Brussels Airlines makes 3,000 unnecessary flights to maintain airport slots - THE BULLETIN
Brussels Airlines has operated 3,000 empty or near-empty flights this winter to avoid losing take-off and landing rights at major airports, it has been revealed.
The airline's parent company, Lufthansa, operated 18,000 flights this winter that would otherwise have been cancelled due to lack of passengers, including 3,000 flights under the Brussels Airlines banner, reports Le Soir and RTBF.
The news has prompted the Belgian federal government to write to the European Commission, urging it to rethink the rules on securing slots.
Before the pandemic hit, the rule was that airlines must operate flights in at least 80% of their scheduled take-off and landing slots, or they risked losing them.
This was revised down to 50% after coronavirus broke out, but this still remains much higher than the actual number of flights needed to meet passenger demand.
Belgium's federal mobility minister Georges Gilkinet (Ecolo), has written to the European commissioner for transport, Adina Valean, to raise the issue.
Gilkinet said the rules were incomprehensible from an economic and ecological point of view - and the threshold for keeping these sought-after slots should be further reduced to give airlines more flexibility.
Lufthansa plans to cancel 33,000 scheduled flights by the end of March due to a drop in bookings caused by the omicron variant of coronavirus.
High charges for PCR test, inadequate testing frustrate Nigeria’s effort to curb COVID-19 – Experts - PUNCH
BY Lara Adejoro
Healthcare experts say Nigeria needs to develop new modalities to curb the spread of COVID-19 in the country, noting that the testing procedure must be improved to protect the nation.
They stressed that the country must improve its COVID-19 testing to guaranty control efforts.
According to them, lack of adequate testing, cost of testing, and sticking to the methods of testing can undermine efforts to curtail the infection.
Recall that despite the efforts by the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, the Presidential Steering Committee, and other partners to increase the COVID-19 testing capacity, the number of people tested for the viral infection in the country so far remains low.
Data from the NCDC as of January 6, 2022, showed that out of the 206 million population, only 3,863,081 have been tested since the first case of the virus was detected on February 27, 2020.
Experts, however, warned that Nigeria may not be able to control community transmission even with the spread of the Omicron variant of the virus and future variants.
Speaking with PUNCH HealthWise, a Professor of Community Medicine and Public Health, Adesegun Fatusi said the lack of adequate testing in the country undermines efforts to control the pandemic in the country.
“In terms of testing modalities, we started testing everybody using the polymerase chain reaction machine and it takes a lot of time for the result to be out but now we are using the antigen. What we need to do is continuously focus on the rapid test and it should be available widely. People should be able to test themselves at home.
“We need to deploy means that will ensure that people can test themselves so that we can capture more people very early before they can spread it to other people.
“We need to encourage people to test more and see how the test kit can become widely available in the country,” Fatusi, who is also the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Medical Sciences, Ondo State, said.
Also speaking with PUNCH HealthWise, the Head Of Infectious Disease Unit at College of Medicine, University of Lagos, and Lagos University Teaching Hospital, Idi-Araba, Lagos, Dr. Iorhen Akase noted that inadequate testing undermines the control measures of COVID-19 in the country.
He said that there is a need to redefine the role of testing for COVID-19 on many levels.
To continue reading this story, go to: https://healthwise.punchng.com/
Nigeria to Benin Republic by rail - THE NATION
With Kano-Maradi rail line in the north, Kajola/Idi-Iroko to Cotonou is good for the south
HOW does it feel travelling by rail all the way from Kajola/Idi-Iroko border in Nigeria to Benin Republic? One may not be able to answer the question directly because the opportunity for such experience has never been provided. And if the taste of the pudding is in the eating, then one may have to experience such a ride before coming to the conclusion about whether the experience is worth it or not. However, much as this assertion of ‘experience is the best teacher’ holds true in many cases, it does not in any way nullify the Yoruba saying that even if one has never given birth to a child before, at least one sees fowls with their chickens trailing behind them.
