Disneyland Paris postpones re-opening again - AFP
Disneyland Paris, Europe's biggest tourist attraction, said Friday it will not be able to reopen as planned on April 2 because of the ongoing Covid-19 crisis.
The park, which employs 17,000 people, closed between March 13 and July 15 last year, and has been shut again since October 30.
Initially, Disneyland Paris had hoped to re-admit visitors in February, before setting April 2 as its new target date, depending on health conditions improving.
This time, the theme park held off from giving any new estimate for a reopening.
"We are optimistic that we will be able to reopen soon, and we will share updates when possible," it said on its website's homepage.
Anyone with bookings would be able to reschedule or ask for a refund, it said.
A union source at Disneyland said earlier this year that management expects a return to pre-pandemic levels of activity only in 2022.
The Disney group has announced 32,000 job cuts at its theme park activities worldwide by the end of the first quarter, mostly in the United States, because of the impact of the coronavirus.
British Airways calls for vaccinated people to travel without restrictions - REUTERS
By Sarah Young
LONDON (Reuters) - British Airways’s new boss said vaccinated people should be allowed to travel without restriction and non-vaccinated people with a negative COVID-19 test, as he set out his ideas for a travel restart a month before the UK government finalises its plans.
Holidays will not be allowed until May 17 at the earliest, the government has said, but before that, on April 12, Britain will announce how and when non-essential travel into and out of the country can resume.
Sean Doyle, appointed BA’s chief executive last October, called on Britain to work with other governments to allow vaccines and health apps to open up travel, after a year when minimal flying has left many airlines on life support.
“I think people who’ve been vaccinated should be able to travel without restriction. Those who have not been vaccinated should be able to travel with a negative test result,” he said.
Doyle said the roll-out of vaccines made him optimistic BA would be back flying this summer, but added the recovery depends on what is said on April 12.
He wants government to give its backing to health apps that can be used to verify a person’s negative COVID-19 test results and vaccination status.
Apps will be key to facilitating travel at scale, the industry has said. Airline staff checking paperwork takes 20 minutes per passenger and is not practical if large numbers of passengers return.
Britain has rapidly rolled out vaccinations and 44% of the adult population, mostly people over 60, have now had their first shot.
The government has said any return to travel must be fair and not unduly disadvantage those who have not been vaccinated.
Doyle expects Britain to bring in a tiered framework with destinations put into categories depending on risk, and that will determine BA’s summer schedule.
Beyond saying there was “huge pent up demand”, Doyle declined to forecast how strong the season could be.
Budget rival Ryanair, Europe’s biggest airline, has said it hopes to fly up to 70% of 2019 passenger numbers this summer.
BA has struck a deal with a testing kit provider giving its passengers 33 pound ($46) tests to take abroad.
Travel commentators expect most European airlines to focus on short-haul leisure routes this summer, and Doyle noted France, Greece, Portugal, Cyprus and Spain had all sounded positive about welcoming British holidaymakers.
But he said BA was also looking further afield.
“We’re already looking at new destinations over the summer that we haven’t flown to before, and that could be across both long haul and short haul,” Doyle said.
($1 = 0.7196 pounds)
Reporting by Sarah Young. Editing by Mark Potter
BA rolls out digital vaccine passports as boss calls for unrestricted travel - YAHOO FINANCE
BY Suban Abdulla
British Airways (BA) will introduce digital global vaccine passports in time for the planned reopening of international travel from 17 May.
BA, owned by International Consolidated Airlines Group (IAG.L), will ask people who received their two doses of the COVID-19 vaccine to log their details with their BA app, to prove that they are save to fly.
Additionally, BA's boss has also called for unrestricted travel for those who have been vaccinated and for non-vaccinated people with a negative coronavirus test as the industry gears up for overseas travel to recommence.
The calls come a few months ahead of the government's timetable.
While prime minister Boris Johnson has said that foreign travel can resume no sooner than 17 May (depending on daily data and the success of the vaccine programme) before then on 12 April, a taskforce will produce a report, which will recommend how international trips can resume for people in England.
