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U.S. Homeland Chief Warns of Strain If Migration Spikes - BLOOMBERG

MAY 01, 2022

(Bloomberg) -- The U.S. immigration system would come under intense pressure if the end of a fast-track deportation policy triggers a surge of as many as 18,000 migrants at the southern border, Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said Sunday. 

“There is no question that if in fact we reach that number, that is going to be an extraordinary strain on our system,” Mayorkas said on CNN’s “State of the Union.” “But we are preparing for it.”

His comments come as the administration prepares to end on May 23 a public health policy known as Title 42 that has allowed the speedy expulsion of asylum-seekers and other migrants since March 2020 over coronavirus concerns.

Some Democrats in the Senate and House, including those in close re-election races this fall, have joined with Republicans to call for the policy to be extended and for a detailed plan for how the Department of Homeland Security would deal with an anticipated influx of newcomers.

The department’s contingency plans contemplate a spike in arrivals, potentially as many as 18,000 per day -- a surge Mayorkas said would tax the agency despite efforts to be “ready for anything.”

“We’ve been planning since September of 2021 for the eventual end of Title 42,” Mayorkas said on “Fox News Sunday.” One of the pillars of that plan “is to work with our partners to the south and really ensure that they manage their respective borders, because the challenge of migration is not exclusive to the United States,” he said.

Mayorkas on April 26 released a six-part program for dealing with the expected border surge that includes 600 added U.S. Customs and Border Protection personnel, work to mitigate crowding at Border Patrol stations and plans to utilize new migration agreements with Costa Rica and Panama. 

Mayorkas ruled out providing more comprehensive details on the effort, saying on NBC’s “Meet the Press” that risks aiding migrant-smuggling cartels.

“We have an adversary. We have the cartels that are exploiting vulnerable immigrants for profit,” Mayorkas said. “And I’m not going to provide them a blueprint of what we are doing.”

Many progressive lawmakers and Democratic leaders have praised the decision by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to wind down the policy, saying the Trump administration used it not to address the Covid-19 crisis but to keep migrants out. The Title 42 policy has allowed immigration officials to expel more than 1.7 million migrants from the U.S., according to the American Immigration Council.

Nevertheless, a federal judge’s ruling last week has left the administration’s decision to end it on May 23 in doubt. A judge in Louisiana issued a restraining order that temporarily keeps the Biden administration from winding it down.

Mayorkas has stressed that the end of Title 42 would not leave DHS powerless to remove migrants. He says they would be subject to standard procedures that can allow individuals to be placed in removal proceedings. He also says the administration is boosting its ability to process new arrivals and evaluate asylum requests.

As Beijing tightens Covid curbs, hard-hit Shanghai sees signs of life - CNBC

MAY 01, 2022

KEY POINTS

  • China’s capital Beijing tightened Covid restrictions on Sunday as it battled an outbreak.
  • Shanghai’s outbreak, which began in March, has been China’s worst since the early months of the pandemic in 2020.
  • The outbreak in China’s most populous city and the risk of a spread in Beijing are testing the government’s zero-Covid approach.


BEIJING, CHINA - APRIL 28: A woman looks at items arrived as a guard wears protective clothing at a community that is locked down due to COVID-19 on April 28, 2022 in Beijing, China. China is trying to contain a spike in coronavirus cases in the capital Beijing after dozens of people tested positive for the virus in recent days, causing local authorities to initiate mass testing in most districts and to lockdown some neighbourhoods where cases are found in an effort to maintain the country; zero COVID strat Major luxury goods mall Beijing SKP said Friday it would close — with no reopening date specified — after the city confirmed three Covid cases in an apartment community nearby. Kevin Frayer | Getty Images News | Getty Images

China’s capital Beijing tightened Covid restrictions on Sunday as it battled an outbreak, while Shanghai let some of its 25 million residents venture out for light and air after reporting a second day of zero infections outside of quarantine areas.

Shanghai’s outbreak, which began in March, has been China’s worst since the early months of the pandemic in 2020. Hundreds of thousands have been infected and the city has forbidden residents from leaving their homes, to great public anger.

The outbreak in China’s most populous city and the risk of a spread in Beijing are testing the government’s zero-Covid approach in a year when Xi Jinping is expected to secure an unprecedented third term as president.

Beijing, with dozens of daily infections in an outbreak now in its 10th day, has not locked down. More than 300 locally transmitted cases have been logged since April 22.

But on Sunday the capital tightened social distancing rules and launched a fresh round of mass testing in its most populous and worst-hit district.

The city of 22 million has in the past week conducted mass testing in most of its 16 districts, suspended all entertainment venues and banned restaurant dining.

Beijing begins mass Covid testing as city looks to avoid Shanghai-like lockdowns

“The impact of all this on us is too great - 20,000 yuan ($3,000) in a day gone, just like that!” said Jia, a manager at a normally popular burger restaurant in the east of Beijing.

“Our boss is stressing out about this too,” Jia said, asking to be identified only by his surname. “We have three branches in Shanghai. They’ve all been shut and losing cash for a month. And now this.”

Beijing’s sprawling Universal Studios theme park closed on Sunday, while in the highly visited Badaling section of the Great Wall, visitors were told to show proof of negative Covid test results before entering.

Chaoyang district, accounting for the biggest share of infections in Beijing’s outbreak, launched an additional round of mass testing, with public health workers knocking on doors to remind residents to get tested.

