legal residents of Spain are allowed to board flights from the UK until 19 January.

But passengers booked on several British Airways flights say they were wrongly denied boarding at Heathrow’s Terminal 5.

One traveller, James Elliot, tweeted: “I was booked on BA482 flying to Barcelona, Spain today.

“I had all the correct documentation including UK passport, green resident’s card, negative Covid test and was turned away by the check-in manager. Tried explaining that the green card meant I’m a resident of Spain but was told by two BA staff that it wasn’t.”

A spokesperson for BA said: “In these difficult and unprecedented times with dynamic travel restrictions, we are doing everything we can to help and support our customers.”

Passengers arriving into Sweden from UK without Covid tests refused entry - THE LOCAL SWEDEN

JANUARY 04, 2021

Eight people who flew from the UK to Västerås on New Year's Day were ordered to leave Sweden after they lacked the required negative Covid-19 tests, according to SVT Nyheter.

In total, there were about a hundred passengers on the plane that landed in the afternoon and eight were missing the tests that now have to be shown from January 1st for certain passengers from the UK to be allowed to stay in Sweden.

Swedish citizens, people who live and work in Sweden, and people travelling for urgent family reasons, are exempt from the current entry ban from the UK to Sweden, which is in place until January 21st.

But the latter two groups now have to show a negative coronavirus test before they are allowed to enter Sweden.

The test must have been carried out no later than 72 hours before the plane lands in Sweden and show that the passenger does not have an ongoing Covid-19 infection. 

According to the new law, Swedish citizens do not have to show a negative test, but must test themselves as soon as they arrive in Sweden.

READ ALSO:  Sweden to require UK travellers to show negative coronavirus test

Matt Hope, who works for The Local in Sweden was on the New Year's Day flight to VästerÃ¥s and noted the hold ups due to the extra checks, not just for Covid-19 but residency documents post-Brexit.

"The main thing was the police presence and the first check on the runway, then the second different check by passport control," he says.
He added that there were non-Swedish citizens on the flight who didn't know about the Covid-19 test requirement or hadn't made a resident application post-Brexit as they had until September 2021.
However the refusals of entry were only due to missing Covid-19 tests. 

Extra police checks for passengers arriving from the UK to Stockholm-Västerås airport on 1st January 2021. Photo: Matt Hope/The Local

The police fear that surveillance at airports will become a recurring task in the near future.

"At 1300 we got the knowledge that the plane would land. It was the border police who demanded reinforcements from us in advance", says Magnus Jansson Klarin, press spokesperson for RLC Mitt.

"We will probably see more of this. Since it is a new law, it may be that the information has not reached everyone, but as a traveller you have an obligation to find out what applies."

The rejection took place in calm circumstances, even though the disappointment was great.

"It's not fun to have to turn around when you have just landed, so there were no cheerful faces right away, but it's just accepting the situation", says Magnus Jansson Klarin.

The decision to tighten travel restrictions against the UK earlier this month was taken due to the spread of a mutated form of coronavirus, which first appeared in London and Kent.

It is reported to be more contagious than other strains, but based on what scientists know so far, does not appear to cause more serious illness.

Here's a link to the Public Health Agency's guidelines for travellers from the UK once they've arrived in Sweden. These recommendations apply to everyone, regardless of whether or not they tested negative before arrival.


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