IATA Introduces Travel Pass to Resolve Border Crises - THISDAY
BY Chinedu Eze
In order to enable free flow of movement across borders and to put an end to the impasse occasioned by restriction of airlines by countries due to COVID-19 pandemic, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) has introduced new travel pass.
Recently the federal government and the United Arab Emirates had a spat over the introduction of Rapid Antigen Test (RDT), which has prompted Emirates Airlines to stop all outbound flights from Nigeria and also stopped Air Peace from operating to Sharjah in UAE. The objective of the IATA traveling pass is to have a common guideline on international airline operation.
IATA noted that the issue was that governments need to be confident that they are mitigating the risk of importing COVID19 to re-open borders without quarantine and restart aviation. To resolve this issue, IATA recommended testing, which it said has been proven to be the safest and most effective method to achieve this, adding that passengers are willing to get tested to travel.
“But both passengers and governments need to have confidence in each passenger’s verified COVID-19 status,” the body stated. To resolve the problem IATA has given certain conditions, which include that passengers need accurate information on test requirements, where they can get tested or vaccinated, and the means to securely convey test information to airlines and border authorities and it is the authorised government agency that should provide this information to the passenger.
IATA said the airlines need to have the ability to provide accurate information to their passengers on test requirements and verify that a passenger meets the requirements for travel and government needs to be able to verify the authenticity of tests and the identity of those presenting the test certificates, while the laboratories need to be able to issue certificates that will be recognized by governments.
“To address these challenges IATA is launching a combination of four modules that are interoperable and open access. “These include registry of health requirements, which enables passengers to find accurate information on travel, testing (and eventually vaccine) requirements for their journey; registry of testing/vaccination centers, which enables passengers to find testing centres and labs at their departure location which meet the standards for testing/vaccination requirements of their destination and lab app, which enables authorised labs and test centers to securely send test results or vaccination certificates to passengers. Contact travel app introduced by IATA enables passengers to create a ‘digital passport’, verify their test/vaccination meets the regulations and shares test or vaccination certificates with authorities to facilitate travel.
This can also be used by travelers to manage travel documentation digitally and seamlessly throughout the travel experience. Commending the IATA travel app, industry stakeholders said it could be used by the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) to break the impasse between Emirates Airlines and the federal government, which they said has become a diplomatic row.
Earlier this month, the federal government had banned Emirates for 72 hours for the airline’s introduction of RDT, which it insisted passengers must be tested four hours before the departure of their flight.
But after the lifting of the ban by the federal government, Emirates stopped airlifting passengers from Nigeria to Dubai, arguing that UAE authorities insisted on the COVID-19 rapid test to ensure that passengers coming into Dubai are free from the pandemic. Emirates announced last week that it might begin to airlift passengers from Nigeria on February 28 but two days ago, it shifted it to March 10, 2021 and there are indications that it would shift it again; unless NCAA intervenes. A senior industry official told THISDAY that the federal government was too hasty with the ban, which gave rise to the current face-off.
Air Peace Promises Superior Travel Experience - THISDAY
By Chinedu Eze
The Chief Operating Officer (COO) of Air Peace, Mrs. Toyin Olajide has said the new Embraer E95-E2, which was recently delivered from Brazil, were uniquely configured to offer superior travel experience to Air Peace's customers.
Olajide, who made this known in an interview, explained why the airline chose the E195-E2 aircraft model, which is a 124-seat capacity state-of-the-art jet with impressive economic performance.
"Now, why have we introduced the E195-E2? The E2 is a brand new aircraft, super-efficient, an aircraft that is for the future and even now.
"This is because a lot of money will be saved as regards the operating cost, there are savings on fuel, bearing in mind the high cost of aviation fuel in Nigeria. These aircraft coming into the country will help lower operating cost.
"The performance is awesome. A lot of Nigerians who hitherto were apprehensive of travelling by air, can now be rest assured. This is the plane for them.