Sean Doyle, who was appointed CEO in October, called on the UK to work with other governments to allow vaccines and health apps to help open up an industry which has been grounded for almost a year.
The aviation sector has said that health apps will be key to facilitating travel at scale. Airline workers may become overwhelmed once large numbers of passengers return, as checking paperwork could take time. As such he wants the government to back health apps that can be used to verify an individuals negative COVID-19 test result and vaccination status, to speed up things.
"I think people who’ve been vaccinated should be able to travel without restriction. Those who have not been vaccinated should be able to travel with a negative test result," Doyle said.
Doyle added that he is optimistic that the roll-out of vaccines will boost the aviation sector which has been on life support, but everything lingers on what the UK government announces on 12 April.
So far, the UK has rapidly rolled out vaccinations and 44% of the adult population, mostly people over 60, have now had their first jab. Meanwhile, 48,000 business in Britain have also signed up for rapid workplace testing as the the country eases back into "normality"
The news comes as the British flag carrier is mulling deploying some of its bigger planes to add capacity for an anticipated post-pandemic holiday rush as the UK eases out of lockdown.
As a response, BA could divert some of its jets used on long-haul routes to short-haul destinations as demand for European trips from the UK increases.
Popular holiday destinations such as Greece and Spain are gearing up to open for European holidaymakers from mid-May, according to Bloomberg. This could see a spike in bookings and make the usage of the bigger aircraft financially viable.
Currently, many of BA's B787s and A350s along with other planes including B777s are remaining idle while international travel remains restricted, unless necessary.
“We keep our operation under constant review,” a spokesman for British Airways said.
Airlines and travel firms have seen a bump in demand since Johnson proposed a four-step roadmap out of lockdown, last month.
US air travel hits highest level since March 2020 - AFP
Airports in the United States saw their largest number of passengers in a year on Friday, data showed, following a shuddering halt in travel brought on by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Just over 1.35 million travelers were checked in at American airports on Friday, the most since March 15 last year, according to Transportation Safety Administration figures.
Despite the recovery, volume is still nearly half of what it would normally be this time of year.
The previous high since the onset of the coronavirus crisis was seen on January 3, with nearly 1.33 million passengers.
Air traffic had plunged to a record low 87,534 passengers on April 14.
The United States has been battered by the world's biggest reported outbreak of the virus, with some 534,000 deaths.
However, the country has administered over 100 million doses of the vaccine and new cases numbers have fallen from their highs over the holiday season.
BA urges UK to take ‘leadership’ in resumption of international travel - P.A.MEDIA
BY Neil Lancefield
The UK should be a global leader in reopening international travel due to its “great progress” in tackling the coronavirus pandemic, according to the boss of British Airways.
Chief executive Sean Doyle urged the Government to “set an example” and “be ambitious” in developing systems which enable people to travel overseas.
This includes the use of digital technology to verify the vaccination and test status of passengers, he explained.
Mr Doyle said the UK can be “very proud” of the creation of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine and the relatively high number of people who have already received a Covid-19 jab compared with other countries.
“We’re making great progress in Britain in dealing with the pandemic,” he told reporters.
“It’s fair to say that Britain has developed a really strong leadership position in coming out the other end of the pandemic.
“What we want to make sure is that we also take that leadership position into restoring travel and restoring the economy.”
He added: “We can be ambitious, and we can pursue this opportunity in a way that others could follow.”
British Airways is trialling the use of a “mobile travel health passport”, produced by VeriFLY, to enable passengers travelling from London to the US to prove they meet US entry requirements before they board a flight.
Mr Doyle, who replaced Alex Cruz as the carrier’s boss in October 2020, warned that the UK will find it “very hard” to reopen for business and investment if travel remains heavily restricted.
It is “pretty obvious that governments and countries want to accept British travellers again”, Mr Doyle said, citing recent announcements from France, Spain, Portugal, Greece and Cyprus about easing border restrictions.
