Travel News

Heathrow Posts First Quarter of Traffic Growth Since Covid Start - BLOOMBERG

OCTOBER 26, 2021

(Bloomberg) --

London’s Heathrow airport said it saw its first full quarter of passenger growth since 2019 as restrictions eased and travelers returned to flying.

Traffic reached 28% of pre-pandemic levels in the third quarter, the airport said Tuesday as it reported financial results. However, 3.4 billion pounds ($4.7 billion) in losses since the start of the Covid outbreak “underscore the long road ahead,” the airport said. 

“We are on the cusp of a recovery which will unleash pent-up demand, create new quality jobs and see Britain’s trade roar back to life,” Heathrow Chief Executive Officer John Holland-Kaye said in the statement. “But it risks a hard landing unless secured for the long-haul.” 

He called for continued focus on global vaccination to reopen borders without testing, a fair financial settlement for the airport as it continues to negotiate with U.K. regulator the CAA, and a global mandate for sustainable aviation fuels. 

Aviation’s recovery so far has been bumpy, as vaccine campaigns meet with new variants of the virus and some parts of the world lag behind in reopening. The U.K. has begun easing its own restrictions, while adding a cheaper Covid-test requirement for vaccinated arrivals. The all-important U.S. market will open to British and European Union passengers who have been inoculated from Nov. 8.

The CEO predicts that demand will continue to increase with simpler travel rules and lighter testing requirements. Heathrow saw 10.2 million passengers in the 9 months ended September 30, versus 19 million in the same period in 2020. Revenue fell 27% to 695 million pounds, while the adjusted loss widened by 36% to 1.07 billion pounds.

The airport has been operating two runways since early summer to meet the higher levels of demand, and terminals two, three and five are fully operational. 

Heathrow says travel may not return to pre-Covid levels until 2026 - THE GUARDIAN UK

OCTOBER 26, 2021

Heathrow airport has warned that air travel may not recover to pre-Covid levels until 2026 despite improving passenger numbers in the past three months, as it reported that losses since the start of the pandemic have reached £3.4bn.

The airport said international travel could be “on the cusp of a recovery” but it faced a “long road ahead”.

Heathrow reported its first quarter of passenger growth since the start of the pandemic as the loosening of restrictions begins to unleash pent-up demand.

Passenger numbers in the three months to the end of September recovered to 28% of pre-pandemic levels, while cargo climbed to 90% of its levels in the equivalent period in 2019.

Related: Heathrow passenger charges could rise by up to 56% by 2023

Despite the increase in recent months, Heathrow’s losses have grown over the year as a whole. Passenger numbers for the first nine months reached 10.2 million, compared with 19 million for the same period last year.

As a result, Heathrow reported a loss of just over £1bn for the nine months to the end of September, compared with a loss of £786m in the same months last year. The company warned in its results announcement that traffic may not recover fully for up to five years.

John Holland-Kaye, the Heathrow chief executive, said the UK was “on the cusp of a recovery which will unleash pent-up demand, create new quality jobs and see Britain’s trade roar back to life …But it risks a hard landing unless secured for the long haul.”

Holland-Kaye called for a focus on the global vaccination programme to hasten the reopening of international travel without testing requirements, and called for “fair” financial regulation.

The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) last week cleared Heathrow to significantly raise its landing charges from next summer but ruled out the airport’s proposal for a near-doubling of charges.

Heathrow had called for the charges to range from £32 to £43 a passenger, as it sought to recoup losses caused by the coronavirus pandemic, well above the interim cap proposed by the CAA for next year at £30 a customer.

The airport said the regulator’s proposals did not go far enough to ensure that investors could achieve a fair return, which was vital to securing future private investment.

NIN-SIM linkage: Subscribers want two-month extension as deadline nears - PUNCH

OCTOBER 27, 2021

BY  Temitayo Jaiyeola and Sami Olatunji

…say registration centres extremely crowded

Telecommunication subscribers are clamouring for a two-month extension of the October 31 deadline for National Identity Number-Subscriber Identity Module data verification.

The President of National Association of Telecoms Subscribers, Adeolu Ogunbanjo, highlighted the need to further extend the deadline of the SIM-NIN exercise to allow for the full implementation of the security policy.

He said, “We have been at it for close to one year now. They started by giving a six-week deadline, and on and on till March, then June, and now October 31.

“In view of the current security situation, which necessitated the policy, we want the deadline to be extended to the end of the year, so that from January 1, there won’t be any excuse. But I also would want a situation where subscribers should take advantage of the remaining days left in this window.”

