Lufthansa plans more flights to woo business travellers -report - REUTERS
BERLIN (Reuters) - German airline Lufthansa aims to win back business travellers by increasing the number of flights and improving catering, an executive board member was quoted as saying on Sunday.
Lufthansa is carrying about 50% of the passengers it flew before the coronavirus crisis in 2019 and flying to 88% of pre-pandemic destinations.
"Daily frequencies will increase on many connections," Christina Foerster, Lufthansa board member for Customer, IT & Corporate Responsibility, told the Funke media group on Sunday.
"This is important for business travellers who want to fly there and back on the same day."
Foerster also said the airline would add a midday flight on particularly popular routes and that it will introduce new menus for premium customers from Sept. 1, combining German cuisine with international influences.
The airline is well prepared for a surge in demand when travel to the United States reopens, Foerster added.
(Reporting by Emma Thomasson; Editing by David Goodman)
Dubai: Emirates extends suspension of flights from Nigeria till September 5 - PUNCH
BY Sodiq Oyeleke
Emirates Airlines has extended the suspension of flights from Lagos State and Abuja airports to Dubai till September 5, 2021.
The Dubai-based carrier had earlier announced that it would suspend flights from Nigeria to Dubai till August 28.
Emirates said passengers who have been to or connected through Nigeria in the last 14 days will not be permitted on any of its flights bound for Dubai.
Dubai’s flagship carrier Emirates on Sunday announced the extension of suspension of Nigeria flights until September 5.
“Passengers who have been to or connected through Nigeria in the last 14 days will not be permitted on any Emirates flights bound for Dubai”, the airline said, adding that affected flight bookings have been cancelled.
“If your flight has been cancelled or impacted by route suspensions due to Covid19 restrictions, you don’t need to call us immediately for rebooking. You can simply hold on to your Emirates ticket and when flights resume, get in touch with your booking office or us to make new travel plans,” the airline said.
Travellers were encouraged to continue monitoring the airline’s official website for updates and flight availability.
'A piece of flying Italy around the world': The rise and fall of Alitalia - CNN
(CNN) — Ciao ciao, Alitalia.
Italy's storied flag carrier has announced it will no longer issue tickets, triggering a countdown of just a few weeks until its familiar red and green livery vanishes from our skies for good.
The nationally owned airline is to be replaced in October by ITA, a smaller company with a different logo, but the service which once carried Italian pride, style and cuisine -- not to mention the Pope -- to all corners of the planet will be long gone.
While the demise of Alitalia might bring a sense of loss for many Italians, it's unlikely to come as a surprise. The airline has spent the past few decades teetering on the brink of collapse as authorities scrambled to strike lifeline alliances with investors and other global carriers.
"Each time it succeeded in being rescued, albeit with the only result of further prolonging its agony", says Giovanni Orsina, director of the School of Government at Rome-based LUISS University.
Founded 74 years ago, Alitalia was once known by Italians as "freccia alata" -- aka the "winged arrow" in honor of speed -- will retire for good. Its aircraft's tails bore the popular logo of a capital 'A' shaped like the wing of an aircraft and colored like the Italian flag.
Aside from its cuisine and car brands, it was perhaps one of Italy's most recognized symbols overseas.
When Italian families returned home from a faraway trip and set foot inside an Alitalia aircraft, with the stewardess finally greeting them with a warm "buongiorno" and serving steaming spaghetti with tomato sauce and cotoletta alla Milanese for lunch, it was like stepping back home. To kill time passengers could read Italian national newspapers.
Alitalia took pride in Italian style and food. Flight attendants in the 1950s were dressed in elegant uniforms designed by couture house Sorelle Fontana. In later years an impressive roster including Delia Biagiotti, Alberto Fabiani, Renato Balestra and even Giorgio Armani created stylish outfits and comfortable seats.
The hot Italian cuisine served on board at times made the company a favorite among international travelers. The duty free sold luxury Italian perfumes, watches, scarves and ties. Back in more unenlightened times, husbands returning from a long-haul flight would bring their wives the latest boutique item.
The airline had the blessing of religious authorities too. From 1964 it regularly served as the Pope's official airline, with the size of the plane varying based on the distance being flown. The aircraft carrying the Pope is usually referred to as "Shepherd One" -- the papal equivalent of Air Force One -- and is given the flight number AZ4000.
