Passengers seek end to travel restrictions - THE GUARDIAN
By Wole Oyebade
A new survey has shown that more travellers are confident to travel by air despite the pandemic.
The survey released by the International Air Transport Association (IATA) also showed public frustration with current travel restrictions, but acceptance of a travel app to manage health credentials for travel.
According to the report, 88 per cent believe that when opening borders, the right balance must be struck between managing COVID-19 risks and getting the economy going again. About 85 per cent believe that governments should set COVID-19 targets (such as testing capacity or vaccine distribution) to re-open borders.
A total of 84 per cent believe that COVID-19 will not disappear, and we need to manage its risks while living and traveling normally. About 68 per cent agreed that their quality of life has suffered from travel restrictions, while 49 per cent believe that air travel restrictions have gone too far.
While there is public support for travel restrictions, it is becoming clear that people are feeling more comfortable with managing the risks of COVID-19.
People are also feeling frustrated with the loss of freedom to travel, with 68 per cent of respondents indicating their quality of life is suffering as a result. Travel restrictions come with health, social and economic consequences. Nearly 40 per cent of respondents reported mental stress and missing an important human moment as a result of travel restrictions. And over a third have said that restrictions prevent them from doing business normally.
IATA’s Director General and Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Alexandre de Juniac, said the top priority of everybody at the moment is staying safe amid the COVID-19 crisis.
“But it is important that we map a way to be able to re-open borders, manage risks and enable people to get on with their lives. That includes the freedom to travel. It is becoming clear that we will need to learn to live and travel in a world that has COVID-19.
“Given the health, social and economic costs of travel restrictions, airlines should be ready to re-connect the world as soon as governments can re-open borders. That’s why a plan with measurable milestones is so critical. Without one, how can we be prepared for restart without an unnecessary delay?” de Juniac said.
Africa’s tourism sectors among slowest to recover – Report - PUNCH
BY Femi Asu
The tourism sectors in Africa will be among the slowest to recover from the coronavirus crisis, inflicting further economic pain in economies most dependent on the industry.
Capital Economics, a London-based economic research company, noted in a new report that tourism sectors in the region, like elsewhere in the world, had been hit particularly hard by the coronavirus crisis.
“Even as Sub-Saharan Africa gradually opens its doors to visitors, tourism sectors in the region face serious hurdles and we think that African economies dependent on the industry may be one of the slowest to recover from the coronavirus crisis,” its Africa Economist, Virag Forizs, said.
Citing data from the UN’s tourism body, he said international visitor arrivals to Sub-Saharan Africa were down by 78 per cent year-on-year in December.
He said, “Some economies in the region, most notably Mauritius, rank amongst the most tourism-dependent countries globally.
“Africa’s tourist hotspots like Mauritius and Botswana probably suffered the largest falls in GDP last year across the world. For example, Statistics Mauritius estimates a 15.2 per cent contraction of the country’s economy in 2020.”
According to Forizs, there are several reasons to think that tourism sectors in Africa will continue to struggle this year, and perhaps more so compared to other destinations around the planet.
He said, “Several factors are at play; at the risk of over-generalising, key among them are the role of international visitors, the success of containing COVID-19 outbreaks, the speed of vaccine roll-outs, and concerns about virus variants.
“International visitors, typically with higher incomes than the domestic population, are a key source of tourist spending across Sub-Saharan Africa.
“And the pandemic-hit to already lower earnings in Sub-Saharan African economies probably limits the expansion of domestic tourism, especially as we think that recoveries will be sluggish across the region.”
The report noted that the second waves across much of Sub-Saharan Africa appeared to have receded in recent weeks, allowing the resumption of international travel in many parts to the region.
It said, “Crucially, too, the authorities in many major source countries of visitors to Africa are dissuading their citizens from travelling abroad. Advisories to avoid all non-essential travel are in place in Germany and the UK for instance. Those returning to China and the UK face mandatory quarantines.
“Most African holiday destinations are on the UK’s ‘red list’ that prohibits entry to all non-citizens travelling from listed countries and requires nationals to quarantine in a government approved hotel upon return (for a hefty sum!).”
Forizs said curbs on travellers to Sub-Saharan Africa might remain in effect for longer than elsewhere.
He said, “Vaccine distribution in Africa is lagging behind other parts of the world, and reaching herd immunity may take years. So long as the virus continues to spread, new variants are more likely to emerge. And governments may be wary of ‘importing’ these new virus strains out of concern about potentially reduced vaccine effectiveness.