According to Ogunbanjo, registration centres for NIN are now jam-packed because the deadline is about to expire.

“Unfortunately, the centres are now jam-packed. I was at one on Friday. Another two months won’t be bad. We are pleading for a two-month extension – November and December – so that full implementation of the security policy can start in January,” he said.

Speaking on the number of registrations, he said about 60 million unique subscribers had linked their SIMs to their NIN.

Ogunbanjo said, “According to Association of Licensed Telecoms Operators of Nigeria, they said they had done close to 60-something million. And there are over 110 to 118 million unique subscribers. There is a need for an extension to cover everyone. Whoever doesn’t register afterwards by end of December would have themselves to blame.”

When asked if the date for the SIM-NIN linkage would be extended, a source in the NCC told one of our correspondents, “What I know is that the deadline is there. There has not been any statement yet on whether it would be reviewed or not.”

The Executive Vice Chairman, Nigerian Communications Commission, Umar Danbatta, had recently disclosed that over 180 million telephone lines had been linked to NINs.

Since the SIM-NIN policy came into effect, telecommunications companies have lost over 18.58 million subscribers after the total number of subscribers peaked at 207,578,237 in October 2020.

The NCC, in a recent radio broadcast, said the October 31 deadline for SIM-NIN linkage was sacrosanct.

According to the NCC, Nigerians without NIN will be denied the opportunity of acquiring driving licences and passports.

“Soon, people without NIN will be denied of necessary services that play vital roles in their lives including acquisition of driving licence, passport,” NCC’s Director of Public Affairs, Dr Ikechukwu Adinde, had said.

Reacting, the President of the Association of Telecommunications Companies of Nigeria, Ikechukwu Nnamani, said, “When we check how many people have been registered and see if we’ve met the target, if it does it may not extend. If it doesn’t, they may not. It all depends on the analysis of the target. This analysis would be done a few days before the expiration of the deadline.”

Also, a source in ALTON, said, “We think so, there should be an extension. Because there is still a long way to go. There are only about 81 million unique subscribers that have been confirmed. And there are about 187 million subscribers.

“Because of the NIN-SIM exercise, there has been a loss of subscribers. However, the NIMC still has capacity issues, as they cannot absorb everyone and need to expand their capacity. They need to expand their capacity. Based on the telecom ban in some states, there is hope for an extension. Otherwise, the people there would be disenfranchised. We as an association are also pushing for an extension.”

We’re Working Under Pressure – Air Traffic Controllers - DAILY TRUST

OCTOBER 27, 2021

Air Traffic Controllers (ATCs) across the airports said they are working under pressure with increasing workloads.

The controllers under the aegis of the Nigerian Air Traffic Controllers’ Association (NATCA) however called on the Federal Government to employ no fewer than 200 controllers within the next two years to address the acute shortage of controllers in the aviation sector.

Over the years, the aviation sector has been hit by an acute shortage of technical staff; the development which stakeholders say poses threat to safety.

The NATCA which raised the alarm in a communique issued at the end of its 50th Annual General Meeting/Conference held in Abuja last week said, “The dearth of ATC manpower, as a result of retirements and the increase in number of aerodromes in the country, including the proposed two new Area Control Centres (ACC) and five Approach Control units, exert immense pressure on the already overstretched ATCOs.”

NATCA however called for “urgent recruitment of at least 200 Air Traffic Controllers within the next two years.”


Foreign Airport Operators Bid For Nigeria’s Airports - DAILY TRUST

OCTOBER 27, 2021

By Chris Agabi

  • International airport operators across the globe are among bidders to run some of four Nigerian international airports out up for concession by the federal government.

The Ministry of Aviation disclosed this after the expiration of the bid submission process.

“The amount of response to the request for pre-qualification by highly reputable international airport operators across the globe is indicative of the level of confidence that people have in our concession programme” statement by the Ministry’s spokesperson Mr James Odaudu said in a statement.

“Like we promised from the onset, we remain committed to ensuring the highest level of transparency and accountability till the end of the process. This is because we believe that the programme is in the best interest of Nigerians as a people, and Nigeria as a nation” it indicated.

“The Ministry of aviation reminds all stakeholders that this is a multistage programme and that the RFQ stage will be followed with a Request For Proposal (RFP) which shall be published and sent directly to qualified bidders for their response,” it noted.

“Qualified bidders shall be announced once the bid opening committee has received, opened and reviewed each submission based on the detailed Terms of reference (TOR) and RFQ guidelines contained in the RFQ bidders’ package” the statement further stated. 