“I do the PCR test everyday and I know I am not sick,” said a Chaoyang resident surnamed Ma, whose local health app on her mobile phone had marked her profile as abnormal.

“I feel caged, like I am sick. These restrictions are too excessive,” said Ma, who works in finance.

Anger in Shanghai

Shanghai’s citywide lockdown since early April has upended the daily lives of its residents, sparking worries about food and concern about being taken to crowded quarantine centres should they catch the virus.

Extreme measures taken to seal up residential compounds, including fencing up entrances of buildings, have prompted outrage.

SHANGHAI, CHINA - APRIL 24, 2022 - A resident of a containment building looks out of a balcony on April 24, 2022 in Shanghai, China. (Photo credit should read CFOTO/Future Publishing via Getty Images) Resident in a so-called containment building looking out of their balconies on April 24, 2022 in Shanghai, China as the city battles its worst Covid outbreak since the start of the pandemic. CFOTO | Future Publishing | Getty Images

Some residents have turned to social media to vent their frustration, some clanged pots and pans outside their windows, and others clashed with public health workers.

The song “Do you hear the people sing?” from the musical Les Miserables has become a popular protest anthem. On Saturday, an online video of a Chinese orchestra playing the song, with the musicians performing from their respective homes, went viral with nearly 19,000 shares before it was blocked.

While much of the city remains in lockdown, Shanghai officials, striking a confident tone, said on Sunday that curbs on some areas would be eased after the city reined in Covid transmission risks at the community level, excluding cases in quarantine centres.

Six of its 16 districts attained zero-Covid status, meaning three consecutive days with no new daily increases in infections, senior city government official Gu Honghui told a virtual news conference.

Public transport will be allowed to resume in five districts, but residents must remain in their districts as they visit supermarkets, pharmacies and hospitals, a health official told the news conference.


Why China shows no sign of backing away from its ‘zero-Covid’ strategy

Social media posts showed the streets of Fengxian, one of the six districts, filled with pedestrians and choked with scooters and bicycles. Reuters could not independently verify the videos.

But despite the fall in transmissions, Shanghai will launch a new round of citywide PCR and antigen tests from Sunday until May 7.

Excluding imported cases arriving from outside the mainland, China reported 8,256 new local cases for Saturday, down from 10,703 a day before. Beijing accounted for 59 of the infections, while Shanghai saw 7,872 new cases and all of the nation’s 38 fatalities.

‘Epe fast becoming Dubai of Nigeria’ - VANGUARD

MAY 01, 2022

By Henry Ojelu

In order to establish the assertion that Epe is the new Lagos, co-founder and Head of Strategy & Growth, Dukiya Investments, Mr Bayo Lawal, has affirmed that the city is, without doubt, an environment waiting to be tapped by various investors with the enormous scale of development which is gradually turning the city into Dubai in Nigeria.

Lawal said this at the dinner event marking the firm’s celebration of their one year anniversary that was recently held at Raddison Blu, Victoria Island, adding, “a lot of people are going to Epe because it has been opened up with many infrastructures, in such a way that all the roads that link Epe to other towns like Ijebu, Eleko, Lagos island and others have been done, meaning people can go in and out of it without hindrance.”

“Having in mind that wherever there is infrastructure in real estate, that is where development is and Epe happened to have affordable properties, where people can invest. Also, some of the ideas that government intends to implement are looking impossible in some already developed areas; they therefore, bring them to Epe because the environment is still a ‘virgin’ place.”

He further expressed that a lot of organisations are now going towards the area, the likes of Berger with their cashew plants and other companies going there to set up facilities that can bring future into Lagos or Nigeria in extension.

Speaking on the firm’s contribution to the country, Lawal asserted that “Dukiya has contributed immensely to the development of real estate in Nigeria because when you look at the property owners in Nigeria with Dukiya as an extension, you will see that we have created room for over 200 people to be landlords in Lagos and that may have been impossible if Dukiya investment hasn’t come into the market.

“Also, looking at the development of real estate in Nigeria, we are a structured organisation to the core, we have an organisation that runs whether the leaders are available or not, it is not a one-man system, and that has also helped the real estate organisation in Nigeria because many organisations used this system also to help their business and now we have many of them now.”

“We have created a system that allows people to visit their lands at will, also for people to get allocated instantly, a system that allows them to get their receipts after payment, so with all these, we have created a lot of easy platforms that have made housing more accessible in Nigeria,” he added.

High Fares Delay Aviation’s Exit From Recession As NUATE Charges Minister To Review Road Map - NEW TELEGRAPH

MAY 01, 2022

The twin issues of Minimum Wage Consequential Adjustment and Conditions of Service for the aviation agencies are currently raging as they have been brought back to the front-burner as the National Union of Air Transport Employees (NUATE) said it stands firmly by the decision of workers not to accept continuing shifting of the goal post by government agencies on these issues.

The aviation workers’ union in its 2022 May Day speech by the National President of NUATE, Ben Nnabue on Sunday, disclosed that this week had been set out for major decisions and subsequent decisive actions that would bring these issues to a foreclosure.

Apart from the Accident Investigation Bureau (AIB) which has since implemented new conditions of service for its workers, all other agencies in the aviation industry have continued to delay the implementation of workers’ rights.

