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Qantas leaves London-bound passengers’ bags in Darwin because aircraft was too heavy - THE GUARDIAN UK

MAY 03, 2022

Furious Qantas passengers say they were left without their bags for up to six days after the airline flew them from Darwin to London without checked baggage, due to weight restrictions caused by a crumbling patch of runway at Darwin airport.

The Guardian understands Qantas only became aware of the urgent runway repairs and weight restrictions at Darwin shortly before the scheduled flights early last week.

The airline was forced to offload baggage so that its heavier long-haul aircraft did not require the entire runway, allowing it to avoid the patch of pavement that was deteriorating due to heavy rain.

Passengers flying into London on Monday 25 April on QF9 said they were informed about 20 minutes before landing at Heathrow that all economy checked bags had been left behind in Darwin.

Marnie Greenrod was one of more than 60 passengers on the flight who waited more than five days to be reunited with their luggage.

She said that the inflight announcement told affected passengers a Qantas representative would provide information about what to do when they landed at 5am UK time. They were instead met by Heathrow ground staff who provided them with forms to track their luggage, and said they would receive an email with an individual code.

“We were told they would not be processed until it was certain our bags had not made it, so we stood and watched the carousel for at least 45 minutes,” Greenrod said.

Greenrod, who lives in London, said passengers were assured their bags would follow in 24-48 hours, but she did not receive hers until six days later, received no communication from Qantas and was unable to track the progress of her luggage.

It’s understood that flights from Darwin to London were subject to weight restrictions for several days, meaning the bags from previous flights could not be loaded.

Alison Taylor was also on the 25 April flight. She said she did have a reference code for her luggage, but was only able to track its movements via Twitter, thanks to a fellow passenger who had an AirTag on their bag.

“Only once I did get through after waiting on hold for an hour and 40 minutes, and I got through to reservations in Fiji!”

Taylor was given another reference number and told she could go and buy any supplies she needed, send in the receipts and be reimbursed. But having received no response from her three emails to Qantas customer care, Taylor did not proceed.

“Mine eventually showed up last night, but wet and stinky, obviously left out in the rain somewhere. The whole thing has been extremely frustrating.”

Passengers on subsequent Darwin to London flights claim Qantas sent them text messages advising them to pack immediate supplies including medication and clothing for a few days in their hand luggage as their check in baggage would not be travelling on their flight.

Sam Thanos said he received this text message after he and fellow passengers had already checked their suitcases, so was of little use.

Thanos has spent five hours on hold to Qantas call centres since he arrived in London on Saturday, trying to track down his bags that never arrived after he flew out of Melbourne, via Darwin. Passengers were told that their luggage was 24 hours behind them, but Thanos is into his third day of waiting.

“It has completely killed the start of our holiday,” Thanos said.

While Qantas cited weight restrictions, Thanos says the plane was no where near capacity.

“Economy was half full,” he said. “Most rows passengers had to themselves, which was great for them to lay down during the flight.”

When Thanos and his wife arrived in London, passengers were given an information leaflet and a unique identifier to register online. The contact number provided on the sheet went to voicemail, telling callers that due to changed circumstances they would not be taking calls.

“We are staying with my wife’s parents, which at least has been easy for us in not moving about.

“I overheard other people talking to the person handing out the papers, saying they are moving every other day during their holidays, so for them it is probably even more of a nightmare.”

A Qantas spokesperson said “an issue with the runway pavement at Darwin Airport resulted in temporary additional weight restrictions on our flights to London last week and unfortunately that meant we weren’t able to carry some passengers’ bags on their flight”.

“Bags were reaccommodated on later flights and are couriered directly to customers as soon as we’re able to confirm the correct address. We apologise for the inconvenience this has caused our passengers and thank them for their understanding,” the spokesperson said.

The spokesperson did not respond to claims support staff had been unresponsive, however it is understood the airline is recruiting more call centre operators after recent complaints.

It’s understood the Darwin airport runway issue has now been fixed, allowing flights to take off with a full load of luggage on board.

A Darwin airport spokesperson said “routine repairs to the runway are scheduled throughout the year, however weather conditions have brought forward the need to conduct this work sooner than expected”.

