EU countries recommend tightening travel restrictions - THE GUARDIAN
The 27 EU countries recommended tightening travel restrictions on Friday, including discourage all non-essential trips from and to areas with high COVID-19 infection rates.
The non-binding recommendations follow a proposal by the European Commission and set out the unionâ€™s general approach to travel within the bloc.
So far, the bloc is theoretically divided into green, yellow, and red zones according to infection rates (in addition to grey for those where insufficient data is available).
However, as almost all countries fall under the highest category, almost the entire map is red.
To introduce some more nuance, the countriesâ€™ ambassadors to the EU on Friday agreed on the adoption of â€œdark redâ€ zone, where the infection rate over two weeks is higher than 500 cases per 100,000 inhabitants.
For travellers on non-essential trips from such an area, the countries recommend requiring a test prior to departure as well as quarantine at their location of destination.
The same applies to areas where new variants of the virus are highly prevalent.
There should be exceptions for essential workers from those areas in some circumstances, however, and citizens returning to their country of residence.
The latter should be permitted to take a test on arrival rather than before the departure, for example.
Why govt should support Nigerians to travel abroad â€“Teriba - PUNCH
BY Tunde Ajaja
An economist and Chief Executive Officer, Economic Associates, Dr Ayo Teriba, has called on government at all levels to support Nigerians to travel abroad, whether as migrants or for educational and other related purposes.
He noted that it is archaic to view migration as brain drain, noting that some developed countries sponsor their citizens to other countries to acquire skills and education, and in turn make a lot of money from remittances and knowledge transfer.
Teriba was one of the lead discussants at the 2021 Centre for International Advanced and Professional Studies Roundtable, tagged â€˜Fiscal Transparency Accountability and Sustainability of Nigerian Statesâ€™, which held virtually a few days ago. The event was chaired by CIAPS Director, Prof Anthony Kila.
There have been concerns over the rate at which Nigerians, including professionals, were relocating abroad, especially Canada and the United States, with many expressing fears that this could have severe negative impact on the country in the coming years.
But Teriba disagreed, saying migration should now be viewed as brain gain.
He said, â€œPhilippines train housekeepers and help them to migrate and they support them in their destinations. Beyond that, they train nurses and sailors and enable them to travel abroad. That is how your human capital can earn foreign income for you through remittances.
â€œChina is at the backyard of every country, with its China town and Chinese restaurant, and with these they have created an official migration path for their citizens. If you go to those places you meet Chinese there.
â€œIf I want to choose a university to study, I still go to Cambridge or Harvard. I wonâ€™t go to any Chinese university. How come those who do not have such academic holy land are now overtaking Europe and the United States in technology, for example 5G technology. That is their gain. They took advantage of the migration path.
â€œChina, South Korea and India sponsor their youths in thousands for PhD abroad. Those who want to come back can do so while those who want to stay can stay. That is how they are catching up and overtaking the western countries in technology.
â€œSo, Nigeria needs to look at its citizens and stop denying the fact that the youths have a natural desire to migrate. Help them to migrate. Support them and if they donâ€™t come back, they would send money home and you would be better off for it. The current way countries view migration is to see it not as brain drain but brain gain.â€
Citing examples of how countries made money from remittances from their nationals abroad, Teriba said in 2019, India got $80bn from remittances while China got $70bn. â€œSo, support your nationals to go abroad and dividends would come to you, in the form of remittances,â€ he added.
â€œNigeria needs the money to move the country forward. We are broke. We have one of the highest populations in the world and you are talking about brain drain? If you give some underprivileged persons some skills that they can go and use abroad, you reduce the number of the poor.â€
He lamented that it was said states and the Federal Government have neglected human capital, whether by equipping the people with education or skills.
…seeks more focus on states
Teriba also called for more focus on states, adding that every state is viable if only they recognise their strength. He said they should also focus on generating investments and not just revenue.
