Travel News

FG to complete Lagos, Abuja, Kano, Port Harcourt Airports concessioning in 2022 - BUSIINESSDAY

JULY 22, 2021

The ongoing concession process for the Lagos, Abuja, Kano and Port Harcourt International Airports by the Federal Government will be completed in 2022, the All Progressives Congress (APC) Legacy Awareness and Campaign said.

The Federal Executive Council (FEC) had in 2017 approved the concessioning of the Lagos, Abuja, Port Harcourt and Kano airports to increase their capacity and efficiency.

Also the Federal Government through the Ministry of Aviation had in June said it would concession the four airports for a period of 20-30 years, which may be “extended depending on performance and Nigeria’s best interests”.

APC Legacy Awareness and Campaign said the programme is part of the Aviation Roadmap, launched by the President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration in May 2016, with the aim of transforming the sector, in terms of safety, infrastructure and economic viability.

The group in a statement signed by Ismail Ahmed, acting national youth leader of the Party; Lanre Issa-Onilu, former APC National Publicity Secretary; Tolu Ogunlesi, Special Assistant to the President on Digital/New Media and Salihu Lukman, Director General Progressives Governors Forum, said the

Aviation Industry is undergoing a revolution under the watch of President Buhari.

The APC voluntary think-tank group, highlighted the Aviation Roadmap to include the establishment of a National Carrier, development of Agro-Allied/Cargo Terminals, concessioning of the Major International Airports and establishment of Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul (MRO) Center.

Others are establishment of an Aviation Leasing Company, development of Aerotropolis (Airport Cities), establishment of an Aerospace University, designation of four International Airports as Special Economic Zones, upgrade of Accident Investigation Bureau (AIB) and the Nigerian College of Aviation Technology (NCAT).

“Since the launching of the Aviation Roadmap, the Ministry of Aviation has focused on implementation. In terms of infrastructure, the new Terminals of the Port Harcourt, Abuja and Kano International Airports, inherited from the previous administration, have been completed, while the new Lagos Terminal is very close to completion. Brand new Runways have been constructed at the Abuja and Enugu International Airports, in 2017 and 2020, respectively.

“More than a dozen airports around the country have had Low Level Winds hear Alert Systems (LLWAS) installed, to improve flight safety. Investigations revealed that the Sosoliso and ADC plane crashes of 2005 and 2006 respectively were caused by the absence of LLWAS in the airports.

“The Lagos and Abuja Airports have had the Category 3 Instrument Landing System (ILS) installed – which provides the capability for landing safely and accurately in conditions of near-zero visibility. Another 3 Nigerian Airports have been scheduled to benefit this year.

“A significant portion of the investment into the Aviation Sector has been focused on resolving issues and bridging gaps inherited from previous Administrations. One example is the payment of pensions owed to staff of the defunct Nigeria Airways.

President Buhari approved that the backlog of almost twenty years be cleared, and has released funds to this effect”, APC Legacy Awareness and Campaign said.

Terrorists shoot down Nigerian Air force jet – NAF - BUSINESSDAY

JULY 22, 2021

BY  Iwok Iniobong

A Nigerian Air Force (NAF) Alpha Jet aircraft used for the fight against insurgency has crashed in Zamfara State, after coming under heavy attacks by terrorists.

The Nigerian Air Force stated this in a statement on Monday by Force Spokesperson, Edward Gabkwet.

Gabkwet said the crash took place on Sunday at about 12:45 p.m, did not claim any lives, while the pilot, Flight Lieutenant Abayomi Dairo was rescued from the crash.

He added that NAF was undaunted by the crash and remains committed to carrying out its constitutional role of securing the country.

“On 18 July 2021, at about 12.45 pm, a Nigerian Air Force (NAF) Alpha Jet aircraft, returning from a successful air interdiction mission between the boundaries of Zamfara and Kaduna State, came under intense enemy fire which led to its crash in Zamfara State,” Gabkwet said.

This latest crash was the fourth air crash involving Nigerian military planes in less than a year.

The full statement:

“On 18 July 2021, at about 12.45 pm, a Nigerian Air Force (NAF) Alpha Jet aircraft, returning from a successful air interdiction mission between the boundaries of Zamfara and Kaduna State, came under intense enemy fire which led to its crash in Zamfara State. Luckily, the gallant pilot of the aircraft, Flight Lieutenant Abayomi Dairo, successfully ejected from the aircraft. Using his survival instincts, the pilot, who came under intense ground fire from the bandits, was able to evade them and sought refuge in nearby settlements awaiting sunset.

“Using the cover of darkness and his phone set for navigation, Flight Lieutenant Dairo was able to elude several bandits’ strongholds and maneuvered his way to a Nigerian Army Unit, where he was finally rescued. It is instructive to note that upon receipt of the news of the crash, the Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Oladayo Amao, had directed that all efforts must be emplaced to rescue the pilot. Accordingly, NAF Intelligence Surveillance Reconnaissance (ISR) platforms and helicopter gunships provided close air support to NAF Special Forces and Nigerian Army troops who were able to locate the crash site and the pilot’s parachute, while also combing nearby locations for any sign of the pilot.

