Travel News

UK issues 132,000 visas to Nigerians in first half of 2023 - BUSINESSDAY

SEPTEMBER 03, 2023

The United Kingdom issued 132,000 visas to Nigerians in the first half of 2023, up from 324,000 in the full year 2022. This represents a 10% share of all permits issued by the UK in that period.

The British Deputy High Commissioner to Nigeria, Jonny Baxter, said the visa increase was due to several factors, including the strong economic ties between the two countries and the growing number of Nigerians studying in the UK.

Baxter also noted that the UK government recently changed its rules on student visas, which will allow students to bring their dependents to the UK. This is expected to lead to further growth in Nigerian students coming to the UK.

The UK government has also increased the fees for applications. Baxter said this was necessary to cover the costs of processing and providing services to visa holders.

He advised Nigerians to apply for visas well before their travel, as there can be delays in processing applications.

The increase in issuance to Nigerians is a positive sign for the relationship between the two countries. It also reflects the growing economic and educational ties between the UK and Nigeria.

Flying Doctors Nigeria, Lufthansa to offer special fares for medical emergencies - BUSINESSDAY

SEPTEMBER 03, 2023

Flying Doctors Nigeria (FDN)  and Lufthansa Group have partnered to offer special fares for patients who need to travel for medical emergencies. The partnership will provide patients with access to a broader range of medical assistance services and special air fares on Lufthansa.

Under the terms of the partnership, patients who need to travel for medical emergencies will be eligible for special fares on Lufthansa flights. The special fares are for patients, family members and medical personnel.

The partnership is expected to benefit patients from both Nigeria and abroad. Patients will have access to a broader range of medical assistance services, and they will also be able to save money on their travel costs. The partnership is also expected to help improve the quality of healthcare in Nigeria and other African countries.

Flying Doctors Nigeria is a tech-enabled global marketplace for emergency medical care. The company provides various services, including air and ground ambulance, repatriation of mortal remains, commercial medical escort service, and emergency transport unit service. FDN also offers medical consultations and referrals to medical facilities in Nigeria and abroad.

Lufthansa Group is the leading European airline and one of the world’s leading airlines. The company operates a large fleet of over 270 aircraft and serves 320 destinations in 104 countries worldwide. Lufthansa also offers comprehensive medical services to international patients and people suffering from injuries or other health-related problems.

“This partnership is a testament to our dedication to excellence and our unwavering pursuit of elevating healthcare standards worldwide,” said Ayotoro Adio, Head of Operations at FDN. “By joining forces with Lufthansa, we are empowered to enhance our offerings and ensure a wider reach for critical healthcare needs.”

“We are pleased to partner with Flying Doctors Nigeria to offer special fares for medical emergencies,” said Jens Bischof, CEO of Lufthansa Group Airlines. “This partnership reflects our commitment to providing our customers with the best possible care, no matter where they are in the world.” 

Fire at Lagos international airport - BUSINESSDAY

SEPTEMBER 06, 2023

BY  Chioma Onuh


There was chaos this morning following the fire outbreak in a portion of the Murtala Muhammed International Airport that started on Tuesday night.

According to information received, the inferno allegedly broke out due to a malfunctioning cable on the Tarmac.

It has been reported that a section of FAAN’s administrative office was destroyed by fire last night.

While the Lagos State Fire Department was on site to supplement that of the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), all passengers and employees were requested to leave the facility.

London and Paris Face Heat Waves as Greece Braces for Floods - BLOOMBERG

SEPTEMBER 06, 2023

(Bloomberg) -- London will exceed 30C (86F) on Wednesday, with an autumnal heat wave searing northwest Europe while storms and floods batter the Mediterranean.

Temperatures in the southeast of the UK could climb as high as 33C over the next few days, according to the Met Office. That would fall short of the September record of 35.6C, but could potentially reach the hottest this year. Overnight lows could also test the existing all-time high of 21.7C.

Paris is forecast to remain at or above 30C for the next seven days, according to Maxar Technologies Inc. The heat also spans Germany and Scandinavia. 

The Northern Hemisphere has faced searing heat from China to California this summer, with July being the world’s hottest month on record. New Delhi recorded its hottest September day in 85 years this week, as Group of 20 leaders gather in the Indian capital to discuss climate change and other key issues. Fossil fuel emissions are warming the planet, triggering extreme weather from wildfires in Greece and Canada to violent storms and flooding. 

By contrast, the UK experienced two months of unseasonably cool weather in July and August. Now an active tropical cyclone season is amplifying the pattern across the North Atlantic, pushing the jet stream well to the north of the UK and drawing in very warm air, according to the Met Office.

