Travel News

United Airlines to commence US-Nigeria flight operations Nov 29 - THE CABLE

SEPTEMBER 19, 2021

United Airlines will begin flight operations from the Virginia, United States to Lagos, Nigeria. 

The announcement was made on the verified Twitter account of the US Mission in Nigeria on Saturday.

According to the tweet, the airline operation will commence on November 29.

It stated that the “nonstop flights” will fly from Dulles international airport, Virginia, to Lagos, while adding that the “tickets will be available for booking in a few days.”

“Awesome! A welcome addition to increasing the burgeoning connections between the US and Nigeria!” the tweet reads.

“We are pleased to see that United Airlines will launch from Dulles International Airport to Lagos starting November 29. Tickets will be available for booking in a few days.”

On its part, United Airlines, while corroborating the news on its verified Twitter account, disclosed that it would operate flights on Monday, Thursday and Saturday every week.

The tweet established that the flight will be three per week — Mondays, Thursdays and Saturdays — on a Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner.

“Make room for one more, Dulles Airport! Our nonstop to Lagos, Nigeria, is now for sale,” it stated.

“The first flight takes off November 29, with service on a 787-8 on Mondays, Thursdays and Saturdays.”

Air France-KLM plane returns to Beijing after smoke in cabin - THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

SEPTEMBER 19, 2021

BEIJING (AP) — An Air France-KLM flight returned to Beijing shortly after takeoff on Saturday after smoke filled the cabin, the airline said.

The Boeing 777 connecting Beijing Airport with Paris-Charles de Gaulle suffered a technical failure linked to overpressure in one of the air conditioning pipes, which spread residue and dust in the cabin, the airline said in a statement.

It landed normally at 4:03 a.m. local time, the statement said. No injuries were reported.

The passengers will be rerouted to Paris later Saturday on board another Boeing 777. Maintenance will be carried out on the aircraft before it is returned to service, the airline said.

The Associated Press

Immigration Overhaul in Biden Economic Plan Dealt Setback - BLOOMBERG

SEPTEMBER 20, 2021

(Bloomberg) -- The Senate parliamentarian has blocked Democrats from including a plan to provide legal status to as many as 8 million undocumented immigrants as part of legislation encompassing President Joe Biden’s economic agenda.

Parliamentarian Elizabeth MacDonough issued an opinion Sunday that the broad and long-stalled immigration overhaul doesn’t qualify for inclusion in a massive tax and spending plan under the Senate rules that Democrats are using to bypass a Republican filibuster.

The parliamentarian said the proposal by Democrats “is a policy change that substantially outweighs the budgetary impact of that change.”

The Senate Democrats’ plan would have granted status to undocumented immigrants including young “Dreamers,” migrant farm workers, some immigrants deemed “essential workers” and others with temporary protected status.

The parliamentarian’s decision means the immigration plan would require 60 votes rather than the simple majority allowed for the fast-track procedure known as reconciliation. The Senate is split 50-50 between the two parties, with Vice President Kamala Harris able to break ties, and the broad GOP opposition to the immigration overhaul would doom it.

Senate Judiciary Chair Dick Durbin said Democrats could craft a “Plan B” immigration overhaul. But another attempt could fail or, at the very least, make it even tougher for Democratic leaders to move ahead with any speed on the larger package.

The Democrats’ immigration plan has broad support in both chambers, and leaving it out of the will cause howls of protests from progressives whose plans for a much more sizable economic plan has already fallen by the wayside.

In making their case to the parliamentarian, Democrats argued unsuccessfully that immigration should qualify for filibuster protection because their proposal has a significant budgetary impact. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office has estimated that the 8 million immigrants once they get legal status would qualify for nearly $140 billion dollars in federal means-tested benefits, the Senate Democratic aides said. That includes Obamacare, Medicaid, refundable tax credits and supplemental security income.

In 2005, the parliamentarian accepted a similar argument in allowing an immigration provision to move ahead. MacDonough said that case did not set a precedent. 

MacDonough is the Senate’s adviser on the interpretation of rules and procedures. As Democrats continue their work on the economic package, Republicans are likely to make other challenges before her in other areas including climate change.

Dubai’s Emirates to Increase U.S. Flights as Restrictions Ease - BLOOMBERG

SEPTEMBER 20, 2021

by  Adveith NairBloomberg News

(Bloomberg) -- Emirates plans to ramp up flights to the United States as travel restrictions ease further and ahead of the World Expo event in Dubai that’s expected to draw millions of visitors. 

The airline will increase flights to a number of U.S. destinations from October and aims to restore more than 90% of its pre-Covid frequencies to the country by early December. The U.S. this month lowered its travel warning for the United Arab Emirates to level 3 from 4. 

