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Heathrow passenger numbers down 5% as summer chaos and cost of living bite - EVENING STANDARD

SEPTEMBER 12, 2022

August passenger numbers at Heathrow fell by 5% on July figures as the cost of living crisis and chaotic airport experiences dented consumers’ appetite for international travel.

Just over 6 million people used the airport last month, down from the 6.3 million who had travelled through it in July.

Heathrow was hit by unprecedented chaos over the summer months as a shortage of ground staff resulted in severe delays and huge queues, ultimately forcing it to implement a 100,000 daily passenger cap.

The cap had originally been due to be lifted yesterday but has been extended until October 29, impacting the half-term break.

As a result, airlines have cut back their use of the airport: British Airways has planned to axe around 10,000 flights scheduled to take off in the coming months due to the passenger cap and an expected reduction in demand over the winter.

Ryanair boss Michael O’Leary has also been critical of the airport’s actions, calling the decision to continue to limit the number of daily passengers “hopeless”.

Higher food and energy costs coupled with stagnant wage growth also mean many Britons are cutting back on luxury expenditure such as foreign holidays.

Data from Barclaycard released last month showed that international travel had been heavily impacted by rising costs elsewhere, with spending on travel agents and airlines declining 5% and 2.6% respectively over the summer months.

Heathrow’s numbers have somewhat bounced back after the effects of the coronovirus pandemic shutdown. In August 2021, just 2.2 million passengers used the airport.

But the figure for last month still remains below the pre-coronavirus total of 7.7 million in August 2019.

Passenger numbers were down across most global regions, apart from Africa and the Middle East, where travellers increased by 6% and 2% respectively.

The airport said it would not comment on the latest figures due to the death of the Queen.

Passport issuance rises by 38%, more Nigerians relocate - PUNCH

SEPTEMBER 13, 2022

The number of passports issued by the Nigeria Immigration Service rose by 38 per cent between 2020 and 2021, The PUNCH observed.

This is an increase from 767,164 to 1,059,607 passports issued in 2020 and 2021 respectively.

According to data obtained from the NIS, the passport types ranged from standard, official, diplomatic, emergency travel certificates and refugee passports or conventional travel documents.

A breakdown of that number revealed that out of the total passports issued in 2020, 761,825 were standard; 2,024 were official; 444 were diplomatic, and 2,871 were ETCs.

In 2021, the NIS issued 1,041,537 standard passports, 2,811 official passports, 895 diplomatic passports, 14,214 ETCs and 150 refugee passports.

That’s about 2,081 and 2,853 passports issued every 24 hours in 2020 and 2021 respectively.

For the period under review, the United Kingdom immigration report showed that 13,609 Nigerian healthcare workers were granted working visas. This is second only to India with 42,966 practitioners.

According to the Nigeria Social Cohesion Survey 2021 taken by the African Polling Institute, seven out of 10 Nigerians were eager to leave their country if offered the opportunity.

Also, a World Bank survey taken that year revealed that 56,000 more Nigerians were leaving the country yearly than arriving.

Further checks showed that over 19,000 skilled work and study UK visas were issued to Nigerians in 2019. In 2021, however, that number rose by 210 per cent, 59,000.

More so, 12,595 Nigerians emigrated to Canada in 2019 alone, according to data obtained from the Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada. That year, the NIS dished out 1,198,274 passports, which was daily average of 3,282 passports.

Closer observation of Nigerians fleeing the country revealed a rich mix of professionals such as academics, medical doctors, nurses and technology experts who are reportedly resigning from their roles in many local banks and leveraging the UK’s skilled work visas or its equivalent in other countries of their choice.

More citizens are also leaving the country through the study route, obtaining study visas mostly in the UK, Canada and the United States.

Speaking with The PUNCH, the Executive Director of Adopt A Goal Initiative, Mr Ariyo-Dare Atoye, argued that the rising number of Nigerians obtaining passports was closely connected to the high emigration rate occasioned by the harsh economic realities and security challenges of the past decade.

Nonetheless, the new passport regime launched mid last year might also be a contributing factor to the ease of passport issuance to many applicants.

According to him, that number would continue to rise if the country failed to elect credible leaders in the forthcoming elections. “Numbers don’t lie,” he said.