Aviation workers under the aegis of the National Union of Air Transport Employees and Air Transport Services Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (ATSSSAN) have protested against the poor condition of service of workers of the various aviation agencies, which have been going on for seven years.

Also, the Association of Aviation Professionals (ANAP) and the National Association of Aircraft Pilots and Engineers (NAAPE) have called for an expeditious review of the condition of service of workers of the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA), the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) and the Nigerian Meteorological Agency (NiMET).

The Amalgamated Union of Public Corporations, Civil Service Technical and Recreational Services Employees (AUPCTRE) has also called for the implementation of the negotiated conditions of service of all the agencies’ workers under the Ministry of Aviation, which it said had lingered for nine years.

The NUATE president stated that workers are equally unsatisfied with ongoing discussions around the big question of airports concession, stressing that the workers are unclear as to the government’s actual response to the demands of aviation unions on labour issues and many lapses in the concession programme.

According to the union, in the coming weeks, important decisions would be made to chart a clear path towards ameliorating already stated demands of workers.

The country that became a 'micronation capital' - BBC

MAY 01, 2022

By Jessica Mudditt19th April 2022

A micronation isn't a real country by definition, yet sometimes these mock states take on a life of their own and come surprisingly close.
In a Sydney suburb in 1981, a teenage George Cruickshank and his two friends painted a border line in his backyard and declared the 10-sq-metre patch the provisional territory of the Empire of Atlantium. After being crowned Emperor George II, Cruickshank issued a unilateral declaration of independence from the Commonwealth of Australia. The trio hoisted a flag and the micronation of Atlantium officially came into being.

Atlantium is one of more than a hundred micronations across the world. A micronation is a self-proclaimed sovereign state that lacks a legal basis for its existence. As a consequence, micronations are not recognised by established nation states, but that does not deter them from assuming the ceremony, pomp and even governance structures of them.

Imitation is not necessarily a form of flattery, however. Micronation founders like Cruickshank seek to challenge the notion of a nation state by proving how artificial a construct they really are.

"The idea of a sovereign nation state having complete authority over its citizens within defined borders is only a fairly recent development, and it led to all of the horrors of the 20th Century," says Cruickshank.

While the interest of Atlantium’s other co-founders eventually waned, Cruickshank became increasingly absorbed by the affairs of his micronation. He issued stamps, minted coins and banknotes, appointed diplomatic representatives and designed a series of flags and insignia. He also adopted a decimal calendar system which divides the year into 10 months.

In 2008, he bought an 80-hectare rural property about 350km (217 miles) from Sydney, which became Atlantium’s administrative capital. The emperor spends most of his weekends at Concordia in the Province of Aurora, where he drafts policy statements and exchanges letters with other micronation leaders and Atlantium’s "unaccredited diplomatic representatives" in the United States, Singapore and Switzerland. Atlantium’s national anthem takes its name from the province. The Auroran Hymn is the excerpt of a soaring symphony by 19th Century composer, Camille Saint Saens.

Atlantium has a cabin, that functions as Government House, and a post office (Credit: Jessica Mudditt)

Atlantium has a cabin, that functions as Government House, and a post office (Credit: Jessica Mudditt)

Atlantium supports the right to unrestricted international freedom of movement, so it doesn't issue visas to visitors like myself who come to stay at the capital, which is listed on Airbnb as "the smallest country in Australia".

The off-grid, 0.75-sq-km (0.29-sq-mile) property consists of bushland and a cabin that functions as Government House. An adjoining post office sells currency, stamps and postcards, the latter of which can be slotted into a red post box. A 4m-high (13ft) pyramid flanked by two guardian sphinxes faces the Capitaline Column, which is topped with the national symbol of a wedge-tailed eagle. Near its southern border with Australia, kangaroos nibble at shrubs lining Lake De Hollanda.

Atlantium’s territory is twice the size of the Vatican and its 3,000 "citizens" come from 100 countries, although most have never set foot on it.

Atlantium meets the four criteria of a state as defined by Montevideo Convention of 1933, says Cruickshank. It has a permanent population (if you count its 3,000 remote citizens, that is, otherwise Cruickshank is there every weekend), a defined territory, a government, and the capacity to enter into relations with the other states. To date, though, other nations have been less willing to interact with Atlantium, and it is still some way from ever being recognised as a nation.

"A micronation founder may say that it satisfies the definition in international law of being a state," says Harry Hobbs, a lecturer at the University of Sydney and the co-author of a new book called Micronations and the Search for Sovereignty. "The problem is that it lacks a lawful basis to exercise sovereignty over a territory."

Cruickshank isn’t bothered by the lack of recognition.

"Atlantium isn’t striving for legal recognition as a sovereign state. It is intended to make people question the existence of traditional nation states," says Cruickshank when we meet at Atlantium’s Sydney Representative Office (which is the drawing room of his apartment).

Game of thrones

When Queen Carolyn of Ladonia ascended the throne in 2011, Emperor Cruickshank reached out with a message of congratulations.

Ladonia was facing a constitutional crisis because we had no queen, and the queen's heirs did not respond to our attempts to contact them – Queen Carolyn

"George was quick to extend a hand of friendship and invited me to attend a micronations conference in London," she says.

Ladonia was founded in 1996 following a protracted legal dispute between local authorities in Sweden over a set of sculptures built by the late Lars Vilks. Its first queen had reigned for 14 years when she abruptly ceased performing duties. At the time, Carolyn Shelby was serving as a cabinet minister.