He added, â€œI disagree with the common belief that some states are not viable, I believe every state is viable. You only need to point to where their strength is. States should look at their internal revenue generating capacity, particularly, the revenue intensity of the different sectors. They should then apply more efforts where more revenue would come from.â€
He said states and the Federal Government had paid more attention to revenue than on investment. â€œStates need to link assets to their borrowing, liberalise sectors where they have monopoly, commercialise assets to close value gap and see how they can unlock liquidity from their balance sheets,â€ he added.
Kila also stressed that it was wrong to focus all attention on the Federal Government alone, adding that the discourse was about how states manage their economy. He added, â€œIdeally, we should be focusing on the states. I would even argue that we should be focusing on the local governments. Part of what we want to do is to look at the performances of these states and see how to help them improve.â€
Other panellists were the Managing Director, The Point Newspapers, Mrs Yemi Kolapo; Mr Rotimi Olarewaju of CIAPS and the Executive Editor, Businessnewscorp, Mr Phillip Isakpa.
Anxiety As Dubai Declares Nigerians Must Travel Directly From Nigeria Effective Monday - NIGERIA TRIBUNE
By Shola Adekola - Lagos
This may not be the best of times for Nigeria and its citizens around the world as the latest information reaching Tribune Online has indicated that the Dubai authorities have tactically banned airlines from carrying Nigerian passengers into the United Arab Emirates effective from Monday, 1st February, 2020.
According to a circular which emanated from the Dubai Airport Operations Control Center, titled â€˜Dubai Travel Protocol Update -Travel From Nigeriaâ€™ and dated, Friday, January 29, 2021, the Dubai authorities had declared:â€Kindly be advised that effective from 01 February 2021, the following conditions must be met for travel from Nigeria.
â€œDeparting from Nigeria to Dubai, all passengers are required to obtain a negative COVID-19 certificate. The PCR should be conducted within 72 hours of the date of departure.
â€œAll passengers are required to conduct a rapid COVID-19 test and obtain a negative result within four hours of their departure time.
While insisting that passengers must travel directly from Nigeria to Dubai, the Dubai authorities equally declared that â€œNo passengers may enter Dubai from any other country /station if they have visited or transited via Nigeria in the last 14 days.â€
Other airlines have started notifying their Nigerian passengers that they have henceforth suspended their airlift to Dubai because of the ban.
According to a memo addressed and sent out by Egypt Air to its travel partners, the airline declared: â€œSequence to the memo we received from Dubai Airport Authority asking all Nigerian Travelers coming to Dubai to fly direct effective 1st February, 2021, in view of this, we therefore request you to kindly notify our esteemed passengers that Egyptair will not lift passengers from Nigeria to Dubai from 31st January, 2021 until further notice.
â€œYou are hereby advised to check and cancel all your bookings and inform your passengers about this new development. We are in view of the above expressly authorize full refund for those who want to make refund and seek for alternative or tickets will be opened for future flights for passengers need to keep their tickets . Tour code for refund process: FT*DXB COVID-19 . We thank you for all the trust you reposed on our carrier & promised to update you if any further development on this in the nearest future.â€
The latest travel ban may not be unconnected with the recent death of a Nigerian passenger who died of COVID-19 complications few hours after flying into Canada from Nigeria.
The Nigerian who was said to have arrived in Toronto on a Delta Airlines flight from Detroit and got on a connecting Toronto-bound flight after flying from Lagos, Nigeria, to Atlanta died of the pandemic.
According to the report, the man apparently took a COVID-19 test in Nigeria, but hadnâ€™t received the results before departing Nigeria. He was pronounced dead on arrival in the North American country and the Canadian Border Services Agency was notified, the report further said.
Many stakeholders while commenting on the circumstances surrounding the death of the Nigerian passenger had predicted the subsequent consequences the death of the Nigerian would have on Nigerian travelers around other countries.
The latest action of the Dubai authorities according to the feelers across the countryâ€™s aviation sector is that of uncertainty as many believed that other countries may take similar measures against Nigerian travelers.
As the ban on Nigerian travelers takes effect from today, key players have been asking questions about the what becomes of the fate of the only Nigerian airline operating into the Dubai/Sharjah as according to the conditions given by the Dubai authorities declared that an Airport Rapid Test has to be done by the Airline.