But “rapid action” and “global coordination” is required, according to Mr Doyle.
“We do need to work across multiple governments and jurisdictions, and I think we have a great opportunity to drive that leadership position.
“For us, it’s quite simple. I think people who’ve been vaccinated should be able to travel without restriction, and those who have not been vaccinated should be able to travel with a negative test result.
“It’s worth reflecting on the fact that testing availability and testing solutions are in a far better place than they were a year ago, and they’re much more affordable.”
British Airways’ owner IAG suffered a pre-tax loss of 7.8 billion euros (£6.8 billion) in 2020 as demand for travel collapsed due to the virus crisis.
Mr Doyle admitted it has been “a pretty brutal and tough 12 months”.
But he said British Airways has seen a “surge” in bookings for flights from May 17, which is the earliest date that foreign leisure travel could be permitted for people living in England.
He added: “The summer holiday is something that people are holding out hope for.”
The Government’s Global Travel Taskforce will provide a report to Prime Minister Boris Johnson on April 12 setting out recommendations for how and when overseas trips could resume.
Virgin Atlantic set to raise 160 million pounds in new financing - REUTERS
By Kanishka Singh
(Reuters) - British airline Virgin Atlantic, which has been hammered by the COVID-19 pandemic like much of the sector, is set to raise 160 million pounds ($222.75 million) in new financing, a spokeswoman for Richard Branson’s airline said in an emailed statement.
“We continue to bolster our balance sheet in anticipation of the lifting of international travel restrictions during the second quarter of 2021”, the spokeswoman said.
“This latest £160 million financing provides further resilience against a slower revenue recovery in 2021”, she said.
The latest financing follows the airline’s completion in January of the sale and leaseback of two Boeing 787s as part of a plan to strengthen its balance sheet.
The deal with Griffin Global Asset Management to raise just over $230 million from the two planes was meant to enable Virgin Atlantic to repay a loan taken on as part of its rescue deal last year.
In the latest raise, Branson’s Virgin Group is set to provide about 100 million pounds and the remaining 60 million pounds would include deferrals, according to Sky News, which first reported the development.
In November, the company said that its 1.2 billion pound rescue deal secured two months prior meant that the airline can survive even if the travel situation were to worsen.
Virgin cut costs by 335 million pounds last year, CEO Shai Weiss told an airline industry event in November. It had also announced 4,650 job losses during the pandemic, halving its workforce, and shrank its fleet.
Reporting by Kanishka Singh in Bengaluru; Editing by Bernadette Baum
Nigeria ‘bans’ Emirate airline - PREMIUM TIMES
Emirate and KLM had in the past few weeks flown passengers into Nigeria but refused to fly passengers out.
The Nigerian government has temporarily banned Emirates airline from operating in the country over its continuous refusal to fly passengers without a pre-boarding rapid diagnostic test (RTD’s).
The chairman of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 (PTF), Boss Mustapha, while speaking at its weekly briefing on Monday said the ban will take effect from midnight on Wednesday, March 17.
“KLM will resume outbound flights from Lagos on March 15, 2021, without RDTs while a letter has been written to Emirates airlines to suspend flights with effect from midnight Wednesday, March 17, 2021,” he said.
Mr Mustapha, however, said discussions are ongoing to resolve the matter amicably.
Emirate and KLM had in the past few weeks flown passengers into Nigeria but refused to fly passengers out owing to new guidelines introduced as part of measures to curb the spread of the COVID-19 virus.
“Regarding KLM and Emirate airlines, at the time that we resumed flight, these two airlines made demands that there would be PCR test for passengers within 72 hours of their flight and there will also be antigens rapid test at the airport and also a PCR test on arrival in their countries,” the Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, said at the briefing.
Mr Sirika said the actions of the airline were discriminatory and devoid of scientific reasons.
“It is devoid of any scientific reasons because the virus itself will incubate at least within or after 72 hours,” he said.
“So, it sounds not correct for you to take a PCR test within 72 hours and take a rapid test before flight and seven hours later, you take another test, you are likely to show negative and the reasons at the time was that the PCR results are being faked.”
