Travel News

China Extends Lockdown in Areas of Chengdu, Expands Mass Testing - BLOOMBERG

SEPTEMBER 05, 2022

(Bloomberg) -- China extended its lockdown in districts of western megacity Chengdu and ordered more mass testing there from Sunday as it tries to contain a Covid outbreak.

Chengdu’s central Jinjiang district will further intensify lockdowns and extend control measures for at least three days starting Sunday, authorities said in a statement. Other districts also announced a third round of Covid tests on Sunday. People should return home immediately after being tested, the officials said. 

Chengdu’s lockdown, which started Thursday, demonstrates China’s commitment to its Covid Zero approach despite the huge economic loss it has triggered. The nation’s sixth-largest city is the biggest to be closed off since Shanghai on June 1 ended two months of curbs on people’s movement, the effects of which are still being felt by businesses.

Chengdu Fears Shanghai Repeat in Pursuit of Xi’s Covid Zero

Demand in Shanghai for everything from dining out to movies and tourism are still far below pre-lockdown levels, while some indicators show the city is taking longer to recover than Hong Kong and Singapore where rules have been eased. Retail sales in the city dropped 4.3% in June from a year earlier and rose a meager 0.3% in July, following an average 35% slump in the preceding three months starting March, when the outbreak began. 

Nationwide, China reported 1,673 local Covid cases for Saturday, including 1,359 that are asymptomatic. Tibet found the most cases among all provinces, with 556 new infections detected, according to the National Health Commission. Sichuan province, home to Chengdu, reported 186. 

Southern technology hub Shenzhen reported 89 new cases. Daily new infections in the coming few days are expected to remain at elevated levels, local health authorities said at a Saturday briefing. Beijing and Shanghai found only one case each. 

Tianjin, the northern port hub near Beijing, shut dine-in service in one district after finding 22 new cases for Saturday. The city started mass testing its 13.7 million residents from Sunday. 

A’ba state, home to some 815,000 people in Sichuan province, implemented a lockdown to its 13 counties on Sunday. The restrictions will last for at least four days,  local authorities said in a statement.

Daqing city in northeastern China’s Heilongjiang province extended a lockdown in its main urban areas by five days from Sunday to contain the spread of Covid, according to a local government statement. These areas were earlier on a seven-day temporary lockdown from Aug. 28.

(Updated with lockdown in Daqing city in last paragraph)

Nigeria’s ‘japa’ migration phenomenon - AFP

SEPTEMBER 05, 2022

Nigeria is a giant oil-rich nation that is home to a vibrant tech scene and booming entertainment sector.

But many middle-class Nigerians are heading abroad or say they plan to do so, hoping for a brighter future in Europe or North America.

Here’s a snapshot of the phenomenon of “japa,” the word in Yoruba meaning “to flee.”

– Nigeria’s problems –

Nigeria’s economy and population are the biggest in Africa and the country has benefited from a half-century-old bonanza from oil and gas.

Despite these advantages, ramshackle infrastructure, inequality and the problems of poverty are a major headaches.

More than 80 million of the country 210 million live below the poverty line, according to the World Bank.

Between 2010 and 2020, the country’s unemployment rate rose five-fold to more than 30 percent. In July, inflation reached almost 20 percent.

Many Nigerians are deeply worried by worsening insecurity, with criminal gangs kidnapping people for ransom in northern and central states and jihadist groups waging an insurgency in the northeast.

Graft is also a deterrent for would-be entrepreneurs. Nigeria was ranked 154 out of 180 in Transparency International’s latest Corruption Perceptions Index.

– Emigration –

According to the UN’s Department of Economic and Social Affairs, the number of international migrants from Nigeria in 2020, the latest year for which figures are available, was 1.7 million, up from 990,000 a decade earlier.

Nigerian authorities record the number of citizens travelling in and out, but do not register whether departing citizens are leaving to work or live permanently abroad.

As a result, figures for net migration and countries of destination are hard to come by.

However, data from countries which issue work visas gives an idea as to where Nigerian emigrants are heading.

Most stay within sub-Saharan Africa but the numbers heading to Europe and North America has increased considerably in recent years.