“It is gladdening to note that while in hiding, Flight Lieutenant Dairo confirmed that the presence of NAF aircraft within the vicinity of the crash site helped in scaring the bandits who were after him, thus enabling him to find refuge and escape to a safe location. It is important to also recall that only recently, the President, Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, President Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR, had directed the Armed Forces of Nigeria to do all it takes to flush out criminal elements in Katsina, Zamfara and Kaduna States.

“It is in fulfillment of this directive that the NAF, in conjunction with surface forces, has in the last 2 weeks mounted intensive day and night air interdiction operations against bandits and their hideouts, especially in these 3 states. Through these intensive air operations, hundreds of bandits have been neutralized and several of their hideouts destroyed.

” Despite the setback of yesterday’s crash, the NAF remains committed to fulfilling Mr. President’s mandate as well as other constitutional roles assigned to it. The willingness, readiness, and tested ability of the NAF remains unshaken and unwavering as it continues to carry out its assigned roles. Kindly bring the information to the awareness of the general public,”.

Thank you.
Edward Gabkwet
Air Commodore Director of Public Relations and Information

Europe’s travel industry is on a knife edge as Covid surges, again - CNBC

JULY 22, 2021


  • During the Covid-19 pandemic, perhaps no other industry has been harder hit than the global travel and tourism sector.
  • Some countries in Europe — Greece, Spain and Portugal, for example — rely on tourism to boost economic growth.
  • As Covid vaccines were rolled out across Europe there were high hopes for a rebound in summer tourism in 2021. Instead, the season is looking highly uncertain.

Workers carry a scaffolding on "Paradise" beach in the Greek Cycladic island of Mykonos in 2020. The island is traditionally crowded with wealthy foreigners but turned into a ghost island last year. Workers carry a scaffolding on “Paradise” beach in the Greek Cycladic island of Mykonos in 2020. The island is traditionally crowded with wealthy foreigners but turned into a ghost island last year. ARIS MESSINIS | AFP | Getty Images

During the Covid-19 pandemic, perhaps no other industry has been harder hit than the global travel and tourism sector with planes grounded, resorts closed and care-free vacations a distant memory for most of us.

Some countries in Europe — Greece, Spain and Portugal, for example — rely on tourism to boost economic growth with the prosperity of thousands of businesses, livelihoods and communities tied to the success or failure of the season.

As Covid vaccinations were rolled out across the region since late 2020 there were high hopes that Europe could look forward to a rebound in summer tourism this year.

Instead, the season is looking highly uncertain as the delta variant surges in Europe, prompting a plethora of varying rules and restrictions, traffic-light systems designating country risk profiles as well as possible quarantines and vaccine entry requirements.

Fourth wave?

Travel within Europe these days is certainly not for the faint-hearted, in more ways than one. The Covid infection rate has surged across the region as the highly infectious delta variant has swept the globe.

As with the previous alpha variant (which delta has now usurped) the U.K. was something of a harbinger of doom when it came to what the rest of Europe could expect. Britain saw a further Covid wave at the start of the year caused by the alpha variant and is now seeing another wave with delta.

Despite efforts in the continent to hold back the variant, the inevitable spread has taken place with the strain now accounting for the majority of new infections from country to country.

The Netherlands and Spain have seen big surges in cases, largely attributed to the night time sector after both countries reopened their nightclubs in late June, only to reverse course two weeks later. Meanwhile, France declared it was entering a fourth wave of the pandemic earlier this week, with government spokesman Gabriel Attal sounding the alarm:

“We have entered a fourth wave. The dynamics of the epidemic are extremely strong. We see a faster wave, and a sharper rise than all the previous ones … the incidence rate continues to explode ... A rise so big, so sudden, we haven’t seen that since the beginning of the pandemic,” Attal said on Monday.

Tourism and airline stocks took a beating at the start of the week when global markets plunged sharply on renewed fears for the global recovery. EasyJet and Ryanair, well-known low-cost airlines in Europe, were among the stocks seeing pronounced declines. Shares of easyJet, for example, were trading at 842.20 pence on Friday but plunged to 758.20p by Monday early afternoon.


Europe’s reopening won’t be a ‘straight-line’, easyJet CEO says

Easyjet’s CEO Johan Lundgren told CNBC on Tuesday that the travel sector was facing an “extraordinarily challenging” situation, but that vaccination programs in Europe were the key to reopening. Data shows two doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech or AstraZeneca-Oxford University are effective against the delta variant and lower the risk of hospitalization and death.

“We always knew that [the recovery] was not going to be a straight line ... But we are seeing that restrictions are being unwound. But it’s absolutely true that when you do open up societies and communities, there is an increase also in infections. The question is to make sure the vaccinations are breaking the link between [infection and] severe hospitalization and death, and fortunately it looks to be that way,” Lundgren told CNBC’s “Squawk Box Europe.”

Complex travel

Anyone making last-minute plans for a European vacation this year should brace themselves for an often confusing, complex and rather stressful experience — and that’s before you’ve even stepped off the plane.

Take going to Greece from the U.K. — a vacation that 3.4 million Brits did in 2019, official statistics show — as a general example of the complexities of going on vacation in these troubled times:

Greece is allowing visitors from the U.K. if they can provide proof of a negative Covid-19 PCR test, undertaken within the 72-hour period before arrival into the country or proof of a negative rapid antigen test undertaken by an authorized lab within the 48-hour period before the scheduled flight; or proof of two doses of a Covid vaccine completed at least 14 days before travel.