Amongst questions being asked by key players include if the new rules apply to the Nigerian carrier, Air Peace Flight to Sharjah and if the airline can afford to do Rapid test for all its passengers. https://tribuneonlineng.com/an...
Lagos Third Mainland Bridge reopens today - P.M.NEWS
By Aisha Cole/Lagos
The Lagos State Government said partial opening of the Third Mainland Bridge will resume from 00.01 a.m. on Monday, following the early completion of the casting of some joints.
Commissioner for Transportation, Dr Frederic Oladeinde, disclosed this in a statement on Sunday in Lagos.
The re-opening will allow the resumption of movement arrangements of 12.00 a.m. for Lagos Island bound motorists and 12.00 noon for Mainland bound motorist subsist.
The bridge was totally shut on 28 January to enable completion of repair works on the double sized expansion.
It was to be reopened on 2 February.
However, the casting was accomplished much faster, by Saturday.
Oladeinde expressed gratitude to Lagos residents, especially those affected by the closure, for their understanding.
â€œLASG hereby appeals to residents to cooperate with the state government as all other ongoing rehabilitation projects would come to an end in a very short while.
â€œThe benefits, including safety, is for all and sundry,â€™â€™ Oladehinde said.
Dubai blamed for COVID-19 cases abroad as travelers return home with UK, South African variants - ASSOCIATED PRESS
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates â€“ After opening itself to New Yearâ€™s revelers, Dubai is now being blamed by several countries for spreading the coronavirus abroad, even as questions swirl about the city-stateâ€™s ability to handle reported record spikes in cases.
The governmentâ€™s Dubai Media Office says the sheikhdom is doing all it can to handle the pandemic, though it has repeatedly declined to answer questions from The Associated Press about its hospital capacity.
â€œAfter a year of managing the pandemic, we can confidently say the current situation is under control and we have our plans to surge any capacity in the health care system should a need rise,â€ it said.
But Nasser al-Shaikh, Dubaiâ€™s former finance chief, offered a different assessment Thursday on Twitter and asked authorities to take control of a spiraling caseload.
â€œThe leadership bases its decisions on recommendations from the team, the wrong recommendations which put human souls in danger and negatively affect our society,â€ he wrote, adding that â€œour economy requires accountability.â€
Dubai, known for its long-haul carrier Emirates, the worldâ€™s tallest building and its beaches and bars, in July became one of the first travel destinations to describe itself as open for business. The move staunched the bleeding of its crucial tourism and real estate sectors after lockdowns and curfews cratered its economy.
As tourism restarted, daily reported coronavirus case numbers slowly grew but mostly remained stable through the fall.
But then came New Yearâ€™s Eve â€“ a major draw for travelers from countries otherwise shut down who partied without face masks in bars and on yachts. For the past 17 days, the United Arab Emirates as a whole has reported record daily coronavirus case numbers as lines at Dubai testing facilities grow.
In Israel, more than 900 travelers returning from Dubai have been infected with the coronavirus, according to the military, which conducts contact tracing. The returnees created a chain of infections numbering more than 4,000 people, the Israeli military told the AP.
Tens of thousands of Israelis had flocked to the UAE since the two countries normalized relations in September. Israeli Health Ministry expert Dr. Sharon Alroy-Preis was quoted by Channel 13 TV as complaining in a call with other officials that a few weeks of travel had been more deadly than decades of no relations with the Arab nation.
Since late December, Israel has required those coming from the UAE to observe a two-week quarantine. Israel later shut down its main international airport through the end of the month over rising cases.
Dubai didn't close its borders over holidays: Now the party haven faces its biggest COVID-19 surge yet
View |200 Photos World struggles to stop spread of coronavirus Nations around the world are taking drastic measures to contain the spread of coronavirus including closing borders and quarantining citizens.
In the United Kingdom, tabloids have splashed shots of bikini-clad British influencers partying in Dubai while the country struggled through lockdowns in an attempt to control the virus. Britain closed a travel corridor to Dubai in mid-January that had allowed travelers to skip quarantine over what was described as a significant acceleration in the number of imported cases from the UAE.
