Travel News

FG will stop train services if… —Amaechi - PUNCH

JANUARY 11, 2021

BY  Kayode Oyero

The Federal Government says it will shut down the Lagos-Ibadan and the Abuja-Kaduna train services should there be any case of Covid-19 detected among passengers.

The Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, stated this on Monday while featuring on NTA Good Morning Nigeria programme monitored by The PUNCH.

He said train users must comply with all Covid-19 protocols from the beginning of every trip to the end.

The minister said, “If we see that we are conveying passengers who have Covid from Lagos to Ibadan and Ibadan to Lagos, we will stop it just like we are threatened to stop the one from Kaduna to Abuja if people don’t comply with the Covid protocols.

“Don’t forget that on Kaduna-Abuja, we convey 4,000 passengers in a day. Imagine that about 20 per cent have Covid, they can transmit Covid to the entire passengers. The rate of transmission will be high. The same is applicable to Lagos. Everybody must comply with the Covid protocols, wear your masks till the end of the journey.”

The minister also added that the $1.6bn Lagos-Ibadan railway project which would be completed this month would be inaugurated virtually by the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.).

The Nigerian Railway Corporation had in December 2020 commenced operations for the Lagos-Ibadan railway, a standard gauge rail covering a distance of 156km.

Heathrow passenger numbers plunged 73% in 2020 - REUTERS

JANUARY 11, 2021

LONDON (Reuters) - Heathrow Airport, the busiest in Britain, said that passenger numbers slumped 73% during 2020 as COVID-19 restrictions wiped out travel.

The airport said on Monday that its annual cargo volumes also fell 28% as fewer passenger planes meant there was less space available for goods.

For December, Heathrow said that passenger numbers plunged 83% as the new strain of COVID-19 led to countries restricting travellers from Britain and millions of passengers were forced to cancel plans.

The numbers capped off a dismal year for the UK hub, which in October lost its title as the busiest airport in Europe to Paris-Charles de Gaulle.

Reporting by Sarah Young, Editing by Paul Sandle

Missing luggage: Court orders Emirates Airlines to pay Nigerian $1.36m, N50m - THE NATION

JANUARY 11, 2021

By Robert Egbe

A Federal High Court in Lagos Monday ordered Emirates Airlines to pay $1.36million to a businessman Mr Orji Prince Ikem being the amount contained in his hand luggage which went missing in the airline’s custody during a 2007 China trip.

Justice Muslim Hassan also ordered Emirates Airlines to pay Ikem N50million as damages for the “untold hardship and loss of earning” he suffered by the deprivation of use of his money from 2007 till date.

The judgment followed the plaintiff’s nearly 12 years battle to recover two hand luggage containing personal effects and $700,000, as well as $930,000 in 18 bundles of $50,000 wraps each and $30,000 cash not in wrap.

The court heard that the $930,000 belonged to another businessman, Olisaemeka Ugwunze, who wanted it delivered in China for purchases.

The plaintiff told the court through his counsel, Chris Ekemezie, that at the departure lounge of the Murtala Muhammad International Airport Ikeja, Emirates Airlines staff requested that he handed the luggage to them for safe keeping in the cockpit, but he refused and insisted on keeping them himself.

They insisted on keeping the luggage for him considering the huge amount of money contained therein and that on arrival destination, the two bags would be handed over to him.

After a prolonged argument and in order not to miss his flight he yielded and handed over the two hand carry-on bags to them, and they were tagged with tag numbers EK428682 and EK428683 respectively.

That was the last time he saw the bags and the money. On his arrival in Guangzhou, the airline could not account for his four pieces of luggage.

Ruling on the plaintiff’s prayers for the return of the $1.36m and N100m general damages, Justice Hassan observed that the airline, through its counsel Prof Awah Kalu SAN, failed to refute Ikem’s claims.

The judge held: “I have read all the processes filed by both parties as well as their agreements and resolved that the only issue for determination is whether the plaintiff is entitled to the reliefs sought before this court.