Before you even get to Greece, however, you have to fill in a Passenger Locator Form no later than 11:59 p.m. (local time) of the day before arriving stating your vaccination status, vacation address and next of kin. Then before returning to the U.K., holiday makers have to do a PCR test and fill out another passenger locator form and then within two days of after arriving back in the U.K. do a further PCR test or quarantine for 10 days.

All that, and Greece is actually one of the easier places to go on vacation this year.

Like its fellow European countries, Greece has not escaped the somewhat inevitable rise in Covid cases as the economy (particularly the island night time economy) has opened up. Still, the daily number of cases appears small compared to, say, France or the U.K. On Wednesday, Greece reported 2,972 new cases, 19 of which were located after checks at the country’s borders.

Busier times in Paliouri beach, Greece: This image was taken in 2017 which was considered to be one of the best performing summers, in terms of visitors arrivals. Busier times in Paliouri beach, Greece: This image was taken in 2017 which was considered to be one of the best performing summers, in terms of visitors arrivals. NurPhoto | NurPhoto | Getty Images

Wolfango Piccoli, co-president of risk consultancy Teneo Intelligence, noted on Wednesday that the resurgence of Covid-19 in Greece “poses new challenges, especially with regard to another meager tourism season and the economic consequences that will follow,” circumstances that put pressure on Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis.

“Mitsotakis had been hoping to leave the pandemic behind this summer as his center-right government reached the midway point of its four-year term in office. He was aiming to oversee an improvement in tourism receipts, the launch of Greece’s recovery plan and a return to growth. However, Covid-19 numbers have risen significantly in recent weeks and the vital tourism sector is already pushing for more state support in the autumn amid fears of more disappointing visitor numbers this year,” Piccoli noted.

CNBC Health & Science

Read CNBC’s latest global coverage of the Covid pandemic:

J&J expects $2.5 billion in global sales from Covid vaccine this year  

The beta Covid variant is causing concerns in Europe, should we be worried?

WHO chief warns that the world is going into the ‘early stages of another wave’

‘If anybody is lying here senator, it is you,’ Fauci tells Sen. Paul in heated exchange at Senate hearing 

As the Delta variant is gradually becoming more dominant, Piccoli noted that Greece faces a conundrum as “the number of daily vaccinations has slowed this month to below 100,000 despite the government offering Greeks aged 18-25 a 150-euro ($177) incentive to get vaccinated.”

So far, he said, only around 120,000 out of an estimated 980,000 Greeks in this age group have been vaccinated.

Vaccination levels in the general population have reached almost 52% for at least one dose of the vaccine and nearly 44% for complete vaccination, Piccoli noted, adding that “the recent slower uptake has raised doubts about whether the government can achieve its target of vaccinating 70-75% of the adult population by the end of the summer.”

FAAN outlines measures for airport security - PUNCH

JULY 22, 2021

The Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria has restated its commitment to air passengers, announcing its readiness to host air travellers during and after the Eid-el-Kabir celebration.

FAAN said the necessary safety measures had already been put in place to ensure safe travel process.

“To ensure safe, healthy and seamless facilitation of our highly esteemed passengers during this celebration, the authority has put necessary safety measures in place, particularly with respect to the COVID-19 protocols laid down by relevant government agencies,” it said.

According to a statement by FAAN on Monday, other facilities are also functioning optimally, while the airports security architecture has been strengthened to provide for the expected increase in passenger traffic at the airports.

The statement said intending passengers should make early preparations towards completing their travel requirements in good time.

“We want to re-emphasise that protocol officers and orderlies of dignitaries will not be allowed into the airport except they are travelling alongside their principals as only travelling passengers will be allowed into the airports,” it added.

U.S. border to remain closed until at least Aug. 21 - CBC

JULY 22, 2021

The U.S. land border will remain closed to non-essential travel until at least Aug. 21, according to a renewal order issued by the American government Wednesday.

In a notice pre-published in the U.S. Federal Register, the U.S. government says that while vaccination rates have improved, opening the land border to non-essential travel still poses too great a risk.

"Given the outbreak and continued transmission and spread of COVID-19 within the United States and globally, the Secretary has determined that the risk of continued transmission and spread of the virus associated with COVID-19 between the United States and Canada poses an ongoing specific threat to human life or national interests," says the U.S. government notice.

The new order expires one minute before midnight on Aug. 21.

The Department of Homeland Security issued a statement that offered little additional explanation.

"To decrease the spread of COVID-19, including the Delta variant, the United States is extending restrictions on non-essential travel at our land and ferry crossings with Canada and Mexico through August 21, while ensuring the continued flow of essential trade and travel," wrote DHS spokesperson Angelo Fernández Hernández.

"DHS is in constant contact with Canadian and Mexican counterparts to identify the conditions under which restrictions may be eased safely and sustainably."

"We rely on the guidance of our health and medical experts, not on the actions of other countries," Psaki told reporters aboard Air Force One en route to Cincinnati.

"We created these working groups so we can have an open line of communication, discussion on what the criteria look like, what measures needed to be met. Those are ongoing and of course, we continue to be briefed internally as well."