U.K. Credit Card Borrowing to Soar as Cost of Living Crisis Hits - BLOOMBERG

MAY 04, 2022

(Bloomberg) -- U.K. credit card borrowing is set to jump almost 8% to a five-year high in 2022, adding to evidence that a surge in the cost of living is straining household finances.

Demand for consumer credit may climb a further 5.5% in 2023 on top of this year’s expected 7.9% rise, according to the consultancy EY. The increase would mark a reversal of the trend during the pandemic when many people stayed at home and didn’t spend money, leading to a 12% drop in consumer credit in the past two years, EY said. 

Borrowing on charge cards rose 1.5 billion pounds ($1.9 billion) in February alone, the biggest increase since the Bank of England started to keep records in 1993. Inflationary pressures driven by the war in Ukraine will prompt consumers to turn to credit cards even more to fund spending and cover bills, according to the EY ITEM Club U.K. Bank Lending Forecast. 

The soaring prices of essential goods could create a break on some unsecured loans growth, as some households may be forced to cut spending on non-essential items and expensive products.

Other forms of borrowing could also fade due to cost of living pressures. Mortgage lending is set to fall to 3.8% this year from 4.3% in 2021, while business lending will feel the knock-on effects from supply chain disruption, EY said. 

“The current economic pressures, exacerbated by geopolitics, are likely to weigh on appetites for most forms of bank lending, with the exception of credit card borrowing as people rely more on credit to finance essential spending,” said Anna Anthony, U.K. financial services managing partner at EY. “If there are silver linings to be found both for consumers and for the firms financing lending activity, it’s that interest rates currently remain historically low.”

Despite Opening Of New MMIA Terminal, N14bn Reconstruction Of Old Facility Stalls - DAILY TRUST

MAY 04, 2022

By Abdullateef Aliyu

The planned reconstruction of the Murtala Muhammad International Airport (MMIA) old terminal in Lagos, which was contracted to Julius Berger for N14bn in May 2019 may experience further delay over the ‘discrepancies’ in the newly commissioned new terminal, Daily Trust can report.

>span class="s1">Weeks after the commissioning of the terminal by President Muhammadu Buhari, only Air Peace has moved its regional and international operations to the new terminal.

Also, African World Airlines (AWA) is planning to relocate to the new airport since it uses smaller aircraft for its regional operations.

Our correspondent reports that most of the over 30 foreign airlines operating in Nigeria have refused to move due to the capacity constraint.

Stakeholders have expressed concern over the development, saying the huge investment sunk on the project could make little meaning if the ‘anomaly’ was not swiftly corrected.

President of the National Union of Air Transport Employees (NUATE), Comrade Ben Nnabue in his May Day message made a reference to the ‘anomaly’.

He said, “We also call on the federal government to urgently address the serious shortcomings of the newly commissioned international terminal at MMIA so as to put the terminal to use. It will be a major disservice to this administration should the terminal turn out to be a white elephant. This must be avoided at all cost.”

But of particular concern to stakeholders is the delay in the reconstruction of the old terminal, which is wearing out on a daily basis on account of old age.

The MMIA terminal was built in 1978 and was officially opened in March 1979.

40 years after commissioning, the facility designed for 200,000 passengers has not undergone any structural change and expansion despite the exponential growth in passengers.

>span class="s1">Minister of Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika had on May 19, 2019, told a stakeholders’ forum in Lagos that the federal government had decided to contract Julius Berger to handle the reconstruction of the old terminal.

“Thankfully, we have found a solution to the problems though N14bn is a lot of money”, he had said, adding that operations at the terminal would be moved to the new terminal constructed by the China Civil Engineering and Construction Company (CCECC).

However, despite the commissioning of the new terminal, the old terminal may undergo much more maintenance works as there is uncertainty over when all the airlines would move to the new terminal.

“This is the quagmire we are currently facing and I only hope a solution would be found urgently to this quagmire. The reconstruction of the old terminal can only happen after all the airlines relocate to the new terminal, which is not likely to happen any time soon,” said a source with ample knowledge of the new developments relating to the busiest airport in Nigeria.