Mr Sirika said KLM has accepted to bring passengers in and out on the conditions agreed upon which is to have a PCR test within 72 hours.
“Emirate didn’t accept the position and so, we have asked that Emirate be banned from operations from midnight Wednesday,” he said.
Int’l flights: FG announces dates for Kano, Enugu, PH reopening - PUNCH
BY Sodiq Oyeleke
The Federal Government has fixed dates for the reopening of Kano, Port Harcourt, and Enugu airports for international flights.
Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, announced the dates during the weekly briefing of the Presidential Task Force on Monday.
He said Enugu airport was planned to be reopened on May 3; Kano, April 5; and Port Harcourt, April 15 for international flights.
Sirika said, “There have been agitations for us to open Port Harcourt, Enugu and Kano and of course, it takes a tremendous amount of work, appropriation in the management of this virus to be able to open ore departure up other areas of entry.
“We will do only at a time what will be good for the management of this virus; it is very painful especially for us in civil aviation to have our airports closed and our direct source of income affected as we are finding it extremely difficult to pay salaries.
“So, we shut down the airport with great care and when we shut down the airports, we had to keep them running otherwise the facilities in there will get dilapidated for lack of usage. So, it is in our interest to keep them open but unfortunately, we couldn’t because of our collective health and good of the country and those that do business with Nigeria.
“Now that we have most of the things in place due to the work by the PTF, we will be opening Enugu airport on the 3rd of May 2021.
“We will be opening Kano on the 5th of April, 2021 and Port Harcourt on the 15th of April, 2021 for international flights.”
BREAKING: Azman Airline Suspends Operations - NIGERIAN TRIBUNE
By Shola Adekola - Lagos
Nigeria’s domestic carrier, Azman Airline has just announced the suspension of its operations across the country.
In a notice issued by the airline management, the airline attributed reasons for suspending flights to given the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) the chance to carry out a safety audit on its activities.
According to the airline: “Due to our strong stance on safety, Azman airline will be undergoing an audit of its safety processes as supervised by the regulators.
“In this regard, all our operations are hereby suspended. We are on our toes to restore operations within a short period”.
The airline has been grappling with issues in the recent past including having one of its plane expecting a burst tyre on landing at the Lagos airport. https://tribuneonlineng.com/br...
Nigeria deports 64, repatriates 1,132 immigrants in 2020 — NIS - VANGUARD
The Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) deported 64 irregular immigrants and repatriated 1,132 others in 2020, according to the 2020 Annual Report of the agency released on Tuesday.
Ms Bimbola Ojo, Assistant Comptroller-General, Planning, Research and Statistics, presented the report at the NIS headquarters in Abuja. According to Ojo, the agency 3,112 Nigerians were refused departure from the country while 3,563 foreigners were denied entry into the country in the year under review due to COVID-19 pandemic.
She said there was a sharp reduction in the movement of people into the country by land and air due to COVID-19-related border closures. “But through the sea borders, we discovered there was a huge rise in the number of immigrants. “In 2019, 40,872 immigrants made their way to the country through the sea. The figure shot up to 213,116 immigrants in 2020. “This represents an increase of 13.5 per cent in 2020 compared to seven per cent in 2019.
“Immigrants resorted to the sea borders due to closure of the air and land borders due to the COVID-19 pandemic. “Goods and services were still moving in and out of the country through the sea borders because they weren’t affected by the restrictions,” she said. However, Ojo said the agency recorded a 68.7 per cent decrease in the total number of immigrants in the country in the year under review.
The official also disclosed that the agency recorded a decrease in the number of asylum seekers in 2020 due to the pandemic. According to her, total number of passports issued in 2020 for Standard, Official and Diplomatic stood at 764,294 compared to 1,198,275 in 2019. She added that this showed a decrease of 433,981 or 36.2 per cent. “The lockdown and other crises during the year accounted for the sharp decrease,” she said.
Read more at: https://www.vanguardngr.com/20...