It wasn't all glamor and prestige for Alitalia. Over the past 30 years Italy's government has pumped billions of euros into the airline in an attempt to save it from extinction and keep its employees in jobs.
But, says Orsina, the airline simply couldn't cope with global competition and adapt to the changes in the aviation sector.
"The fall of Alitalia is the ultimate symbol of Italy's historical, inbred difficulty in dealing with globalization and rising competition," he tells CNN. "The travel industry has undergone a revolution while Alitalia was stuck in a stalemate, stifled by corporations, lobbies, trade unions and political pressures to keep it afloat despite its woes and the reality of an evolving sector."
Alitalia showed little resilience, says Orsina. It just couldn't keep up with the arrival of efficient low-cost carriers, operating with smaller crews and offering more competitive fares, newer aircraft and a wider list of global destinations.
Even though Italy has always been a popular tourist destination Alitalia's profits kept falling due to rising competition, debts piled up and bankruptcy followed. The company passed several times into extraordinary administration. Numerous rescue missions were mounted without long term success.
'Reaching the bottom'
Some of Italy's top fashion designers have contributed to Alitalia cabin crew uniforms.
Riccardo De Luca/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images
The aftermath of the September 11, 2001, attacks on the United States, which heavily impacted the aviation industry, dealt a heavy blow to Alitalia, but the lethal strike has likely been the Covid-19 pandemic.
"Authorities kept resuscitating it, believing that Alitalia just couldn't fail, but there are limits and we've reached the bottom," says Orsina. "It's like curing a terminal patient. You can try to make him feel less pain for a while, but not forever. That is therapeutic obstinacy."
Alitalia's golden age started in the 1950s when post-World War II reconstruction triggered an economic boom in Italy and families could finally afford to fly to distant locations.
"Italy was a vanquished country recovering from the wounds of the Second World War and Alitalia came to represent collective hope and national identity," says aerospace industry expert Gregory Alegi."It conveyed a sense of belonging."
As the jet age arrived, the 1960 Summer Olympics in Rome helped spread the fame of Alitalia worldwide -- the company even created a poster showing a javelin thrower with an airplane flying over his head.
"Having a state carrier was a must for Italy, an icon of national pride and patriotism," says Orsina. "Italy couldn't afford not to have one, it was like having the police and carabinieri corps. Alitalia was an indispensable accessory of the state because it was like having a piece of flying Italy around the world", says Orsina.
Alitalia's troubles started in the 1990s when European deregulation made air traffic more competitive and Italian railways were strengthened, according to aerospace expert Alegi.
Delays and cancellations
Alitalia has been flying for 74 years.
Touring Club Italiano/Marka/Universal Images Group/Getty Images
The situation worsened when authorities tried to privatize Alitalia, triggering an infinite quest for carrier partners and businessmen willing to support the state in tackling the challenges of a free market. All partnerships failed, while trade unions fought against layoff plans.
And while Alitalia was loved as a symbol, it was often loathed by its passengers.
The endless crisis eventually led to a decline in service quality, says Orsina, with personnel strikes, delayed or canceled flights and fewer long-haul trips. Italians started to become frustrated.
According to recent surveys the majority of them believe the state should have long stopped funding the company with taxpayers' money.
That hasn't clouded nostalgia felt by retired pilots, captains and air attendants for the good old days, when salaries were high and the job came with benefits and prestige.
Rosetta Scrugli, a former Alitalia passenger who regularly flew to Asia for work, complains that union protests have made her lose important meetings overseas.
"The flight was either late, or often even canceled," she says. "I spent hours waiting at the terminal, and my luggage was lost several times. It's nice to fly a national carrier if things run smoothly, otherwise it can be hell. Patriotism has nothing to do with it, efficiency is key".
Scrugli also complained that Alitalia used to fly to Asia via Milan, with no direct flights from Rome.
While little is yet known about the airline's anointed successor, according to Alegi, there are hopes ITA will succeed where Alitalia has failed.
But since it will be state-owned, at least in the short-term, no one is expecting it to soar just yet.
Lagos airport runway’ll operate 24 hours, says FAAN - PUNCH
BY Juliana Ajayi
The Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria has said Lagos airport runway will operate 24 hours once the Federal Government gives the green light to its proposal.
The Managing Director, FAAN, Capt. Rabiu Yadudu, disclosed this to journalists on Saturday after a facility tour at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos.
Our correspondent gathered that for 13 years, the AirField Lighting on Runway 18 Left at the airport has been uninstalled, making aircraft unable to land or take off when it is dark on the runway.