Acting spokesperson for the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), Mrs. Faithful Hope-Ivbaze declined comments on the development.

She had once told our correspondent that there are plans for the expansion of the apron of the new terminal to accommodate wide-bodied aircraft.

“There is going to be expansion. There are expansion plans already. You cannot build this kind of edifice without taking into consideration larger aircraft, it doesn’t make sense,” she had said.

Speaking with our correspondent, aviation analyst, Group Capt. John Ojikutu, rtd, said any attempt to relocate all the airlines to the new terminal would be causing massive flight delays.

He said, “The terminal building was ready but without adequate parking apron space. There are six boarding gates as against 12 in the old terminal building. What this means is that the new building is a potential facility that will cause regular delays of flights if more airlines than it can accommodate would operate from there.

“Right now, one airline is given to operate regional, continental and intercontinental from the terminal. That airline alone will be occupying three of the six boarding gates except the terminal operator will be allocating slots to airlines that will be using the terminal…”

Also speaking with our correspondent, an Aeronautical Engineer, Layi Fatimilehin blamed the current development on lack of proper planning.

He said, “Any individual or group of people referred to as organisation primarily have a target of making profits when he/she or they invest in any project or business at all. Whereby such objectives or goals are set aside and profits become allusion and people cannot also benefit from the investment, your guess is as good as mine. If you say poor planning, I will not object.”

Dana explains incident - THE NATION

MAY 04, 2022


Dana Air has shed more light on the circumstances leading to aborted take-off of one of its aircraft on a  Port Harcourt-Lagos flight on Monday.

In a statement by its Communications Manager, Kingsley Ezenwa, explained that the aircraft with registration number 5N JOY operating flight 9J 344 from Port Harcourt to Lagos on May 2,  2022 was set to take off when the pilot- in-command noticed an anomaly which he queried with the Air Traffic Control (ATC) before embarking on a ramp return in line with the airline’s strict safety operating procedures

It noted that the impact on the brakes as a result of the aborted take-off affected the aircraft tyres which sparked off while the aircraft was taxing to re-park

All 50 passengers onboard the aircraft, according to the statement, disembarked safely.

“Our maintenance team immediately grounded the aircraft pending the conclusion of their investigations. Once again, we sincerely apologise to the passengers on the flight for the inconveniences caused due to the eventual cancellation of the flight.

“At Dana Air, the safety of our passengers and crew will remain a top priority in all aspects of our operations and we will continue to operate in accordance with the civil aviation regulations and global best practices,” it added.


Car insurance prices may rise due to high used car prices, warns Direct Line - EVENING STANDARD

MAY 04, 2022

BY   Pedro Goncalves·Finance reporter


Across the UK, surging house prices have pushed 4.3 million homes into higher stamp duty brackets, leaving prospective buyers to pay more taxes.

Around 1.5 million more properties across the UK are now subject to stamp duty or its equivalent tax compared with two years ago as house prices rise, according to Zoopla.

The average UK house price has increased by around £29,000 since March 2020 to stand at £249,700, Zoopla said.

In total, 3.5 million homes in England and Northern Ireland have moved up into a higher stamp duty threshold. A further 815,000 properties have moved over property tax thresholds in Scotland and Wales.

Read more: House prices: UK's property hotspots revealed

Gráinne Gilmore, head of research at Zoopla, said: “Buyer demand has been very strong ever since the end of the first lockdown in 2020, and the start of this year has been no exception. This demand, coupled with constrained levels of supply has put upward pressure on pricing — with the average property now worth an additional £29,000 compared to March 2020.

“This has pushed millions more homes into higher stamp duty brackets, meaning that if they come to market, there is an additional cost for buyers.”

Rising house prices are also having an effect on those keen to get their foot on the property ladder.

First time buyers are now spending an average of £225,000 to buy their first home, an increase of £27,000 compared to two years ago.

This means that this group of prospective buyers now require an additional £4,000 for a deposit, despite average annual earnings increasing by only £2,704 over the last two years.

They also need an additional £5,000 in annual household earnings or income in order to secure a mortgage, which equates to £417 per month.