“While the highest temperatures are expected in the south, heat wave conditions are likely across much of England and Wales especially, with parts of Scotland and Northern Ireland also likely to see some unseasonably high temperatures,” Met Office Chief Meteorologist Neil Armstrong said in a statement.

The UK Health Security Agency issued an amber alert, highlighting increased risks to those more vulnerable to heat.

In southern Europe, last month’s extreme heat has given way to heavy rains and thunderstorms. An emergency bulletin for dangerous weather has been issued across Greece, with gale-force winds and the risk of flash floods.

In the central Greek city of Volos, municipal and public services have closed and traffic has been halted as a huge storm over nearby mountains threatens flooding. Fire services have confirmed that one man has died, with another missing. Police have also banned traffic on the nearby island of Skiathos.

The storm, called Daniel, is expected to impact the greater Athens region of Attica on Wednesday morning.

“Today we are confronting a very extreme weather phenomenon,” Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said. “We no longer have any doubt that the climate crisis is not about the future, it’s about the present, and we don’t need science to confirm it, unfortunately life itself confirms it.”

That follows flooding in Spain over the past few days, with heavy rainfall damaging infrastructure and disrupting transport. 

At least five people have died and three have disappeared over the past three days as floods hit the country, according to local media reports. Some rail routes remained shut on Tuesday morning, according to operator Renfe.

(Updates with New Delhi heat in fourth paragraph and map at end of story)

Qantas’s Troubles Mount With Looming Shakeup of Airport Slots - BLOOMBERG

SEPTEMBER 07, 2023

(Bloomberg) -- Qantas Airways Ltd.’s woes deepened after the government said it’s looking to shake up the way takeoff and landing slots are granted in Sydney in order to help smaller rivals like Rex and Bonza.

Airline access to Australia’s biggest aviation hub “has not kept pace with global developments,” a review of the aviation sector said Thursday. The government wants to modernize slot allocation at the airport and tighten regulation “to ensure that slots are not being misused by airlines,” it said.

The proposed policy shift adds to the current crisis at Qantas, days after Alan Joyce quit as chief executive officer amid accusations the airline sold phony seats on thousands of canceled flights. Australia’s antitrust watchdog has said letting other airlines operate more flights in and out of Sydney would be one of the most effective ways of reducing Qantas’s dominance of the domestic market.

“We will have more announcements to make about these reforms in due course,” the government said in its review. “There are indications our regulation is not delivering the best outcomes for consumers.”

Qantas shares were down 2.5% at 11:32 a.m. in Sydney. The stock has lost about 8% since Australia’s competition regulator last week started Federal Court proceedings against Qantas over the alleged money-for-fake-seats scandal.

For more details of Thursday’s review, click here

New entrant Bonza and regional operator Rex, which is building a route network between Australia’s biggest cities, are struggling to operate services at Sydney’s airport during peak times. There’s concern that major airlines are manipulating the existing rules to hoard more slots than they need, the government said.

Airlines can keep landing and takeoff slots indefinitely as long they use them 80% of the time. This has led to accusations that operators schedule flights, and then cancel them, simply so that they can retain the slots and stop them being farmed out to rivals. Qantas denies such behavior.

The clamor from customers, regulators and lawmakers to rein in Qantas is intensifying. In addition to the allegations of fake-seat sales, the airline is also accused of over-charging passengers, hoarding customer flight credits and lobbying government departments to limit foreign airlines access to Australian airspace. Qantas controls more than 60% of the local market.

Read More: Alan Joyce’s Early Exit Dumps Mess on Incoming Qantas CEO Hudson

“The Australian government is actively seeking outcomes that deliver a more competitive aviation sector,” it said. 

An additional aviation report — a so-called White Paper — is due next year and will cement government policy for the sector for the coming decades.

(Adds today’s stock decline in the fifth paragraph)

EXPLAINER: What Nigerians need to know about UK’s new electronic travel authorisation - THE CABLE

SEPTEMBER 07, 2023

The United Kingdom (UK) is introducing a new Electronic Travel Authorisation (ETA) for people visiting or transiting through the country from November 15, 2023. 

The first thing Nigerians need to know about this policy is that it would largely not affect them — except they are not travelling with the green passport.

According to the UK Home Office, “an Electronic Travel Authorisation (ETA) will soon be a requirement for people who do not need a visa to come to the UK. It will give you permission to travel to the UK, and it will be electronically linked to your passport.”

Nigerians, who travel with passports from any of the following countries, will need an ETA to enter or transit through the UK: Qatar, Bahrain, Jordan, Kuwait, Oman, Saudi Arabia or the United Arab Emirates.