The PUNCH had reported in June that the unserviceable state of the runway lights at the Lagos airport forced the British Airways to reschedule all its flights out of London to enable it to land at Lagos airport in the afternoon.
Yadudu, while speaking with journalists, said, “You know FAAN is a government agency; we cannot work and procure a new project when there is an existing one on the same facility.
“So many things you see that are delayed are not delayed because of negligence or lack of attention; it is because you have to follow due process. After two years of Taxiway Bravo, there has been no issues, as you can see now. If not for the issue of an existing contract, we would have finished lighting before bravo because it is more critical.”
He added, “Two years, we couldn’t resolve the issues so we decided to let the ministry resolve it and approve for us to procure the light so we can fix it within six months.
“And within six months, we installed the lighting and the runway will operate 24 hours. It has all been agreed in principle; we are just waiting for implementation.”
According to Yadudu, FAAN has in principle the understanding of the ministry and the minister while anticipating more documents to arrive from the government.
“It is only when the documents come that you can start processing the next stage of the business. We are rest assured now that in principle, we have all agreed and understood,” he said.
He said in the last two years of being the MD, some of his primary targets included the Airfield Lighting on Runway 18Left and the Taxiway Bravo.
According to him, the Taxiway Bravo is now 95 per cent completed.
“18Left has been delayed because of a current contract that has been for many years and finally, the honorable minister has graciously accepted to resolve that issue that has been protracted and he has agreed to grant us permission to quickly procure a new lighting system,” he added.
Undervaluation, debt crisis hobble airports concession process - THE GUARDIAN
By Wole Oyebade
The Federal Government’s move to concession four international airports has finally gained traction though not without fresh controversies. Skeptical aviation workers and stakeholders have faulted the Outline Business Case and unresolved debt crisis that await potential new owners. WOLE OYEBADE writes on the warning signs.
The grand plan to get the international airports up and running gained a belated boost with the invitation of bidders for Lagos, Abuja, Port Harcourt, and Kano ports of entry.
The request for qualification (RFQ) to run the facilities efficiently and profitably is open to firms or consortia with track records in airport terminal management and net worth of N30 billion per bidding firm or consortium. The concession is billed to run for 20 to 30 years tenure in a Build, Operate and Transfer (BOT) model.
Though workers’ anxiety over looming job losses has been dismissed, the concession plan is already enmeshed in transparency doubts, alleged undervaluation of asset and drawn-out debt crisis at the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN).
Most disappointing for stakeholders is that the Ministry of Aviation has not learnt any lesson nor cautious of reputation management to resolve the bitter brawl between Bi-Courtney Aviation Services Limited (BASL) and FG/FAAN on the Murtala Muhammed Airport II (MMA2) – the premiere concession in Nigerian aviation.
Worst still, there are several concession agreements that have headed south and are waiting to hobble genuine private sector investments.
A long arduous journey AVIATION Minister, Hadi Sirika, shortly after he was sworn in 2015, rolled out the aviation road map for stakeholders’ buy-in. Contained in the agenda was the plan to float a new national carrier, concession all airports to the private sector, establish an aircraft leasing company, and have a homegrown Maintenance Repair and Overhaul (MRO) facility, among others. None of these has seen the light of day.
The Federal Executive Council (FEC) in 2016, approved the concession of the four major airports in a move to have them run efficiently and profitably.
Indeed, FAAN has operated 22 airports on behalf of the government for decades. Comparatively, the number of airports is a record in Africa, but not one to envy. At least 19 out of the 22 are listed as unviable and operating at a loss.
Except the trio of Murtala Muhammed International Airport (MMIA), Lagos, Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport (NAIA), Abuja, and Port Harcourt International Airport (PHIA), Rivers State, none of the other 19 airports has sufficient revenue to cover the cost of operations alone.
Investigations by The Guardian showed that additional funding from high-traffic Lagos and Abuja airports’ excess revenue to the tune of N26.1 billion had cushioned the operational cost deficits incurred by the unviable airports in 2017, 2018 and 2019.
Sirika had acknowledged the yawning gaps and poor service delivery at the airports, unfortunately, “the government has no money to invest in aviation infrastructure.”
He explained that at stake is the concession of terminals and not the airports as a whole, as misinterpreted by some people. He said unlike what the past administration tried to do by selling off the airports, the government’s dwindling revenue made it imperative to consider private partnership in the provision of airport infrastructure.