"Once onboard this aircraft, you will feel transported to a world of luxury and comfort and most importantly, safety. This is what Air Peace represents. This is the Air Peace Experience," she added.
Describing the cabin configuration, Olajide said, "The interior is excellent. The staggered seats that we have in the Business Class are second to none. Furthermore, there is an innovation with the table- it has an iPad holder".
She emphasised that Air Peace wants the Nigerian flying public to experience the enhanced comfort, increased privacy and beauty offered by the brand new E195-E2, which is considered the best in its segment.
Olajide, revealed that one of the strong points of the plane was its advanced fly-by-wire system which enables the aircraft to adjust seamlessly through turbulence in such a way that the passenger is oblivious to it.
Embraer's President and Chief Executive Officer, Francisco Gomes Neto, had in describing the new aircraft acquired by Air Peace, said: "The E2s are really fantastic airplanes. Your engineering people are going to love the technology. Your crew is going to love flying them. Your accountants are going to love the operating economics, and your passengers are going to love the stunning interior, especially those sitting in business class with the staggered seat layout."
Covid-19 Travelers Aren't All Dubai Jet-Setters - BLOOMBERG
Border restrictions are going up again to keep new virus variants out. But the benefits don’t always outweigh the cost.
Globe-trotting tourists used to be “flight-shamed” for their CO2 footprint. Now it is the struggle against SARS-CoV-2 that’s put a target on their back. Whether it’s hypocrite politicians sneaking off for sunny vacations while urging the public to stay home, or social-media influencers flaunting trips to Dubai, the sight of a Panama hat or wheelie suitcase is provoking outrage.
A lot of the anger is justified, especially in countries living under some form of lockdown with foreign travel discouraged or heavily restricted. Nothing undermines public trust in policy like people using dental appointments in Spain to get around restrictions on flying out of Dublin. In the tug of war between vaccinations and variants, letting imported infections go unchecked is the kind of deadly error countries want to avoid. Travel is, after all, the “hallmark” of how Covid-19 spreads, as one expert puts it.
Still, despite their logic, travel restrictions are very tricky to get right. When the coronavirus went global last year, border closures turned out to be a mixed bag, their effectiveness decreasing over time and ultimately failing to really move the needle on cases. Bans were either sieve-like or applied so haphazardly they seemed to do more harm than good. It wasn’t just the Cancun crowd complaining; European workers protested over curbs at the German-Polish border.
Now there is a real risk of repeating these mistakes. Germany this week partially closed its borders with the Czech Republic and Austria’s Tyrol, ostensibly to keep new more-infectious variants at bay. With roughly every second person reportedly denied entry to Germany as a result, the fear is that this has gone beyond catching irresponsible holidaymakers heading for the ski slopes — truck drivers and essential workers are getting caught in the crossfire. Road transport lobby IRU said the flow of goods was in “chaos.” German carmakers have warned their supply chain is at risk of breaking down. It’s deja-vu, and France fears it may be the next target.Bloomberg may send me offers and promotions.
Some will say the benefit of fewer potential infections is worth any cost. However, this isn’t realistic in all cases, especially interconnected European Union exporters like Germany. The B.1.1.7 variant is already there, making up about 22% of new cases compared with just 6% two weeks ago. Talk of preventing “further intrusion” is very optimistic. There may be little epidemiological reward and high economic costs in squeezing border traffic, especially considering Germany’s interdependence with its neighbors in a post-pandemic recovery.
Even Asian countries that have kept a tight grip on infections are no strangers to the unintended consequences of severe travel curbs. Hong Kong’s abrupt extension of its quarantine period for travelers to three weeks from two has driven hotel prices up and hurt low-income domestic workers, whose employers are less willing to pay for their stay. Given most incubation periods for Covid-19 are two weeks, some scientists say that while quarantines do make sense as a policy, the extra seven days may well be overkill.