“A claim not controverted is deemed admitted, in this case the defendants did not call witness but rather rests it case on that of the plaintiff which mean that all what the plaintiff claimed and their pleadings are admitted.

“I hold that Emirate Airlines failed in his obligations to customer by not delivering the luggage containing the sum of $1.36m.

“On the whole I hereby make the following orders; an order that Emirates Airlines pay the plaintiff the sum of $1.36m.

“An order that the defendant pay the sum of fifty million Naira (N50m) to the defendant as damages.

UK removed UAE from travel corridors list amid increase in COVID-19 cases - REUTERS

JANUARY 12, 2021

(Reuters) - Britain removed the United Arab Emirates from its travel corridors list following a concerning increase in confirmed COVID-19 cases, the UK Department of Transport said on Monday.

From 4 a.m. Tuesday, travellers arriving in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland from the UAE will need to self-isolate for 10 days, the department added.

“The decision has been made following a significant acceleration in the number of imported cases, along with the number of reported new cases over the past seven days, which have risen in the UAE by 52%.”

British transport minister Grant Shapps wrote in a tweet bit.ly/3nAMl1l that latest data indicated the UAE should immediately be removed from the travel corridor list.

Under existing rules, passengers arriving from all international destinations, including the UAE, are required to present a negative COVID-19 test result taken up to three days before departing for England or Scotland.

The move came as Prime Minister Boris Johnson said Britain was in “a race against time” to roll out COVID-19 vaccines as deaths hit record highs and hospitals ran out of oxygen, and his top medical adviser said the pandemic’s worst weeks were imminent.

Last week, Abu Dhabi started Phase III clinical trials of Russia’s Sputnik V COVID-19 vaccine amid a surge in infections in the UAE.

On Thursday, Britain said it would extend a ban on travellers entering England from South Africa to other southern African countries to prevent the spread of a variant of the coronavirus identified in South Africa.

Reporting by Aishwarya Nair in Bengaluru; Editing by Chris Reese and Jonathan Oatis

Local airlines record slow traffic after Yuletide rush - THE GUARDIAN

JANUARY 12, 2021

Lagos records 551,380 passengers in six month Domestic air travel has returned to its low traffic profile of the COVID-19 era after the December rush at major airports across the country.   The Guardian observed that traffic across major routes has dropped by 50 per cent, with attendant impacts on load factors and airlines’ frequencies.   This is coming as the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) hinted that the Murtala Muhammad Airport (MMA), Lagos, recorded a total of 551,380 passenger traffic, with a total of 6, 261 aircraft movements from July to December last year.   The Chief Operating Officer (COO) of one of the carriers, yesterday, said the latest drop in traffic was expected in the New Year and in the middle of a pandemic.  

“Do not forget that we are still facing the pandemic, if not the second wave that has been said to be deadlier than the first. So, traveller apathy is still there. Except it is very important, not too many people want to travel these days. For operators, the rollercoaster is expected and we have to adjust and plan our services accordingly,” he said.
The terminal manager of MMA, Adekunle Aderibigbe, observed that passengers’ turnout in the twilight of 2020 was the most encouraging, compensating for the downturn that trailed the post-lockdown.
According to statistics released, inbound passengers recorded 270, 828 whereas departures stood at 280, 552 passengers in the six-month period. 
A total of 3,068 aircraft landed at the airport between July and December 2020 while 3,193 aircraft took off from same airport during the period. 
Aderibigbe explained that initial passengers’ turnout at the commencement of flight operations after the lockdown was not too impressive through gradually picked 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”.

Aderibigbe explained that safety, security and comfort of passengers remained their priority, especially while complying with COVID-19 protocols, adding that adamant passengers were forced to comply.   He said some high-profile passengers remained their greatest challenge, as some of them refused to cooperate with the protocols on the ground.

He, however, noted that sanity had returned to almost every port of entry as the COVID-19 realities made people sit up, observing the safety protocols.   The terminal manager revealed that all the facilities put in place following the outbreak of the pandemic were being maintained and with the second wave, the compliance team had been going round to ensure nobody is left out. 