We may not be in a position to tell how it would feel cruising from Nigeria to Benin Republic by rail because no such possibility exists as at now, but then, those of us who have had cause to travel on other routes by rail know that it is a pleasantly different experience.
Take the Lagos-Ibadan route by rail for example. I used to travel on the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway frequently but have had cause to reduce this drastically since the commencement of railway linking the two state capitals, last year. There is no doubt that the rail service has taken some heat off the ever-busy expressway. This is the way it should be. Although some people feel the N2,500 being charged per passenger for the journey is rather high, what they seem to have forgotten is the convenience and comfort enjoyed in the train – the air conditioner, no checking of particulars by policemen, Federal Road Safety Commission’s officers and other security men on the road, which encroaches on passengers’ travel time. The journeys in the train are scheduled, with predictable departure and arrival times. Moreover, accidents are near zero in the trains. Just as unnecessary traffic snarls are a rare occurrence on train journeys.
These advantages and even more would be experienced if the Federal Government favourably considers rail line from Nigeria to the Republic of Benin. Aside the fact that this is in tandem with President Muhammadu Buhari administration’s dream of developing the rail network across Nigeria and beyond (Kano-Maradi rail network), it would also facilitate commercial and other activities along that route.
At present, road transportation is the main choice of travelling between both countries. This is not adequate, considering the level of commercial and other activities going on in that axis. Moreover, this comes with its implications for climate change. If road transport is complemented by rail services, it would reduce carbon emissions on our roads, thus achieving a major objective of climate change.
Aside all of these, rail services would mean more options for travellers on that route as it has done for the Kano-Maradi Line. Ideally, multi-modal transportation is the best in any situation because it makes more choices available to travellers. With multi-modal transportation, transport fares are likely to be reduced because transporters would be aware of competition, unlike when movement of persons and goods is done essentially by road. Transporters are at liberty to charge arbitrarily because they know that commuters have no alternative. The other advantage flowing from this is that availability of rail services along those international routes will prolong the lifespan of roads as well as reduce the cost of road maintenance in the country. This is because many of those who hitherto had no choice other than travel by road now have the train option. This is good news, especially now that the country is cash-strapped and thus needs to manage available resources judiciously. There will be lesser complaints about bad roads and money that would have been used to put the roads in shape can be freed for other competing purposes.
Perhaps the greater advantage in this regard is the haulage of goods that would now be better done by rail. In the case of the Kajola/Idi-Iroko-Cotonou rail line, this would be a big relief to the ever-busy Apapa-Oshodi Expressway, as most of the goods coming in through the neighbouring ports would now be carried by rail. Since the plan on ground is to link the Apapa ports to connecting railway in the Lagos metropolis so that haulage can be taken off the Apapa-Oshodi Expresway, it would be a seamless movement from Cotonou to the ports in Lagos, and consequently to their respective destinations in the country.
This will not only prolong the lifespan of the busy road but also be a big relief to Nigerians who experience a lot of traffic on it. In recent years, there have been several failed attempts to move away the heavy duty vehicles that presently congest the ports and roads in the Apapa axis, making travelling on the artery nightmarish. As a matter of fact, a time there was, when many businesses in the Apapa axis either closed shop or reduced the number of times they opened just because of the traffic challenges on the busy road which made many people spend longer periods on the road than in the office. To date, this still impacts heavily on haulage costs from the ports to their respective destinations. Indeed, it was discovered that the cost of importing most of the items from abroad was chicken change compared with the cost of transporting them within the country. We know the terrible state the Apapa-Oshodi Expressway is in now, as passengers and commuters generally dance ‘palongo’ on it because of the huge potholes on most parts of the expressway, especially toward the Badagry end. Rail option to Cotonou will definitely relief the road of much pressure, thus prolonging its lifespan and that of travellers and commuters, generally.
We cannot also forget the social and environmental nuisance that the drivers of the articulated vehicles and their conductors constitute by defecating on the road that has become their homes, all in their desperation to meet up appointments in the ports.