Still, there are ways to make restrictions fairer without handing the virus a victory. Closing loopholes within travel curbs is one. There is no sense in exempting some countries from traveler quarantines, for example, given the virus doesn’t respect passports. Better calculating trade-offs is another. Karen Grepin, an associate professor at the University of Hong Kong’s School of Public Health, suggests some interconnected countries might weigh a shorter quarantine — say, 7 days — if it got them 90% of the way toward the targeted result.
Restrictions would also benefit from clearer communication and timing. A December study published in the Lancet found that travel restrictions are most effective in places with already-low infection rates where imported cases might trigger a new epidemic wave — such as New Zealand or China — and least effective in countries where rates are high. Co-author Mark Jit of the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine says that means countries need to keep their guard up precisely at the time they’re keenest to let it down.
Finally, curbs should be based on data as much as possible, not politics. Preferential treatment of certain countries, no matter how appealing travel bubbles sound, runs the risk of stoking ill will just when trust and cooperation is needed most, according to Joan Costa-Font of the London School of Economics. Take Greece’s recent travel deal with Israel and Cyprus to let the vaccinated travel freely. It’s easy to see why it might annoy other EU members. Speeding up vaccine deployment and managing the virus is probably a more pressing issue than travel deals.
A year on, there is still no easy fix in this pandemic. But some policies can do more harm than good — even if the Panama hat should probably stay on the shelf a while longer.
This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.
To contact the author of this story: Lionel Laurent at [email protected]
To contact the editor responsible for this story: Melissa Pozsgay at [email protected]
Union workers barricade Port Harcourt International Airport in protest - DAILY POST
Members of Fright Forwarders Transport Association have barricaded the Port Harcourt International Airport Junction, stopping vehicular movements.
The members of the Association blocked the roads with their containers in protest against an attack on one of their members by security operatives at a checkpoint around the airport junction.
DAILY POST reports that the incident took place Friday night after an argument broke out between a security agent and a driver.
As at press time, there is no vehicular movement around the Airport junction as members have vowed to remain at the junction.
New passport charges: Group slams Nigerian High Commission in Canada - VANGUARD
By Adesina Wahab
A group, the Nigerian and Canadian Business Network, NCBN, has flayed the Nigerian High Commission in Canada over its planned introduction of new service charges for passport renewal, passport replacement among others.
The group is also of the view that the introduction of the charges at this point on time is not auspicious, bearing in mind the various economic issues Nigerians in Canada are grappling with now.
It, therefore, vowed to sustain its opposition to the outrageous charges, describing their introduction as not only arbitrary and inauspicious but also capable of bringing untold hardship to concerned family members, as well as Nigerian students who have had to grapple with the effects of COVID-19 pandemic.
While appealing to the High Commissioner, Adeyinka Asekun, to halt the implementation of the new charges pending a meeting with the relevant stakeholders, the group explained that the decision would impose further hardship on its members. Also read: Telecom providers to charge N4 per 20 seconds for USSD access to banking services.
According to available reports, the High Commission had in a reference letter No. NHC/OTT/ADM.422/X dated 2nd February 2021 titled: “Presidential directive on the implementation of administrative charges at Nigerian missions,” announced the introduction of the new charges to ensure “effective management and efficient service delivery”.
The letter reads in part: “Consequently, the High Commission hereby presents hereunder, the list of services as well as the administrative charges, which takes effect from Wednesday, February 10, 2021.
Passport: Fresh Issue/Renewal. 50; Expedited issuance (Wait and get) 200; Lost Passport (Caution Fee) 400; Letter of Certification of Passport 70; Emergency Travel Certificate (E.T.C.): With expired Nig. Passport 50; (ii) Without Passport (Lost Passport with police report) 100; Authentication of Documents 30 (per document); Authentication of Corporate/Business documents 150; Letter to Police for Character Certificate (police report) 50; Repatriation/Shipment of Human Remains 50 (per document); Driver’s License letter 100; Change of Data (Passports) (i) by marriage (ii) others 100, 150.