"Ladonia was facing a constitutional crisis because we had no queen, and the queen's heirs did not respond to our attempts to contact them," she explains from her Chicago residence.

With the queen abdicating in absentia, elections were held to find a new one. Ladonia’s constitution stipulates that it will never be ruled by a king.

"Historically, women have gotten the short end of the stick when it comes to being rulers, so Ladonia’s founders wanted to reverse that trend," says Queen Carolyn. "It was also thought that ensuring the throne is occupied by a woman serves as a peaceful and stabilising force for the monarchy."

Queen Carolyn is the second queen of Ladonia, whose constitution stipulates that it will never be ruled by a king (Credit: Jonatan Jacobson/Mikronationer)

Queen Carolyn is the second queen of Ladonia, whose constitution stipulates that it will never be ruled by a king (Credit: Jonatan Jacobson/Mikronationer)

Queen Carolyn travelled to the micronation’s remote capital of Nimis in Sweden for the coronation ceremony. Nimis is a series of wooden sculptures in a nature reserve which is only accessible by foot, covering an area of just 1 sq km (0.39 sq miles). Nonetheless, thousands of people make the pilgrimage every year.

Queen Carolyn's 26-year-old daughter, Crown Princess Greta, lives in Montreal and is next in line for the throne.

"I became queen when she was 16 and at the time she thought it was stupid, but it's growing on her. She has attended a couple of state events on my behalf."

Blurred lines

Ladonia currently has 27,000 registered citizens, the bulk of whom are from Sweden, the United States and Russia. Its citizenship application page underscores that the citizenship certificate cannot be used for travel or to gain work rights. It is "a gesture of support for the freedom of expression and the arts, the ideals which are the foundations of this micronation".

"People love Ladonia because it is a system of government that they chose," says Queen Ladonia. "It's not an accident of birth. We share a vision for the world that we want to build together."

Discussions are regularly held about buying land for Ladonia’s citizens to live on.

"It’s a question of money. Land near Ladonia is inordinately expensive. Our citizens want us to buy land in Spain or Italy. But we must buy land in a country that isn't going to swoop in and crush us."

Part of her role is ensuring that Ladonia's community doesn’t provoke the ire of authorities and threaten its very existence.

"We're poking fun at existing structures. If you take yourself too seriously, you start attracting negative attention from larger nations. No one wants separatists on their borders," she says.

Atlantium has a 4m-high (13ft) pyramid called Capitaline Column for ceremonial purposes (Credit: Jessica Mudditt)

Atlantium has a 4m-high (13ft) pyramid called Capitaline Column for ceremonial purposes (Credit: Jessica Mudditt)

Cruickshank has watched in dismay as some micronation founders take things too far. The Principality of Hutt River in Western Australia came into being in 1970 when Leonard Casley attempted to secede from Australia over a dispute over wheat production quotas. In 1977, Prince Leonard, as he came to be known, briefly declared war when he learned he was being pursued for unpaid tax debts.

Hutt River earned the title of the world’s longest-running micronation, but it ultimately wound up with a $3m-Australian-dollar (£1.7m/US$2.2m) tax bill. Calsey abdicated in favour of his son in 2017, and in 2020 he was forced to sell the property and dissolve the once successful tourist site to repay the debt.

"Prince Leonard was a canny guy, but he also had some strange ideas. He gave me some documents with numerological calculations and strange cabbalistic references that were basically designed to show that he's some sort of special person," says Cruickshank.

A similar misfortune befell Peter Fitzek, who contests the legitimacy of the German state and founded a micronation near Berlin called the Kingdom of Germany in 2013.

Like Calsey, ego seemed to get the better of Fitzek. "It's fairly clear that this guy believes his own publicity," says Cruickshank. "When you get into that sort of territory – when you're drinking your own Kool Aid – it gets a bit dangerous."

In 2017, Fitzek was sentenced to almost four years in prison for operating a bank without a license and embezzlement.

"The micronations who run into the most trouble are those which act as though they are in competition with another state," says the University of Sydney’s Harry Hobbs. "States don't want to give up jurisdiction over territory they perceive as theirs, or that they might want in the future."

Blurred lines

The line between fantasy and reality often becomes hazy. Queen Carolyn used to work in an IT role at the Chicago Tribune, where an editor playfully instructed her interns to stand when the "Queen" entered the room, and never to turn their backs on her.

I’m smart enough to know that I’m not an actual monarch with real power – George Cruickshank

"One day I walked into the newsroom and an intern stood up and was trying to get others to stand up too. Another time she brought something in my office: she handed it to me and then sort of bowed and backed out."

Up until then, Queen Carolyn had been unaware of what the editor had been telling people about her. She found the exchange with the intern amusing.

Atlantium has printed its own set of stamps (Credit: Jessica Mudditt)

Atlantium has printed its own set of stamps (Credit: Jessica Mudditt)

Cruickshank describes Atlantium as a "sustained performance art project".

"I’m smart enough to know that I’m not an actual monarch with real power," he says. "But the more people that accept something as a fact, the more real it becomes. People treat me with deference at official events and I get letters addressing me as 'Your Imperial Majesty'. I can't be flippant in response."

There is also the potential for tragic misunderstandings, says Hobbs.