“What we are trying to do is to keep assets of the people for the people. We are not trying to sell the assets of Nigerians like the last administration tried to do. What we are doing is for good service delivery. They will revert back to the people. What they are doing is to assist to provide these facilities,” Sirika said.
Faulty business model AVIATION workers, however, saw the development differently. The coalition, made up of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), National Union of Air Transport Employees (NUATE), Air Transport Services Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (ATSSSAN) and Association of Nigeria Aviation Professional (ANAP), faulted the rationale behind concession of viable airports and not the unprofitable ones.
Coincidentally, the big four are beneficiaries of a 2013 $500 million loan deal between Nigeria and China to build four new terminals for the four airports. Abuja and Port Harcourt currently use the new terminals, while those of Lagos and Kano are almost completed.
Following the recent concession approval by the Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission (ICRC), the workers’ unions became more agitated by the floor plan. They requested for the details of the $500 million worth of Chinese loan deal to build the four terminals, especially the add-on plan to concession the terminals. Government is yet to explain the details.
The General Secretary of NUATE, Ocheme Aba, observed that there remains no clarity on the question of the semi-concession that already exists through the Chinese loan facility.
Aba added that a cursory look through the Outline Business Case (OBC) showed that the promoters were unsure of the concept to adopt between Build Operate and Transfer (BOT) and Rehabilitate Operate and Transfer (ROT).
“This apparent confusion, to us, stems from an established fact. In these particular terminals (Lagos, Abuja, Port Harcourt and Kano), there is nothing to build or rehabilitate. In that case, if there should arise a need for expansion in the terminals (which is not envisaged in another 25 years), then the Green Fields concession option (which means building new terminals) would have been more applicable”.
He noted that the terminals earmarked for concession are brand new 21st century terminals, which have no need for any significant investment other than maintenance in the next 25 years.
“This fact is confirmed by the OBC itself. Therefore, in our considered opinion, the only valid opinion for consideration is to negotiate an airport Management Contract, should there be such a need – not a concession.
“In many instances, there are clear attempts to undervalue the concession assets, while at the same time making claims that aim to overvalue expected investments of prospective concessionaires. These deliberate manipulations on the part of the OBC has created a serious credibility deficit for the concession exercise.”
On the sharing formula, Aba said that the economics of the concession do not add up. While the profit-sharing ratio is proposed to be 60:40 in favour of the Concessionaire, “the disadvantaged FAAN is made to bear the repayment of the $1 billion loan utilised to build same terminals, continue to pay emoluments of its staff and pensioners, return 25 per cent of its IGR to the FG under the Fiscal Responsibility Act, and maintain the remaining 18 airports in Nigeria. Unless through some abracadabra, there exists no possibility of FAAN meeting even a quarter of the above enumerated obligations under this obnoxious sharing formula.”
He vowed that the unions would not soft pedal in its determined bid to keep the airports concession programme under scrutiny and compel a review of the same, such that transparency, probity and equity are properly served.
Caveat emptor! SECRETARY of the Nigerian Union of Pensioners (NUP), FAAN branch, Emeka Njoku, warned prospective bidders to be wary of over 60 pending litigations arising from several faulty concession agreements, including the BASL and FG/FAAN faceoff over MMA2.
The NUP alleged that FAAN owes contractors, who have delivered their contracts over N15 billion. NUP urged bidders to investigate not only their claims, but should also clarify from the Minister, “how the over $1 billion loan from China for the construction of the same terminals earmarked for concession would be repaid.”
The workers also alleged that FAAN generates an average of N70 to N75 billion yearly and remits an average of N1 billion monthly into the Federation Account while monthly salaries for the agency’s 8000 staff currently stands at over N2.3 billion. But in the past four months, about N2 billion deducted from staff salaries for cooperative contributions have not been remitted.
“While more than two-year arrears of minimum wage are yet to be implemented and N3 billion in gratuities not paid to retired staff, the most critical aspect of the debt is the staff accrued rights of over N120 billion. That figure does not include accrued rights from 2017 till date, which if valued, may bring the total amount to N150 billion. What FAAN presently has with PENCOM is not up to N7 billion. Is that not a crisis? And they want to concession the airport with all these unresolved issues. We will resist it,” an official enthused.
Transparency is key SECRETARY General of the Aviation Safety Round Table Initiative (ASRTI), Group Capt. John Ojikutu (rtd), argued that at N70 to N75 billion yearly remittances, the facilities are completely undervalued.