Emirates was hit hard by the pandemic, with widespread border curbs preventing travelers to make the intercontinental journeys in which the carrier specializes. As demand for travel picks up, it has ramped up operations and plans to recruit 3,000 cabin crew and 500 airport services employees to join its Dubai hub over the next six months.

Daily cases have been dropping in the UAE, which has rolled out one of the world’s fastest vaccination programs. Dubai, one of the country’s seven emirates, is preparing to host the Expo event in October and aims to attract 25 million visits over six months.

U.S. to ease travel restrictions for foreign visitors who are vaccinated against Covid - CNBC

SEPTEMBER 20, 2021

The U.S. is planning to ease travel restrictions for international visitors who are vaccinated against Covid-19, including those from the U.K. and EU, according to a person familiar with the matter.

Non-citizens visiting the United States will have to show proof of vaccination and the changes will take effect in early November, according to the person.

The White House didn’t immediately comment.

Airlines and other travel-industry groups have clamored for the U.S. to lift the restrictions for months. The Trump administration had first issued the rules in March 2020. President Joe Biden upheld those rules in January, shortly after taking office.

European and British officials have eased entry rules to make it easier for U.S. travelers to visit since vaccines became widely available this spring but the U.S. hadn’t reciprocated.

Allowing more international travelers into the U.S. would have wide-ranging impacts. A ban on much of non-U.S. citizen travel has had wide-reaching impacts on industries including airlines, retail and restaurants.

In June, the U.S., U.K., EU, Mexico and Canada announced a joint task force to study how to safely reopen travel.

This is breaking news. Check back for updates.

U.S. to Open Air Travel to Most Vaccinated Foreign Passengers - BLOOMBERG

SEPTEMBER 20, 2021

By Josh Wingrove

  • Biden team set to ease travel restrictions on U.K., Europe
  •  Rules replace ban on travel to U.S. by certain foreigners

The U.S. will soon allow entry to most foreign air travelers as long as they’re fully vaccinated against Covid-19 -- while adding a testing requirement for unvaccinated Americans and barring entry for foreigners who haven’t gotten shots.

The measures, announced Monday by the White House, are the most sweeping change to U.S. travel policies in months, and widen the gap in rules between vaccinated people -- who will see measures relaxed -- and the unvaccinated. The new rules will replace existing bans on foreigners’ travel to the U.S. from certain regions, including Europe.

While the move will open the U.S. to millions of vaccinated people, the White House cast the measure as a crackdown, pointing to stricter testing rules and a new contact tracing regime. The new policy will take effect in “early November,” according to the White House, though the precise date isn’t yet clear.

“We know vaccines are effective, including against the delta variant, and vaccines are the best line of defense against Covid, so this vaccination requirement deploys the best tool we have in our arsenal to keep people safe and prevent the spread of the virus,” White House Covid-19 response coordinator Jeff Zients told reporters on Monday.  

The new rules will replace the current system, which includes outright bans on entry for foreigners who’ve been in certain regions, such as the U.K. and European Union, within the previous two weeks, regardless of vaccination status. 

“We will protect Americans here at home and enhance the safety of international travel,” Zients said.

News of the policy change caused U.S. airline shares to pare premarket losses. The Standard & Poor’s index of the country’s five biggest airlines rose less than 1% at 11:14 a.m. in New York, overcoming a global stock rout on anxiety over U.S. monetary policy and China’s real estate market. American Airlines Group Inc. climbed about 2%. 

IAG SA, parent of trans-Atlantic specialist British Airways, gained about 11%, the most in 10 months, while Air France-KLM rose as much as 7% and Deutsche Lufthansa AG advanced 8.9%.

Before the coronavirus crisis hit, the North Atlantic corridor connecting the U.S. and Europe was the single most profitable part of the global aviation market, filled with premium travelers paying top dollar for first- and business-class seats.

The European Union’s top industry official welcomed the policy change. “A logical decision given the success of our EU vaccination campaign,” said Industry Commissioner Thierry Breton in a tweet. He said he’d be meeting with Zients Monday “to continue fighting the pandemic.”

British Airways Chief Executive Officer Sean Doyle called the U.S. move an “historic moment” and said customers could now book with confidence, while his Virgin Atlantic Airways Ltd. counterpart Shai Weiss said the industry had cleared a “major milestone to the reopening of travel at scale.”

“We welcome the Biden administration’s science-based approach to begin lifting the restrictions on travel to the U.S. that were put into place at the start of the pandemic,” American Airlines CEO Doug Parker said in a statement. “We’re looking forward to welcoming more customers back to easy, seamless international trips for business, for leisure, and to reconnect with family and friends.” 