Read more: One in three struggle to access credit in UK as lenders refuse loans

Sarah Coles, senior personal finance analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown, said: “The stamp duty holiday had a nasty sting in the tail. Hundreds of thousands of people have actually paid more tax, thanks to the huge hike in house prices fuelled by the tax break.

"These higher tax bills are piling yet more pressure on buyers, who are already facing the stress of rampant house price rises, hikes in mortgage rates and runaway bills, which make it increasingly difficult to cover the cost of the mortgage."

A stamp duty holiday was in place for much of the pandemic and was phased out last year.

Stamp duty receipts in England and Northern Ireland reached £18.6bn in the year to March 2022, an increase of £6.1bn on the previous year.

Stamp duty applies in England and Northern Ireland. In Wales, the land transaction tax (LTT) has replaced stamp duty and in Scotland the land and buildings transaction tax (LBTT) is applied to property purchases.


Car insurance prices may rise due to high used car prices, warns Direct Line - EVENING STANDARD

MAY 04, 2022

One of UK’s largest car insurers has warned that motorists could see an increase in premiums due to the soaring price of used cars.

Direct Line said higher prices were needed to combat shortfalls in covering claims for increasingly expensive second-hand cars.

Current price rises across the market are not enough to cover “the level of claims inflation” driven by “continued elevated used car prices,” Direct Line said.

The average price of a used car has risen for 24 months in a row, according to Auto Trader, adding £4,400 to the cost of an average used vehicle. Prices rocketed due to a combination of higher demand as people avoided public transport during the pandemic and problems with supply of new cars, first due to factory shutdowns and more recently due to supply chain issues and semiconductor shortages.

Elevated used car prices impacted Direct Line’s total loss and theft claims in general in the first quarter of the year, while supply chain disruption delayed the time it took to repair broken down motors.

The Bromley-based company, which owns the Churchill insurance brand, said written premiums were down 2.4% at £734 million in the first quarter. Motor premiums slid 5% and home insurance income decreased by 10%.

The company was hit by the introduction of new Financial Conduct Authority rules in January that banned insurance companies from raising the premiums of current customers across motor and home insurance.

Penny James, CEO of Direct Line Group, said the results were “broadly in line with expectations”.

“In an important quarter for motor and home markets, prices adjusted for the introduction of the FCA Pricing Practices review, but we believe have not fully reflected claims inflation,” James said.

“In this context, we achieved a lot, pushing forward key elements of the strategy, increasing customer retention in motor and home and delivering double-digit growth in commercial.”

The insurer said damage from storms Dudley, Eunice and Franklin were now expected to be around £40 million, compared with an early estimate of £30 million to £40 million, across its home and commercial divisions. Claims should be covered by its weather budget of £73 million for the year.

Shares in the FTSE 100 group dropped more than 6% in early trading. Rival Admiral saw shares drop 3.8% on the outlook for the sector.

Stamp duty: Buyers to pay more taxes as 4.3 million homes pushed into higher bracket - YAHOO FINANCE

MAY 04, 2022

BY  Pedro Goncalves·Finance reporter


Across the UK, surging house prices have pushed 4.3 million homes into higher stamp duty brackets, leaving prospective buyers to pay more taxes.

Around 1.5 million more properties across the UK are now subject to stamp duty or its equivalent tax compared with two years ago as house prices rise, according to Zoopla.

The average UK house price has increased by around £29,000 since March 2020 to stand at £249,700, Zoopla said.

In total, 3.5 million homes in England and Northern Ireland have moved up into a higher stamp duty threshold. A further 815,000 properties have moved over property tax thresholds in Scotland and Wales.

Gráinne Gilmore, head of research at Zoopla, said: “Buyer demand has been very strong ever since the end of the first lockdown in 2020, and the start of this year has been no exception. This demand, coupled with constrained levels of supply has put upward pressure on pricing — with the average property now worth an additional £29,000 compared to March 2020.

“This has pushed millions more homes into higher stamp duty brackets, meaning that if they come to market, there is an additional cost for buyers.”

Rising house prices are also having an effect on those keen to get their foot on the property ladder.