“The MMA generated revenue alone, from 16 revenue sources, earning a minimum of N120 billion. Yet, there is a plan to concession the airport for N30 billion? Something is really wrong with all of us in the administration of the government agencies and the stakeholders.
“My research tells me that the MMA alone can generate a minimum of N150 billion yearly and FAAN can generate close to N400 billion from the 22 Federal airports it is presently managing if it can be sincere in the plan for concessions. But under the present management system and the unions, it will remain in the same cycle of yielding nothing but debts like the present debts of N140 billion on its table
“From what I am reading from the other sidelines beyond aviation, we are in a serious financial crisis and only we alone can save ourselves from the crisis that is looming on us; but who will save us from ourselves?”
Former Director-General of Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), Dr. Harold Demuren, on his part, warned that nobody would invest in aviation in the country until all concession issues pending in court are resolved.
Demuren said: “We need to resolve all issues regarding policy inconsistencies that came with many of these concessions. We inherited problems with Chief Harry Akande and Dr. Wale Babalakin’s concessions and FAAN should sit down to resolve all lingering issues before we go ahead with this new exercise.”
The challenges of working abroad for expat freelancers - NAIRAMETRICS
There is some mystique related to being an expat. It can be an escape from the different pressures at home. Working and living abroad has become possible for many freelancers’ thanks mainly to the internet. All in theory, all freelancers have the freedom to work from anywhere, there are just a few of them who actually go through and relocate to another country. You will find that there are several freelancers out there that moved abroad in recent times. Most of them will agree that the benefits of being an expert freelancer outweigh the challenges. Let’s take a closer look at the life of expat freelancers.
Many times, the expat CVs are not as portable as needed. If they are viewed from another cultural context, your qualifications are interpreted less favourably than compared to the local prospects. For instance, the apprenticeship system in Switzerland lets people train for particular roles from a tender age. This means there are people that possess certificates that match the job requirements word-to-word. Employers also might not understand your skills and experience to suit the role even though it is obvious to you. So, rather than messing about in a system that seems like it is conspiring against you, take the step to become a freelancer as it will help you become more proactive and develop a job for yourself.
Although all of us will have the deadlines and appointments we have to adhere to, freelancers can usually structure the time available as they deem fit. Why not complete all your work if it is raining outside. You can later plan excursions when the weather conditions improve. There is one problem though. When you land a job abroad, your employer can offer assistance in settling in. In most cases, freelancers are on their own and have to be creative in getting help. For the problems that constantly require attention such as taxes, visas, and transport, be in touch with relevant organizations and ask questions. There are many challenges that are specific to certain fields such as for clinical evaluation report writers in the medical field etc.
Setting up a business provides valuable experience about the new country from a unique perspective. You can network with the locals and other expats, practice the language skills, etc. in the context you never anticipated, and learn significant lessons about how things work in the country. However, keep in mind that moving abroad is expensive and you are going to find deposits, fees, and insurance policies cropping up all the time, especially when it is not the time to be low on funds. If remote freelancing does not work out you will have to find alternatives such as registering a new company. For instance, in Hong Kong, you can use the help of the Hong Kong company registration service for this purpose.
When you move abroad it brings the pressure of getting out there and exploring to live life to the fullest. It is tough to shake off the feeling that you are spending hours away from the laptop and it is money lost. Many expats try to keep their weekends and evenings sacred but end up checking their emails one last time before going to bed. But several freelancers grow over a period of time. But even in that case, the freelancers will find themselves longing for a steady paycheck. You would wish for colleagues sidling up in the kitchen and you can disassociate from work at the end of the day.
One thing you must note here is that although you are working for someone else it does not necessarily mean that all the perks listed above will be denied. It does not resolve all the issues either. It is definitely possible that you will feel lonely even when you are surrounded by people. Some people sneak up in the office on weekends to catch up with work. Many workplaces are also exploring the possibility of flexible working hours and remote work opportunities. This will allow the employees better control and more freedom. It is up to us in the end to decide our priorities and deal-breakers that will fit the best.
New Orleans Facing Three Weeks of Darkness on Hurricane Damage - BLOOMBERG
(Bloomberg) -- New Orleans may be without power and air conditioning for more than three weeks in the wake of Hurricane Ida, which roared ashore with more powerful winds than Hurricane Katrina, according to utility owner Entergy Corp.
