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U.S., Canada set to discuss lifting of border restrictions -sources - REUTERS

JUNE 15, 2021

U.S. and Canadian officials are set to meet Tuesday to discuss how to eventually lift pandemic-related border restrictions between the two countries, but no immediate action is expected, sources briefed on the matter told Reuters on Monday.

U.S. and Canadian business leaders have voiced increasing concern about the ban on non-essential travel at land borders because of COVID-19 that was imposed in March 2020 and has been renewed on a monthly basis since. The measures, which also apply to the U.S.-Mexico border, do not affect trade or other essential travel.

The current restrictions are set to expire June 21, but U.S. and industry officials expect they will be extended again.

Reuters reported on June 8 the Biden administration was forming expert working groups with Canada, Mexico, the European Union and the United Kingdom to determine how best to safely restart travel after 15 months of pandemic restrictions.

A meeting is expected to occur with Mexico later this week and meetings with the United Kingdom and EU are currently set for next week, but the timing could still shift, three people briefed on the meetings said.

U.S. restrictions prevent most non-U.S. citizens who have been in the United Kingdom, the 26 Schengen nations in Europe without border controls, Ireland, China, India, South Africa, Iran and Brazil within the last 14 days from traveling to the United States.

Reuters reported previously that U.S. and airline officials do not think U.S. restrictions will be lifted until around July 4 at the earliest.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Sunday he has spoken with U.S. President Joe Biden about how to lift the restrictions, but made clear no breakthrough has been achieved.

Two officials said the working groups are each expected to meet twice a month.

Canada last week took a cautious first step, saying it was prepared to relax quarantine protocols for fully vaccinated citizens returning home starting in early July.

Hydrogen planes, electric propulsion and new regulations: Aviation is changing - CNBC

JUNE 15, 2021

BY  Anmar Frangoul


KEY POINTS

  • A wide range of technologies and innovations are being designed in a bid to tackle aviation’s environmental footprint.
  • This represents a major task, even if the number of flights last year slumped due to the coronavirus pandemic.



From the Wright brothers’ historic flight in 1903 to the development of supersonic aircraft, the history of aviation has been driven by technology and ambition.

Now, as the 21st century progresses, the sector continues to show its appetite for innovation and radical design.

Last September, for instance, a hydrogen fuel-cell plane capable of carrying passengers took to the skies over England for its maiden flight.

The same month also saw Airbus release details of three hydrogen-fueled concept planes, with the European aerospace giant claiming they could enter service by the year 2035.

More recently, United Airlines announced it had signed a commercial agreement to purchase aircraft from a firm called Boom Supersonic.

In a statement, United said the Overture aircraft — which is yet to be built — was set to be “optimized to run on 100% sustainable aviation fuel.”

All of the above are linked by a focus on technologies designed to reduce aviation’s environmental footprint. This represents a major task, even if the number of flights last year slumped due to the coronavirus pandemic.

According to the International Energy Agency, carbon dioxide emissions from aviation “have risen rapidly over the past two decades,” hitting almost 1 gigatonne in 2019. This, it notes, equates to “about 2.8% of global CO2 emissions from fossil fuel combustion.”

Elsewhere, the World Wildlife Fund describes aviation as “one of the fastest-growing sources of the greenhouse gas emissions driving global climate change.” It adds that air travel is “currently the most carbon intensive activity an individual can make.”

A variety of solutions

Iain Gray is director of aerospace at the U.K.’s Cranfield University. In a phone interview with CNBC, he described zero carbon as “the top priority” for the industry and sought to emphasize the importance of developing a range of solutions to tackle the challenge.

“The really big technology driver is around the propulsion system,” he explained, “but that doesn’t take away from the importance of new technologies around … new lightweight materials, enhanced carbon composite materials, and the systems itself.”

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Expanding on his point, Gray provided an example of why the innovations on planes flying above our heads should not be viewed in isolation. 

“There’s a lot of effort goes into reducing the weight on an aeroplane for it only to spend half an hour circling an airport,” he said.

“So the whole interaction of air traffic management with the aircraft itself is a … very important development and new technologies on airspace management are emerging all the time.”