First time buyers are now spending an average of £225,000 to buy their first home, an increase of £27,000 compared to two years ago.

This means that this group of prospective buyers now require an additional £4,000 for a deposit, despite average annual earnings increasing by only £2,704 over the last two years.

They also need an additional £5,000 in annual household earnings or income in order to secure a mortgage, which equates to £417 per month.

Read more: One in three struggle to access credit in UK as lenders refuse loans

Sarah Coles, senior personal finance analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown, said: “The stamp duty holiday had a nasty sting in the tail. Hundreds of thousands of people have actually paid more tax, thanks to the huge hike in house prices fuelled by the tax break.

"These higher tax bills are piling yet more pressure on buyers, who are already facing the stress of rampant house price rises, hikes in mortgage rates and runaway bills, which make it increasingly difficult to cover the cost of the mortgage."

A stamp duty holiday was in place for much of the pandemic and was phased out last year.

Stamp duty receipts in England and Northern Ireland reached £18.6bn in the year to March 2022, an increase of £6.1bn on the previous year.

Stamp duty applies in England and Northern Ireland. In Wales, the land transaction tax (LTT) has replaced stamp duty and in Scotland the land and buildings transaction tax (LBTT) is applied to property purchases.


N.Y. Will Stop Withholding Student Transcripts Over Unpaid Debt - BLOOMBERG

MAY 04, 2022

(Bloomberg) -- New York colleges will no longer be allowed to withhold students’ transcripts because of unpaid debt. 

The legislation, signed by Governor Kathy Hochul, will also prevent schools from charging people who owe money a higher fee to get their transcript.

“To hold transcripts hostage until outstanding debts are paid is an unfair, predatory practice that prevents our students from reaching their full potential,” Hochul said Wednesday in a statement.

The governor announced in her State of the State address that she would propose this legislation. New York’s state and city schools voted to end the practice in January. 

The move comes as President Joe Biden is considering forgiving at least $10,000 in student loans per borrower, a promise he made on the campaign trail, through executive action. The total amount of outstanding student-loan debt in U.S. is at $1.75 trillion, according to the Federal Reserve.

“Withholding a student’s transcript is a punitive measure that penalizes students with less resources, while ironically making it more difficult for them to advance in higher education or obtain employment that will allow them to make outstanding payments,” Hochul said.

These Are the Best Restaurants in Washington, According to Michelin - BLOOMBERG

MAY 05, 2022

(Bloomberg) -- There’s a lot of news coming out of Washington right now, be it Supreme Court leaks or Trump inauguration lawsuits. The D.C. dining scene? Not so much. 

On May 4, the Michelin Guide announced their annual star rankings for the city and little has changed. 

There’s still only one three-star restaurant (worth a special journey): the Inn at Little Washington, chef Patrick O’Connell’s old school hotel with a $308 French-accented menu in Washington, Va. Likewise, Washington’s two-star places—excellent cuisine, worth a detour—are the same as last year. That includes the unconventional tasting menu spot Minibar, from star chef and humanitarian José Andrés, and the forward-thinking Pineapple and Pearls from acclaimed local chef Aaron Silverman.

The French-based guide did honor four new D.C. restaurants with one star. Oyster Oyster was recognized for chef Rob Rubba’s scintillating vegetable-forward menus, where butter is fashioned from marigolds, and roasted carrots might be served with miso and popped sorghum.

“The work chef Rubba is doing blew us away,  work he’s doing there is so creative and impressive,” says the chef inspector for North America, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of his position. 

Rounding out the new one stars are Imperfecto: The Chef’s Table, which features Latin American cuisine from chef Enrique Limardo; Albi, where the focus is Middle Eastern fare in the Navy Yard; and Reverie, with unconventional dishes like coconut cooked in embers, in Georgetown. 

There are 24 starred restaurants this year, up from 23. Gone from the 2022 list is Sushi Taro, which lost its star, as well as Komi, the compelling Mediterranean restaurant that was put in the spotlight after the Obamas ate there, and Plume, both now closed.

