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Nigeria plans mass vaccination drive, considers booster shot - REUTERS

NOVEMBER 16, 2021

ABUJA, Nov 15 (Reuters) - Nigeria will start a mass COVID-19 vaccination campaign later this week, aiming to inoculate half of its targeted population by the end of January, government officials said.

Africa's most-populous country has a goal to vaccinate 111 million people to reach herd immunity.

Under the initiative to start on Friday, 55 million doses or more than a million a day will be administered. The country has to date vaccinated only 2.9% of those eligible to get vaccines.

The plan will see vaccine sites set up at private health facilities, universities, colleges, stadiums, motor parks and shopping malls among other venues.

Boss Mustapha, head of the presidential steering committee on COVID-19, said the government "has enough vaccines in the pipeline to vaccinate about 50% of the target population by the end of January 2022."

He also said the government was making efforts to secure booster shots "so as to build a healthy level of antibodies." He did not provide details.

Faisal Shuaib, executive director of the National Primary Health Care Development Agency, said Nigeria received about 5 million AstraZeneca (AZN.L) shots last month from the COVAX global-sharing facility, both purchases and donations. Nigeria also had commitments for 11.99 million and 12.2 million doses of Pfizer Inc/BioNTech (PFE.N)(22UAy.DE) and Moderna Inc (MRNA.O) COVID-19 vaccines, respectively, he said.

The government has purchased nearly 40 million Johnson & Johnson (JNJ.N) vaccine doses, which would be coming in batches, said Shuaib.

Reporting by Felix Onuah; Writing by MacDonald Dzirutwe; Editing by Peter Cooney

'Outlook starting to brighten' for aviation, Airbus CEO says - AFP

NOVEMBER 16, 2021

The global aviation sector has begun to emerge from the Covid pandemic, its worst-ever crisis, and the "outlook is starting to brighten", Airbus CEO Guillaume Faury told journalists Monday.

A large order of 255 of Airbus' single-aisle A231 planes announced Sunday at the Dubai Airshow "completely justifies" a shift to ramping up manufacturing, the CEO said, predicting production of long-haul planes could pick up by the second half of the decade.

On Monday, US Air Lease signed a letter of intent for 111 Airbus aircraft, the manufacturer said.

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Faury spoke to journalists, including AFP, on the sidelines of the Dubai Airshow. The following is a summarised and translated version of his comments in French:

- Has the airline sector recovered? -

"The crisis was very brutal, lasting 15 months at its worst stage. We are in the process of emerging, we can see aerial traffic recovering, the reopening of travel lines, the planes travelling here to Dubai were full or nearly full.

"The United States has largely resumed, Europe is also resuming. Asia will probably take a little longer, but globally the figures point to a recovery in the global economy and air traffic.

"When we say we are on the way out of the crisis, it is because we are coming back from the low point, we are progressively climbing back up.

"Airbus began the gradual recovery some months ago on short and medium-haul aircraft, the A320 family, but not on long-haul aircraft.

"We continue to believe that we can return to 2019-level air traffic at some point between 2023 and 2025 -- regionally likely in 2023 and internationally in 2025.

"We are much more optimistic because the outlook is starting to brighten.

"We can see from yesterday's order that the airlines are also starting to look to the horizon and prepare for a post-crisis situation."

- Is the order for 255 A321 a sign? -

"We quickly understood in 2020 that airlines and charter companies did not want to make decisions during the crisis that would have had too great of an impact on their future growth and their ability to remain key players.

"At the start of 2021, I said that I was not expecting big orders in 2021 and they would come in 2022.

"There are exceptions that prove the rule. We are in discussion with several players that are positioning themselves more quickly than others.

"We are in a recovery scenario that is not very different from what we had imagined.

"This confirms that the value of access to aircraft production is very important for the big players in aviation."

- Will the order reassure other manufacturers? -

"It completely justifies the ramp-ups we are anticipating.

"We are in the process of determining whether a ramp-up in the production to 70 and 75 will go on," he said referring to the number of new A320 and A321 aircraft per month in the summer of 2025.

"For the entire supply chain, it is a difficult moment, but (the ramp-ups) are clearly an opportunity.

"We think that for the second half of the decade, it is quite probable that what is happening with medium-haul aircraft will happen with long-haul aircraft because there will have seen five or six years of very weak deliveries.

"Many planes have been placed in long-term storage, some of which will be retired, which will create a deficit of new, high performance, fuel-efficient planes.