The power of propulsion

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Alongside the development of hydrogen fuel-cell planes there’s also been a lot of discussion around electric propulsion in recent years, with firms such as Volocopter and Lilium developing eVTOL, or electric vertical take-off and landing aircraft.

The key with technologies such as these is the types of journeys to which they can be applied.

“If you look at hydrogen fuel cells and you look at batteries, that really is very much aimed at the smaller aircraft, that’s the sub 1,000 kilometer range,” Cranfield’s Iain Gray said. “You have to do that in a zero carbon way, there’s no question,” he added. “Is that going to make a big difference to the overall CO2 contributions that aviation makes? No.”

“We need to focus on the longer range flights, flights greater than 1,000 kilometers, flights greater than 3,000 kilometers in particular.”

Fueling change

This focus on long-haul trips will be important in the years ahead, even though they make up a small proportion of flights.  

According to a sustainability briefing from Eurocontrol published earlier this year, “some 6% of flights from European airports were long-haul” in 2020, measuring over 4,000 kilometers (around 2,485 miles) in length.

The intergovernmental organization went on to state that “more than half of European aviation’s CO2 emissions were from this tiny proportion of the overall number of flights.”

This viewpoint was echoed by Jo Dardenne, aviation manager at Transport & Environment, a campaign group headquartered in Brussels.

“We shouldn’t forget that the biggest chunk of aviation emissions are linked to long haul flights because you fly longer, you fly higher,” she told CNBC.

“So all in all you’re producing more CO2 … those long haul flights can only be decarbonized by replacing the kerosene that they’re using.”

It’s on these longer journeys that sustainable aviation fuel could have a significant role to play in the future.

Although the European Union Aviation Safety Agency says there’s “not a single internationally agreed definition” of sustainable aviation fuel, the overarching idea is that it can be used to reduce an aircraft’s emissions.

For its part, Airbus describes SAF as being “made from renewable raw material.” It adds that the most common feedstocks are based on crops or used cooking oil and animal fat.

“Currently, the big challenges of sustainable aviation fuel are producing it in the right volumes that are required, and at the right cost point,” Cranfield’s Gray said.

The provenance of feedstocks used for SAF is also important, he explained. “If what you’re doing … to produce sustainable aviation fuel is transporting fuel right across the world using feedstocks from the other side of the planet, then is it really sustainable?”

“The big effort at the moment is looking at how you can produce sustainable aviation fuels in a …  green way.” This could be fuel from waste or local resources, Gray added.

One type of fuel generating interest is e-kerosene, which also goes by the name of synthetic kerosene. According to a briefing from T&E published in February, e-kerosene is produced by combining carbon dioxide and hydrogen.

“What’s great about it is that it can be dropped into these jets without any modification of the engine and of the technology of the plane,” Dardenne said.  

“It’s a carbon neutral fuel, it’s something that can be easily dropped in,” she added. “The only problem is that it’s very expensive.”

Driving cost down will indeed be key in the years ahead, but organizations like T&E are keen to emphasize the potential environmental benefits of using it.

If the CO2 is “captured from the atmosphere” and hydrogen produced using renewables, T&E says “the combustion of e-kerosene will, apart from some residual emissions, be close to CO2 neutral.”

The future

While technology may be developing, the world also needs to come up with rules and regulations focused on the environmental footprint of air travel. 

Examples of these efforts include the Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation and the European Union including carbon dioxide emissions from aviation in its emissions trading system since the year 2012.

In her interview with CNBC, T&E’s Dardenne stressed the importance of “proper regulation.”

She said: “If you price emissions and pollution effectively, then mandate the use of clean technologies, you send the right signals to investors, private and public, to invest in them.”  “The clearer the regulatory framework the more certainty you can provide to the market that these technologies will have a future,” she added.

“And that will actually bring added value, financial added value, as well as environmental added value.” Looking at the bigger picture, she went on to state that “proper regulation” would come via effective carbon pricing and fuel mandates, describing the latter as an obligation to use clean fuels. These were, she argued, “the cornerstone of effective aviation decarbonization strategy.”