â€œInternational travel, right now, should not be happening unless itâ€™s absolutely necessary,â€ Health Secretary Matt Hancock told the BBC. â€œNo parties in Paris or weekends in Dubai. That is not on, and in most cases, itâ€™s against the law.â€
Meanwhile, mutated strains of the coronavirus have been linked back to Dubai. The U.K. instituted a travel ban Friday barring direct flights to the UAE over the spread of a South African variant of the coronavirus.
Denmark already discovered one traveler coming from Dubai who tested positive for the South African variant, the first such discovery there. As with Britain, Danish celebrities similarly traveled to Dubai for New Year's celebrations.
In the Philippines, health authorities say they discovered a British strain infecting a Filipino who made a business trip to Dubai on Dec. 27. He returned to the Philippines on Jan. 7 and tested positive.
He â€œhad no exposure to a confirmed case prior to their departure to Dubai,â€ the Philippines Department of Health said. In the time since, Filipino authorities have discovered at least 16 other cases of the British variant, including two from Lebanon.
As daily reported coronavirus cases near 4,000, Dubai has fired the head of its government health agency without explanation. It stopped live entertainment at bars, halted nonessential surgeries, limited wedding sizes and ordered gyms to increase social distancing. It also now requires coronavirus testing for all those flying into its airport.
The UAE had pinned its hopes on mass vaccinations, with Abu Dhabi distributing a Chinese vaccine by Sinopharm and Dubai offering Pfizer-BioNTechâ€™s inoculation. The UAE says it has given 2.8 million doses, ranking it among the top countries in the world.
But people including al-Shaikh now question Dubaiâ€™s capacity to handle the increasing cases. Hospitals contacted by the AP largely referred questions to Dubaiâ€™s government, which has declined to comment. Dubaiâ€™s Saudi German Hospital responded by saying it was â€œhoping to read the real news,â€ without elaborating.
Dr. Santosh Kumar Sharma, medical director of Dubaiâ€™s NMC Royal Hospital, told the AP â€œthe number of cases (is) ever rising,â€ with more than half its beds occupied by coronavirus patients.
The World Health Organization said that before the pandemic, the UAE had nearly 13,250 hospital beds for a country of more than 9 million people. It said Dubai and the UAEâ€™s northern emirates built field hospitals amid the pandemic with about 5,000 beds, and Abu Dhabi built more.
But Dubai closed its 3,000-bed field hospital in July â€“ the same day it reopened for tourism. Dubai and the UAEâ€™s Health Ministry now advertise for nurses on Instagram.
â€œThe sad thing is that great efforts have been made since January 2020 for us to come and undermine them with our own hands,â€ al-Shaikh wrote. â€œWhat makes things worse is the lack of transparency.â€
Yet that came after the UAEâ€™s autocratic government told officials to â€œrefrain from questioning the efforts of all those who have worked to contain this pandemic.â€
Contributing: Associated Press writers Josef Federman in Jerusalem and Isabel DeBre in Dubai, United Arab Emirates
The British Passport Stoking Controversy in Hong Kong - BLOOMBERG
As China asserts its control over Hong Kong with a national security law that came into force in mid-2020, the U.K. is offering some residents of its former colony a potential route out: a proposal to allow longer stays in Britain and a pathway to future citizenship. More than 5 million people, including dependents, could qualify, although only a fraction of that total is expected to make the move anytime soon.
1. Whatâ€™s the plan?
It has to do with giving expanded rights to Hong Kong residents with unique travel documents known as British National (Overseas), or BN(O), passports, and to those considered to be eligible for them. The U.K. created the passports before handing Hong Kong back to China in 1997. They allowed holders to visit the U.K. visa-free for up to six months, but didnâ€™t automatically confer the right to live or work there. Holders also werenâ€™t eligible to access public funds.
2. Whatâ€™s changing?
U.K. Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab told the House of Commons in July 2020 that a new â€œbespoke immigration routeâ€ would allow holders of BN(O) status to come to the U.K. without the previous six-month limit. They would be allowed to stay and work in the U.K. for five years. After that period, they could apply for settled status and, after a further 12 months with that status, for citizenship. Family dependents would also be allowed into the U.K. and there would be no limit on the numbers allowed to apply.