An appeal letter signed by the Chairman of the NCBN, King Wale Adesanya, on behalf of the group read: “On behalf of Nigerians living in Canada, we request a delay in implementing the new surcharge for the services listed above. We also seek an urgent meeting between the High Commission and various community organizations and stakeholders.”
Read more at: https://www.vanguardngr.com/20...
7 killed as Nigerian military aircraft crashes near Abuja airport - ALJAZEERA
Air force says King Air 350 crashed after reporting engine failure, killing everyone on board.
A Nigerian military aircraft has crashed near Abuja airport, killing all seven people on board, according to officials.
“First responders are at the scene. Sadly, all 7 personnel on board died in the crash,” Ibikunle Daramole, air force spokesman, said in a statement on Sunday.
The Beechcraft KingAir B350i aircraft crashed while returning to the Abuja airport after reporting engine failure en route to Minna, he said.
Minna is a city about 110km (69 miles) northwest of Nigeria’s capital, Abuja.
In scrubland just outside the airport perimeter, dozens of military and airport officials picked through the charred remnants of the aeroplane.
Fire engines and ambulances stood by. The smell of burning chemicals lingered in the air but no fire or smoke was visible, a witness told the Reuters news agency.
The air force said an investigation into the crash was under way.
Nigeria’s Minister of Aviation Hadi Sirika also confirmed the accident.
“We should remain calm & wait for the outcome of investigation by the military,” Hadi said in a Twitter post.
SOURCE : AL JAZEERA AND NEWS AGENCIES
Canada-US border closed to non-essential travel until at least March 21 - THE CANADIAN PRESS
OTTAWA — The border between Canada and the United States will remain closed to non-essential travel for at least another month.
Public Safety Minister Bill Blair announced late Friday that the closure has been extended to March 21 — precisely one year after the world's longest undefended border was first shut down to curb the spread of COVID-19.
Since then, the closure has been extended month by month.
With more contagious variants of the coronavirus spreading across the continent, Friday's extension is unlikely to be the last.
Blair tweeted that the government will continue to base its decisions on the border "on the best public health advice to keep Canadians safe."
The border has remained open for essential travel throughout the pandemic in a bid to avoid disrupting the flow of food, medical supplies and other crucial goods between the two countries.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 19, 2021.
The Canadian Press
Airlines plan to ask passengers for contact-tracing details - ASSOCIATED PRESS
WASHINGTON — The U.S. airline industry is pledging to expand the practice of asking passengers on flights to the United States for information that public health officials could use for contact tracing during the pandemic.
An industry trade group said Friday that the carriers would turn over the information to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which could use it to contact passengers who might be exposed to the virus that causes COVID-19.
Delta and United have been doing that since December. On Friday, an industry trade group said that American, Southwest, Alaska, JetBlue and Hawaiian will also ask passengers to make their names, phone numbers, email and physical addresses available to the CDC.
The airlines had long resisted government efforts to require them to gather passenger information and provide it to health agencies. They said they don’t have the information on passengers who buy tickets from other sellers such as online travel agencies. They also argued that gathering the information and making it immediately available to the government would be time-consuming and require costly upgrades to computer systems.
The CEO of trade group Airlines for America, Nicholas Calio, said carriers hope that their offer of voluntary information gathering, along with testing of passengers entering the U.S., will lead the government to lift restrictions on international travel.
Although the requests are only voluntary, United Airlines said Friday that since December most of its international customers have provided contact details.
The Associated Press
Israel's COVID vaccination pass opens fast track to normal life - REUTERS
By Dan Williams
JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Israel reopened swathes of its economy including malls and leisure facilities on Sunday, with the government saying the start of a return to routine was enabled by COVID-19 vaccines administered to almost half the population.
Shops were open to all. But access to gyms, hotels and theatres was limited to people with a “Green Pass”: those who have had both doses of the vaccine more than a week prior, or recovered from the disease with presumed immunity.
Pass-holders could prove their status by presenting a vaccination certificate or downloading a Health Ministry app linked to their medical files.