Nigeria Joins Worlds Logistics Passport To Improve Connectivity - PROSHARE
World Logistics Partner is a private sector-led initiative that is designed to enhance the global trade flow while unlocking market access by creating new trade routes. Nigeria has recently joined hands with World Logistics Partner to improve its economic efficiency through improved global trade flow. After joining hands with World Logistics Passport, Nigeria will become a strategic hub in West Africa. Nigeria has become the eleventh country of Africa to join the World Logistics Passport. Council for the Regulation of Freight Forwarding will be acting as coordinating partner. Other African countries that are members of World Logistics Partner are Guinea, Burkina Faso, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Ethiopia, Kenya, Morocco, Senegal and South Africa.
The partnership with the World Logistics Partner network will open the doors for Nigerian traders and this will help in the smooth cargo operations by enhancing connectivity and efficiency. This will make the trade routes cheaper and further the access to the new markets will become faster available to Nigeria. This will also enhance trade operations in Latin America, Asia and across other African continents. Logistics companies all across the globe like TCS and VRL are seeing growth due to the bloom of e-Commerce companies, especially during the pandemic time.
While commenting on the partnership with Nigeria, Ahmed bin Sulayem, group chairman and CEO of DP World commented that there is a long-term growth market available in West Africa. Further, World Logistics Partner will be helpful for Nigeria as it will help the country's economic growth by creating jobs, boosting trade, competitive pricing of the products and creating efficiency in the supply chain. Also, the Nigerian traders will get new opportunities through networking not only within the African continent but outside the continent too.
Rotimi Amaechi, Minister of Transportation in Nigeria said that global trade opportunities will improve for the businessmen of Nigeria and this, in turn, will boost the economic growth of the country. Further, it was said that the supply chain costs will be reduced which will help in increasing the trade volumes. The partnership will also be helpful for Nigeria to help meet the vision of Africa for the African Continental Free Trade Agreement. The same will be possible by reducing the costs of logistic chains, boosting the intra-regional trade and further, competitiveness will be helpful for working in the international market.
Nigeria Is Experiencing An Economic Bloom
Currently, Nigeria is the largest economy in Africa. The industrial base of Nigeria is diverse and very vibrant. The trade interest is improving on a regional and global basis. In 2019, 25% of the GDP of the country was contributed by-product exports which accounted for $63.8 billion. The current economy of Nigeria is very diverse and it includes oil and gas, creative industry, ICT, services and agriculture.
The renewable energy sector is also helping the economy of the country by diversifying it and creating employment opportunities for the people. According to the IRENA 2020 report in Renewable Energy and Jobs Annual Review, the renewable energy sector will create job opportunities for 7 million people. Further, it is planned that the job opportunities will be available for rural Nigerian people and one-third of the jobs will be filled by women.
What To Expect From This Partnership?
It is projected that the partnership between Nigeria and World Logistics Passport will help Nigeria to increase the annual trade by approximately 5-10 % and the same is visible in other countries. It is also expected that cargo operations will start working in a more efficient way and will further increase the connectivity across the markets and the trade routes will have cheaper and faster access in other countries and within Africa. Further, this will create more job opportunities and the products will see competitive pricing and the supply chain can expect more efficiency. Everything when clubbed together will create new opportunities for the Nigerian traders with improved networking.
The economy of Nigeria is already experiencing fast-paced growth and joining hands with World Logistics Passport will further accelerate this growth. Also, the trade volume will increase, boosting the economy. Cost and time saving are also the benefits of working with World Logistics Passport along with better access to new markets, trade diversification and an increase in market shares in the export products.
Air France-KLM Raises Fares to Fund Shift to Sustainable Fuels - BLOOMBERG
BY Bloomberg News,
(Bloomberg) -- Air France-KLM will apply a surcharge to its tickets prices to help fund the extra cost of using sustainable aviation fuel, going beyond voluntary measures that have so far prevailed in the industry.