"Therefore, it is likely that there will be a strong ramp-up of long-haul aircraft at some point during the second half of the decade."

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Dubai Starts Issuing Five-Year Entry Permits for Foreign Workers - BLOOMBERG

NOVEMBER 16, 2021

(Bloomberg) --

Dubai started issuing five-year multi-entry permits for employees of international companies, the latest in a series of moves aimed at attracting foreigners and boosting growth.

New permits will help employees travel easily to Dubai and take part in conferences, exhibitions and meetings, Dubai’s Crown Prince Hamdan Bin Mohammed said on Twitter. 

Foreign residents make up more than 90% of Dubai’s population and have been a mainstay of the economy for decades -- doing most private sector jobs and spending their money on property or shopping in some of the world’s largest malls.

As part of its efforts to attract foreigners to the country, the United Arab Emirates, of which Dubai is a part, this year approved plans to offer citizenship to a select group of people -- the first Gulf Arab nation to formalize a process aimed at giving expatriates a bigger stake in the economy.

  • UAE Unveils New Residency Guidelines to Attract Foreigners 

Condo Sales Are Soaring All Over Manhattan -- Except Midtown - BLOOMBERG

NOVEMBER 16, 2021

(Bloomberg) -- Midtown is getting left out of a boom in sales of new condos in Manhattan.

The stretch of the east and west 50s that includes the towers of Billionaires’ Row is the only section of the borough where new-development sales are lagging behind their pre-pandemic performance. In the first 10 months of the year, the number of contracts declined 5.9% from the same period in 2019, according to data from Marketproof Inc.

With its proximity to Broadway theaters, Fifth Avenue shopping and New York’s premier office district, Midtown became the center of a boom in ultra-luxury condo projects that drew in the global elite. Those overseas investors -- once quick to spend millions on super-sized apartments they’d use only occasionally — disappeared, limiting demand for the area’s towers while new buildings in other Manhattan neighborhoods are selling out. 

“The pandemic-period buyer is mostly New Yorkers betting on the home team,” said luxury broker Donna Olshan, who tracks contracts at new developments. “And they prefer downtown, the Upper East Side.” 

It’s not helping that Midtown, where vibrancy relies on office workers filling skyscrapers and tourists packing stores and cultural attractions, has been critically short on both.

At the end of September, nearly 30% of 311 storefronts were vacant in the retail corridors near Grand Central Terminal and Midtown East, roughly double the historical rate, according to a report by the Real Estate Board of New York. And only 28% of Manhattan’s office workers were at their desks on a given weekday as of the end of October, a study by the Partnership for New York City found.

“The condos that are in Midtown proper and the central business district are going to have a really hard time,” said Ruth Colp-Haber, a partner at Wharton Property Advisors, who tracks firms trying to sublease office space they’re not using. “Because the street life is just not there. It’s dead.”

But some brokers see cause for optimism: International travelers are allowed once again to enter the U.S., and the hope is they’ll come bringing a long-building urge to splurge on real estate.  

“A lot of money was made during the pandemic, and there’s a lot of wealthy people in international places,” said Bess Freedman, chief executive officer of brokerage Brown Harris Stevens, which last week put its New York listings on a website accessible to home shoppers in 30 countries. “I do foresee that you will see a slow and steady accumulation and pickup. But there’s still a lot of inventory.” 

Other areas have benefited during Manhattan’s yearlong sales rebound. Buyer contracts at new projects in the Hudson Yards and Chelsea neighborhoods nearly tripled from the first 10 months of 2019, Marketproof data show. In Lower Manhattan, new development deals surged 75%, while on the Upper East Side, they were up 150%.

What is selling in Midtown are the smallest units. That’s led to a 11% plunge in the average price per square foot on contracts this year compared with the pre-pandemic period. On deals everywhere else in Manhattan, the price per square foot has increased, Marketproof said. 

That reflects a new sensibility among current Midtown buyers, some of whom are locals who left the city during the pandemic but want to maintain a small footprint in Manhattan, said Leonard Steinberg, a broker at Compass.

“When they come back, a one-bedroom is sufficient for them,” said Steinberg, who until late last year oversaw marketing of units at 100 E. 53rd St., a newly built condo tower. 

If the preference for small units holds, it would be a giant mismatch with the inventory that’s available. Of the unsold new condos in Midtown, 59% are priced higher than the average apartment that went into contract this year through October, said Kael Goodman, founder of Marketproof.   