Don't Patronise Visa Vendors, U.S. Consulate Charges Nigerian Students - THISDAY

JUNE 16, 2021

By Funmi Ogundare

The US Mission Country Consular Coordinator, Ms. Susan Tuller has advised Nigerian students who intend to study in the United States of America not to patronise visa vendors or touts, saying that they often charge high fees and provide incorrect or misleading information to applicants.

Tuller gave the advice at a programme held at the Consulate in Lagos to celebrate Nigerians who have gained admission into US universities. She said despite the COVID-19 pandemic which had impacted consular operations, thereby reducing the overall number of applicants scheduled, the US Mission in Nigeria has continued to prioritise students' visa as over 2,500 applicants have so far been interviewed this year.

According to her, "students' visa appointments would continue to be given priority throughout the summer months, all required information is available at ustraveldocs.com and applying for an expedited appointment is free and even easier than applying for college."

The consular coordinator noted that students can apply up to four months in advance of their programme start date, adding, "as our students here today can tell you, there are few things to remember when coming for a student visa interview here at the US Consulate. Students will need to demonstrate to the consular officer that they are entering the United States solely for the purpose of pursuing a full course of study, that they are prepared for their course of study, that they have a credible plan to pay for their education, and that they intend to depart the United States after the completion of their programme.

"We also strongly discourage visa applicants from hiring visa vendors or touts, as they often charge high fees and provide incorrect or misleading information to applicants."

She said higher education plays a central role in Nigeria-US relationship as Nigeria sends more students to American colleges and universities than any other country in Africa, and is the 11th largest source worldwide of international students to the United States.

Tuller, whose son is also starting university this August in the United States after being dragged around the world by his parents, said the university he would be attending assigned a Nigerian student already at his university to help him acclimatise to the US as it would be his first time of living there.

Some of the students who spoke to journalists about their aspirations, expressed hope that getting educated in the US would exposed them to best practices in their fields and equip them to proffer solutions to some of the problems facing Nigeria after completing their studies.

Foreign airlines jostle for Nigerian market ahead of summer travels - THE GUARDIAN

JUNE 17, 2021

By Wole Oyebade

At least seven major international carriers are jostling for a pie of the Nigerian market ahead of this year’s summer travels.

The airlines, some of which are making a return to the Nigerian routes since the beginning of the pandemic, have lined up multiple frequencies in and out of Lagos, Abuja and Port Harcourt, beginning from July 12.

The Guardian learnt that the trio of Emirates, Lufthansa, and Air France are also angling for a return in July. Aviation stakeholders said holidaymakers and summer travellers may be in for competitive fares from the foreign airlines that are pushing for survival via available traffic across popular routes.

Since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic over a year ago, air travel has been disrupted with grounded airlines recording huge losses. Safety protocols and COVID-19 inoculation appear to be reopening closed borders, but aviation and airlines are far from recovery.

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The latest market statistics released by the International Air Transport Association (IATA) showed that traffic is still down by 65.4 per cent, compared to April 2019 figures.

Nevertheless, major carriers are making plans to stimulate demands across routes in Nigeria. With over 210 million people, Nigeria is Africa’s most populous country and the world’s seventh largest. The market reached about 12 million yearly traffic in the pre-pandemic era, out of which five million are international travellers.

Findings showed that about 11 international routes are already bookable for travels beginning from July 12, on airlines like Emirates, Qatar Airways, Lufthansa, Delta, British Airways, Virgin Atlanta and KLM.

A larger share of the traffic is expected from Lagos, Africa’s largest city, which has nearly nine in 10 or 86 per cent of the country’s international seats.

Nigerian flag carrier, Air Peace, is also warming up for the Lagos-Johannesburg route. The airline, however, kept sealed lips on its Dubai services.

Emirates may be Nigeria’s largest long-haul airline in the summer week. Before its diplomatic row with the Nigerian authorities over additional COVID-19 tests for travellers, the airline operated 14-weekly departures services with the B777-300ER.

The fall-out and “temporary” withdrawal about three months ago has left several Nigerian travellers with minimal options in connecting flights, as much as it has also cost the airlines in revenue.