The move will add between 1 and 12 euros ($1.1-$13.6) to the cost of a flight depending on the distance traveled and the class, according to a statement Monday, the first day the extra charges will apply.
“In the absence of industrial production, the cost of using sustainable aviation fuels is four to eight times higher than that of fossil fuels,” Air France-KLM said, adding that the fee will apply to flights at both its French and Dutch arms.
Airlines are turning to SAF to shrink their carbon footprints in the decade or more before hybrid, electric and hydrogen-powered jetliners become widely available. At the same time the fuel, which requires feedstocks such as algae and cooking oil or synthetic processing methods, remains in short supply.
Air France-KLM faces an additional challenge after making commitments to government shareholders on lowering emissions after being propped up by a series of pandemic-related bailouts.
Rivals like British Airways and United Airlines Holdings Inc. last year unveiled plans for extra contributions for the use of alternative fuels, but stopped short of introducing systemwide surcharges on all tickets.
Read more: Greener Airplane Fuel Is Here, and We’re Going to Need Lots More
Air France and KLM will lift coach-class prices by between 1 euro and 4 euros and business fares by 1.5 euros to 12 euros, according to the statement. Low-cost arm Transavia will include an unitemized contribution in is ticket cost.
Group wide, SAF will make up 0.5% to 1% of total fuel volumes this year, the company said. The goal is to reach 5% of the total in 2030 and 63% by 2050.
EU Replaces Southern Africa Travel Ban With Testing Requirements - BLOOMBERG
(Bloomberg) -- European Union member states have agreed to lift the air travel ban on southern African countries, which will allow more travel to resume.
The decision lifts the so-called emergency brake introduced in November, France, which holds the rotating EU presidency, said in a tweet. Travelers from the region will still be subject to health measures applicable to travelers from third countries, it added.
European nations had suspended most air travel from Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa and Zimbabwe as scientists scrambled to assess the severity of the omicron variant. The bloc maintained the limits even after cases continued to surge around the world, despite an outcry from the region.
The European Commission last month asked member states to consider lifting the flight ban as soon as possible and move to a pre-departure PCR test when entering the EU, according to a spokesperson for the bloc. Some member states have already eased the restrictions.
The EU coordinates travel guidelines within and into the bloc, but member nations are responsible for devising and implementing specific travel restrictions.
U.K. Weighs Cutting Covid-19 Isolation Period to Five Days - BLOOMBERG
(Bloomberg) -- The U.K. government is weighing up plans to cut the Covid-19 self-isolation period from seven days to five, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said, as he prepares for coronavirus to become endemic in Britain.
In a pooled clip with broadcasters Monday, Johnson also paved the way for the end of free rapid Covid-19 tests, after senior minister Michael Gove told Sky News the U.K. was moving to a stage where it can “live with Covid.”
There are “early signs” of cases and hospital admissions starting to fall in England, Johnson’s spokesman Max Blain told reporters in a regular briefing. He said that while it was “certainly our expectation” for Britain to ultimately move from pandemic to endemic, it was “too early to say” when this might happen.
The remarks show how the government is changing its approach to tackling Covid-19 as Johnson seeks to pivot focus to the priorities that won him the general election in 2019, including equalizing opportunities around the country. The premier has relied on light-touch restrictions to manage the current surge in the virus, driven by the highly-transmissible omicron variant, despite fears from some scientists and health leaders about the impact on the under-pressure National Health Service.
U.K. Minister Says Britain Is Moving Beyond the Pandemic
The premier has vowed to review the measures -- including guidance to work from home and mandatory face coverings in indoor public spaces -- by Jan. 26, when they are due to expire. Reducing the isolation period to five days for people who test positive would ease staff shortages across businesses, schools and the NHS.
“We are looking at that and we will act according to the science,” Johnson told broadcasters. He said there were no immediate plans to ax free lateral flow tests which will be provided “as long as they’re very important.”