At Extell Development’s Central Park Tower, the Billionaires’ Row skyscraper where closings began this year, 106 unsold units are listed at $10 million or more, the most for any new building in the neighborhood, Marketproof data show. And that's after 18 units in that price range sold there this year, according to StreetEasy.

Next to the Museum of Modern Art, 38 condos at $10 million or higher remain available at 53 West 53rd, five years after sales started at the Jean Nouvel-designed tower.Representatives for both Extell and the 53rd Street tower declined to comment.

“The unit mix was was skewed way too far to the top end,” Goodman said.  “If developers want to move that inventory, they will discount those prices.” 

Portugal makes it illegal for bosses to contact employees outside working hours - CNBC

NOVEMBER 16, 2021

Portugal has passed new labor laws which include a ban on bosses contacting employees outside of working hours.

The new labor laws were passed by Portugal’s Parliament earlier this month and were introduced following an increase in people working from home amid the coronavirus pandemic.

document proposing the new labor laws, published at the end of October, explained that workers should have the right to at least 11 consecutive hours of “night rest,” during which they should not be interrupted unless for emergencies.

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The rules also require employers to contribute to their staff’s work-from-home expenses, such as internet and electricity.

In addition, bosses will be expected to meet with members of staff face-to-face every two months.

Ana Mendes Godinho, Portugal’s minister of labor, solidarity and social security, said at the recent Web Summit in Lisbon that the pandemic had shown telecommuting was a “game changer, giving workers the power to decide where and from who they want to work from.”

Employers who do not abide by the new rules could be fined, but the laws reportedly do not apply to companies with fewer than 10 members of staff.

Not all of the proposed rules were approved by lawmakers, however. For instance, the Portuguese Parliament reportedly did not pass a proposal to give workers the “right to disconnect” and turn off their work devices at the end of the day.

It comes after the majority of lawmakers in the European Parliament voted in favor of putting forward a “right to disconnect” law to implement across the bloc.

This law has already been introduced in some form in countries including France and Spain. A “right to disconnect” law has also been called for in the U.K.

Data has shown that people have been working longer hours while at home during the coronavirus pandemic.

London house prices: the areas where property is rising - and where it’s falling - EVENING STANDARD

NOVEMBER 16, 2021

Asking prices in London nudged down 0.4 per cent (£2,591) in November as the Christmas property lull comes early.

December is traditionally the quietest month for home sales and sellers desperate to bag an offer before Christmas are marketing their homes at a lower price, this month’s Rightmove index shows.

The marginal fall which takes the average asking price in the capital to £647,817 mirrors the same pattern across the country.

Nationally price tags, on average, slipped £0.6 per cent (£2,044) – the largest monthly fall since last January when they fell 0.9 per cent.

Experts claim this could be the market cooling off in the run-up to Christmas before the traditional Boxing Day boom as people begin looking for a new home.

“Despite the soaring property market and consequent shortage of choice for prospective buyers, new sellers have given buyers an early Christmas present by dropping their average asking prices by 0.6 per cent.

“Sellers who come to market this close to Christmas often have a pressing reason to sell so price more attractively,” says Rightmove’s Tim Bannister.

Where asking prices are rising in London

The November Rightmove Asking Prices Index reveals a fragmented pricing picture in London with the biggest rises in the outer boroughs, where property is considered more affordable, and the most exclusive pockets of central London, where the average asking price is well above the one million pound ceiling.

The highest annual asking price rise was in Bromley in the 12 months to November with a jump of 6.5 per cent, taking the average price tag to £595,819.

Merton (5.8 per cent to £686,169), Barking and Dagenham (5.4 per cent to £350,102), Bexley and Havering complete the top five boroughs where asking prices rose most year on year.

However, as international buyers and students returned to the luxurious core of the capital following the Covid-19-triggered exodus , the annual asking price rose 4.5 per cent in Kensington and Chelsea (putting it 8th in the ranking) and four per cent in Westminster (which was in 9th place.) This movement took advertised values to £1,585,005 and £1,444,014 respectively.

“As travel has started to open up this year we are starting to see more transactions in Kensington and Chelsea, and Westminster. The market is property specific however with buyers mainly looking for houses or flats with access to communal gardens or outdoor entertaining space,” said Chris Sellwood, director at Rokstone.