British statistics show that in 2019 — the year before Covid struck — about 14,000 UK study and work visas were issued to Nigerian nationals. That number, which includes dependents, almost quadrupled in 2021.

Skilled workers from the healthcare sector were the largest recipients with more than 16,000 visas out of about 22,000 granted since January 2021.

In Canada, more than 15,000 Nigerians were granted permanent residence in 2021 compared to about 4,400 five years prior.

– Hurdles –

Visas to countries like the UK, Canada and the US can be expensive and often require applicants to show they have enough funds to take care of themselves for the duration of their stay.

A post-graduate course in Canada, for example, including expenses and compulsory insurance, can cost about US$22,000 dollars.

“I have friends whose parents have sold their properties, their land for their kids to go and migrate,” said Chuka Okeke, a 33-year-old who is applying for schools in Canada and whose parents are providing support for him and his family to move.

It can take months or even years to complete the paperwork and meet all the requirements before the coveted visa is issued.

Emigration, especially from the middle class, means that Nigeria is among the top countries in the world for income from remittances.

But “japa” has also triggered an exodus of talent, especially among students and professionals in healthcare and banking.


South Africa’s Biggest Airport Closes a Runway After Grass Fire - BLOOMBERG

SEPTEMBER 05, 2022

(Bloomberg) -- Johannesburg’s OR Tambo International Airport was forced to close one of its runways after dry grass caught fire and “spilled over from the adjacent community within the airport precinct,” it said via Twitter.

Fire and rescue teams are onsite to extinguish the blaze, according to OR Tambo, which is the busiest airport in Africa.

The runway that has been closed is typically used for landings because it’s long, at more than 4.4 kilometers (2.7 miles), which helps planes land in the thinner air at Johannesburg’s relatively high altitude, aviation society Scramble said on its website.

In Johannesburg and surrounds it’s the end of a dry winter and there are frequent fires until the rains arrive, usually in October.

Emirates resumes flights to Nigeria after partial pay-out - CH-AVIATION

SEPTEMBER 05, 2022

Emirates (EK, Dubai Int'l) will reinstate flights to/from Lagos from September 11, 2022, welcoming the decision by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to release part of the airline's blocked funds.

"We continue to engage with the Nigerian authorities to ensure the repatriation of our outstanding and future funds may continue without hindrance," the airline said in a statement. The amount paid out was not disclosed, but Nigeria had held USD85 million of Emirates' revenue from ticket sales in July 2022.

Emirates, in protest, cancelled its flights to Lagos and Abuja, from September 1, 2022, stating its operations to the West African country had become financially unviable.

Nigeria eventually buckled under international pressure and released USD265 million it had owed to international airlines from unrepatriated ticket sales.

According to the International Air Transport Association (IATA), Nigeria, in July 2022, held USD464 million worth of unremitted airline funds. With the latest pay-out, this still leaves USD199 million in CBN coffers.

South Africa e-visa fully operational in Nigeria, says Ndlovu - BUSINESSDAY

SEPTEMBER 05, 2022

Nomasonto Ndlovu, the chief operating officer of South Africa Tourism (SAT), has disclosed that Nigerians applying for South Africa (SA) visa can now enjoy an average of 10 to 15 days to complete their visa applications as the country’s e-visa application is fully operational in Nigeria now.

“The portal is now working, there is no need to be travelling around to acquire our visa again this time, and applicants are to upload their documents for application while they wait a few days to get their visas. The e-visa link will be sent to our trade partners for ease of doing business, it is indeed a big win for us,” SAT’s chief operating officer said.

Ndlovu disclosed the e-visa feat during a welcome function for SAT’s specially curated event titled ‘Come Journey With Us At Our Roadshow’, which was held at Radisson Blu Anchorage Hotel, Victoria Island, Lagos on Thursday September 1, 2022.

According to her, the e-visa procurement portal was one of the strategies designed by the country to ensure full recovery from the losses accrued during the COVID-19 lockdown, and that other visa application backlog would be attended to. “We are very excited that finally there is a solution to our visa procurement system, and our problem of inability to process visas faster is now over”, she enthused.