Some 141,472 Covid-19 cases were reported in the U.K. on Sunday, down from 161,252 the previous week. NHS England figures show 16,399 hospital beds were occupied by patients with the virus on Sunday, with 704 of them requiring mechanical ventilation.
Gove, who is responsible for Johnson’s “leveling up” agenda, warned of “difficult weeks ahead” but said the U.K. “can look to the progressive lifting of restrictions and, I think for all of us, the sooner the better.”
“We’re not there yet, but we are moving to a situation where it is possible to say that we can live with Covid, and that the pressure on the NHS and on vital public services is abating,” Gove told Sky News.
His comments followed a similar message from cabinet colleague Nadhim Zahawi who told Sky on Sunday that he hoped the U.K. would be “one of the first major economies to demonstrate to the world how you transition from pandemic to endemic.”
FAAN arrests 90 over fake COVID-19 results, others at airports - PUNCH
BY Okechukwu Nnodim
The Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria on Monday announced that it had arrested 90 persons at the Murtala Muhammed Airport, Lagos, and the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja for their involvements in fake COVID-19 test results, touting, among others.
It said the arrests were part of efforts to rid the nation’s airports of touting and extortion, following incessant complaints by travellers of being extorted by personnel at airports particularly since the outbreak of COVID-19.
The General Manager, Corporate Affairs, FAAN, Henrietta Yakubu, said in a statement that those arrested were caught carrying out nefarious activities at the airports.
She said, “The touts were arrested for various acts of illegality including fake COVID-19 test results, touting, unauthorised entry, trespass, illegal facilitation, forgery, loitering, theft, public nuisance and arguments, among others.
“Some of those arrested are staff of Patovilki Nigeria Limited, Lakewood Services, Nahco Plc and other airport staff.
“Of the total arrested, 59 were handed over to the airport police command in Abuja for prosecution, while 30 were handed over to the police force in Lagos for same.”
FAAN used the opportunity to warn people who do not have any legitimate business at airports, as well as airport staff carrying out illegal duties to desist from such acts.
Yakubu had told our correspondent recently that FAAN arrested some culprits involved the extortion of inbound passengers with respect to COVID-19 test.
She said some workers of FAAN and their accomplice from another agency at the Lagos airport were arrested late last month.
She said, “Of course, FAAN apprehended and suspended some officials caught extorting a passenger at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos.
“The officials, who are staff of Aviation Security and Customer Service departments of the authority were immediately suspended, while the On Duty Card of their accomplice from the Nigeria Immigration Service has been withdrawn.
“This action was taken to serve as deterrent to other bad eggs in the system that are bent on tarnishing the image of the nation.”
Yakubu said the move was line with management’s determination to rid the nation’s airport of corrupt officials.
On November 8, 2021, the Managing Director, FAAN, Capt. Rabiu Yadudu, had declared that any public or private sector official at the airport found to be involved in whatever form of corrupt practice would lose his or her On Duty Card permanently.
He stated that this and other measures had become necessary following the repeated trending online videos of passengers who were allegedly extorted by airports’ personnel and the embarrassment which such videos had brought to the country.
Yadudu had disclosed this in Abuja after a meeting with security agencies and presidency officials on the eradication of indiscipline and other corrupt practices at airports.
Qatar Airways Boosting Service to Nigeria - RUS TOURISM
Qatar Airways is boosting its service to Nigeria with the launch of four weekly flights to Kano (KAN) on 02 March 2022, and three weekly flights to Port Harcourt (PHC) on 03 March 2022, both operating via the Nigerian capital, Abuja.
The airline currently operates two daily flights to Lagos and four times a week to Abuja, which will expand to a daily service in March. Kano and Port Harcourt will become the seventh and eight new African gateways launched by Qatar Airways since the start of the pandemic. Both routes will be served by the state-of-the-art Boeing 787 Dreamliner, featuring 22 seats in Business Class and 232 in Economy Class.