"There have been cases where people who are escaping desperate situations pay a fee to become a citizen, and then the micronation has to tell them it isn’t a real country. And the person says, 'What kind of a joke is this?' This is where it cuts into real life."

'The original nation'

Australia has been dubbed "the micronation capital of the world" because it has more than a dozen micronations. Some are playful, like Atlantium, while others were formed with a specific goal in mind. The Gay and Lesbian Kingdom of the Coral Sea Islands was formed in 2004 in response to the Australian government’s refusal to recognise same-sex marriages. It gained significant media attention and was dissolved in 2017 when Australians voted in support of legalising gay marriage.

Hobbs regards the micronationalism as consistent with Australian culture, which "celebrates mocking authority".

"Australia's pretty secure in its sovereignty. It's a continent with a sparse population. The government sort of says, 'We don't really care, so long as you keep paying taxes and follow the road rules. '"

The Yidindji Tribal Nation is seeking a treaty with Australia's government and to rectify Australia's constitution making no mention of indigenous people. It has 200 citizens, over half of whom are indigenous. The land claimed lies in the state of Queensland and stretches 80 km (50 miles) out to sea.

"The aim of the treaty is to settle the past," says Murrumu Walubara Yidindji, who was speaking in his capacity as minister for foreign affairs and trade. "We're saying, 'Look, you don't have to steal our stuff anymore. We'll settle the past and secure the future. '"

In 2014, the former press gallery journalist changed his name, surrendered his Australian passport and tore up his bank accounts, superannuation and healthcare documents. Members of the Yidinjyi government hand-delivered their treaty to the Australian government in 2017 – however Walubara is still awaiting a reply.

"The Australian government is very slow," he says. "While they catch up with us, we will continue to develop ourselves as a nation. We own the place, and we're not insecure about it."

Atlantium, founded by George Cruickshank, is one of many micronations in Australia (Credit: Jessica Mudditt)

Atlantium, founded by George Cruickshank, is one of many micronations in Australia (Credit: Jessica Mudditt)

Murrumu emphasises that Yidinjyi is not a micronation but "the original nation".

Hobbs agrees, saying, "I don't call it a micronation because there is a legitimate basis for their claim to sovereignty. Indigenous peoples have been on this land for 60,000 years."

Measuring success

No micronation has ever succeeded in becoming a country – but that doesn’t mean that they necessarily fail. Success depends on what a micronation set out to achieve.

The Free and Independent Republic of Frestonia was formed in west London in 1979 after the Greater London Council threatened 120 residents with formal eviction. Many had moved into the empty houses on Freston Road as squatters.

Frestonia had its own newspaper and Frestonian postage stamps were honoured by the postal service. The shadow chancellor of the exchequer, Sir Geoffrey Howe, published a letter of support. Frestonia even won a legal dispute over its claim not to be part of the UK for the purposes of a film screening. It succeeded in shielding the area from development and existed until 1983.

"It caused a political upheaval that forced the government to change its plans," says Hobbs.

Meanwhile, the Kingdom of Elgaland and Vargaland claims sovereignty over the areas between the borders of countries around the world. "It makes you think about the border regions rather than the territory itself," says Hobbs.

Even more left-of-centre is the Ambulatory Free States of Obsidia, which is a two-pound Obsidian rock carried around in an official state briefcase by its founder, Grand Marshal Yagjian. Formed in 2015, the micronation claims to be "located at the confluence of feminism and geography".

"The future of micronations is gloomy if the aim is to create a state, because that never works," says Hobbs. "However, the community aspect is bright. There will always be people who enjoy creating a community of like-minded individuals and engaging in diplomatic practices. There is the fun of designing a flag, creating a national anthem, and dressing up as a king, queen or emperor and signing non-aggression pacts."

Russia-Ukraine War Contributed To Air Fare Increase – Aviation Workers - DAILY TRUST

MAY 01, 2022

Aviation workers under the aegis of the National Union of Air Transport Employees (NUATE) have decried the effect of the ongoing Russia-Ukraine war, saying...


Aviation workers under the aegis of the National Union of Air Transport Employees (NUATE) have decried the effect of the ongoing Russia-Ukraine war, saying it is responsible for the skyrocketing price of aviation fuel.

The workers are also set to take a decision on the raging controversy over the non-implementation of conditions of service and the consequential adjustment on new minimum wage.

The workers had in February threatened to shut down the airspace before the intervention of the Ministry of Labour and Productivity.

In his message to mark the 2022 Workers’ Day celebrations, National President of NUATE, Comrade Ben Nnabue, said the aviation recovery from COVID-19 pandemic was stymied by the Russian-Ukrainian conflict.

He spoke in response to the recent spike in air fares.

He said, “Against the background of negative travelers’ reaction to recent air fare increases, these multiple adversities have been exceedingly crippling, particularly for airlines. This has delayed the exit of our industry from recession.

“As expected, your union has been seriously challenged by the current pall surrounding the aviation industry. Notwithstanding, however, your Union has been proving equal to the task, even making notable strides to the bargain.”

Nnabue however lamented that some “big local airlines” continue to defy the law on free association and union membership, and assured that the union would not relent to ensure the needful was done in the airlines.

He also said the twin big issues of Minimum Wage Consequential Adjustment and Conditions of Service for the aviation Agencies are currently raging.