She disclosed further that new applicants can now submit their documents via the e-visa procurement portal, www.dha.gov.za, for processing and acquisition of their visas. She states further that all the initial cumbersome process of visa procurement, which takes months, now requires a few days, averaging 15 days for approval in the e-visa regime.

Excited Ndlovu said SAT is, most importantly, leveraging on the e-visa to deepen its presence in the West African market, Nigeria in particular as that will also help to fast-track the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (ACFTA) adoption.

Read also: Continent collaborates to drive tourism growth, recovery at Africa & Travel Indaba 2022

According to her, about 23 companies playing in the South African tourism ecosystem, including tour operators, travel agencies, hoteliers and others are part of the Nigerian roadshow to leverage on partnerships with players in the Nigerian tourism market. She said that the primary role of SAT is to expose the South African businesses to the Nigerian market. “We have brought in South African travel operators to link up with the Nigerian tour operators to do business together and grow the industry. Our job at SAT is to open the door for South Africa businesses,” Ndlovu said.

According to her, the Nigerian and West African markets are very important to the recovery strategy of the South African tourism ecosystem, as the economy makes strides to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, which also provides an opportunity to promote intra-Africa travels and trade.

“This is also good for Nigerian tour operators who want to take tourists to South Africa; they will be knowledgeable enough to sell the destination. The essence of this meeting is to signal the importance of the Nigerian market to SAT and to signal our commitment to this market,” she said.

Ndlovu noted that SAT was interested in collaborations with intending corporate partners who are out to explore South Africa as a destination for leisure, holiday, business, meeting, conferences and more.

“We are open to business, looking for corporate partners with innovative ideas to move SAT forward,” she concluded.

Meanwhile, the Nigerian travel community is excited over the e-visa, noting that it has been a gray-area for travel to South Africa.

Most tour operators, travel agencies and tourism stakeholders present at the event thanked the Ndlovu-led SAT for removing one of the obstacles to intra-Africa travels, noting that it would rebound traffic to South African destinations.

Bankruptcy Risk Seen Higher for Europe’s Airlines This Winter - BLOOMBERG

SEPTEMBER 05, 2022

(Bloomberg) -- Europe’s weaker airlines face a heightened risk of collapse this winter as nations that rescued carriers during the Covid crisis focus support elsewhere amid rising inflation, according to analysts at Sanford C. Bernstein.

While the pandemic brought few airline failures in the region amid a deluge of aid payments, carriers now face a squeeze from higher fuel and labor costs combined with a seasonal decline in travel, Bernstein said in an investor note Monday. That’s just as governments struggle to respond to soaring household bills. 

Smaller carriers in Central and Eastern Europe will be most vulnerable, Bernstein analysts Alex Irving and Clementine Flinois said, citing a new model for assessing bankruptcy risk according to levels of competition and capacity, route networks and likely costs from leasing and replacing planes.

Europe’s top six airlines face negligible risk, Bernstein said, with low-cost specialists Ryanair Holdings Plc, EasyJet Plc and Wizz Air Holdings Plc retaining investment-grade credit ratings and legacy groups Air France-KLM, IAG SA and Deutsche Lufthansa AG still able to rely on government help if required.

The most exposed carriers include one from Cyprus and two from Albania, as well as airlines based in Belarus, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Georgia, Moldova and Romania.

That should favor the strongest players in Eastern Europe, chiefly Budapest-based Wizz and Ryanair, according to Bernstein, which it said have the ability to rapidly allocate jets to newly vacated markets.

Over 2,000 Nigerian Doctors Left For Europe, S/Arabia, Canada In 6 Months – Official - DAILY TRUST

SEPTEMBER 07, 2022

By  Ojoma Akor

The National Association of Government General Medical and Dental Practitioners (NAGGMDP), on Tuesday, said over 2,000 doctors had left Nigeria for Europe, Saudi Arabia and Canada as of June this year. 

The president of the association, Dr Noel Dokun, said this in Abuja during the National Executive Council meeting of the association.

He said the doctors left for countries where their services were better appreciated, especially Britain.

“But in Nigeria, they are poorly remunerated and at times not paid for months in some states , with salaries up to 25 months unpaid in some instances,” he said.