Learning a new language in 2022? 22 Reasons This Language Learning App Is Successful
Qatar Airways Group Chief Executive, His Excellency Mr. Akbar Al Baker said: “The airline was one of the few to keep operating to many African destinations throughout the pandemic and, as restrictions are lifted, is continuing to expand its network on the continent. As home to the largest economy and population in the region, we see tremendous growth potential for travel and trade in Nigeria. It is a key market and an important part of our African growth strategy; the expansion of our presence across two new gateways is a testament to our continuous commitment to Nigeria.
“We anticipate good reciprocal demand between Port Harcourt, UK, USA and destinations across Asia. For Kano we see the opportunity to grow traffic to and from markets such as KSA and India, as well as strong cargo prospects.”
As travel restrictions ease, Qatar Airways is restoring its services to all its African destinations. When Kano and Port Harcourt flights start operating, the airline will provide 188 weekly flights to 28 destinations in Africa. Qatar Airways African customers will also benefit from generous baggage allowances, which provide for up to 46kg in Economy Class split over two pieces and 64kg split over two pieces in Business Class.
A multiple award-winning airline, Qatar Airways was recently announced as the ‘Airline of the Year’ at the 2021 World Airline Awards, managed by the international air transport rating organisation, Skytrax. It was also named ‘World’s Best Business Class’, ‘World’s Best Business Class Airline Lounge’, ‘World’s Best Business Class Airline Seat’, ‘World’s Best Business Class Onboard Catering’ and ‘Best Airline in the Middle East’. The airline continues to stand alone at the top of the industry having won the main prize for an unprecedented sixth time (2011, 2012, 2015, 2017, 2019 and 2021).
Qatar Airways has also become the first global airline in the world to achieve the prestigious 5-Star COVID-19 Airline Safety Rating by Skytrax. This follows the success of Hamad International Airport (HIA) as the first airport in the Middle East and Asia to be awarded a Skytrax 5-Star COVID-19 Airport Safety Rating. These awards provide assurance to passengers across the world that the airline’s health and safety measures are subject to the highest possible standards of professional, independent scrutiny and assessment. For full details of all the measures that have been implemented on board and at HIA, please visit qatarairways.com/safety.
U.S. issues 'Do Not Travel' warning for Canada - REUTERS
WASHINGTON, Jan 10 (Reuters) - The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and U.S. State Department on Monday advised against travel to neighboring Canada because of a rising number of COVID-19 cases as the Omicron variant spreads.
The CDC elevated its travel recommendation to "Level Four: Very High" for Canada, telling Americans they should avoid travel, while the State Department also on Monday issued its "Level Four: Do Not Travel" advisory for Canada citing COVID-19 cases.
The CDC, which lists about 80 destinations worldwide at Level Four, also raised the island of Curacao to Level Four.
In November, the United States lifted restrictions at its land borders with Canada and Mexico for fully vaccinated foreign nationals, ending historic curbs on non-essential travelers put in place in March 2020 to address the COVID-19 pandemic.
Canada remains a top foreign destination for Americans.
"We are aware of the latest CDC advice," said a spokeswoman for Canadian Foreign Minister Melanie Joly, noting that last month Ottawa had urged residents against non-essential travel.
Canada first issued the advisory in March 2020 but withdrew itlast October - before the first Omicron cases were reported - citing the success of vaccination campaigns.
This month, Canada broke its one-day record for the highest number of people hospitalized with COVID-19. Last Friday, officials said new daily cases had soared by 65% in the previous week, threatening healthcare systems. read more
The CDC on Monday also lowered travel recommendations from Level Four to "Level 3: High" to Armenia, Belarus, Lesotho and Zimbabwe. It also rate Singapore as "Level 3," after it previously was listed as unknown.
The CDC says Americans should be fully vaccinated before traveling to Level 3 destinations.
COVID-19 hospitalizations in the United States reached a record high of 132,646, according to a Reuters tally on Monday, as the highly contagious Omicron variant pushed hospitalizations past the record 132,051 set in January last year. read more
Additional reporting by David Ljunggren in Ottawa; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Aurora Ellis