“Flats with no outside space or in portered blocks are sticking. But, if a property ticks all the boxes we are seeing multiple offers,” he added.

New data from LonRes shows that prices paid for homes in the centre of London rose 4.6 per cent in the three months from August to October and a 10 per cent increase in the number of sales of homes worth more than £5 million.

Where in London can you bag a “bargain”?

There are eight boroughs in the capital where asking prices have fallen in the year to November.

The biggest fall was 4.4 per cent in Islington taking the average marketed value to £734,152, followed by Southwark (-4.1 per cent to £615,670) and Haringey (-3.1 per cent to £639,703).

Asking prices also fell in Ealing, Hammersmith and Fulham, Camden, Hackney and Lewisham – where prices tags slipped a negligible 0.1 per cent.

After a year of house price rises, there are “bargains” to be had in the next month as buyers get distracted by festivities and pause their search, reducing competition for each home, claims Richard Palfreeman of Northfields Estate Agents, in Ealing.

Ticket pricing: Airlines’ exchange rate aligns with FMDQ, says IATA - PUNCH

NOVEMBER 17, 2021

BY  Dayo Adenubi

The International Air Transport Association has clarified that it does not unilaterally determine the dollar-naira exchange rate used for ticket pricing by international airlines flying into Nigeria.

IATA-the global trade body representing over 290 international airlines-made the clarification against the backdrop of the recent fall in the value of the naira against the United States dollar on the international airlines’ ticketing platform.

According to the global airline body, the rate of exchange it publishes daily for the purpose of ticket pricing by international airlines flying in Nigeria is in line with the daily trading rates on the FMDQ Group Website.

As such, the group said it was not responsible for the fluctuation or stagnation of the exchange rates.

The clarification by an IATA spokesperson in Geneva read, “IATA does not unilaterally determine the exchange rate for the sale of passenger tickets in Nigeria. IATA published a daily rate of exchange (ROE) for ticket sales in Nigeria which is aligned with daily trading rates on the FMDQ Group Website. IATA does not determine the rate of exchange nor is it responsible for the fluctuation or stagnation of the rates. IATA rate of exchange for ticket sale reflects the FX trading fluctuation on the FMDQ website:2021-10-27 00:00:00=444; 2021-10-26 00:00:0=415.2; 2021-10-25 00:00:00=429; 2021-10-24 00:00:00=424.45.”

The global trade also said, “Furthermore, the fluctuation of the rate of exchange for ticket sale is not due to airline blocked funds in Nigeria. IATA and the airlines do not intend to mitigate airlines’ reduced access to foreign exchange through exchange rate fixing which is beyond their control. The resolution of the airline access to foreign exchange crisis rests with the Central Bank of Nigeria and the commercial banks.”

The shortage of dollars has forced the naira south against the United States dollar on the parallel market and other exchange rate platforms.

The developments have affected most products priced in foreign currencies including airline tickets.

Also, the inability of the CBN to sell an adequate amount of forex to foreign airlines operating in Nigeria to enable them to repatriate their ticket sales proceeds has been affecting the airlines’ operations.

Currently, foreign airlines flying into Nigeria have over $200m in unremitted ticket sales proceeds, a development that forced IATA to recently advise the Federal Government of Nigeria to address the issue urgently warning that it might hamper aviation in the country.

As things stand, the issue is still pending but there are indications that IATA is trying to meet the Nigerian government to resolve the issue amicably.

Delta Airlines records surge in bookings as US opens up - PUNCH

NOVEMBER 17, 2021

BY  Dayo Adenubi

Delta Air Lines says it will be increasing flights from key European cities into the United States following the reopening of American borders to fully vaccinated passengers.

A statement by the airline revealed that its international point of sale bookings saw a 450 per cent increase in the six weeks after the US government’s announcement compared to six weeks prior to the announcement.

The statement quoted the Chief Executive Officer, Delta Air Lines, Ed Bastian, as saying, “This is the start of a new era for travel and for many people around the world who have not been able to see loved ones for almost two years.

“While we have seen many countries reopen their borders to American visitors over the summer, our international customers have not been able to fly with us or visit the US. All of that changes now.

We are grateful to the US government for lifting travel restrictions and are looking forward to reuniting families, friends and colleagues over the coming days and weeks.”

The company said it would be increasing flights this winter from key European cities including London-Boston, Detroit and New York-John F. Kennedy, Amsterdam-Boston, Dublin-New York-JFK, Frankfurt-New York-JFK and Munich-Atlanta.