“We stand firmly by the decision of workers not to accept continuing shifting of the goal post by government agencies on these issues.

“Therefore, this week has been set out for major decisions and subsequent decisive actions that will bring these issues to a foreclosure.”

Speaking on the planned concession of airports, the NUATE President said the union is “unsatisfied with ongoing discussions” on the issue.

“We are unclear as to the government’s actual response to the demands of aviation unions on labour issues and many lapses in the concession program. In the coming weeks, important decisions will be made to chart a clear path towards ameliorating already stated demands of workers,” he added.

The longest non-stop flights in the world - AFP

MAY 02, 2022

Qantas has revealed plans for the world's longest-duration commercial flight by the end of 2025, ferrying passengers between Sydney and London on Airbus A350s in just over 19 hours.

Only a handful of airlines fly non-stop over such vast distances, which present a host of challenges including the capability of planes, commercial viability, and even the health of crew and passengers.

Here are some of the longest-duration flights in the world today:

Singapore to New York: 18 hrs 40 min

Singapore Airlines Flight SQ24 to New York's John F. Kennedy International airport is currently the longest commercial journey in the world, taking passengers more than 15,000 kilometres (9,300 miles) from the city-state to the eastern United States on Airbus A350-900s.

It also operates the second-longest journey -- Flight SQ22, also on A350-900s, to Newark in the US state of New Jersey is scheduled at 18 hours and 25 minutes.

Qantas will use the A350-1000 variant for its planned Sydney-London flights.

Darwin to London - 17 hrs 55 min

The longest current Qantas route -- QF9 -- connects Darwin in northern Australia with London daily, with passengers covering almost 14,000 km on Boeing 787 Dreamliners.

The flights were originally operated between London and the western city of Perth, but were moved to Darwin because of Covid-linked travel restrictions in Australia.

Qantas has said it will resume the Perth-London route this year.

Los Angeles to Singapore - More than 17 hrs

Singapore Airlines Flight SQ35 takes passengers more than 14,000 km over the Pacific Ocean from Los Angeles on the US West Coast to the Asian city-state in 17 hours and 10 minutes.

The carrier's San Francisco-Singapore flight is scheduled at 16 hours and 40 minutes.

New York-Hong Kong in 16-17 hrs?

Cathay Pacific said in March that it was planning to alter its New York-Hong Kong route over the Atlantic instead of the Pacific Ocean, making it a longer journey than Singapore Airlines Flight SQ24 to JFK.

The flight path will cover "just under 9,000 nautical miles" (10,357 miles) -- or 16,668 kilometres -- in 16 to 17 hours, the airline told AFP in a statement.

It declined to be drawn why its flight path gave a wide berth to Russia's airspace, which it has previously flown through, according to Bloomberg.

Many airlines have cancelled routes to Russian cities or are avoiding Russian airspace over Moscow's invasion of Ukraine.

Cathay Pacific said the decision was taken because "strong seasonal tailwinds" made the new route more favourable.

Qantas announces plans for non-stop flights from Sydney to New York and London - THE GUARDIAN UK

MAY 02, 2022

BY  lias Visontay


Airline plans flights from south-east Australia by end of 2025 to run up to 20 hours and be among world’s longest

Qantas has unveiled details of the ultra-long-haul aircraft it plans to run on non-stop flights from Sydney and Melbourne to London and New York by the end of 2025, as questions are raised about the emissions benefits and spending priorities of the airline.

Confirming reports that have swirled in recent days, Qantas announced its mega order with European plane manufacturer Airbus for 12 of its A350-1000 aircraft. These will be run on the so-called “Project Sunrise” flights, with the first to be delivered in 2025.

The airline says the planes will be “capable of flying direct from Australia to any other city” in the world, while being 25% more fuel-efficient than previous aircraft.

The wide-body planes will be able to carry 238 passengers – about 100 fewer seats than competitors flying the A350 – and will feature “wellbeing zones” for passengers to move about in the cabin as a way to break up the ultra-long-haul flights that will reach up to 20 hours.

Chief executive Alan Joyce said Project Sunrise is “the last frontier and the final fix for the tyranny of distance” and that the cabin of the A350s “is being specially designed for maximum comfort in all classes for long-haul flying”.

The airline has planned the project for years, with the pandemic delaying its launch. The projected 20 hour Sydney to London service would become the longest commercial flight in the world.

Despite Qantas’ claim that the non-stop flights and new aircraft will bring “major improvements in emissions”, experts say the benefits will be negligible.

Currently, an average return trip from Sydney to London with a stop in Singapore generates about 3500kg of CO2 emissions per passenger, according to estimates based on Atmosfair data.

Dr Tony Webber, a former chief economist at Qantas who now leads the Airline Intelligence Research group and works at the University of New South Wales’ aviation school, said that ultra long haul flights “are normally not very fuel-efficient at all”.

“It’s true that reducing four movements – a take off and landing for each leg – means less fuel is burned, but for a plane to stay in the air for 20 hours without refuelling means they are carrying an enormous amount of fuel.

“That extra fuel is extra weight, which in turn means you’ve got to burn more fuel overall to carry it. It’s a real inefficiency compared with flights that can carry less and refuel at a stop over,” Webber said.

Webber said that the need to carry so much fuel would create payload restrictions, meaning the aircraft could tolerate less freight and passengers.