The American order comes only a few days after the Canadian government announced its land border would open to fully vaccinated U.S. citizens on Aug. 9 and to fully vaccinated travellers from other countries on Sept. 7.

No change to Canada's border plan: Blair

Speaking to reporters today, Public Safety Minister Bill Blair said he has been working closely with U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas, who informed him of the U.S. government's plan to keep its land border closed to non-essential travel.

"There are a number of considerations that I know that the American government is currently undertaking with respect to their borders and that work will continue," he said.

Blair said the U.S. policy doesn't affect Canada's decision to open its border next month.

"Our responsibility, of course, is to look after the best interests of Canadians and to follow the advice of our public health officials," he said. "That's precisely what we have done."

Perrin Beatty, president of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, was sharply critical of the U.S. government's decision and the lack of co-ordination with Canada's move to open the land border to fully vaccinated Americans with a PCR test starting Aug. 9.

"It flies in the face of both science and the most recent public health data," said Beatty, who urged the Canadian government to press Washington to change its mind. "It's hard to see how allowing fully vaccinated Canadians to enter the U.S. poses a public health threat when travel within the U.S. is unrestricted."

Beatty said vaccination rates are higher in Canada than the U.S. and infection rates are lower, and pointed out that the U.S. has adopted different rules for those who fly to the States and those who want to drive.

'This is completely unnecessary'

South of the border, Democratic congressman Brian Higgins was infuriated by his own government's announcement.

Speaking to reporters during a news conference, Higgins said President Joe Biden's administration has to explain why it decided to keep the U.S. land border closed.

Higgins — who represents a district in New York state that includes Buffalo and Niagara Falls and was hard hit by the border closure — said Biden has to show leadership on re-opening the border.

"There's only one person who can make this work — that's the president of the United States," he said.

Higgins said his seats on the budget and ways-and-means committees give him "leverage" and suggested that the decision to keep the border closed without any explanation could prompt him to vote against Biden administration initiatives.

"This administration wants legislation passed?" Higgins said. "Okay, give us justification for your decision."

Higgins said the continued border closure doesn't make sense given the effectiveness of the COVID-19 vaccines, and is costing the U.S. economy an estimated $1.5 billion a week.

Republican Congresswoman Elise Stefanik, whose district includes northern New York border communities like Plattsburgh and Massena, called the decision to keep the land border closed "misguided."

"President Biden's failure to reopen the northern border, especially given Canada's recent decision to reopen the border to fully vaccinated American travellers in August, is absolutely and unequivocally unacceptable," said Stefanik.

"This failure of the Biden Administration to reopen our Northern Border is devastating to North Country families, businesses, and communities who were hopeful that the United States would reciprocate on Canada's decision to restore travel across the border."

Stefanik called on fellow lawmakers to support the Restoring Northern Border Travel Act she introduced last month, which would expand the list of people allowed to cross the border to include family members and property owners.

Democratic Rep. Suzan DelBene said keeping the border closed will result in more businesses shutting down in her Washington State district.

"Right now, Canadians can fly from Vancouver to Seattle but residents in the border town of White Rock cannot drive the short distance south across the border to Blaine," said DelBene, whose district includes the community of Point Roberts, where residents traditionally travel through Canada to get to the rest of the United States.

"Instead of helping them build back better, we're putting our border communities at a significant disadvantage."

Elizabeth Thompson can be reached at [email protected]

Could rockets soon replace aircrafts for long-haul travel? - THE TELEGRAPH UK

JULY 22, 2021

by  Francesca Syz

Last week, Richard Branson became the first billionaire to successfully blast off to the edge of space aboard his suborbital spacecraft, VSS Unity, along with two pilots and three other crew members.

The first test flight with a full crew in the cabin, it reached an altitude of 53.3 miles after being released by its mothership, before gliding smoothly back down to a runway at Spaceport America.

“I have dreamt about this moment since I was a child, but nothing could have prepared me for the view of the Earth from space,” said Branson on touching down. “We are at the vanguard of a new space age. Our mission is to make space more accessible to all and I can’t wait to share this experience with aspiring astronauts around the world.”

While the $250,000 price tag per person for the flights that will follow does not shout accessible to me (even with the spacesuit thrown in), this successful mission is a landmark moment for the commercial space industry and means civilian space flight could start as early as next spring, which is a pretty big deal.

This week it was the turn of Jeff Bezos, the world’s richest man, who travelled 62 miles up aboard his company Blue Origin’s reusable New Shepard rocket, along with his younger brother Mark and two people who have become the youngest and oldest to travel into space: the first paying customer, a Dutch 18-year-old called Oliver Daemen, and 82-year-old aerospace pioneer Wally Funk.

But where’s Elon Musk? Don’t worry, he’s doing something even more ambitious in September with his pioneering rocket launch company SpaceX, by joining an all-civilian crew using a Falcon 9 rocket and Crew Dragon spacecraft for a several-day orbital mission aboard its Crew Dragon capsule.

Now that sending ‘ordinary’ people into space has become a reality, what’s next? This lot have all come up with some pretty interesting ideas. Bezos, for instance, has said his goal is to move all heavy industry off Earth into a new settlement on Mars, so that Earth can become one giant national park.