 The airline reported this summer that its US domestic leisure business had already rebounded to 2019 levels, but ongoing border restrictions have prevented a meaningful recovery across the globe. International inbound travel to the U.S. contributed $234bn in export income to the U.S. economy, generated a trade surplus of $51bn, and directly supported 1.2 million American jobs in 2019.

Travel Ban Imposed to Curb Covid Cases in Indigenous Australians - BLOOMBERG

NOVEMBER 17, 2021

(Bloomberg) -- Australia’s government has banned travel to or from a remote region of the Northern Territory in a bid to help curb the spread of a Covid-19 outbreak among First Nations people in the area. 

The Northern Territory on Tuesday reported nine new cases -- all in Indigenous people. That took a cluster linked to the regional center of Katherine, 200 miles from the capital Darwin, and the isolated Robinson River settlement to 11. 

While Indigenous Australians make up about 3% of the nation’s entire population, that proportion soars in Outback regions that in recent months have been exposed to the virus for the first time since the pandemic began. These rural communities are particularly vulnerable because of higher rates of underlying health conditions such as diabetes and heart disease.

High inoculation rates in major cities have allowed Sydney and Melbourne to remove restrictions and learn to live with the virus. Still, officials in the Northern Territory are grappling with how to reopen to the rest of the country; only 59% of people aged 16 or over living in remote communities are fully vaccinated, health data show, compared with an 81% inoculation rate for all areas. 

People will now only be able to come or go from the Robinson River area and its surrounds for essential purposes, Health Minister Greg Hunt said in a statement. The ban will be in place until at least 6pm on Thursday.

“These measures will help to prevent and contain the current Covid-19 outbreak in the Robinson River, and will assist in preventing the emergence, establishment and spread of the disease to neighboring remote communities in the Northern Territory,” Hunt said. 

The territory’s government has also imposed a lockdown for the broader Katherine area until Monday, as well as a territory-wide mask mandate.

“This is obviously a serious escalation in the Covid-19 situation in the Northern Territory,” Chief Minister Michael Gunner said on Tuesday, state broadcaster the ABC reported.

Flight Ban: Reps Wade Into Nigeria-UAE Diplomatic Row - NEW TELEGRAPH

NOVEMBER 17, 2021

BY  Philip Nyam Abuja

As a result, it has mandated the joint-committee on aviation, foreign affairs, Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19, national security and intelligence and interior (Immigration Service), National Orientation Agency, Diaspora and Treaties to interface withthe Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the National Intelligence Agency (NIA) on best ways to resolve the crisis and report back to the house within four weeks. 

The resolution was made after the adoption of a motion sponsored by the Minority Leader, Hon Ndudi Elumelu (PDP, Delta). Presenting the motion, Elumelu noted that Nigeria and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) have had a positive diplomatic relationship until 2009 when the UAE established an embassy in Nigeria. He recalled that in December 2020, a memorandum of understanding was executed between Nigeria and the UAE to provide a platform for both countries to engage each other bilaterally.

The minority leader said he was aware that in February 2021, the Federal Government of Nigeria stopped the UAE national carrier, Emirates airline, for subjecting Nigerian travellers to additional rapid antigen test as against its stipulat-  ed negative PCR test at the Lagos and Abuja airports, before departure. 

“Further aware that Emirates airline then shut down flights to and from Nigeria owing to the disagreement between the airline and the aviation authorities on the propriety of subjecting passengers travelling from Nigeria to emergency COVID-19 protocols.

“Concerned that after an interface between the authorities of the aviation ministry and Emirates airline, flights resumed, but  the Emirates airline continued to conduct test for passengers before departure from Nigeria, a development the Federal Government frowned on and thus suspended the airline from flying to and from Nigeria. 

“Further concerned that there are allegations that hundreds of legal resident Nigerians living in UAE are losing their jobs on account of the refusal of the authorities to renew their work permit, which offends the letters of bilateral agreements which both nations are signatory to. 

“Worried that there are speculations that the refusal by the UAE authorities to renew work permit for Nigerians living there is a calculated attempt to pressure the Nigerian government into accepting their conditions of service for their national airline that may have lost humongous revenue from the Nigeria route. 

“Further worried that if the Nigerian government does not urgently engage the authorities of the UAE, thousands of Nigerians living and working will lose their jobs and means of livelihood hence the need for a quick interface with the authorities of the UAE.”

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