“Check the statistics of the Nigerian Medical Association and see how many doctors have left in the last two years. Many Nigerians used the pandemic lockdown to look for openings globally. They searched for jobs and other opportunities around the world and a lot of people succeeded in securing one opportunity or the other. So, when the lockdown was lifted for people to travel, they started seizing the opportunity. And we’re likely to see more Nigerians moving.

“We will see a reduction in this only if we get the right leadership in 2023. But as we speak, the trigger is not because of the efficient system that has been put in place by the Nigerian Immigration Service. Rather, it is because many Nigerians are leaving this country. Tired of the situation at home, they look for opportunities elsewhere,” he added.

Also speaking with our correspondent, activist and Convener of Concerned Nigerians, Deji Adeyanju, said many citizens who remained in the country were only marking time before their eventual exit.

“Nigerians are fed up with the system. That’s why they are leaving the country, and more people are going to leave the country if the next election does not turn out favourably. You can see the interest of the young people in the election.

“As currently constituted today, Nigeria is like a concentration camp. And if you doubt me, let the UK, in the spirit of the Queen’s death, offer visa-free access to Nigerians for one week and see how many people will move,” Adeyanju said.

Thousands of Nurses Strike in Minnesota Over Staff Shortages - BLOOMBERG

SEPTEMBER 13, 2022

BY  Madison Muller and Ella CeronBloomberg News

(Bloomberg) -- More than 15,000 nurses across 16 hospital systems in Minnesota began a three-day strike on Monday after months of contract negotiations failed to produce a new deal.

The Minnesota Nurses Association, a union whose members also work in Wisconsin, North Dakota and Iowa, said that while its nurses have sought solutions to staffing shortages and retention issues, hospital executives have focused discussions solely on raising wages. But remedying the fallout from more than two years of pandemic burnout will take more than that, and not doing so puts patients at risk, the union said.

“Nurses do not take this decision lightly, but we are determined to take a stand at the bargaining table, and on the sidewalk if necessary, to put patients before profits in our hospitals,” Mary C. Turner, a registered nurse and president of the union, said in a statement.

The union said the walkout is believed to be the largest private-sector nurses strike in US history. It comes amid ongoing labor strife across the nation. Mental-health workers at Kaiser Permanente hospitals in California and Hawaii are striking for a new contract and expanded resources. And freight-rail operators and labor unions are working to hammer out a new contract before Friday’s deadline or risk major supply chain disruptions that could cost the US economy billions each day. 

In a survey of 2,500 nurses released in July by the nurse-staffing start-up Trusted Health, three-quarters of respondents said they had experienced burnout since the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic. Half said they had felt extreme trauma, stress or post-traumatic stress, and 64% said they were considering leaving health care entirely.

Nurses across the country are walking out from their jobs to demand change. One group of about 5,000 nurses in Palo Alto, California, staged a strike in April; they later won a new contract with their employers, Stanford Health Care and Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates there will be an average of 194,500 job openings for registered nurses through 2030. 

US Representative Ilhan Omar, a Democrat from Minnesota, said on Twitter that she planned to stand with the striking nurses, and Democratic US Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont also tweeted in support of the strike.  

“I stand in solidarity with the 15,000 @mnnurses on strike this week fighting for safer care, fair scheduling, and higher wages,” Sanders wrote. “Nurses are the backbone of our health care system. They understand what’s best for their patients.”  

Canada Declares Holiday to Honor Queen But TSX Stays Open -

SEPTEMBER 14, 2022

(Bloomberg) -- The Canadian government has declared Monday a federal holiday for the funeral of Queen Elizabeth II, but financial markets will function normally.

TMX Group Ltd., operator of the Toronto Stock Exchange, said the main exchange, the TSX Venture Exchange and TSX Alpha Exchange will follow normal trading hours on Sept. 19. Payments Canada, which runs the country’s payment clearing and settlement infrastructure, said it will be fully operational on the day.

The Bank of Canada, however, is rearranging its bond auction schedule. A planned 10-year bond auction on Monday will be moved to Sept. 22. A scheduled 5-year bond auction on Sept. 22 will be held Sept. 26. All other operations that support financial markets will run normally on Monday, the central bank said in a statement.

The status of other financial institutions is unclear. Federally-regulated companies including banks, life insurers, telecommunications companies and transportation firms won’t be required to close, Labor Minister Seamus O’Regan said on Twitter.