Michelin also announced the list of Bib Gourmand spots—good food at a price of “around $40 for a meal. The key word is ‘around,’” says the chief inspector, who cited rising costs that are impacting restaurant menus. This year, there are four new spots among the 36 on the list, including Dauphine’s, where the specialty is Creole cuisine from Kristen Essig (one of the few women on this list). Menya Hosaki was also recognized for its superior ramen and karaage (Japanese fried chicken).  

Gone from this year’s Bib Gourmand list is Zaytinya, the pan Mediterranean spot from Andrés, which held the accolade for three straight years. 

For people determined to find restaurant news in Washington, D.C. keep your eyes peeled for the upcoming, two-story Peruvian restaurant Causa, from Carlos Delgado; the Trinidadian-themed St. James from Jeanine Prime, who also operates the Bib Gourmand spot Cane; and the opening of Pastis, the sceney Manhattan brasserie that will set up shop in the Union Market hood. 

Here is the full list of Washington’s Michelin-starred restaurants and Bib Gourmands. An asterisk (*) denotes a new entry.

Three Stars

The Inn at Little Washington

Two Stars

JôntMinibarPineapple and Pearls

One Star

*AlbiBresca CranesThe DabneyElcielo D.C.FiolaGravitas*Imperfecto: The Chef’s TableKinshipLittle PearlMasseriaMaydanMétier*Oyster Oyster*ReverieRooster & OwlRose’s LuxurySushi NakazawaTail Up GoatXiquet

Bib Gourmand Winners

Astoria DCBidwellCaneChina Chilcano*DaruDas*Dauphine’sElleFancy RadishHitching Post*Honeymoon ChickenIvy City SmokehouseJaleoKaliwaKarma Modern IndianLaos in TownLapisMakanMaketto

*Menya HosakiOttoman TavernaOyamelPearl Dive Oyster PalaceQueens EnglishResidents Cafe & BarSababaSfoglinaStellina PizzeriaSuccotashTaqueria HabaneroThe Red HenThip KhaoTimber Pizza Co.Toki UndergroundUnconventional DinerZenebech

Nigeria eyes return of 96 Benin bronzes from Germany - THE NATION

MAY 05, 2022


The Federal Government has expressed confidence about the return of 96 Benin bronzes stashed in Cologne, Germany back to Nigeria.

The government said the Benin cultural properties, forcibly taken by the British Colonial forces barely 125 years ago, shall be returned to their rightful home.

Ambassador of Nigeria to Germany, Yusuf Tuggar, spoke at the “Missing, Giving Back and Remembering Exhibition” in the historic city of Cologne, Germany.

The envoy said the return of the Benin bronzes promised to catalyse the colonial healing process like no other before, because of the exceptional nature of how they were acquired.

Tuggar said: “In the same vein, Nigeria remains confident that the 96 pieces in Cologne from the Benin cultural properties forcibly taken by British Colonial forces barely 125 years ago, shall be returned to their rightful home.

“The return of the Benin bronzes promises to catalyse the colonial healing process like no other before, because of the exceptional nature of how they were acquired. Unlike many other stolen cultural properties that were taken from archaeological dig sites, here is an open-and-shut case of a colonial power with superior weapons sacking and pillaging a city, killing its citizens, and even taking pictures with the looted items- the modern equivalent of sending a postcard back home. Even the Oba of Benin was not spared; he was taken away the same way the bronzes were.”

He added: “It is our fervent hope that the return would also become a salubrious genesis for a re-examination of the teleology of museums as a whole, particularly ethnological and archaeological museums that could do with ontological adjustments in the 21st century. The debate around restitution and colonial reappraisal has recharged cultural diplomacy around the world, with Germany and Nigeria as role models.”

The envoy said Nigeria was pleased with the progress made in the negotiations with both the German government and museums and looked forward to signing agreements for their return with both in the very near future.

The ambassador added: “I would like to single out the City of Cologne and the Rautenstrasuch-Joest-Museum for a special thank you for supporting the cause of restitution. Both truly have a deep understanding of their place in history. Of course, none of this would have been possible without the tenacity of people like Professor Peju Layiwola, who remained resolute in their push for restitution.”



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