About 122,000 homes and businesses were without power across Louisiana as of 1:30 p.m. local time on Sunday, according to Poweroutage.us, which tracks utility outages. The blackouts were concentrated in the southeastern tip of the state that includes New Orleans and where Ida made its U.S. landfall.
Hours earlier, Entergy shut its 1,152-megawatt Waterford nuclear plant about 25 miles (40 kilometers) west of the city and will keep it offline until local grid issues are assessed after the storm.
“Customers in the hardest-hit areas should plan for the possibility of experiencing extended power outages,” the company warned in a tweet.
Airlines with expired certificates’ll be grounded, NCAA warns - PUNCH
BY Juliana Ajayi
The Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority has said airlines who wait until their Air Operator Certificates expire before renewing them will not be grounded.
According to the NCAA, its regulations require airline operators to renew their AOC’s at least 30 days before expiration.
Some stakeholders in the aviation industry had, at a recent conference in Lagos, faulted the AOC process.
Airline operators, as required by the NCAA, renew their AOCs every two years.
The Director-General of NCAA, Capt. Musa Nuhu, in a telephone interview with our correspondent, said, “There are five stages involved in AOCs’ renewal, all of which are very crucial and are done with cautiousness to ensure the stages are duly passed.
According to him, at the initial stage, the operator or intended operator will write the authority and signify its intention for an exploratory meeting to discuss with them.
He said, “After that, we start other phases through the final phase, in which the operator would conduct some flights and inspection of their base facilities to ensure that they are capable and approve what they have claimed in their inspection before they are approved for the AOC.
“AOC is one of the important certifications you can give in the aviation industry because that is what approves an airline for operations.”
According to him, the different five stages have different processes to ensure and confirm legitimacy as well financial and technical capabilities.
Nuhu said, “If you wait till your AOC expires, that means you are not going to fly. If your AOC expires, you are grounded. The regulation says at least 30 days before expiration.
“But because of the difficulties they have meeting with certifications, the regulation says 30 days, but nothing stops you from meeting the regulation 60 or 90 days so that if there is any issue or challenge you have, you can resolve it before your AOC actually expires.”
Airline operators that have had issues with AOC prior to the commencement of operations included Green Africa.
Green Africa, before its inaugural flight in August, had announced in June the delay in operations due to unforeseen circumstances surrounding its AOC.
“At a joint meeting between top officials of the regulatory body and senior executives of Green Africa, it was concluded that the airline’s Air Operator’s Certificate will not be available till July 2021 due to unforeseen circumstances,” the airline had said.
The Chairman of Tropical Arctic Logistics, Emperor Ibe, was quoted in a recent interview as saying TAL’s operations had been grounded for over a year due to issues surrounding its AOC renewal thereby causing it to lose over $7m.
Industry experts have said the N200,000 paid by the airline operators was not the problem but the rigorous system of repeating the same thing every two years.
An aviation expert, Olumide Ohunayo, said the NCAA should embrace the use of technology rather than manual processes, to help the operators reduce the stress attached to the renewal process.
EU to recommend reinstating restrictions on US travelers - ASSOCIATED PRESS
BRUSSELS (AP) — The European Union plans to recommend that its 27 nations reinstate restrictions on tourists from the U.S. because of rising coronavirus infection levels there, EU diplomats said Monday.
A decision to remove the U.S. from a safe list of countries for nonessential travel would reverse advice from June, when the bloc recommended lifting restrictions on U.S. travelers before the summer tourism season.
The guidance could come as early as this week, according to the EU diplomats. They spoke on condition of anonymity because the review process was still ongoing.
Any decision would be nonbinding, however. The EU has no unified COVID-19 tourism policy and national governments have the authority to decide whether they keep their borders open to U.S. tourists. Possible restrictions could include quarantines, further testing requirements upon arrival or even a total ban on all non-essential travel from the US.
The United States has yet to reopen its own borders to EU tourists, despite calls from the bloc for the Biden administration to lift its ban.
The European Council updates the list based on criteria relating to coronavirus infection levels. It gets reviewed every two weeks. The threshold for being on the EU list is having not more than 75 new COVID-19 cases per 100,000 inhabitants over the last 14 days.
Last week in the U.S. new cases averaged over 152,000 a day, turning the clock back to the end of January, and the number of hospitalized COVID-19 patients was around 85,000, a number not seen since early February.