FAAN Boosts Security Around Airports - DAILY TRUST

OCTOBER 27, 2021

By Chris Agabi

The Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) said it has stepped up security around the airports amid rising insecurity across the country.

He also said Following the International Civil Aviation Organisation ICAO’s relaunch of the Year of Security Culture (YOSC) 2021, FAAN in collaboration with key stakeholders in November 2020 designed an approved AVSEC roadmap. 

Declaring the event open, the Minister of Aviation, Mr Hadi Sirika said the building of shooting ranges are almost completed at some airports across the country to improve security.

Represented by the Director-General of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), Capt Musa Nuhu, the minister said, “We are working with FAAN and other stakeholders to quickly actualize the approval of the FEC for Aviation Security personnel to bear arms and I am glad to inform you that our approach so far has been holistic and results-oriented. The construction of shooting Ranges at major airports is nearing completion”

Senator Hadi Sirika said the Federal Executive Council recently approved the deployment of (K-9) security at the country’s airports following the ministry of aviation presentation. 

“We are currently addressing the challenges related to damaged, incomplete and non-existent perimeter fences at Nigeria because as the first layer of defence, airport perimeters will minimise attacks, prevent incursion and enhance general security,” he said.

African Union suspends Sudan after military coup - DW

OCTOBER 27, 2021

The African Union has suspended Sudan's participation in activities until the restoration of a civilian-led authority. Earlier, the EU had condemned the army for toppling Prime Minister Abdullah Hamdok's government.

Protests against the military coup are continuing for a third straight day© AFP/Getty Images Protests against the military coup are continuing for a third straight day

The African Union on Wednesday suspended Sudan from all its activities until civilian rule is restored in the country.

The continent-wide bloc said it "strongly condemns the seizure of power," branding it "unconstitutional."

It said Sudan would be suspended from all AU activities "until the effective restoration of the civilian-led transitional authority."

Earlier, the EU also condemned the "unconstitutional change of government in Sudan," saying it continued to recognize the transitional government.

Sudanese General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan had on Monday ordered the dissolution of the government and declared a state of emergency.

Since then, thousands of citizens have mounted protests, chanting "No to military rule."

What did the EU say?

The EU Delegation to Sudan made a joint statement that also included Switzerland and the so-called "troika" of countries involved in mediation — Norway, the US, and the UK.

It condemned the military's actions, but welcomed the fact that coup leaders had allowed Prime Minister Abdullah Hamdok to return to his residence.

Hamdok was detained Monday along with his ministers and civilian members of Sudan's ruling council.

The statement demanded that signatories' ambassadors be allowed to meet the prime minister and his cabinet, saying it recognized them as constitutional leaders.

The statement went on to address reports of security service using live ammunition and tear gas against protestors.

It spoke of "the importance to respect the fundamental right to demonstrate by all Sudanese citizens and the need to respect all other human rights of all citizens."

"The security forces and other armed elements must refrain from violent attacks at all times, and peaceful protesters must be protected."

Earlier on Wednesday, Germany's Foreign Minister Heiko Maas called the coup a "catastrophic development" and condemned it "in the strongest possible terms."

What is the current situation in Sudan?

The prime minister and his wife were returned home "under close surveillance," Hamdok's office said Tuesday. However, other ministers and civilian leaders remain under full military arrest.

Hamdok's return did little to appease protesters who had backed the planned transition to civilian rule.

Their demonstrations continued on Wednesday, despite security forces making several arrests and tearing down makeshift barricades in Khartoum.

A doctors' group said four people were killed on Monday when soldiers opened fire on protesters.

Internet services have been blocked with shops around the capital closed after calls for a campaign of civil disobedience.

The Sudanese Professionals Association (SPA), a group of unions that was instrumental in the protests against Bashir has also urged "million-strong protests" on October 30.

Sudan's Khartoum airport, which has been closed to flights, was set to reopen on Wednesday afternoon, according to the country's civil aviation authority.

What is the background to the Sudan coup?

The coup followed a two-year transition outlined in a power-sharing deal agreed in August 2019 between the military and civilians.

This followed the ouster of autocrat Omar al-Bashir on the back of mass protests against his rule.

Sudan had found itself isolated after nearly three decades of isolation under Bashir, and it remains one of the world's most underdeveloped countries.

In particular, it fell into pariah status as Washington imposed tough sanctions on Bashir's regime for sheltering Islamic extremists, including al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, in the 1990s.

New strongman Burhan has pledged to hold elections as planned in July 2023. In the meantime, a technocrat government would be appointed.

Sudan has experienced only rare democratic interludes since independence from Britain in 1956.