Musk has long talked of developing point-to-point space travel between two terrestrial locations using SpaceX’s Starship rocket. This would mean flying paying customers from, say, New York to Shanghai – a flight that would normally take about 16 hours – in just 40 minutes.

“If you’re building this thing to go to the moon and Mars, why not go to other places on earth as well?” said Musk, who has spoken of sending a million people to Mars by 2050 by launching building a fleet of 1000 Starship rockets, each of which would costs $62 million to build, at a space industry conference in 2017.

Musk was not the first to consider it, with previous detailed reports by US Department for Transportation and the International Space University of Strasbourg noting it could cut transport time to a third of what the supersonic Concorde had achieved but also that there would be many, many hurdles to be got over before it could work.

A report by investment banking company UBS predicted this could become reality by the late 2020s, although this timeline seems unlikely, given the safety certification process alone can take years.

The report calculated there are 800 routes around the world of ten hours or more, servicing over 150 million passengers, so claimed that capturing even a small percentage of that market – and given the growing number of both HNWIs and UHNWIs around the world, there would be takers – is an important material revenue opportunity.

However, the risk of explosions, the physical impact of leaving and re-entering the Earth’s atmosphere for those on board, the environmental impact of burning that much fuel, the infrastructure needed on the ground and local transportation are just some of the issues involved.

According to the UBS report, the average cost of a long-haul flight is about $2,500. In order to be financially viable, a point-to-point flight would have to cost about $12,000 per person, which is what it cost to fly Concorde. However, they would have to convince customers that it was safe, physically accessible and easy enough to use on a regular basis, as even among the ultra-rich, the ‘go once to say you’ve been’ market is not sustainable in the long term.

Branson has also been looking at additional ways to monetise space tourism and part of Virgin Galactic’s growth strategy, as mentioned in the company’s first earnings report last year, is the development of “high speed global mobility vehicles that drastically reduce travel time from point to point,” with a similar example of Los Angeles to Tokyo taking two hours.

They recently announced the launch of the development of Mach 3 Aircraft, a cutting-edge high-speed aircraft collaboration with Rolls-Royce, with a focus on environmental sustainability (they will be working towards use of state-of-the-art sustainable aviation fuel), customer comfort and very high speeds.

But Branson, Bezos and Musk aren’t the only ones who mean business in 2021.

On October 5, a Russian Soyuz rocket will launch the Soyuz MS-19 crew capsule to the International Space Station with Russian cosmonaut Anton Shkaplerov and two space tourists: Russian film director Klim Shipenko and a (as yet un-named) Russian actress, who plans to film a movie while spending one week in space.

Then on October 31, NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope is scheduled to lift off from the Guiana Space CEnter in Kouru, French Guiana and on December 8, a Russian Soyuz rocket will launch the Soyuz MS-20 crew capsule to the International Space Station with Russian cosmonaut Alexander Misurkin, Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa and video producer Yozo Hirano.

Space enthusiasts who aren’t lucky enough to be joining any of these crews should consider looking out for one of the many meteor showers due to take place in the second half of the year, including the annual Perseids Bright Meteor Shower, when the earth ploughs into debris left behind from Comet Swift-Tuttle, which last passed close to earth in 1992.

According to Space.com, while the comet poses no threat to the planet in the foreseeable future, its nucleus of six miles in diameter is about the same size as the one that crashed into the earth about 66 million years ago and killed the dinosaurs.

It should peak visibly in the UK the nights of 12 and 13 August and offer many bright fast meteors with trains. Alternatively, there’s the annual Haley’s Comet-associated Orionid meteor shower will also peak on 21 October, the Leonids the nights of 17 and 18 November and Gemenids the night of 14 December. December 4 will be the only total solar eclipse of the year and the last one until 2023, but you’ll have to go to Antarctica to see it.

So where does that leave commercial point-to-point space flight? According to Scott Pace, Executive Secretary of the National Space Council, we should all be holding our horses.

“I see us working right now on trying to get the suborbital market up and running and stabilised,” said Pace. “I think people look forward to the possibility of point-to-point passenger and cargo travel, but right now just getting routine suborbital access to space is where the action is.”

UK and France plan Covid travel app to avoid holiday chaos - THE TELEGRAPH UK

JULY 22, 2021

Britain and France are in talks to roll out a “wallet” travel app to ensure holidaymakers have all the necessary Covid documentation before heading to the airport.

Grant Shapps, the Transport Secretary, met his French counterpart Jean-Baptiste Djebbari in Folkestone on Wednesday to discuss using an app developed by the owner of the Channel Tunnel to avoid chaos at the border.

Results of Covid testing, and proof of vaccination or herd immunity, are all stored alongside other information required for customers to travel such as passport details.


The app warns customers before they set off on holiday if they have not got all the required information. The passenger “wallet” was offered to Eurotunnel customers two weeks ago.

The technology was adapted from a similar system offered to hauliers to ensure they had the necessary sign-offs to cross the border after Britain left the EU earlier this year.

Yann Leriche, chief executive of Getlink, the owner of the Channel Tunnel, said: “It's the most advanced product for people crossing the border.”

Both ministers said the technology is “the most advanced even compared to airlines”, Mr Leriche added. “And so they wanted to understand what are the lessons learned and how they can support us to further improve the product.”

Meanwhile, Mr Leriche said that the Channel Tunnel would shift workers from France to the UK to manage potential staff shortages caused by the “pingdemic” during the peak August holiday season.