Aderibigbe noted that the management had been holding meetings with stakeholders and would continue to do that especially with the second wave of the pandemic   He said both terminal and the airport had been dislodged of unwanted visitors to avoid bottleneck on the access roads, even as arriving passengers now board their vehicles at the terminal carpark. Ticketing agents in the terminal have been sent out and online patronage encouraged, which has reduced touting at Lagos airport.

Australia and UK Will Require Negative COVID-19 Tests From International Travelers - REUTERS

JANUARY 12, 2021

LONDON (Reuters) - Travellers to England from abroad will from 0400 GMT on Jan. 15 be required to show proof that they have had a negative COVID-19 test up to three days before their departure, the government said in a statement.

The new rule was announced earlier in January as authorities try to ramp up protection against new, more infectious strains of the coronavirus from other countries.

Travel into and out of Britain is at very low levels currently due to lockdowns which ban visits abroad for most people.

Providing details of its new policy, the government said that transport operators would need to check that passengers had proof of a negative test before they boarded their flight, train or ferry, and there would also be checks on arrival.

Fines starting from 500 pounds ($677.40) will be issued to passengers and transport operators who do not comply with the new rules.

There will be a very restricted number of exemptions, including hauliers, to allow the free flow of freight, and air, international rail and maritime crew.

The test must be of a diagnostic-standard test such as a PCR test, and could in some cases include LAMP and lateral flow tests within set limits, the statement added.

The pre-departure test requirement is in addition to quarantine rules which require arrivals from abroad to self-isolate for ten days, unless they opt to have a COVID-19 test after five days and it is negative, releasing them early.

($1 = 0.7381 pounds)

Reporting by Sarah Young; editing by Michael Holden

Second wave: FG issues fresh guidelines for travellers - PUNCH

JANUARY 12, 2021

BY Sodiq Oyeleke

The Federal Government has revised quarantine protocols for all international travellers.

In the revised protocol, travellers are required to conduct a mandatory COVID-19 test within 96 hours before departure.

Also, they are expected to repeat the PCR test seven days after arrival.

The COVID-19 Presidential Task Force made this known on Tuesday via its Twitter handle.

“Revised Protocol: All International travellers arriving Nigeria must conduct a mandatory COVID-19 PCR test within 4 days (96 hours) before departure,” it tweeted.

Earlier, travellers – except those from the United Kingdom and South Africa – are expected to conduct a mandatory PCR test within 120 hours before departure.

“All intending travellers to Nigeria must have tested NEGATIVE for COVID-19 by PCR in the country of departure pre-boarding,” part of the protocols on its website read.

Giving details on travellers from South Africa and UK, it said, “This provisional quarantine protocol is an update to the earlier released quarantine protocol of 18th September 2020. Prior to boarding for Nigeria, passengers departing from the United Kingdom and Republic of South Africa MUST present TWO documents at their point of departure to be allowed to board; a negative COVID-19 PCR test administered within 4 days (96 hours) of departure.

“Airlines have been directed not to board passengers with non-PCR COVID-19 tests (such as antigen/or antibody tests), positive COVID-19 PCR tests or tests performed beyond 96 hours of boarding.

“Permit to Travel certificate/ QR code showing evidence of having paid for the day 7 COVID-19 PCR in-country test prior to boarding. The certificate can be generated from the Nigeria International Travel Portal on completion of a health questionnaire, uploading of a negative COVID-19 PCR result and payment for the repeat day 7 COVID-19 PCR test at day 7 of arrival in Nigeria.

“All passengers arriving Nigeria MUST self-isolate for 7 days at their chosen place of abode, self-monitor for symptoms of COVID-19 and thereafter proceed for a COVID-19 PCR test.

“Passengers can exit self-isolation on receipt of a negative COVID-19 PCR test performed at day 7 of isolation.

“Children less than 10 years old do not require a COVID-19 PCR test pre-boarding. Diplomats are required to present a negative COVID-19 PCR test pre-boarding. Children less than 10 years old and diplomats are not required to pay for the in-country day 7 COVID-19 PCR test.”