Conversely, these weight restrictions could lead Qantas to opt for a more spacious seat configuration in its A350s, Webber said, as it can’t maximise the number of seats in line with available cabin space.

Qantas has already said more than 40% of the cabin on its A350s will be “dedicated to premium seating”, in addition to its “wellbeing zones”.

“Being confined to a small space, especially an economy seat, for 18 hours or more is torture,” said Webber. “Personal space will have to be increased, as well as space for pilots and crew to rest.”

While Qantas has not yet released costs for the ultra long haul flights, Webber predicted that at the very minimum, non-stop routes would be $300 more expensive per leg, and increase in line with how much time the route saves the passenger.

Professor Bruce Thompson, head of Melbourne University’s School of Health Sciences, cautioned that the negative effects of repeated long haul flying on pilot and crew members’ circadian rhythms would be more pronounced on the longer flights.

In addition to deep vein thrombosis risk for those in tight economy seats, Thompson said there could be mental health implications that become more pronounced in the final few hours of the 20 hour long services.

“The airlines need to consider comfort and safety onboard these flights. They’ll need multiple sets of crews just to staff them, and you need pilots alert especially at landing,” he said.

Ultimately, Thompson said not enough research had been done to definitively know the safety of flying non-stop for 20 hours. Previous studies commissioned by Qantas on the passenger experience of long haul flying drew suggestions for exercise bikes and virtual reality technology onboard.

Transport Workers Union national secretary Michael Kaine was critical of Qantas’ spending on new aircraft after thousands of employees lost their jobs during the pandemic.

Qantas received about $2bn in government Covid wage supports, and separately, the airline was found to have illegally outsourced 2,000 ground handling jobs.

“While many illegally outsourced workers are still struggling to make ends meet and passengers are suffering long delays and lost luggage, we see Qantas splashing the cash on new planes and flight routes,” Kaine said.

Qantas has also ordered an additional 40 Airbus aircraft – A321XLRs and A220-300s – for domestic operations, with the first of these aircraft to be delivered next year. The deal is understood to be valued in the billions of dollars.

Related: Qantas closes in on direct Sydney to London flights with landmark Airbus jet order, industry sources say

While the airline says the exact cost of the new planes is commercial-in-confidence, it said “a significant discount from the standard price should be assumed”. Analysts at Barrenjoey estimated in a client note the entire order could cost at least $6 billion, Reuters reported.

On the orders to refresh its domestic fleet, Joyce said the range and economics of the new planes Qantas had ordered “will make new direct routes possible, including serving regional cities better” and that “these newer aircraft and engines will reduce emissions by at least 15% if running on fossil fuels, and significantly better when run on sustainable aviation fuel”.

Meanwhile, Qantas Group – which includes budget carrier Jetstar – also released its third quarter financial update on Monday. While the resurgence of domestic and some international travel markets has boosted revenue, the airline still expects to post “a significant” full-year loss. Net debt has reduced from $5.5bn at the end of December to $4.5bn by the end of April.

In 2017, Qantas launched non-stop service from Perth to London, and now flies the from Darwin to London.

Nigerians pay more for transportation in March - THE GUARDIAN

MAY 02, 2022

By Benjamin Alade


Nigerians paid high transportation fares across different parts of the country in March, the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) has said.

The NBS said in its Transport Fare Watch report for March that the average fare paid by air passengers for specified routes single journey increased to N46,810.62 from N44,825.04 in February. The difference showed a 4.43 per cent increase.

On a year-on-year basis, the fare rose by 28.26 per cent (N36,495.41) in March 2021.

The average fare paid by commuters for bus journey intercity per drop rose to N3,270.94 indicating an increase of 5.29 per cent on a month-on-month compared to the value of N3,106.72 in February.

The fare, however, rose by 35.65 per cent (N2,411.29) year-on-year, in March 2021.

Similarly, the average fare paid by commuters for bus journeys within the city per drop, increased by 4.41 per cent on a month-on-month from N513.72 in February 2022 to N536.35 in March 2022.

In terms of year-on-year, however, the average fare paid by commuters for bus journey within the city per drop rose by 42.17 per cent from N377.27 in March 2021 to N536.35 in March 2022.

In another category, the average fare paid by commuters for journey by motorcycle per drop increased by 4.22 per cent month-on-month from N379.12 in February 2022 to N395.12 in March 2022.

Also, in terms of year-on-year, the fare rose by 45.57 per cent from N271.44 in March 2021 to N395.12 in March 2022.

The average fare paid for water transport (water way passenger transportation) in March 2022 dropped to N890.03 showing a decrease of 2.53 per cent on month- on-month from N 913.13 in February 2022.

On year-on-year, the fare rose by 10.10 per cent from N808.38 in March 2021 to N890.03 in March 2022.

Nigerians paid high transportation fares across different parts of the country in March, the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) has said.

The NBS said in its Transport Fare Watch report for March that the average fare paid by air passengers for specified routes single journey increased to N46,810.62 from N44,825.04 in February. The difference showed a 4.43 per cent increase.

On a year-on-year basis, the fare rose by 28.26 per cent (N36,495.41) in March 2021.

The average fare paid by commuters for bus journey intercity per drop rose to N3,270.94 indicating an increase of 5.29 per cent on a month-on-month compared to the value of N3,106.72 in February.