Delta Airlines to resume nonstop Lagos-New York-JFK service in December - BUSINESSDAY

OCTOBER 27, 2021


Delta Airlines will resume its nonstop service between Lagos and New York-JFK in December, restoring this popular route in time for the festive season.

Delta will operate nonstop flights between Murtala Muhammed International Airport and New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport three times a week, effective December 8, 2022.

The airline also continues to connect Lagos to Atlanta daily. With connections to 46 cities at Delta’s JFK hub, it’s easy for customers to reconnect with family, friends and enjoy new experiences across the United States.

“Pre-pandemic, the U.S. was one of the most popular destinations for Nigerians and we don’t see any signs of this slowing down,” said Jimmy Eichelgruen, Delta’s Commercial Director Africa, the Middle East and India said.

“We’re proud to be the only airline connecting Nigeria nonstop to two destinations in the United States, offering more choice and award-winning service whether traveling for business or leisure.”

Delta has scheduled an Airbus A330-200 aircraft on the JFK route, which features a choice of Delta One, Delta Comfort+ and Main Cabin seats.

Throughout the aircraft, customers will enjoy personal seatback entertainment screens with new premium content and on-demand Wi-Fi for purchase with free mobile messaging.

During the meal service, customers receive a choice of entrée alongside an appetizer and dessert in addition to a full bar selection or soft drink. Those traveling in Delta One can pre-order their in-flight meal and enjoy complimentary lounge access, including to Delta Sky Clubs in the U.S., before they fly.

Delta has maintained safety-focused operations throughout the pandemic and continues to evolve its layers of protection to offer customers a safer travel experience.

Meanwhile, Delta’s new health credential solution, Delta FlyReady, takes the guesswork out of meeting health requirements and syncs to customers’ itineraries to make travel more convenient by enabling most customers traveling to the U.S. to upload a negative test result prior to travel.

Airlines accused of admitting unauthorised persons into cockpit - BUSINESSDAY

OCTOBER 27, 2021

...NCAA to sanction offenders


Airlines have been accused of admitting authorised persons into its cockpit, as against international civil regulations.

The Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority, (NCAA) has therefore warned airline operators and flight crew to detest from admitting unauthorised persons into the cockpit during all phases of flight operations.

In a circular addressed to airline operators in Nigeria, signed by Musa Nuhu, the director-general, NCAA stated that it has been brought to the notice of the authority of a worrisome development in which passengers are admitted into the flight deck (cockpit), especially on commercial air transport flights.

“Aircraft flight decks are designated as a safe working environment and the presence of unauthorised persons is both a distraction to safe flight operations and a potential security risk. In addition it is a violation to Nig.CARs8.5.1.12 and

“All operators and flight crew are hereby warned to detest from admitting unauthorised persons into the cockpit during all phases of flight operations with immediate effect,” Nuhu said.

He stressed that any violation or non-compliance with the directive will result in the imposition of applicable sanctions under the Nigerian Civil Aviation Regulations on both the operator and the flight crew.'[

US issues first passport with 'X' gender - AFP

OCTOBER 27, 2021

The United States on Wednesday announced its first passport with "X" for gender, a landmark step for people outside the binary male or female categories.

Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm raises the Progress Pride Flag for the first time outside the Department of Energy on June 2, 2021© Kevin Dietsch Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm raises the Progress Pride Flag for the first time outside the Department of Energy on June 2, 2021

The State Department said it had issued a first passport with "X" for gender and would make the option routinely available by early 2022 both for passports and birth certificates of Americans abroad.

"I want to reiterate, on the occasion of this passport issuance, the Department of State's commitment to promoting the freedom, dignity, and equality of all people -- including LGBTQI+ persons," State Department spokesman Ned Price said in a statement.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken had promised to address the issue in June but said that there were technological hurdles that needed to be addressed.

Under Blinken, the State Department has also allowed US passport holders to select their gender on passports.

Previously, Americans required medical certification if they sought to mark a gender on their passports different than on their birth certificates or other documents.

At least 11 other countries already have an "X" or "other" option for passports, according to the Employers Network for Equality and Inclusion, a London-based advocacy group.

The countries include Canada, Germany and Argentina as well as India, Nepal and Pakistan, a legacy of South Asia's historic concept of "hijra" intersex or transgender people.

The State Department made the announcement on the week of Intersex Awareness Day as it vowed to support people who face discrimination over their gender identity.

President Joe Biden has promised to make advocacy of LGBTQ rights a top priority of his administration.

It is a major shift from the previous administration of Donald Trump, during which Blinken's predecessor Mike Pompeo barred US embassies from flying rainbow Pride flags. 


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