U.S. issues potential irregular African immigrants gentle warning - NAN
The U.S. Department of State has delivered a subtle warning to would-be irregular migrants from Africa, who may be drawing inspiration from the crisis at the country’s southern border.
A spokesperson of the department, Mr Jalina Porter, who gave the warning, on Friday, said anyone seeking to enter the U.S. should do so through “legal pathways”.
“The Biden administration certainly prioritises responsible and safe migration practices, and this doesn’t preclude anyone, whether you’re in the Northern Triangle or Central America or whether you are from Africa.
“So, we say to those in Africa who are looking at what’s going on along the border that the border is and always has been closed to irregular migration.
“Anyone seeking to come to the U.S. should seek to do so via legal pathways,” she told reporters at a news briefing.
Porter was responding to a question on whether there would be a consideration for asylum seekers from Africa in President Joe Biden’s administration’s proposed immigration reforms.
A part of the question centred on irregular African immigrants already in the U.S. watching the situation at the southern border and hoping to get some relief.
The Biden administration is currently grappling with an influx of illegal migrants, mostly from Mexico, at the southern border.
Reports say an average of 5,000 unauthorised migrants are crossing into the country through that route every day, posing a huge logistical and humanitarian challenge to the new administration.
U.S. authorities are reportedly allowing about half of the migrants to stay in the country and seek asylum.
After taking office in January, Biden reversed a policy by his predecessor, Donald Trump, of turning back unaccompanied children.
Now, the government processes them and places them with sponsoring families in the U.S., according to the BBC.
Critics are blaming these new policies for the surge in illegal migration, the BBC reported.
Azman suspension: Fares rise on northern routes - PUNCH
BY Joseph Olaoluwa
Passengers traveling to certain parts of Northern Nigeria have begun to experience hiked fares.
This is following the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority’s suspension of operations of all the Boeing 737 aircraft in the fleet of Azman Air Services Limited on March 15 due to series of air incidents involving the airline.
The regulatory body in a statement by the General Manager, Public Relations, Sam Adurogboye, said Azman had been involved in three separate incidents, resulting in damage to the aircraft.
A one way trip from Lagos to Kano on Friday via Max Air cost N64,500 for economy tickets at 5:30 pm on Friday, according to checks by our correspondent. Also, flights on Saturday and Sunday sold for N64,500 and N56,500 respectively for economy flights.
For Air Peace, passengers were expected to cough out between N60,000 for economy tickets for flights on Friday. Flights for Saturday to Sunday continued to fluctuate between N60,000 and N55,500 for economy passengers.
Dana Air had no destinations for the northern region of Nigeria on its website while Arik Air flights for Lagos- Yola this weekend was unavailable all through the week, according to checks by our correspondent. The only available flight for Yola was scheduled for Monday at a cost of N100,872 for a one-way trip.
Experts opined that the suspension of Azman impacted strongly on the northern routes and may have resulted in a spike of airfares.
An aviation consultant, Mr Olumide Ohunayo, told our correspondent that fares were expected to be on the rise since fewer airlines service the routes.
He noted that the current situation was one other airlines should immediately exploit.
He said, “Azman was very strong on the northern routes; with their absence now, you expect some fares to go up due to lower capacity. The other contending airline is Max Air.
“Max has some aircraft on ground; they parked some due to the COVID-19 situation. They probably have to bring them out of storage and take advantage of the absence of Azman on that route.
Similarly, an aircraft engineer and Chief Executive of 7 Stars Global Hangar, Isaac Balami, noted that fares went up after the suspension.
He said, “Well, you can see that the day Azman got suspended, the fare went up at some point, even 100 per cent, 70 per cent increment. Unfortunately, the industry is deregulated which is not also a bad idea.”
Kenya Airways Suspends Domestic Operations After Kenyatta Order - BLOOMBERG
March 27, 2021, 9:18 AM GMT
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Kenya Airways suspended all domestic flights starting March 29 midday, while international operations continue.
The measure comes after President Uhuru Kenyatta announced new restrictions Friday for movement into and out of the capital, Nairobi, due to a surge in coronavirus infections.
Passenger services on a Chinese-built railway between Nairobi and Mombasa will also be halted from March 29, Kenya Railways Corp. said in a separate statement.
Most Nigerian airports not viable, says Senate committee - PUNCH
BY Tony Okafor
The chairman of Senate committee on aviation, Senator Smart Adeyemi, says most airports in Nigeria are not viable.
Adeyemi stated this after a two-hour inspection of the Anambra State International cargo/passenger airport at Umueri, in the Anambra East Local Government Area of Anambra State by a joint Senate/House of Representatives’ committees on aviation.