Dubai-based Emirates airline this week posted a $5.5 billion annual loss, its first in more than three decades, after the coronavirus pandemic devastated the aviation industry. The carrier said it received a capital injection of $3.1 billion from its owner, the government of Dubai, to help it survive the crisis.

The Emirates group was “hit hard by the drop in demand for international air travel as countries closed their borders and imposed stringent travel restrictions”, said chairman and chief executive, Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum.

Emirates is, however, planning seven-weekly flights out of Lagos and Abuja on B777-300ER.Qatar Airways, meanwhile, also has 14-weekly flights, of which three continue from Lagos to the Nigerian capital, Abuja, before returning to Doha via Lagos. Delta, meanwhile, serves the U.S. 12-weekly flights.

Findings show that British Airways shall be operating Lagos-London Heathrow; seven-weekly departures on B777-300ER. Delta has Lagos-Atlanta, seven-weekly on A330-200. Delta also has Lagos-New York JFK, four-times a week on A330-200.

Lufthansa has Lagos-Frankfurt six times a week on A330-300. Also, Port Harcourt-Abuja-Frankfurt; seven-times a week on A330-300.

KLM has Lagos-Amsterdam five-times a week on A330-200/-300 aircraft. Qatar Airways: Lagos-Doha; 11-weekly by the B787-8 (terminating in Lagos). Qatar Airways: Abuja-Lagos-Doha; three-weekly; B787-8 (via Lagos in both directions). Virgin Atlantic: Lagos-Heathrow; seven-weekly; A330-300.

Travel expert and Chairman of the Airline Passenger Joint Committee, Bankole Bernard, said “the rush” for Nigeria traffic was in line with the global boom in passenger traffic demand.

Bernard affirmed that traffic has been improving lately. “The truth is that a lot of people are tired of staying at home and traffic is building across the world. We are excited about the development in Nigeria. It is bound to happen. Europe has just opened to travellers that have been vaccinated. That is the way to go.

“In the days ahead, we should expect more demands and supply from the foreign carriers. The local authorities only need to put processes in place. Let there be opportunities to receive COVID-19 vaccines at the airport. Vaccines are good and it is the way to go for anyone travelling overseas. So, we are happy that traffic is growing,” Bernard said.

Britain, facing airline pressure, considers easing restrictions for vaccinated travellers - REUTERS

JUNE 17, 2021

BY  Sarah YoungAlistair Smout

  • Ryanair is set to launch legal action against govt over travel
  • UK says looking at vaccinations and inbound travel
  • Airlines want unrestricted travel for vaccinated passengers
  • Minister says ruling nothing out on travel reopening
  • Policy reviews due later in June

June 16 (Reuters) - Britain is considering easing travel restrictions for double vaccinated people, a move which would placate airlines who are threatening legal action against the government's strict curbs on trips abroad.

Pressure is building in the aviation industry, with airlines desperate for restrictions to be relaxed in time for July and the peak season when they make most of their profits, but Britain sticking to quarantine requirements which deter travel.

Europe's biggest airline Ryanair (RYA.I) is set to file papers on Thursday to launch legal action against Britain over its travel policy. read more

However, Britain has now indicated that a relaxation could be on the cards.

The country's Department for Transport said on Thursday that it was considering how vaccinations could be used for inbound travel. More than half of UK adults have received both doses of COVID-19 vaccine, putting it far ahead of Europe.

Reports in the Daily Telegraph said that Britain was looking to follow the European Union's move to allow fully vaccinated tourists to avoid COVID-19 tests and quarantine from July. read more

"We have commenced work to consider the role of vaccinations in shaping a different set of health and testing measures for inbound travel," a government spokesperson said on Thursday.

Ryanair, along with British Airways (ICAG.L) and easyJet (EZJ.L) have repeatedly called on the government to allow vaccinated travellers to avoid quarantine, as well as for an easing of restrictions to some lower risk countries.

The chief executive of Ryanair has called the UK's travel policy "a shambles", and such is the airline's frustration that it now wants to sue the government over its "opaque" system for classifying travel destinations as green, amber or red.