Although the company was not experiencing any difficulties with UK staff being told to self-isolate by the NHS Covid app, Getlink was uniquely positioned because it regularly used French staff in Britain and vice-versa to manage peaks in demand.

The remarks came as Getlink revenues fell 12pc to €326m for the first six months of the year. Pre-tax losses were €126m, higher than the €85m posted this time last year because it included the months prior to the pandemic hitting in March.

The losses were in line with City expectations.

Travel Nightmares May Scrub Your August Vacation Plans - BLOOMBERG

JULY 23, 2021

(Bloomberg) -- After her bachelorette getaway in Austin, Texas, last weekend, Corey Bradley was getting ready to return to New York City when she got an alert from JetBlue announcing her flight was canceled. She visited the carrier’s website to rebook, but got an error message. When she called customer service, a recorded voice told her she would have to wait—for six hours.

“The flight was shorter than that,” Bradley said. 

The 31-year-old physician scrambled to find a same-day ticket, but balked at the $1,800 fare. She ended up using her sister’s hotel voucher to stay another night, and forked over $450 for a trip home July 19, the next day. Bradley said she still doesn’t know if she’ll recoup the cost of her canceled flight from JetBlue.

If you’re planning a vacation during the traditional summer high season, Bradley’s nightmare could be yours. Thousands of passengers have come face-to-face with similar troubles as they took to the skies after a year or more of staying close to home. For a whole host of reasons, August could be even worse.

Capacity constraints at some airlines, labor shortages all across the hospitality industry mixed with surging demand and unprecedented weather conditions are weighing on summer holiday plans. Add to that the coronavirus delta variant and its disastrous spread across the globe and Americans are in for a frustrating time.

Southwest Airlines Co. and American Airlines Group Inc. scrubbed around 3% of their flights in the first six days of July, while more than 33% were delayed, aviation data firm FlightAware found. The industry’s annual average in 2019 hovered around 1.8% for cancellations and 18.7% for delays, according to the U.S. Bureau of Transportation Statistics.

“Those fits and starts make the summer travel season a little more difficult,” Bloomberg Intelligence senior airline analyst George Ferguson said. “It’s not a terrible experience, but it’s not a beautiful experience.”

Many in the U.S. might just take a deep breath and try to get away anyway, given the sheer number of weddings, vacations and family reunions Covid-19 has thwarted. Data from the Transportation Security Administration shows crowds at airport security checkpoints have steadily climbed this year, with over 2.2 million people going through on July 18 alone, a figure almost fit for normal times.

Planes were 88.8% full on average in the seven days ending July 18, compared with 89.8% at the same time in 2019, according to industry group Airlines for America. However, maintenance required on aircraft that had been parked during the pandemic meant some carriers didn’t have enough planes to meet demand early in the surge.

In addition, unprecedented heat, wildfires and storms have pummeled huge swaths of the country, making flying more unpredictable. Derek Dombrowski, a spokesperson for JetBlue, said weather has been the primary cause of operational issues, and a spokesperson for Southwest, Brian Parrish, also attributed recent delays and cancellations to the elements. On July 19, smoke from massive fires in the West delayed arrivals at Denver International Airport, the country’s fifth-busiest airfield.

New York-resident Sophie Vigeland and her boyfriend, Griffin Donnelly, traveled to Athens in early July, also visiting Santorini’s whitewashed villages and Rome’s storied Forum. They were set to return on a Sunday, but United Airlines canceled their flight, and they could only get seats for two days later, she said.

That meant spending an additional $1,000 to cover the extra hotel nights, meals and Covid-19 tests, given the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention requirement that all air passengers entering the U.S. present results no older than 72 hours.  

While Vigeland said she feels lucky to have traveled, she was frustrated after having received no assurance from United that she would be made whole given the added expenses. In an emailed statement, United spokesperson Leigh Schramm said the flight was canceled due to severe weather at her destination, Newark Liberty International Airport in New Jersey, a factor outside of the carrier’s power. Accommodations are provided in most cases for customers who face controllable delays, the company added.

Still, the delay meant added financial stress. “We saved up for the vacation,” Vigeland said. But “we planned for 10 days—not 13.”

Meanwhile, a worker shortfall tied to the pandemic is adding to traveler woes. The airline industry employed 12.6% fewer people in May compared with 2019, according to the latest U.S. government figures. In June, American Airlines canceled 950 flights in the first two weeks of July, citing poor weather conditions and a labor shortage, saying that in some cases delays due to storms exhausted its group of reserve pilots. 

Sarah Jantz, a spokesperson for the carrier, said July 19 that the changes amounted to less than 1% of flights and that the completion rate for trips had improved.

Airlines are working to retrain pilots who’d fallen behind on their certifications while planes were grounded, and have been calling back flight attendants on voluntary leave. But many of their contractors are having a hard time recruiting, according to Laura Moran, a spokesperson at the Service Employees International Union, which represents airport staff in charge of, among other things, cleaning, security and baggage.

For Moran, it comes down to pay. workers such as cabin cleaners and wheelchair agents often make around $12 an hour and don’t always have benefits, according to an SEIU 2016 survey. Moran said rates for many remain around those levels, though workers at airports including San Francisco International and New York’s John F. Kennedy have received pay bumps. 