Details of the holiday are still being finalized and the federal government is working with provincial governments “to try and see that we’re aligned on this,” Trudeau said. The British monarch is Canada’s head of state.

“Declaring an opportunity for Canadians to mourn on Monday is going to be important, so for our part we will be letting federal employees know that Monday will be a day of mourning where they will not work,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said, speaking to reporters at a Liberal caucus retreat in New Brunswick.

Some provinces automatically align their holidays with federal ones, while other provinces do so on a case-by-case basis. Ontario will not declare a holiday, instead marking it a day of mourning, Premier Doug Ford said in a statement. This will allow students to stay in school, learning about the Queen’s many contributions, he said.

“We encourage all Ontarians to use this day to honor Her Majesty and pay tribute to the extraordinary legacy she leaves behind,” Ford said.

Quebec Premier François Legault -- who is in the middle of a re-election campaign in the majority French-speaking province -- also ruled out making Monday a provincial holiday.

(Updates with bond auction rescheduling in third paragraph.)

FAAN Paid Parking Commences Sept. 29th At Abuja Airport - DAILY TRUST

SEPTEMBER 14, 2022

The Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) is set to commence pay parking at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja on September 29, 2022....


BY Chris Agabi

The Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) is set to commence pay parking at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja on September 29, 2022.

With this development, our correspondent reports that all access to both domestic, general airport terminal and the international terminal of the Abuja airport would be automated.

Our correspondent, who visited the airport, observed that the automated barriers are already being installed at strategic entrances to the various airport terminals.

A flyer produced by FAAN to educate airport users indicated that, “From September 29th, 2022 pay parking would commence.” But “there will be dedicated parking lots for private and public protocols committed to enhancing their experience to sustain our core values – safety, security and comfort.”

It was learnt from sources inside FAAN that all the dedicated parking lots would be paid for and some will attract premium annual payments for certain categories of very important people.

It is not immediately clear how much FAAN would charge as all the fine details are still being worked on by the committee overseeing the implementation of the new product. However, the standard charge in most facilities where pay parking has been implemented is N200 per hour after a grace period of about one hour.

The federal government has also approved the new order at the Abuja airport.

Our correspondent gathered that on August 16, 2022, the Managing Director of FAAN, Capt. Kabir Yadudu Mohammed, had in a letter sought the approval of the Minister of Aviation, Sen. Hadi Sirika to obtain the necessary federal government approvals to introduce the service.

It was gathered that the federal government immediately approved the new service.

In the letter speaking approval, FAAN had noted that “taking the current security situation of the country into consideration, it is important to be more organised and orderly within the airport.

“As such, rowdiness in the drop-off area and parking lots, improper parking, parking in restricted areas, unnecessary congestion in front of the terminal and all forms of unruly behaviour should be avoided by all airport users and passengers alike.”

FAAN further stated that the military and paramilitary personnel, government officials, and politicians as well as their aides are not exempted. However, dedicated car lots would be provided for them for a fee as there might be no free parking anywhere within the terminal environment.

“There will also be a redefinition of the VIP/VVIP parking lots and introduction of dedicated parking lots for corporate organizations and the above-mentioned categories of highly enticed individuals going forward”, the document sighted by our correspondent indicated.



Germany to Sell $458 Million Stake in Lufthansa After Bailout - BLOOMBERG

SEPTEMBER 14, 2022

(Bloomberg) -- Germany raised 760 million euros ($760 million) from the sale of the state’s full stake in Deutsche Lufthansa AG, unwinding all of the holding it took to keep the flagship carrier afloat during Covid-19 lockdowns.

The country’s Economic Stabilization Fund, or WSF, disposed of its remaining 9.92% of Europe’s largest airline via a placement with international investors, according to a statement. The government had earlier Tuesday announced the sale of a 6.2% holding.

“The total proceeds of 1.07 billion euros generated for the WSF from the sale of its stake significantly exceed the 306 million euros invested to acquire it,” said Jutta Doenges, who is responsible for the WSF as managing director of the finance agency. With this outcome, “the participation of the WSF ends and the company is back in private hands,” she said.

The shares traded 2% lower in early Wednesday trade in Frankfurt, and are little changed for the year to date.