Who needs ETA?

According to the UK government, you need the ETA if you’re from Qatar Bahrain, Jordan, Kuwait, Oman, Saudi Arabia or the United Arab Emirates.

For Qataris, you will need the ETA from November 15, 2023. For other countries on the list, you will need an ETA if you’re travelling to the UK on or after February 22, 2024.

“More nationalities will be added to the scheme later,” the government said in its advisory.

Who will not need ETA?

You will not need an ETA if you have a British or Irish passport, or you already have permission to live, work or study in the UK. If you already have an existing visa to enter the UK, you will also not need ETA.

This means Nigerians who have visas to work or study in the UK do not need ETA.

Do I need ETA everytime I travel to UK?

No, your ETA will last for 2 years. If your passport expires in less than 2 years, you’ll need to get a new ETA.

You can use it to make multiple visits to the UK. You still need to either use an ePassport gate if you’re eligible or see a Border Force officer to enter the UK.

An ETA does not guarantee entry to the UK.

How much does it cost?

An ETA will cost £10 or N9,546 per applicant, according to Oanda exchange rates, which the UK government uses. If your application is approved, you will get an email confirmation.

How do I apply for ETA?

If you need ETA, you can apply on the UK ETA app, or online on GOV.UK. You can also apply on behalf of others, including children and babies.

The UK government says “you’ll usually get a decision within 3 working days, but you may get a quicker decision,” but adds the caveat that “it may take longer than 3 working days if we need to make further checks”.

If you’re refused an ETA, what next?

If you are denied ETA, it means you need a visa; this could be a standard visitor visa, a creative worker visa, or a transit visa, if you have no plans to enter the UK.

You can get more information about ETA in the video below:

Home Office told girl, 5, she must leave UK while mother fights deportation to Nigeria - THE INDEPENDENT UK

SEPTEMBER 08, 2023

The Home Office told a five-year-old girl she must leave the UK immediately but allowed her mother to stay while she fights her own deportation.

The mother, from Nigeria, has lived in the UK for 19 years since the age of 16 and applied for leave to remain in the UK permanently on the grounds she has built a network of friends and family here.

The application was refused but while she was allowed to stay in the country to challenge the decision, she was told her daughter, who was born here and has never visited Nigeria, must go.

In August, the Home Office wrote to the child’s case worker telling her: “You applied as a family member (child). Your application has been refused. You do not have a right to appeal this decision because your human rights claim has been certified as clearly unfounded. You must now leave the United Kingdom.”

The 35-year-old mother told The Independent: “When I heard it I started crying, saying this is bad. It is very very bad.”

She said she was despairing at the idea that her daughter might be made to leave the UK, saying: “Where would she go? Who would she stay with? I felt so bad about it. They can’t do that. It’s not safe.”

The only family member she is still in touch with in Nigeria is her elderly mother. But she is unwell with a leg injury that means she cannot move around, let alone help to look after a child, she said.

“I have no friends in Nigeria, there is nobody I know there. It’s here that I have friends and people to help me. If I went back I would feel very unsafe. I don’t know anyone there,” she repeated.

Moving her child to Nigeria would also disrupt her education, she added. “She’s doing very well at school here. Yesterday she got a gift of a Disney Frozen poster from her teacher for answering all of the questions in class. She’s very happy, doing well, is kind and she has lots of friends.”

The decision to remove the girl has now been temporarily reversed after it was challenged as “negligent, uncaring and counter-productive” by the mother’s case worker. The child has now been given the right to appeal the negative leave to remain decision.

The mother, who is based in Thurrock, is not legally allowed to work while she is waiting on her leave to remain immigration decision, but she hopes to one day train to become a childminder and work in the care sector.

She broke down crying telling The Independent about how she desperately wanted the opportunity to work to support her daughter. She said: “I just want to be able to work and get a salary to support myself and my daughter. I really need to be doing something. When I go out with my daughter and she wants something, I don’t have any money to buy it for her. She starts crying but I tell her that when I start working I will be able to get it for her.”

Applicants are entitled to leave to remain status in the UK if they have lived continuously in the country for 20 years or more.

Nick Beales, from charity Ramfel, which supported the mother’s case, said it was highly likely she would be granted permission to stay as she has been in the UK for so long. He added: “There is no public interest in making our client and her daughter wait idly for another year, housed at public expenses and with no right to work, when it is inevitable they will ultimately be allowed to remain in the UK.”

He said it was “shocking” that the government initially said his client’s daughter “must leave the UK immediately and could not even appeal the decision to remove her from her country of birth and residence”.