U.S. coronavirus deaths have been over 1,200 a day for several days, seven times higher than they were in early July.
Nigerian students amass degrees to stay in Europe - BBC
By Nduka Orjinmo BBC News, Abuja
After more than 200 unsuccessful job applications on LinkedIn alone, Nigerian student Modupe Osunkoya knew time was running out for her to extend her stay in Belgium.
With three months left on her student visa, she either had to get a job or leave the country.
But there was another option - enrolling for her third post-graduate degree since leaving Nigeria in 2017.
"I never saw myself doing a PhD but if I go home now, there is no job waiting for me," the 28-year-old told the BBC.
High unemployment - one in three young people are without work - and comparatively poor living conditions mean many of Nigeria's brightest would rather take their chances abroad than return home.
So last year Ms Osunkoya enrolled for a doctorate degree in Estonia which is running concurrently with her second Master's degree in Belgium.
She settled for Estonia after receiving no job or PhD offers in Belgium.
"The studies are [a] means to an end, and if God says the end is a permanent residency, why not?" she said.
Her PhD in Future Cities at the Tallinn University of Technology is a paid position. At the end of the four-year course she can apply for permanent residency.
She is planning to relocate to the eastern European country for the course, which like those in Belgium, is taught in English.
Ms Osunkoya is just one of many Nigerian students from families who are not part of the super wealthy elite to study overseas.
Last year, around 100,000 Nigerians travelled abroad to study, according to ICEF Monitor, which focuses on international student mobility.
Many hope to become permanent residents of their host country, and take one step at a time to achieve their goal.
Studying about Africa - in Belgium
Foluwakemi, (not her real name) another Nigerian student in Belgium, said: "People complete a Master's degree, go back to do some advanced diploma below their academic level, then some cheap certificate, all in a bid to remain legal in the system."
Despite getting a degree in economics in Nigeria, she decided to start from scratch when she arrived in Belgium, finishing a three-year course in business management - to buy herself time - and then proceeding to a two-year Master's degree course in management.
She has not ruled out the possibility of a second Master's degree and a PhD if she is unable to find work that will open the way for her to get a permanent visa.
"I am an African studying African studies in Belgium and it makes me mad," said a third student, Ifeoma, (also not her real name) who is currently doing her second Master's degree since arriving in the country in 2019.
"I am not taking it seriously, just killing time [while I] decide on what to do," she added.
Tuition fees as low as 1,000 euros ($1,200; £850) per year and the relatively low cost of living for students in Belgium, compared to some other European countries, have made it an attractive destination for many Nigerians from average-income backgrounds.
"Living expenses are low - you can get accommodation for 300 euros per month," said Ms Osunkoya.
Like many others, she left home with only a semester of tuition fees paid and enough pocket money to last a few weeks. She financed her education by working up to 20 hours per week, as she is legally allowed to do, earning up to 1,000 euros per month.
But the preferred destination for students from financially better-off families is still English-speaking countries such as Canada, the UK and the US, where there are more than 13,000 Nigerian students.
Canada preferred to UK
Interest among Nigerian students in the UK has been declining - from 18,020 in 2013/14 to 10,540 in 2017/18, a 41% decrease, according to ICEF Monitor.
One reason for this fall was the removal of a visa that allowed foreign students to work for two years after finishing their studies.
That, along with cheaper tuition fees, less stressful visa processes, and clearer pathways to postgraduate work and residency, made Canada a more attractive destination for many students.
But the UK government has since reversed its policy, hoping to claw back its share of the lucrative global education market.
Like most foreigners, Nigerian students typically pay more than three times the fees paid by UK students or those from EU countries.
But it can be hard for Nigerians to get white-collar jobs in the UK, and even more so in places like Belgium where language counts against them.
Flemish, French and German are Belgium's official languages and most employers want candidates who can speak at least two of them.
Like most other Nigerian students, Ms Osunkoya is only proficient in English, although she has a basic knowledge of Flemish.
"Even if you have a post-study visa you will be competing for jobs with locals who speak the languages better than you," she said.
Some students also complain of racial prejudice, while others say they have become over-qualified and yet have no work experience.
Last week, Belgium revised its immigration policy to allow students to stay for up to a year on their temporary visas to look for a job.
But Foluwakemi says she won't be taking up the option, as once signed up for it, she would no longer be able to return to school for further degrees if she can't find a job.
"It's like being caught between a rock and a hard place," she said.