Coming exactly a year after Israel’s first documented coronavirus case, Sunday’s easing of curbs was part of a government plan to open the economy more widely next month, when Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is up for reelection.
“We are the first country in the world that is reviving itself thanks to the millions of vaccines we brought in,” he tweeted. “Vaccinated? Get the Green Pass and get back to life.”
Mask-wearing and social-distancing were still in force. Dancing was barred at banquet halls. Synagogues, mosques or churches were required to halve their normal congregation sizes.
Elementary schoolchildren and pupils in the last two years of high school resumed classes in towns with contagion rates under control. Middle-school pupils were still home-learning, however, prompting some to stage a sit-down protest in a mall.
“I haven’t been in school in a year,” said 14-year-old demonstrator Rotem Bachar. “How does it make sense to open malls up to crowds, while we can’t attend class if even they are capped at 15 to 20 pupils and have other precautions?”
Israel has administered at least one dose of the Pfizer Inc vaccine to more than 46% of its 9 million population, the Health Ministry says. The ministry said on Saturday that the risk of illness from COVID-19 dropped 95.8% among people who received both shots.
Israel has logged more than 740,000 cases and 5,500 deaths from COVID-19, drawing criticism of Netanyahu’s sometimes patchy enforcement of three national lockdowns. The government has pledged that there will not be a fourth.
But Nachman Ash, a physician in charge of the country’s pandemic response, told Army Radio that another lockdown “is still possible ... Half of the population is still not immune.”
Writing by Dan Williams; Editing by Jan Harvey and Frances Kerry
UK to reopen in stages after driving down South African variant, Hancock says - REUTERS
BY Kate Holton, Alistair Smout
LONDON (Reuters) - Britain has started to drive down cases of the more infectious South African variant of coronavirus and will only emerge from lockdown in stages to make sure that does not change, the country’s health secretary said on Sunday.
A day before Prime Minister Boris Johnson sets out his plan to ease restrictions in England, Hancock said there was also early data showing that the faster-than-expected vaccine rollout was reducing transmissions and easing pressure on hospitals.
Britain has the world’s fifth-worst official COVID-19 death toll, with 120,365 fatalities, but an early drive to secure mass vaccine supplies means one in three adults has now had a first shot and daily death rates have started to fall.
Hancock said in total the United Kingdom had recorded around 300 cases of the more infectious South African variant of the disease that causes COVID-19.
“But most of those are now historic cases and from over a month ago,” he told the BBC’s Andrew Marr show. “The latest data shows that there’s around a dozen new ones, so a much, much smaller number.”
England has also introduced hotel quarantines to prevent variants from travelling from abroad.
So far, Britain has given a first dose of a vaccine to 17.2 million people, over a quarter of its 67 million population and behind only Israel and the United Arab Emirates in vaccines per head of population.
The government said on Sunday that all adults in Britain would be offered a first shot by the end of July, with a target to give a first dose to all over-50s by April 15.
But despite the improving picture, Hancock and leading epidemiologist John Edmunds said the restrictions must be eased gently and in stages, to see what impact the increased movement of people has on the virus.
Hancock suggested each easing could require a couple of weeks to detect the impact, before another part of the economy can reopen. Schools are expected to return first in early March.
Edmunds said it was difficult to say how widespread the South African variant was but that, like the rest of the pandemic, it was being held in place by the lockdown.
“The risk comes when we release the lockdown,” he said, adding that allowing the virus to circulate in younger healthier people could lead to further mutations that undermine the vaccine programme.
Johnson will set out his thinking on the easing of lockdown on Monday. Despite pressure from a section of lawmakers in his party who have been shocked by the 10% contraction of the economy in 2020, the prime minister is expected to be wary.
“There should be no doubt - the route out of lockdown will be cautious and phased, as we all continue to protect ourselves and those around us,” Johnson said in a statement.
Editing by Ros Russell and Emelia Sithole-Matarise