He continued: “Though this was corrected, this negligent, uncaring and counter-productive approach infects the decision-making process in long residence cases”.

A Home Office spokesperson said: “We expect all visa applications to be carefully considered on their individual merits in accordance with the Immigration Rules.

“We apologise to the family for an administrative error and are in contact with them to make amendments.”

United Nigeria gets approval for flights to USA, UK, UAE, others - VANGUARD

SEPTEMBER 10, 2023

The United Nigeria Airlines, one of the leading airlines in the country, has received approval for operation of international flights.

According to the Federal Ministry of Aviation and Aerospace Development’s approval, the airline would operate international flights to United States of America, the United Kingdom, Netherlands, Italy, Ireland and the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

A letter cited by Vanguard dated September 8, 2023, conveying this approval from the Ministry of Aviation and Aerospace Development, signed by Director, Air Transport Management, Mr. H.T. Ejiburu, on behalf of the Minister of Aviation and Aerospace Development, Mr. Festus Keyamo, to the United Nigeria Airlines Company Limited, said the approval was in line with subsisting Bilateral Air Services Agreement (BASA) between Nigeria and each of the countries.

The letter reads: “I am directed to acknowledge receipt of your letter dated 2nd August 2023 on the above subject and convey the Honourable Minister’s approval for the designation of Messrs United Nigeria Airlines Company Limited to operate international flight operations to the undermentioned countries and cities: Netherlands (Amsterdam), Italy (Rome), United Arab Emirates (UAE) (Dubai), United Kingdom (London), United States of America (USA) (Houston) and Ireland (Dublin).

“The designation of Messrs United Nigeria Airlines Company Limited is in line with the subsisting Bilateral Air Services Agreement (BASA) between the Government of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the governments of the six mentioned countries.

“Consequently, the airline is hereby advised to liaise with the Civil Aviation Authorities of the aforementioned countries for documentation prior to commencement of scheduled flight operations. However, you are obliged to comply with the Nigerian Civil Aviation Regulation (Nig. CARs (2023) Part A-C by taking further steps to liaise with the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) in fulfilling the requirements if necessary.

“Kindly note that the approval has been communicated to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for its further necessary actions.”

United Nigeria Airlines, with Prof Obiora Okonkwo OFR as Chairman, started flight operations in 2021and operate scheduled flights in major Nigerian cities. The Airline had earlier obtained approval for Regional flights based on which that they are finalising arrangements to commence regional operations in couple of weeks upon arrival of their additional aircraft from middle of October.

Air China Flight Lands in Singapore After Detecting Smoke - BLOOMBERG

SEPTEMBER 10, 2023

BY  Simon Lee and Danny LeeBloomberg News

(Bloomberg) -- An Air China Ltd. flight was evacuated on landing in Singapore after one of the engines on the Airbus SE A320neo aircraft caught fire.

All 146 passengers and nine crew members were safely evacuated after landing at about 4:15 p.m. local time, and the fire in the left engine was extinguished 10 minutes later, according to a statement by the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore. Nine passengers sustained minor injuries related to smoke inhalation and abrasions during evacuation, it said.

Videos widely circulated on social media showed flames visible in the rear of the left engine as passengers exited the plane on to the runway via escape chutes. Thick smoke filled the cabin, the videos show.

Air China flight 403 reported smoke in the forward cargo hold and lavatory, declared emergency and requested priority landing, the aviation authority said. The aircraft, which traveled from Chengdu in western China, was powered by RTX Corp.’s Pratt & Whitney engines. The plane is four years old, according to FlightRadar24 data.

Singapore’s Transport Safety Investigation Bureau is investigating the incident and has contacted its Chinese counterpart, which will assist with the investigation, the aviation authority said. Changi Airport’s Runway 3 was closed for three hours, it said.

Passenger stranded as foreign airlines delay, cancel flights at MMIA - PUNCH

SEPTEMBER 10, 2023

By Funmilayo Fabunmi

International passengers departing Nigeria were on Wednesday and Thursday stranded in Lagos, Cairo, Doha, London and other destinations after baggage belt failures at the new terminal of the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos, forced airlines to delay and cancel flights.

The travel chaos lingered as officials of the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria and foreign airlines battled to resolve the congestion and baggage failures in the MMIA new terminal.

The pandemonium followed the sudden relocation of foreign airlines from the international terminal of Lagos airport to an adjoining new terminal which was opened last March.

The new terminal, built by the Federal Government with loans from China, had remained underutilised until Wednesday when FAAN ordered over a dozen of international airlines to vacate the MMA international terminal to the place.