Lufthansa in November repaid the last of its 9 billion-euro bailout ahead of schedule, enabling the government to pare its stake at a significant profit. The state stepped in during 2020 to rescue the airline after pandemic-related travel restrictions all but grounded air travel.

Germany’s richest man may have been one of the buyers, after saying he wants to acquire more shares in Europe’s biggest airline. Klaus-Michael Kuehne is looking to boost his 15.01% stake according to a filing last week, after investing a chunk of a fortune he made in logistics into the carrier.

The latest developments for the carrier come shortly after it reached an agreement that raises pay for pilots and excludes strikes for about a year in return. The airline has been wrestling with labor disputes that exacerbated an already chaotic summer travel season.

 

 

(Updates with share price in fourth paragraph. An earlier version corrected a figure related to the share sale.)

Night Trains to Carry Mourners to London; Air Fares Climb - BLOOMBERG

SEPTEMBER 14, 2022

Bloomberg) --

Extra trains including overnight services are being organized to take thousands of mourners to London as Queen Elizabeth II lies in state ahead of her funeral next Monday.

The Rail Delivery Group, which brings together train operating companies, said Tuesday that special departures to the capital are planned on a number of routes, with timetables to be updated as soon as possible.

The additional operations are aimed at smoothing journeys as people converge on the Palace of Westminster, where the Queen’s coffin will be visible 24 hours a day from 5 p.m. on Wednesday until 6.30 a.m. Monday, after which a state funeral will take place. The government says very long queues are to be expected, possibly extending overnight.

The influx of mourners has led to a surge in hotel bookings, with average prices for this weekend 30% higher than for the same period in 2019. Air fares to London from more-distant UK cities have also climbed.

“The rail industry is doing all it can to ensure people can travel to pay their respects during the period of mourning,” the Rail Delivery Group said. “Where possible we will be running some extra services and customers should check journey planners for the most up-to-date information.”

Commuter service Southeastern will run trains between the capital and the county of Kent every two hours through the night from Wednesday until Monday, linking London Victoria and St Pancras International with locations as distant as Ashford, and Charing Cross with Orpington and Tunbridge Wells.

South Western Railway will provide a service from Ascot to London Waterloo at 2 a.m. each night of the Queen’s lying in state.

LNER, which runs expresses on Britain’s East Coast Main Line, said train operators are working with Transport for London and track and station owner Network Rail Ltd. to provide as many seats and frequencies as possible.

Tickets on the West Coast line linking Birmingham, Liverpool and Manchester with London may be particularly hard to come by given a reduced service as train drivers decline to work overtime amid a dispute over pay.

Elizabeth Line

The price of flights into London from Northern Ireland and Scotland has surged for the day of the funeral, with fares jumping almost 40% from Belfast and also spiking for trips from Edinburgh, Glasgow and Aberdeen.

TfL will run a special service on the new Elizabeth line, which crosses the capital from east to west, with 12 trains per hour on the central section on Sunday. The agency hasn’t confirmed any extra Night Tube services beyond the usual Friday and Saturday operations on a limited number of lines.

For some vacationers, the state funeral portends disruption.

Center Parcs, an operator of resort villages, initially said it would close its facilities Monday “as a mark of respect and to allow as many of our colleagues as possible to be part of this historic moment.” After an outcry from customers the firm said people already on site would be allowed to continue their stay, minus facilities. New arrivals still won’t be permitted until Tuesday.

(Updates with latest on Center Parcs in final paragraph)

France to Cancel Half of Flights for Air Traffic Control Strike - bloomberg

SEPTEMBER 14, 2022

(Bloomberg) -- France’s civil aviation authority told airlines to cut half of their flights on Friday due to a planned strike by air-traffic controllers, bringing disruption back to the country’s airports after a difficult summer.

The DGAC’s guidance came in response to a walkout called for Sept. 16 by the SNCTA union, the authority said in an emailed statement Tuesday. Minimum service rules will be in place where applicable, it said.

In spite of the preventive measures, “flight cancellations and significant delays are to be expected” everywhere in French territory, DGAC said. “Passengers who can are invited to postpone their trips,” it said.

Air France-KLM shares slumped as much as 5.6% in Paris, extending declines after the strike announcement, and traded 4.1% lower at the close.