The fare, however, rose by 35.65 per cent (N2,411.29) year-on-year, in March 2021.

Similarly, the average fare paid by commuters for bus journeys within the city per drop, increased by 4.41 per cent on a month-on-month from N513.72 in February 2022 to N536.35 in March 2022.

In terms of year-on-year, however, the average fare paid by commuters for bus journey within the city per drop rose by 42.17 per cent from N377.27 in March 2021 to N536.35 in March 2022.

In another category, the average fare paid by commuters for journey by motorcycle per drop increased by 4.22 per cent month-on-month from N379.12 in February 2022 to N395.12 in March 2022.

Also, in terms of year-on-year, the fare rose by 45.57 per cent from N271.44 in March 2021 to N395.12 in March 2022.

The average fare paid for water transport (water way passenger transportation) in March 2022 dropped to N890.03 showing a decrease of 2.53 per cent on month- on-month from N 913.13 in February 2022.

On year-on-year, the fare rose by 10.10 per cent from N808.38 in March 2021 to N890.03 in March 2022.

Summer travels in dire straits as cancellations, skill shortage rise - THE GUARDIAN

MAY 02, 2022

By Wole Oyebade


Operators and industry experts have warned that massive flight disruption awaits summer travellers this season, with a possible yearlong effect on the sector.

Though passenger traffic demand has surged to an all-time high since the COVID-19 recovery began, airlines and airport infrastructure are on the back foot in the race to keep up with demand pressure. Airlines especially, are facing a staff shortage having laid off several workers at the peak of the devastating pandemic.

Stakeholders in Nigeria said the development was expected and is an opportunity for local idle capacity to harness.

Already, flights originating from the United Kingdom are feeling the pinch of cancellations, offering no guarantee for holidaymakers hoping to fly to Europe and the United States.

British Airways, for instance, has axed hundreds of flights on some routes to the U.S. and the Far East until September, affecting thousands of travellers after it had already cancelled more than 1,000 flights in little more than three weeks.

Routes affected include London to Berlin, Dublin, Geneva, Paris, Stockholm, Athens and Prague. The flagship carrier axed another 200-plus flight early this week, affecting an estimated 20,000 passengers.

JetBlue Airways has notified staffers of the plan to trim its summer schedule to avoid flight disruptions as it scrambles to hire ahead of what executives expect to be a monster peak travel season.

JetBlue’s COO and president, Joanna Geraghty, said in an email to staff: “We’ve already reduced May capacity 8-10 per cent and you can expect to see a similar size capacity pull for the remainder of the summer.”

The airline canceled more than 300 flights in early April, a week after bad weather in Florida kicked off hundreds of flight cancellations and delays on JetBlue and other carriers.

Alaska Airlines last week said it would trim its schedule two per cent through the end of June to handle a pilot shortage after canceling dozens of flights earlier in the month because of staffing shortages.

“We’ve recently let down some of our valued guests by canceling an unusual number of flights,” Alaska said. “The primary cause of cancellations is the shortage of pilots available to fly versus what was planned when we built our April schedule in January.”

FlightAware, a real-time flights’ tracking platform, on Wednesday, reported the cancellation of 1,512 flights globally.

More than 1,140 flights were grounded at Heathrow, Gatwick, Manchester and Birmingham during the Easter getaway – with EasyJet and British Airways both cutting 60 and 98 flights respectively in a single day.

Airlines are scrambling to staff up to handle a surge in travellers this spring and summer.

Managing Director of Aviation Recruitment Network, Kully Sandhu, intoned that it could be up to 12 months “before we see staffing at airports back to pre-pandemic levels.”

“Recruitment for people at airports takes longer than roles elsewhere because of necessary, additional security and background checks. Routine recruitment campaigns ground to halt during the pandemic and have been slow to start again as international travel has had several restrictions on it until recently. That means the recruitment pipeline was cut off and needs to be re-established.

“Aviation has lost its appeal, not only for returners but also for people who have never worked in an airport environment before.”

Chief Executive Officer of Finchglow Holdings, Bankole Bernard, said the development was not unexpected as the post-pandemic era rallies back to its peak.

Bernard said the emerging vacancies are opportunities for Nigerians that are already trained, and “a lot more could have readily fit in if we had paid more attention to knowledge acquisition.

“We have good hands in Nigeria as it were. They are all gaining jobs outside the country now. Employers know that number one, they come cheap; again because our naira is weak. Number two, they have been well-trained. But we can do more. The government needs to strengthen training institutes in aviation. If they are well recognised, awareness is created around this, then you will see the industry boom more than what it is,” Bernard said.

Chief executive of Red Savannah Luxury Travel, George Morgan-Grenville, described it as an unfortunate perfect storm and airlines and airports are trying to ramp up again after the pandemic.

At the World Travel and Tourism Council’s summit in Manila in the Philippines, Paul Charles, of travel consultancy, The PC Agency, suggested disruption could last many months.

“COVID-19 travel restrictions have brought about the destruction of talent through job losses. BA is only recruiting staff who already have security passes. The airline’s planners believe there is a maximum number of people they feel they will recruit. Therefore, it has to cut back on frequency now based on its expected level of recruitment.

“It is readjusting to give as much notice as it can before it’s inevitable that they have to cancel those flights anyway. It is responding to concerns expressed by their customers and Government ministers about the lack of notice given to consumers.”

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