The new Minister of Aviation, Festus Keyamo, had ordered airlines to relocate to the new terminal on October 1, 2023 but FAAN on Wednesday forcefully relocated the international carriers to the facility.

The sudden relocation by FAAN came the same day fire razed part of the baggage hall of the MMIA, forcing the agency to evacuate passengers and personnel  from the facility.

Later on Wednesday afternoon, passengers and airport workers were asked to return to the terminal. However, at about 8pm, FAAN officials ordered airlines to relocate to the new terminal but officials of the carriers reportedly ignored the order, a situation that forced FAAN to turn off the check-in system.

The airlines later relocated to the new terminal to continue their check-in process at about 9pm, but congestion, frequent baggage belt failures, logistics challenges and other teething problems led to pandemonium at the terminal.

The chaos at the terminal forced international airlines to record over four hours of delays, a situation that forced many of their passengers to miss their connections.

British Airways, AirFrance, KLM, Qatar Airways flights, which were scheduled to depart Lagos between 10pm and 11pm on Wednesday, later left around 4am on Thursday.

 Passengers and airlines personnel who spoke with The PUNCH described the experience as ‘’hellish.”

Egypy also recorded about four hours of delay.

Airline officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorised to speak on the matter, said many of their passengers missed their connections in London, Cairo, Doha, Amsterdam and Paris.

It was also gathered that Kenya Airways was forced to cancel its flights after the crew exceeded their rest period. The stranded passengers were later taken to a Lagos hotel.

Reacting, the Director of Media, FAAN, Mr Abdullahi Yakubu-Funtua, said the airport fire and other development affecting power supply necessitated the sudden relocation of the foreign carriers.  However, he said FAAN was on the matter.

He said, “We are doing our best to make it better.  Issues like this will come with some challenges and hitches. Things are now as good as good as they should be and we hope it will be better. The MD and directors were there up till this evening.”

However, a top official of an European carrier, who spoke with The PUNCH, said the Federal Government needed to address the matter holistically.

She said, “The conveyor belts at the new terminal failed to work from last night (Wednesday). After the fire incident at the old terminal, which was put out, the smoke was heavy and the terminal had to be evacuated.

“After the smoke had cleared out, light was turned on and everything came back to normal. I left the airport at about 5:00pm. Air France, Lufthansa, British Airways, KLM and United Airlines were already checking-in that time. At about 8:00pm, however, FAAN officials came and asked everybody to leave the terminal and proceed to the new terminal to complete their check-in process. Of course, the airlines resisted because they were still checking in their passengers.  FAAN switched off the power at the check-in desks, so we were forcefully moved.”

She added, “So, all the airlines came to the new terminal but I think the baggage belts were not constructed to handle a lot of bags. The baggage belts kept breaking down from time to time, so the bags started piling up. Kenya Airways had to cancel their flight, Egypt Air had a four-hour delay, and they had over 100 passengers with connections; so they all missed their flight connections at Cairo and had to be put in hotels. British Airways, KLM and others left at about 4:00am, so all the flights from last night were delayed because of the baggage situation.”

On what could be done to address the situation, the official said, “The main issues are: there’s space constraint. The terminal does not have the capacity to accommodate the number of passengers that they’re forcing into that space, so I don’t know why they are insisting we have to move there. They’re saying it’s a ministerial mandate, the minister has said that we must move. The baggage breaks down frequently.”

“Even though the minister said the deadline is October 1, FAAN said they had decided to move by Sept 10. But why they are moving on September 6th is what we don’t know. United Airlines and Delta left around 3:00am.”

An official of another European carrier, who also spoke with The PUNCH, said, “ I was on standing from 7pm on Wednesday till 5:30am on Thursday. It was a miserable situation. The chaos continued this evening on Thursday. FAAN MD and the directors were also around to see the situation, it is sad.”

FAAN, in a statement explaining the sudden relocation on Thursday, said, “The Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria has redirected processing of passengers through the New International Terminal, effective immediately. The expedited relocation to the New International Terminal at MMIA was deemed necessary due to the unfortunate fire incident that occurred at International Terminal 1 yesterday.

“The Minister of Aviation and Aerospace Development, Mr. Festus Keyamo, during his maiden visit to Lagos airport had directed FAAN to relocate airlines to the New International Terminal for the shutdown of the Murtala Muhammed International Airport Terminal 1 by 1st October 2023  with a view to improving passenger experience and for a total overhaul of the terminal. We intend to make this movement  as seamless as possible  but  appeal to all travellers to please be at the airport early enough to  complete  their check-in  formalities on time  in order not to miss their flight.”


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