3. Who is eligible?
There were 469,000 holders of BN(O) passports as of early October 2020, according to the U.K. Home Office. Others born before the July 1, 1997 handover could register before that date, however. The Home Office estimates there are 2.9 million BN(O) citizens eligible to move to the U.K., plus a further 2.3 million dependents and 187,000 people aged between 18 and 23 who have at least one BN(O) parent, bringing the total to about 5.4 million, or around 70% of Hong Kongâ€™s 7.5 million population.
4. Whatâ€™s the process and how much does it cost?
From Jan. 31, 2021, individuals can apply for the Hong Kong BN(O) visa for either 30 months or five years. BN(O) citizens and their dependents can apply online from outside or inside the U.K. The visa costs 250 pounds ($343) per person to stay for five years. Each person must also pay an immigration health surcharge to use the National Health Service, which costs 3,120 pounds per adult and 2,350 per child. The costs are slightly lower for a 30-month visa. For a family of four, including two children, total fees could be almost 12,000 pounds. Applicants must also prove that they can house and support themselves financially for at least six months in the U.K. This can be demonstrated by money in bank accounts, income from a job in the U.K., other income such as renting out a property and offers of support or accommodation from friends or family. Applicants will also need to provide a tuberculosis test certificate.
5. Why is the U.K. doing this?
U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson described Chinaâ€™s imposition of the national security law as a â€œclear and serious breachâ€ of the 1984 Sino-British Joint Declaration that paved the way for Hong Kongâ€™s return to China in 1997. In an interview with Sky News in June 2020, Raab said the U.K. was prepared to sacrifice a potential free trade deal with China to protect Hong Kong citizens, and the government has said it has a moral obligation to them.
6. What has the reaction been from China?
China has criticized the U.K.â€™s move as an inappropriate interference in the countryâ€™s domestic affairs and a violation of its promises under the handover agreement not to confer the right of abode to Chinese citizens in Hong Kong who hold BN(O) passports. â€œThe Chinese side has repeatedly expressed its grave concern and strong opposition and will certainly respond with countermeasures,â€ the Chinese Embassy in London said in a statement on Jan. 29. The Chinese Foreign Ministry separately said it wonâ€™t recognize the passports as travel documents. Practically, that may have little effect, as Hong Kongers donâ€™t use them for travel to the mainland. Instead, they can serve as an extra passport when traveling, allowing holders to access more countries visa-free than the Hong Kong passport alone.
7. Why didnâ€™t Hong Kong people get regular British passports?
People born in Hong Kong after the 1997 handover, who were both Chinese citizens and permanent Hong Kong residents, became eligible for the new Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (SAR) passports. While then-Conservative Prime Minister John Major cited Britainâ€™s â€œcontinuing responsibilities to the people of Hong Kongâ€ in a speech in the city in March 1996, at the same time there was concern within his Tory party back home about the potential scale of arrivals from Hong Kong, according to Jonathan Dimbleby in his book â€œThe Last Governor.â€
8. How many people might move to the U.K.?
No one knows. The British government says a lot depends on how the political situation in Hong Kong evolves and the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic. In an impact assessment, it estimates between 123,000 and 153,700 BN(O)s and their dependents may arrive in the first year and between 258,000 and 322,400 over five years. Under those assumptions, the government sees a net benefit to the U.K. economy of between 2.4 billion and 2.9 billion pounds over five years. Raab said in July he expects â€œa large numberâ€ of those who are eligible to remain in Hong Kong or move elsewhere in the region.
The Reference Shelf
- An article by Johnson on Hong Kong from June 2020 in the Times.
- A Bloomberg story from January 2021 on people applying for visas.
- A Businessweek story by Marc Champion and Peter Martin on Chinaâ€™s Hong Kong strategy.
- A Bloomberg story on passport issuance from December 2020.
- The Last Governor. Chris Patten and the Handover of Hong Kong. By Jonathan Dimbleby.