Airlines were forced to scrap thousands of flights this summer as airports shrank schedules in response to a staffing crisis, with the situation exacerbated by strikes among pilots, cabin crew, baggage handlers and others pressing for higher pay. Hubs in cities across Europe including London, Amsterdam and Frankfurt were among those suffering from the disruption.

Flying in Europe? These 10 Airports Are the Worst for Delays Now

DGAC said it’s working with Eurocontrol to offer alternative flight paths for airlines on Friday.

UK inflation dips slightly in August to 9.9% - ASSOCIATED PRESS

SEPTEMBER 14, 2022

LONDON (AP) — Inflation in the United Kingdom slowed slightly last month as a drop in gasoline and diesel fuel prices gave consumers the first glimmer of hope that Britain’s cost-of-living crisis may be beginning to ease.

The consumer price index rose 9.9% in the 12 months through August, the Office for National Statistics said Wednesday. That’s down from the 40-year high of 10.1% reported last month and was lower than economists' expectations of 10%.

Britain has been hard hit by worldwide price shocks triggered by the war in Ukraine, with consumer prices rising at a faster pace than other major economies over the past year. Lower gasoline costs also slowed U.S. inflation for a second straight month in August, but consumer prices that jumped 8.3% from a year earlier were still painfully high — much like in the U.K.

British Prime Minister Liz Truss last week moved to ease the pain, announcing a cap on household gas and electricity prices to head off an 80% increase in home energy costs this winter. Before that announcement, the Bank of England had estimated that inflation would peak at 13.1% later this year and trigger a recession.

“The headline rate of CPI inflation fell in August for the first time since last September and now looks set to drop sharply next year, thanks partly to the government’s energy price cap,” said Samuel Tombs, chief U.K. economist for Pantheon Macroeconomics.

Tombs estimates that the inflation rate will now peak at around 11% next month and may drop to the Bank of England’s 2% target by the end of next year. The bank postponed its upcoming meeting until next week to honor the mourning period for Queen Elizabeth II, and it's expected to carry out another interest rate hike to tame inflation like other central banks around the world.

Gasoline prices fell 7.5%, to 175.2 pence ($2.01) a liter, in August as oil prices dropped on international markets, the statistics office said. While the decline brought welcome relief to drivers, the cost of fuel is still 32% higher than it was a year ago.

Similarly, in the U.S., the average cost of a gallon of gasoline has dropped to $3.71, down from just above $5 in mid-June.

But there was no relief on other energy costs in the U.K. Electricity prices rose 54% in the period, and natural gas prices rose almost 96%.

At the grocery store, a jump in the cost of milk, cheese and eggs drove food prices up 13.1% in the year through August, the statistics office said.

Danica Kirka, The Associated Press

Australian Jobs Grow Slightly Below Expectations in August, Unemployment Up - INVESTING.COM

SEPTEMBER 15, 2022

By Ambar Warrick

Investing.com-- Australia added a slightly lower-than-expected number of jobs in August, while unemployment also rose as languid wage growth weighed on an otherwise robust jobs market.

Data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics showed that the economy added 33,500 jobs in August, just below expectations for 35,000. The unemployment rate also unexpectedly rose to 3.5% from 3.4%.

Overall participation in the job market rose to 66.6% of the population, indicating that an abundance of jobs was bound to keep unemployment low in the near-term. Despite rising in August, unemployment is still around 48-year lows.

The participation rate was also well above COVID-era levels, indicating that the jobs sector has now moved past headwinds from the virus. Australia’s economy rebounded sharply after the country withdrew most COVID-related restrictions this year.

But a lack of growth in wages appeared to be the biggest headwind faced by the jobs market. Wages grew at an annual rate of 2.6% in July, well below consumer price inflation of 6.1%. The latter is also trending around 20-year highs.

Strength in Australia’s jobs market has been a key driver of economic growth this year, by encouraging robust household spending. Optimism over the jobs market also saw Australian consumer sentiment improve slightly in early-September.

But rising interest rates and elevated inflation levels kept consumer sentiment pinned near pandemic-era lows.

The Australian dollar rose slightly after Thursday’s reading. But fears of rising U.S. interest rates and a potential economic slowdown in China meant the currency stuck to a tight trading range seen in recent months.

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