“All of these little frustrations aren’t because workers don’t want to work,” said Moran, the communications director for a campaign to organize airport staff. “People want to work when they’re fairly compensated.”

Then there’s the ongoing coronavirus threat. In a Deloitte LLP survey published in May, 95% of travelers ranked fare prices as their priority when booking flights, but 91% also said they picked a carrier based on the safety protocols. Covid concerns are driving people to choose nonstop flights over those with layovers, as well as to seek more flexibility with trips, said Ramya Murali, a principal at the firm.

Unlike last summer, when the South and West were being hammered by the second U.S. infection wave, virus worries are probably not enough to make vacationers tear up their plans, according to Cowen Inc. senior research analyst Helane Becker. However, they could prompt a larger-than-usual decline in travel after the Labor Day Holiday on Sept. 6, she said.

Moreover, with the delta variant dominating what’s now the start of a fifth infection wave, those who have yet to make plans for next month may think twice, depending on what the coming weeks bring.

Bradley already made her decision, but it wasn’t because of the variant. She and her husband-to-be, Michael Murn, are getting married in September and were thinking about flying somewhere this summer. But after her bachelorette debacle, they’ll probably just take a road-trip to New Jersey.

Even if they hit some traffic, she said, “we don’t have to worry about this sort of chaos.”

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

EU Talks With U.S. on Vaccine Passports Making Little Progress - BLOOMBERG

JULY 23, 2021

(Bloomberg) -- Negotiations between the European Union and the U.S. to recognise each other’s vaccination passes are struggling to make headway due to the absence of a federal certification system in America, according to a diplomatic memo seen by Bloomberg.

EU ambassadors were told at a meeting on Thursday that the European Commission is, however, in an advanced stage of talks with the U.K., and in contact with Japan, Australia and Canada. Discussions with Ottawa were described as promising and officials are hoping that the EU’s Covid certificates will be recognised in September when Canada is due to reopen travel to vaccinated non-U.S. travelers, the memo says.

The talks are taking place as Europe and much of the western world starts to gradually open up air travel after it ground to a near halt during the pandemic. But with the delta variant becoming dominant in much of the EU, and vaccination and infection rates varying significantly across countries, rules remain patchy. Some countries require people to quarantine while others only allow vaccinated arrivals.

The U.S. has been slow to lift a ban on visitors from most of Europe instituted during the Trump administration and continued by President Joe Biden.

The EU launched its Covid pass, which also registers negative tests, at the beginning of the month. The commission told ambassadors that as of 19 July, more than 290 million certificates had been issued, of which 230 million are vaccination passes. It also noted that by early July 2021, air traffic had increased by 20% and was expected to reach more than 60% of 2019 levels this month.

Some member states now require a Covid pass to enter certain events and settings, such as soccer stadiums and indoor restaurants. The bloc’s executive arm explained that talks with non-EU countries were about ensuring that passes were interoperable, and met technical and security standards.

Negotiations with the U.S. have been ongoing since last month when the two sides set up a task force to explore how to resume transatlantic travel. The concept of vaccine passports has been met with significant resistance in the U.S., especially from Republicans.

Read More: Airlines Push to Bridge the Atlantic Divide Before Summer Ends

The North Atlantic corridor connecting the U.S. with Europe is the single most profitable corner of the global aviation market, filled with premium travelers paying extra for first-class and business-class seats.

The travel route was devastated by the pandemic and carriers on both sides of the Atlantic have lobbied forcefully for a relaxation of border curbs.

They’ve had some relief since late June, when the EU started to open up to travelers from outside countries including the U.S. But the move hasn’t been reciprocated. Airlines have since been bringing back flights, but while Americans can holiday in Greece or Spain, Europeans aren’t able to go to New York or Miami.

Seat capacity between the U.S. and major European markets including France, Germany and Italy, stands at about 70% of where it was before the start of the pandemic, according to data from flight tracker OAG.

The U.S. last week raised its travel alert on the U.K., telling Americans to avoid traveling there because of a surge in infections.

The commission told ambassadors at the meeting this week that it had received requests for mutual vaccine pass recognition from several countries, including North Macedonia, Turkey, Israel, Morocco and Ukraine. It has already reached an agreement with Switzerland and is due to do so soon with the Holy See, San Marino, Andorra and Monaco.

All you need to know about student travel insurance - YAHOO LIFE

JULY 23, 2021

Travel insurance and coronavirus

When buying travel insurance, check whether the policy provides cancellation cover that includes coronavirus risks, including if you fall ill or need to isolate before you travel. You should also have cover in case you fall ill (including with Covid) while you are away. Read the policy documents and check levels of cover with the insurer if you are not sure what protection is provided.

Whether you’re planning an Inter-railing adventure, a gap year or a weekend jaunt to a European capital, student travel insurance is essential. It could cover you financially in a medical emergency, if you lost your bags, or if you unexpectedly needed to cancel your trip.

Here we detail why student travel insurance is a must-buy before any trip, what it should cover you for, how to find the right student travel insurance policy for you, and what to pay attention to in a policy.

Why do I need student travel insurance?

If you’re young and healthy and on a budget, it can be tempting to skip buying travel insurance to keep your costs down. But, if something were to go wrong while you’re away, this decision could cost you dear.