He emphasized the need for the federal government to adopt homegrown solutions to brain drain, monkeypox and other epidemics as well as other challenges bedeviling the health sector.

Dr Stephanie Oni-Ogunbor, the keynote speaker at the event, noted that the impact of monkeypox on the economy was enormous, saying increased sensitization about the disease amongst the populace would help to prevent the  disease.

Europe’s Aviation Crisis Spurred by Exodus of Younger Workers - BLOOMBERG

SEPTEMBER 07, 2022

(Bloomberg) -- An aviation staffing crisis that disrupted flights across Europe this summer is most acute among a younger category of workers who largely left the industry during the coronavirus outbreak, according to official data.

Only about a third of the European Union’s air transport workers were aged under 40 as of the first quarter, figures from the bloc’s Eurostat statistical office show, a much lower proportion than before the pandemic.

The numbers reveal the size of the task facing airlines and airports as they seek to lure new recruits to an industry where posts in areas such as security, cleaning and ground handling can require a long journey to work and unsociable hours at modest rates of pay.

Hiring to so-called air-side roles is also complicated by requirements for specific training and extensive security checks, during which attrition can be extremely high as candidates secure posts with closer start dates elsewhere.

“Fundamental changes in the business model have to occur for aviation to remain a competitive career option,” said David Huttner at PA Consulting Group Ltd. “The industry has always been susceptible to staffing issues within key skill sets, but not at this level.”

About 320,000 people worked in EU air transport in the first three months, according to Eurostat, a quarter fewer than in the equivalent period of 2020, before Covid lockdowns led to mass layoffs, and the lowest tally in 14 years.

Airlines have been forced to scrap thousands of flights as airports shrink schedules in response to the shortfall, with the situation exacerbated by strikes among pilots, cabin crew, baggage handlers and others pressing for higher pay.

Huttner said the situation should ease by next summer as traffic levels become more predictable following this year’s restart from the health crisis.

Is it still cheaper to run an electric car, despite rising electricity costs? - THE TELEGRAPH

SEPTEMBER 07, 2022

It won’t be news to anyone that energy prices have risen at a crippling rate in 2022 due to the ongoing energy crisis. The latest price rise will see the average household on a variable or default duel-fuel tariff pay an estimated average of £3,549 per year for electricity and gas; up from an estimated average of £1,971 based on summer 2022 prices.

This will impact some 24 million households in the UK who are on a default or variable dual-fuel tariff. It represents capped unit prices of 52 pence per kWh (p/kWh) plus a 46p per day standing charge for electricity. Gas will cost 15p/kWh, plus a daily standing charge of 28p per day, according to Ofgem figures.

Rates will vary depending on your provider, your tariff and how you pay. It is also worth noting that the price cap, which dictates energy prices across the UK, will be revised every three months as of 2023, and the industry predicts further rises.


With this huge hike in domestic utility costs, there’s an even greater focus on whether electric cars are still cheaper to fuel than petrol and diesel cars. Here, we’ll take a look at what it will cost to run an electric car (EV) after the October price rises.

Why have energy prices gone up? Will they continue to rise?

Energy prices in the UK are governed by government body Ofgem, which sets a default tariff price cap in April and October each year (or every quarter as of January 2023). This dictates the maximum price that energy providers are allowed to charge for their default variable tariffs.

The price cap is, of course, largely dictated by wholesale energy costs, which have now risen sharply.

According to a spokesperson for Octopus Energy, prices have risen “due to a combination of several factors. Two of the main causes – global supply chain issues post-pandemic and long, late and cold winters in Asia and Europe last year – are likely to be temporary, so we are expecting them to normalise over time.

“However, the third main cause – the Russian invasion of Ukraine – has had the biggest impact on the global energy market. It is affecting Russian gas imports into Europe and the uncertainty is also throwing market prices for gas sky high, in turn impacting electricity prices and overall energy bills.”

How much will an EV cost to charge at home?

You can calculate how much an EV costs to charge by multiplying your electricity price per kWh by the usable battery capacity of your car.