Under plans being considered by the government, people who have had two doses of COVID-19 vaccines will be allowed to avoid quarantine on their return from amber list countries, although they will still have to be tested, the Daily Telegraph said.

Asked about the report, Financial Secretary to the Treasury Jesse Norman told Sky News on Thursday that nothing was ruled out in considering how to re-open travel.

"We are trying to move cautiously and progressively in the right direction so I wouldn't write anything off at this point," he said.

Britain allowed international travel to resume last month, but nearly all major destinations like Spain, France, Italy and the United States were left off its safe list, and as amber countries require 10 days of quarantine plus multiple tests.

The safe green list is due to be updated on June 24 and the government said in April it will review its travel policy before the end of June.

Reporting by Akriti Sharma in Bengaluru; Editing by Leslie Adler

Rainy season: Prepare for severe air turbulence, NiMet warns airlines - PUNCH

JUNE 19, 2021

BY  Okechukwu Nnodim



The Nigerian Meteorological Agency on Friday cautioned pilots to be ready to manage severe turbulence as the onset of the rainy season had commenced in many locations across the country.

It said adverse weather activities associated with the onset period included high intensity storm within a short duration of time, high turbulence that may damage properties, among others.

The Director-General, NiMet, Mansur Matazu, said at a press briefing in Abuja that the season would be characterised by electrical charges in the atmosphere that could cause thunderstorms, adding that there would be series of microbursts incidents at ariports.

“Microbursts are mini-thunderstorms that emanate from the cloud because of the low temperature of the cloud,” Matazu stated.

He added, “These microbursts which happen around the airports cause windshear problems and that is why we have an alert system by which we issue alerts to pilots through the Air Traffic Controllers.

“Now, the negative implications of these weather issues include the fact that they cause severe turbulence during descent or at certain flying levels.

“You can also experience clear air turbulence and it happens during the onset period of the rainy season.”

Matazu noted that heavy rains during the season would make the surface of airport runways wet leading to skidding, impaired horizontal visibility as well as affect ground operations.

The NiMet boss stated that his agency had issued out special alerts to airlines and other operators across all airports in Nigeria and would continue to issue same as the rainy season sets in fully.

He stated that the agency had been issuing weather updates to Air Traffic Controllers at intervals of 30 minutes daily and that the updates were relayed to pilots.

“We want pilots to be conscious of precautionary measures and adhere to standard operating procedures to ensure safety in aviation,” he said.

Matazu further enjoined airline operators to take weather information very seriously and urged passengers to exercise patience whenever delays or cancelations were made due to weather concerns.

Air Peace commences flight operations to Ilorin - PUNCH

JUNE 19, 2021

BY  Juliana Ajayi and Tunde Oyekola


In another development, Air Peace Limited has commenced daily flight operations to Ilorin from Lagos and Ilorin to Abuja.

The airline which recently announced the arrival of two E195-E2 Embraer aircraft, and a third aircraft expected this month, said the Ilorin flights was part of its expansion drive and realisation of its no-city-level-behind policy to connect major cities in Nigeria.

In a statement issued on Thursday, the airline disclosed that the inaugural P47110 fight from the Murtala Muhammed Airport, Lagos landed at the Ilorin International Airport by 11am amidst excitement from stakeholders.

The Kwara State Governor, Abdulrahman Abdulrazak, represented by the Deputy Governor, Kayode Alabi, National President of the Ilorin Emirates Descendants Progressive Union, Alhaji Ota Uthman, were among those on ground to welcome the flight.

The Safety Manager for Air Peace Limited, representing the Chairman and the Chief Executive Officer of the airline, Allen Onyema, said the Ilorin flights signified the provision of more network options and connectivity for the people in the Middle Belt region.

He noted that the expansion would create employment opportunities and boost the state’s economy.

FG giving waivers for airlines’ new planes – Onyema - PUNCH

JUNE 19, 2021

BY  Okechukwu Nnodim



The Federal Government has been pushing airline operators to purchase and deploy brand new aircraft to have better impact on the sector and the Nigerian economy, the Chairman, Air Peace Airlines, Allen Onyema, said on Thursday.