In its guidance on travel insurance, the UK government website talks about the cost of medical emergencies abroad. It gives the example of a potential cost of £100,000 for the treatment of a stomach bug or infection in a hospital in the USA, with return flights.

It also gives the potential cost of £25,000 for medical treatment after a moped accident in Greece, with surgery and repatriation to the UK. In these cases, travel insurance would be vital.

And, while you may not think you’ve taken much away with you, if your phone and other electrical devices were lost or stolen, think carefully about whether you could afford to replace them. If not, this is where travel insurance can help.

What does student travel insurance cover?

A comprehensive student travel insurance policy should cover the following at a minimum:

  • Delay cover.

Depending on the type of trip you’ve booked, you may also want to look out for extra cover tailored to your break. For example, if you’re planning on taking part in extreme sports, or other sporting activities, it’s worth checking what is covered as standard.

Winter sports usually need additional cover, as do other activities such as hang-gliding, horse-rising and some contact sports such as rugby.

If your activity is excluded, talk to your insurer about adding extra cover on.

If you’ve put your trip together yourself rather than booking an ATOL-protected package holiday, it may also be worth looking for a policy that covers ‘end supplier failure’ or ‘scheduled airline failure’, so you’re protected financially should one of the companies you booked with go into administration.

What type of student travel insurance is available?

When you take a student travel insurance policy out, you’ll be given a number of choices to help ensure the policy adequately covers your trips.

For example, you’ll be asked whether you’d like to take out an annual multi-trip policy or single-trip travel insurance. Annual travel insurance is designed to cover you for all of your holidays within a 12-month period, so if you know you will go away twice or more in a year, it’s worth considering as it may save you money when compared with buying several single-trip policies.

However, if you are going away for an extended period of time, such as on a backpacking holiday or a gap year, standard policies won’t usually be the best option as many have limits on the number of days away they will cover both on a single trip and in total over a year.

So, in such a case, you’ll need to take out a specialist backpacker travel insurance policy or a gap year policy, both of which are designed for longer trips.

If you’re studying abroad, you may be able to take out specialist cover for this too, to cover extra elements such as cancelled course fees.

Another decision you’ll be asked to make when taking a policy out is the geographical area you’d like it to cover.

This is usually split into European cover and worldwide cover. Check carefully that the destinations you are travelling to are included in your insurer’s definition of European or worldwide: destinations such as Turkey are included under European policies with certain companies but not others.

Be aware that there are usually two categories for worldwide travel insurance too – those that cover trips to the USA, Canada and the Caribbean, and those that don’t.

If you buy an annual policy that covers Europe but later in the year plan a trip further afield, ask your insurer to extend the coverage - they’ll charge an extra premium for doing this.

What should I look out for on a student travel insurance policy?

Once you’ve decided on the policy type you need, look carefully at the financial limits on your policy to ensure you’re adequately covered for your trip.

  • Look at both the overall amount you can claim for lost possessions and the limit for any one individual item. If you have pricey gadgets that won’t be covered by this, you may be able to add gadget cover or buy it separately.

The ‘excess’ on a policy is another important element to pay attention to. This is the amount that will be deducted from the value of any claim you make, and is typically set at £50.

It may reduce the price of a policy if you agree to a higher excess amount, but think realistically what you could afford to see knocked off your claim payment as this may work out to be a false economy.

And read the terms and conditions of your policy carefully, looking out for any exclusions regarding claims. Reasons your insurer may not pay out include:

  • some types of work on gap year policies, such as manual labour.

It’s also worth checking whether coming back home to the UK will end your policy or whether you’re allowed to come back and go away again a certain number of times during the life of the policy.

If you are unsure about any of the above exclusions, or others you notice, talk to your insurer.

When should I take out student travel insurance?

As with any travel insurance policy, the best time to buy student travel insurance is as soon as you’ve booked your trip. This is because comprehensive travel insurance policies will protect you financially for cancellation should you have to call a trip off unexpectedly due to a situation such as family illness or death, divorce or redundancy.

What is a GHIC - and will I need one?

European Health Insurance Cards (EHICs) are being replaced by GHICs (UK Global Health Insurance Cards) following a Brexit deal. These give you the right to access state healthcare for free or at a reduced price in Europe.

If you already have an EHIC, this will be valid until it expires but if you need to renew it, you will have to apply for the new, free GHIC card through the NHS.

The main difference between the cards is that GHICs only cover you in EU countries, whereas EHICs extended to Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Switzerland too. After 31 December 2020, EHICs no longer cover treatment in Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Switzerland either.

Some travel insurers will waive the excess on medical claims if you use your EHIC/GHIC, while others may insist you have one. However, an EHIC/GHIC is not a substitute for travel insurance as it won’t cover certain medical costs such as rescue from a ski slope or medical repatriation to the UK, or any of the other important elements of travel insurance, such as cancellation or lost possessions.

How do I find cheap student travel insurance?

It’s not wise to buy travel insurance based purely on it being the cheapest available as basic policies may not give you the cover you need.

However, you don’t want to pay over the odds for a policy. So, a good way to feel confident that you’ve taken out the best policy for you at a competitive price, is to use a comparison service to look at a number of policies from different companies side-by-side.


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