Peugeot e-208, for instance, has a total 50kWh battery but only uses 46.2kWh of this (all car batteries ‘reserve’ some cells like this, in the interests of longevity). So, at the October 2022 rate of 52p/kWh it would cost £24.02 to “fill up” a Peugeot e-208 from empty. That’s up from £12.74 since April 2022, and £8.73 before that.

The Kia e-Niro has a longer driving range courtesy of a usable battery capacity of 64kWh, so a full battery would cost £33.28 – up from £17.92 as of summer 2022. The Mercedes EQS has one of the biggest batteries currently on sale, at 107.8kWh, and would cost £56.01 for a 100% charge.

Those on an Economy 7 tariff can halve those costs by charging between midnight and 7am, with companies such as EDF offering rates of between 25-30p per kWh during these hours.

It’s easy to set an electric vehicle to charge only during these hours via the car’s in-screen menus, or internet-enabled home chargers also offer controlled charging hours.

Many utilities providers have pulled low-cost EV specific tariffs from sale for the foreseeable future.

How do EV costs compare with petrol and diesel?

If you don’t utilise cheaper overnight electricity rates, at 52p/kWh, an electric car doing 3.2 miles/kWh (roughly speaking, a realistic real-world efficiency expectation for an EV such as the Volkswagen ID.3, Peugeot e-208, Tesla Model 3 et al) works out at around 16.25p per mile to fuel.

With petrol and diesel prices also suffering big rises in the last year, that’s compared to 19.6p per mile for a petrol car doing 40mpg on fuel costing £1.73 per litre, or 15.3p per mile for a diesel car doing 55mpg with pump prices of £1.85 per litre.

Essentially, this means than an electric car is no longer cheaper to fuel if you’re paying the prices set by the Ofgem price cap. Rather, it’s roughly on parity – perhaps slightly cheaper – than an efficient petrol car, while an efficient diesel will likely undercut the fuel costs per mile.

How much will an EV cost to rapid charge?

Public charging has always been more expensive than charging at home, and the rapid charging network has also seen big price rises for 2022. Most public charging networks have raised their rates, but it’s most telling on rapid chargers of 50kW or more, which now typically cost 60p/kWh or more where they were closer to 35p/kWh some 12 months ago. Prices do vary, of course.

Ionity charges 69p/kWh at its 350kW ultra-rapid chargers – which is actually unchanged from what it’s cost for some years, but it is still the most expensive rapid charging network, if also one of the fastest. bp Pulse currently charges 59p/kWh, while Shell has pegged its rates at 65p/kWh. Instavolt and Osprey both charge 66p/kWh. All of these rates are for non-subscription, pay-as-you go users, with nearly all public charge providers offering reduced unit rates for those who sign up and pay a monthly fee.

Most providers also offer preferential rates for subscribers, which can save up to 15p/kWh, so it’s often worth signing up and paying a low monthly fee to get cheaper electricity from any public charging network that you routinely charge at.

If we stick with 65p/kWh as an average price for contactless payment, non-subscription rapid charging in the UK, a 30kWh top-up (enough for a 20-80% top up of a 50kWh battery) will cost £19.50. At 3.2miles per kWh, that’s just over 20p per mile.

We need to talk about EV efficiency…

This is a good place to stress the importance of electric car efficiency. Until now, the disparity in efficiency between EVs has been easy to gloss over as the fuel cost disparity between a performance EV and an everyday EV has been fairly low – especially compared with the running cost disparity between a performance or efficiency-focussed internal combustion engine (ICE) car.

With electricity prices now going up, the difference in fuel costs between a big, high-powered EV and a smaller, more modest EV are growing.

EV efficiency is measured in miles per kWh (abbreviated to m/kWh). Think of this figure as mpg for electric cars. To state the obvious, m/kWh is literally a measure of the number of miles that the car is covering per kWh of battery capacity. Hence the higher the number, the more efficient the car is.