While stating that they were impressed with the quality of works going on the Anambra airport, Adeyemi described the project as a masterpiece, which would elevate the status of both the citizenry and the state’s revenue.
He said, “Aviation industry is very important for the development of a nation. By my observation, this is one of the best airports. I have travelled to several countries and I am not in doubt that this is of a high standard. I have seen the infrastructure and a lot of other things going on.
“You (Governor Obiano) have not only helped to accelerate economic development of the South-East; to me, what you have just done is beyond helping Anambra state economically. You’re not only helping Anambra and the South-East in general but also helping Nigeria as a whole.”
“But your Excellency (Obiano) I mustn’t fail to say that most airports in Nigeria are not viable. Most of our airports don’t get up to 500 passengers per annum. Lagos airport contributes about 65 per cent of the revenue in the aviation industry.
Obiano, who described the airport as a landmark for Anambra State and the South-East, assured that it would be opened for flights in April.
He said the facilities, including the arrival hall, terminal, the control tower, apron, car park and the departure hall were ready for use.
Lafia Cargo Airport Ready This Year – Dep Gov - THE TIDE
The Nasarawa state Government says its multi-billion Naira cargo airport, under construction near Lafia, the state capital, would be delivered before the end of the year.
The Deputy Governor of the state, Dr Emmanuel Akabe, disclosed this to newsmen when he conducted the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, on tour of the airport.
The minister was at the airport site, on the sidelines of his two-day visit to Nasarawa to inspect Farin Ruwa Waterfalls, to showcase its tourism and investment potentials.
Addressing newsmen on the entourage of the minister, the deputy governor said former Gov. Tanko Almakura, started the airport, but was taken up as a priority project by the current administration.
“This airport is one of the priority projects that we believe we should complete, even though building an airport is quite expensive and costing us a lot of money.
“Hopefully, in the next few months we will have a control cabin brought in and installed and when that is done we will have other aeronautical devices in place.
“The runway is 2,2km but our plan is to extend it to 2.5km so that we can have all kinds of cargo planes land here.
“On May 29, 2019, the first flight landed here and since then other planes had landed.
“We believe that before the end of the year, we will open the airport fully for operations,’’ he said.
The deputy governor said the airport was conceived to boost the economy of the state and serve as an alternative to the airport at the Federal Capital Territory.
Corroborating Akabe, the Commissioner for Works, Mr Phillip Dada, said the airport was conceived to be cargo because of the predominant agricultural nature of the economy of the state, as well as its solid minerals endowment.
“The thinking is that a cargo airport should be built to enable farmers, investors and businessmen evacuate their produce, materials and products to markets outside the state.
“We also have the plan to make the airport available for other schedules particularly domestic flights, while we are hoping that by God’s grace it will be upgraded in due course for even international flights,’’ he said.
The commissioner, who said the project started five years ago, also reassured that it would be completed by the end of the year.
The minister congratulated the state government on the airport, noting that investing in such a project was a wise decision and critical to the economic development of the state.
Nigerians Attack Embassy Officials In India For Supporting Police Killing Of Countryman - SAHARA REPORTERS
SaharaReporters had earlier reported how Lyeanyi, who was on his way to pick his brother from the airport, was allegedly killed by police officers.
Violent protest erupted in West Delhi's Tilak Nagar, India on Sunday after a 43-year-old Nigerian national, Leohand Lyeanyi, who was allegedly assaulted by some police officials died at Deen Dayal Upadhyay (DDU) hospital.
An eyewitness had claimed Lyeanyi died because of a lathi injury inflicted on him by some police personnel.
Commonly used in South Asia, Lathi is a long, heavy iron-bound bamboo stick used as a weapon, especially by the police.
SaharaReporters gathered that the protesters (mainly Nigerians) broke glasses at the hospital.
They also attacked officials of the High Commission of Nigeria led by a consular officer, Mr. I. Jacob, who had come to meet them.
They accused the officials of supporting the killing of Lyeanyi by the India police.
“The Indian police called the representatives of the Nigerian High Commission because there is no ambassador yet.
“When he came with other officials, he started blaming Nigerians in front of the India police, he was supporting the killing of the innocent man, instead of asking for the CCTV footage and maybe the video that was recorded by the Indian man. Nigeria is not helping us in this country. We don’t have an Embassy,” an eyewitness told SaharaReporters.
SaharaReporters had earlier reported how Lyeanyi, who was on his way to pick his brother from the airport, was allegedly killed by police officers.