Onyema, who doubles as the Vice President of the Airlines Operators of Nigeria, said this at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja, as Air Peace received its third Embraer 195-E2 aircraft.

He said the Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, had been challenging operators to bring brand new planes due to the economic benefits of such aircraft and the ability to cut operational cost when using them.

Onyema said, “He (Sirika) didn’t want Nigeria to be a dumping ground for old planes; not that the old planes are not safe, but at the same time, he has to protect the economy of the nation.

“The amount of money spent on maintaining old planes is huge, as whatever you make you give it to the MROs (maintenance, repair and overhaul firms).”

He added, “At that time many of us did not understand it. However, later we started to understand why the government through the minister is pushing that we should purchase brand new planes.”

On what the government was doing to support airlines in the purchase of brand new aircraft, Onyema said it waived customs duty after the requests of airlines, as led by the aviation minister.

“Today we have customs duty waiver; we have VAT removed from airlines’ tickets and importation of aircraft. If not so, I would have spent over N1bn on the import of this aircraft we are receiving today,” the Air Peace boss stated.

Also speaking at the event, the Director-General, Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority, Musa Nuhu, said the Embraer 195-E2 aircraft received by Air Peace was not only brand new but was the right sized aircraft for the Nigerian market.

He said the government had been calling for the deployment of brand new planes because the operating cost of such planes were lower, their safety was good and their deployment would enable operators break even faster.

For the Embraer 195-E2 aircraft, Nuhu described it as environmentally friendly with less noise and less pollution. He enjoined other operators to consider acquiring similar planes.

BA diverts flight to Abuja as Lagos runway lights collapse - BUSINESSDAY

JUNE 19, 2021

BY  Ifeoma Okeke

All international flights on Friday diverted their Lagos-bound flights to Abuja airport over non-functional runway lights at the Lagos airport.

Passengers supposed to arrive from other countries into Lagos on Friday are currently stranded in Abuja airport over inability of airlines to land at Nigeria’s mega city.

On Friday, British Airways sent a message to it’s passengers that it’s Friday flight from London to Lagos had to divert to Abuja airport due to local infrastructure issues in Lagos.

The message reads: “BA075 Lagos – We’re very sorry your flight to Lagos had to divert to Abuja due to local infrastructure issues in Lagos. Your new estimated departure time is on 19th June at 12:00 local time, arriving into Lagos at around 13:30 local time.

” Transport from the hotel will depart for the airport at 08:00 local time. Please continue to check ba.com/flight status.”

A source close to one of the agencies told BusinessDay that flights couldn’t land on Friday night because the runway lights were not functioning at the time.

The Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria, (FAAN) was yet to respond to the issue but findings show that other airlines may be diverting Lagos flights on Saturday for the same reason.

Green Africa suspends bookings as NCAA delays its entry-into-service - BUSINESSDAY

JUNE 19, 2021

BY Ifeoma Okeke

…airline yet to get air operating certificate

Green Africa has temporarily suspended new bookings on its site as Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) has delayed the operations of the airline till July 2021.

At a joint meeting between top officials of the regulatory body and senior executives of Green Africa, it was concluded that the airline’s Air Operator’s Certificate (AOC) will not be available till July 2021 due to unforeseen circumstances.

“This is certainly a bump in the road, and we are mindful of the impact especially on our customers and other stakeholders,” said Babawande Afolabi, founder and CEO of Green Africa.

“However, we are confident of the NCAA’s support and commitment to get Green Africa into service, and we have also put plans in place to compensate our affected customers,” he said.

Green Africa said in a statement that to mitigate any further occurrence, new bookings on greenafrica.com have been temporarily suspended and customers who booked previously would be contacted.

“All customers who have booked flights with Green Africa will be able to move their flights to future dates starting August 2021 at no extra charge,” the statement said.

“Further, in appreciation of the trust from the airline’s early customers and in recognition of the inconvenience of rebooking, each customer will receive an automated email with 50 percent of the value of their booking in a credit shell within seven days. This can be used to purchase another ticket with Green Africa,” it stated.

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