- East and West. By Chris Patten.
- A BN(O) U.K. government factsheet.
— With assistance by Shawna Kwan
Covid-19 - Nigeria May Suspend Flights From UAE, Netherlands - Official - PREMIUM TIMES
By Nike Adebowale
"If they insist on having these additional tests being done, then PTF has decided that their operations will be suspended into Nigeria."
The Nigerian government has said it may suspend flights from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and The Netherlands due to the new COVID-19 protocols introduced by both countries for incoming travellers.
The Director-General of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), Musa Nuhu, while speaking at the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19 briefing on Monday said both countries recently requested that passengers from Nigeria must carry out a PCR test four hours before departing the country.
"In addition to the requirements are a requirement for PCR test before passengers depart from Nigeria to their countries. They are adding an extra requirement of having a rapid test done four hours before departure or before you board," he said.
"For us, passengers do the test 72 hours before departure and then the PCR test and the PTF recognizes the rights of all countries to put in measures to protect their citizens just like Nigeria has done," Mr Nuhu said.
"If they insist on having these additional tests being done, then PTF has decided that their operations will be suspended into Nigeria."
Mr Nuhu said the countries and airlines coming from there cannot determine for Nigeria who to approve or how these tests will be done.
He said the government will be discussing with the airlines and countries involved.
This will enable the PTF to have a clear and transparent process on determining who will do these test "based on the requirement for accreditation by NCDC, National Laboratory Council, Lagos state government for Lagos airport and FCT for Abuja airport."
NAHCON Boss Intensifies Awareness Campaign On Hajj Savings Scheme - LEADERSHIP
BY ADEBAYO WAHEED, Ibadan
The Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON), Alhahi Zikrillah Hassan has intensified awareness campaigns on the Hajj Savings Scheme (HSS).
Speaking at a sensitization programme in Ibadan, Oyo State, he said the scheme was an initiative of NAHCON as provided for in its Establishment Act 2006.
According to him, it is designed to provide a long term savings plan for people intending to perform the Hajj, the fifth pillar of Islam.
He said that it was an alternate financial empowermentâ€™ for Nigerians of varying economic categories or status seeking to make the â€˜life long journeyâ€™, in fulfilment of the last, yet, core Islamic pillar.
The NAHCON boss explained that the scheme was a partnership initiative and to be run or operated in compliance with Islam Compliance Financial System, pointing out that it would be â€œShaâ€™riahâ€ or Islamic law compliant.
He added that, â€œit therefore explains the collaboration with Jaiz Bank, an established financial institution based purely on Islamic economic principles.
â€œSince it is a programme aimed at enhancing and assisting Islamic adherents to fulfilling an obligation as commanded by Allah, this sensitization therefore becomes imperative, paramount and faith attainment driven.
â€œFollowing the formal launch of the scheme in Lagos recently and a similar event of this nature held in some other South West states, it has become the turn of the â€˜Pace Setterâ€™ state to get the â€˜hajj with ease initiativeâ€™ introduced, embraced and patronized by the people of Oyo State.â€™â€™
U.S. airlines offer flights to sun destinations while Canadian planes sit idle - THE CANADIAN PRESS
MONTREAL — As Canada's airlines suspend flights to Mexico and the Caribbean, U.S. carriers including Delta Air Lines and American Airlines say they have no plans to stop offering service to sun destinations, raising questions about both the business fallout for domestic airlines and the measure's effectiveness for slowing the spread of COVID-19.
Canadian airlines have already been losing market share over the last several months to foreign carriers, said Mike McNaney, president and CEO of the National Airlines Council of Canada. Now, however, the only routes available to certain destinations will be aboard foreign airlines selling flights with stopovers in U.S. cities.
"We assume the government is also engaging foreign operators on this issue to ensure we are all taking the same concerted approach," McNaney said. Transport Canada didn't respond to a request for comment.
Canadians flying out of major cities will still be able to book trips to Mexico and the Caribbean as normal, provided they are willing to stop over at another airport. American and Delta, for example, are selling tickets for flights from Toronto to Cancun, with passengers connecting through U.S. cities such as Atlanta, Charlotte, N.C., and Philadelphia, an online search shows.