“Yesterday, this young man that the policemen killed went to a lady’s birthday, and he was expecting his brother to arrive in India that morning. So, he went to the birthday party because most people saw him at the event. He wanted to spend time there so that before morning, he would go to the airport to pick up his brother.
“So, he left the birthday venue in the morning and went to the airport. On his way out, those policemen arrested him. When he was arrested, they found some money in his possession, and they wanted to take that money from him by force. He didn’t allow them to take the money so he was hit in the head. When this thing was happening, one Indian man was there videoing what was going on, so when they hit him, the guy fell down and died.
“We (Africans) asked them to give us the CCTV footage because there was CCTV camera there, but they removed the camera. The Indian guy that has the video coverage of what happened there, they took the video from him. Now, Africans started shouting because the man that was killed was a gentle man. We started shouting black lives matter,” another eyewitness had told SaharaReporters.
The India police, however, gave an entirely different account of the incident.
France, EU close to a deal on Air France bailout: minister - REUTERS
PARIS (Reuters) - France and the European Union are close to a deal on a bailout for Air France, which like other carriers has been hammered by the coronavirus pandemic, Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said on Monday, confirming media reports.
“We are nearing a deal...It is a matter days,” Le Maire told France Info radio, adding there could be concessions to ensure fair competition.
“It’s not about closing lines or cutting jobs. Concessions are being asked to ensure fair competition between Air France and other carriers,” Le Maire said without providing further details.
On Friday French daily Le Monde said the French government and the European Union’s executive were close to an agreement on the terms of a bailout for Air France.
The expected deal would see Air France give up fewer airport flight slots at its Paris base than initially sought by the European Commission, notably at Orly airport, the newspaper had said.
The Air France-KLM group recorded a 7.1 billion euro ($8.38 billion) net loss for last year.
It received 10.4 billion euros in loans and guarantees from France and the Netherlands and has been negotiating a state-backed recapitalisation, with EU regulators seeking airport slot concessions at Paris-Orly and Amsterdam-Schiphol.
Reporting by Dominique Vidalon; Editing by Alex Richardson and Louise Heavens
Airport crowds, airline ticket sales show travel recovering - THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
DALLAS — Evidence is mounting that Americans are eager to drive or fly somewhere after being mostly cooped up at home for a year.
American Airlines said Monday that bookings are nearly back to pre-pandemic levels as more people get vaccinated, but public health leaders repeated their concern that travel will spread the virus as new reported infections grow in the United States.
At U.S. airports, Sunday marked the 18th straight day of more than 1 million people streaming through checkpoints. That is easily the most prolonged travel rebound during the pandemic, although Sunday's crowds were still 37% below the comparable Sunday in 2019, according to the Transportation Security Administration.
The strongest travel demand is for domestic and short-haul international trips. American said that as of Friday, its seven-day moving average of net bookings — new trips minus cancellations — was about 90% of bookings during the same period in 2019.
American said strong bookings should continue into the second quarter, which starts Thursday.
As a result, the airline expects to return most of its planes to service in the second quarter after grounding hundreds during the pandemic.
Other airlines, including Delta and Southwest, have reported that bookings began picking up around mid-February.
Gasoline demand is up too, as more Americans travel by car.
Separately, Bank of America said Monday that a recovery in leisure travel is now “in full swing" even as parts of Europe impose new restrictions and the U.S. Centers for Disease Prevention and Control tells people not to travel.
Earlier Monday, CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky made a renewed plea to avoid travel and to get vaccinated.
Walensky said she had a feeling of “impending doom,” and suggested that virus cases could be about to spike in the United States as they have in several European countries.
“What we’re seeing now is more travel than we saw throughout the pandemic, including the Christmas and New Year’s holidays,” which were followed by surges in new cases, Walensky said at a White House briefing. “I would just sort of reiterate the recommendations from CDC, saying please limit travel to essential travel for the time being.”
New reported cases of COVID-19 in the U.S. have increased 18% in the past two weeks. Through Sunday, the seven-day rolling average for daily new cases stood at 63,239, up from 53,670 two weeks earlier, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.
However, deaths declined 29% over that same period, to an average of 1,363 per day to 970 per day by Sunday.
White House officials said Monday that more than 50 million Americans — nearly one in five adults — are now fully vaccinated.
“We're headed in the right direction, but we can't slow down. Millions remain unvaccinated and at risk,” said Andy Slavitt, a senior administration adviser on the pandemic.
Zeke Miller reported from Washington
David Koenig And Zeke Miller, The Associated Press