Going by official WLTP range figures, some of the most efficient cars you can buy today include:

Fiat 500e 24kWh at 5.5m/kWh

Tesla Model 3 at 5.4m/kWh

Hyundai Ioniq at 5.0m/kWh

Hyundai Kona Electric 39kWh at 4.8m/kWh

Renault Megane E-Tech at 4.7m/kWh

Many of these cars are very aerodynamic – particularly the Tesla and Ioniq – and some simply don’t focus on performance as much as many other EVs. All have single electric motors, so have only two driven wheels. Many also have fairly small batteries, which keeps weight down; weight will always be the ultimate enemy of efficiency. It’s also another reason to wait eagerly for batteries to continue getting lighter and more energy dense…

Regardless, if you go for one of these efficient EVs and manage to return 4.0 miles/kWh in real world use (it’s reasonable to expect better than this in summer, when batteries benefit from warmer operating temperatures), then you’ll be paying some 13p per mile, assuming you charge at home for 52p/kWh. That compares with 16p in an EV doing 3.2m/kWh, or 22p in an EV doing 2.4m/kWh – the latter being a realistic expectation for bigger, high performance EVs such as the Audi e-tron SUV.

In essence, the cost of electricity now means that it’s a very substantial saving to run an efficient EV over a less economy-minded alternative, so pay attention to the potential m/kWh of a prospective EV if you’re considering an electric vehicle and want to keep your costs down.

So, is it still cheaper to run an EV?

Only if you can routinely charge overnight on a cheaper Economy 7 or EV-specific tariff, or if you have other methods of accessing cheaper electricity such as home solar panels or charging at your office. With access to cheaper electricity, running an EV remains far cheaper than running an ICE vehicle.

Unfortunately, many energy companies are not offering reduced price overnight tariffs to new customers, so getting access to these lower prices may not be possible for many motorists.

Without the benefit of off-peak tariffs or other cheaper energy sources, the cost of fuelling an EV is now roughly on a par with an ICE vehicle. The environmental benefits remain, but there’s no doubt that electric cars have just become harder to justify for many.

As for the overall ownership cost of an EV, purchase prices on average remain more expensive than for equivalent petrol or diesel alternatives, but there are exceptions: The Nissan Leaf, all of the electric models from MG and the Tesla Model 3 all offer similar list price and monthly PCP prices to equivalent ICE alternatives.

Used EVs also still typically hold their value very well – better, in fact, than comparable ICE cars. Great if you’re selling, as depreciation is still often the highest cost of owning a new car. It’s less ideal if you’re buying used, of course, but look to options such as the BMW i3Renault Zoe and Hyundai Ioniq for some of the best used electric cars.

Insurance costs and tyre costs are also very similar between EV and ICE. Servicing tends to be needed less frequently than on a petrol or diesel car, and is sometimes cheaper (although this isn’t the case for all manufacturers).

Ultimately, of course, overall ownership costs – factoring in purchase, maintenance, fuel and depreciation – will vary dramatically depending on which electric vehicle you’re considering and how you’re buying.

However you pull the costs apart, the reality is that – for many, if not all drivers – the energy crisis is currently wiping out the chief financial incentives that have historically encouraged the take-up of electric cars.

This article is kept updated with the latest information.

Lufthansa pilots to strike again this week - AFP

SEPTEMBER 07, 2022

Pilots at German airline Lufthansa will strike again this week, their union Cockpit said Tuesday, escalating a wage dispute.

The pilots for passenger flights will walk out from Wednesday 00h01 to Thursday 23h59, while the industrial action for those operating cargo flights will last a day longer to Friday 23h59, said the union.

Faced with the threat of new chaos, Lufthansa’s management said Tuesday it would put forward a “better offer” to the union at urgent talks during the day.

The latest call to strike comes just a week after the airline was forced to cancel almost all its flights on Friday due to a pilots’ walk-out, affecting 130,000 passengers.

Earlier Tuesday, Cockpit said that “despite announcements to the contrary, Lufthansa has not yet approached us and has not put forward a new offer”.

“This is absolutely incomprehensible and leads to a further unnecessary escalation of the situation.”

The pilot union is seeking a 5.5 percent wage increase by the end of the year, automatic compensation for inflation and adjustments on its salary grid.

Lufthansa has said the entire package sought by Cockpit would raise pilot personnel costs by 40 percent or 900 million euros ($900 million).

With inflation soaring, collective salary bargaining is expected to be tense in the coming months across Europe.

German consumer prices rose by 7.9 percent in the year to August, according to data published last week by the federal statistics agency Destatis.


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