American Airlines said Monday that it had no schedule changes to share. Delta said it would suspend its flight from Minneapolis to Winnipeg as of Feb. 3, in keeping with government restrictions limiting which airports can receive international flights, but planned to continue its scheduled service to Canada.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Friday that Canadian airlines had agreed to suspend flights to Mexico and the Caribbean until April 30, in an effort to combat the spread of COVID-19 in Canada. The prime minister announced the suspensions along with stricter measures aimed at reducing international travel, including a requirement that entrants to Canada quarantine in a hotel at their own expense.
On Monday, Bloc Quebecois transport critic Xavier Barsalou-Duval highlighted the fact that U.S. airlines were still offering flights from Canada to sun destinations, saying in a statement that the latest round of suspensions put Canadian companies at a disadvantage.
Asked why Canadian airlines suspended routes while American carriers continue to operate flights to the same destinations, WestJet spokeswoman Morgan Bell said Transport Canada would have to clarify.
"Recognizing that air travel represents less than two per cent of the transmission of COVID, the government asked us to stop flying to these destinations out of an abundance of caution, and we agreed," Bell said.
The new restrictions were announced weeks after Canada implemented a requirement that all air passengers travelling to Canada produce evidence of a negative COVID-19 test taken within 72 hours of departure.
The testing mandate caused an immediate drop in flight bookings, airlines said, leading to additional layoffs. With the latest restrictions, experts say they expect further layoffs, along with potential bankruptcies, if government aid for the sector doesn't materialize.
The suspensions of flights to sun destinations will cost Air Canada, the country's largest carrier, around $200 million in lost revenue between now and April 30, industry analyst John Gradek said.
The flights that Canadian airlines continue to offer include transatlantic and transpacific routes along which carriers transport cargo, a business that has become increasingly important to airlines' bottom lines as revenue from passenger sales dries up.
U.S. airlines such as Delta and American have received tens of billions of dollars in federal aid since the start of the pandemic. The government stimulus passed by the U.S. Congress in March 2020 included US$25 billion in payroll support for the industry, US$25 billion in loans for passenger airlines and more than US$10 billion in grants and loans for cargo airlines and aviation contractors.
Airlines in Canada, meanwhile, have been in negotiations with the government for months about the terms of a sector-specific aid package, with Ottawa saying that any federal funding for airlines would be contingent on their issuing full refunds to passengers who had their flights cancelled during the pandemic.
The Canada Enterprise Emergency Funding Corp. says it has agreed to give Sunwing Vacations Inc. and Sunwing Airlines Inc. access to $375 million to protect jobs in Canada's airline sector.
The Crown agency said Sunwing has agreed to maintain an account with money received from customers for travel that was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic until broader discussions with the airline industry conclude.
It said other applications for financing are under consideration but that rigorous due diligence and collaboration of existing lenders is required to protect the financial interests of taxpayers.
Emergency financing of at least $60 million is open to large Canadian employers with more than $300 million of annual revenues.
Canada's airlines have received hundreds of millions of dollars in aid from the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy, a federal spending program that helps cover a portion of companies' payroll costs during the pandemic.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 1, 2021.
FAAN warns of recruitment fraudsters - PUNCH
BY Segun Adewole
The Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria has said that it is not embarking on any recruitment exercise at the moment.
In a statement issued on Monday by the General Manager, Corporate Affairs, Henrietta Yakubu, FAAN warned the general public to beware of persons parading themselves as recruitment agents of the Authority and consequently extorting money from innocent citizens in the process.
The statement said, â€œFor the purpose of clarity and emphasis, the Authority is not embarking on any recruitment exercise at the moment.
â€œThe Authority wish to inform the public that recruitment into any government agency has a stipulated procedure, which includes advertisements in national dailies, in line with the provisions of the Federal Governmentâ€™s conditions of service.
â€œConsequently, any person claiming to be an agent of the Authority in this respect is a fraudster and should be reported to the Authority or the nearest police station.