Biden’s announcement comes ahead of a planned virtual vaccine summit he’ll host this Wednesday, where he will push for more global donations in a bid to head off criticism of U.S. hoarding, and a decision to proceed with booster shots despite the World Health Organization urging to hold off for now.

Under the new system, vaccinated travelers will still need a pre-flight Covid-19 test, within three days of departure, and will need to provide a phone number and email to begin to create a contact-tracing system that does not exist now. The vaccine requirement applies to adults, a person familiar with the plan said. 

Unvaccinated American travelers will need to test within one day of departure, and will be required to test again once they arrive, Zients said.

Key details of the new system remain unclear, including what vaccines the U.S. will recognize and whether it will insist on two doses in all cases, including for people who’ve previously been infected with the virus. It’s not clear what exemptions will be allowed. 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will determine the definition of fully vaccinated for international travelers, Zients said.

There’s no change to the policy along land borders, Zients said. That suggests that, as of November, vaccinated Canadians and Mexicans will be free to fly to the U.S., but that a ban on crossing the border by land for leisure trips will remain in place.

Throughout the pandemic, carriers on both sides of the Atlantic have lobbied forcefully for a relaxation of travel curbs that have been in place since March 2020. While Britain and the EU lifted restrictions on visiting Americans this summer, the U.S. held off from any reciprocal loosening amid a rise in Covid-19 cases. U.S. infections have been leveling off, though cases, hospitalizations and deaths remain high.

The policy change in Washington is coming after Britain indicated it would ease testing requirements for vaccinated arrivals, and simplify its system for regulating travel from different countries.

European countries in particular have complained that the U.S. maintained travel restrictions on their vaccinated citizens even after they began allowing entry to vaccinated Americans.

We can’t stop doctors from leaving Nigeria, says Reps committee chairman - THE GUARDIAN

SEPTEMBER 21, 2021

By Oluwaseun Akingboye (Akure) and Eniola Daniel

Expert lists problems of the health sector backs JOHESU on strike

Chairman, House Committee on Health Institutions, Dr. Paschal Chigozie Obi, has said that little could be done to discourage doctors and other health personnel from leaving the country for greener pastures, as they remain part of Nigeria’s foreign exchange-earners.

Obi said this yesterday, during an oversight visit by the House committee to Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH), Idi-Araba, Lagos.

He said: “There is a limit to what human beings can do on the issue of doctors or professionals leaving the country for greener pastures. We have been doing our best in collaboration with the Federal Government to ensure there are good conditions of service for our professionals.”

“We held several meetings with the National Association of Resident Doctors of Nigeria (NARD) and we hands-off when the matter went to court and we can’t do anything until the matter is withdrawn from the court because anything we do will be subjudice. So, we can’t interfere in the court process until it is settled. Right now, we are handicapped.

“We have invited JOHESU members to the table because they haven’t gone to court. We are trying to do our best to ensure that they don’t go to court. If they do, we will have no choice but to also hand off.

The Chief Medical Director (CMD), (LUTH), Prof. Chris Bode, who spoke on major challenges in the sector, said strikes were causing instability in the system, and disrupting services, training and research.

Also, a member of the House, Dr. Samuel Babatunde Adejare, said: “It is unfortunate that we are witnessing this. You need so much money to train yourself as a doctor overseas but here in Nigeria, what you need to get to be a doctor is a peanut compared to that. It, is, therefore, so unfortunate that when you get trained here, those people call and poach our doctors.”

SIMILARLY, the immediate past President of the Association of Community Pharmacists in Nigeria (ACPN), Samuel Adekola, has blamed the problems facing the health sector in the country on the medical personnel taking the leading positions in the sector.

He, therefore, justified the fresh 15-day notice issued by JOHESU and Assembly of Healthcare Professional Associations (AHPA) to embark on strike.

Adekola, however, noted that there had been some medical personnel in the saddle that has integrity, stressing that they are overwhelmed by undue pressure from their colleagues to further destroy the system.

“The truth about it is that we have been unfortunate in Nigeria in terms of having people who will want to take the bull by the horn to solve the problem. I must say sincerely that the health security of Nigeria will not thrive having a particular group of persons heading it.

“Even if they want to do what is right, they continue to be under intense pressure from their colleagues. And this is why JOHESU insists on going on strike again,” he said.

Dubai Airports Sees Doubling of Visitors in 2022 as Curbs Ease - BLOOMBERG

SEPTEMBER 21, 2021

(Bloomberg) -- Dubai’s airports chief says the number of international visitors may more than double next year as the easing of Covid-19 restrictions boosts travel through one of the world’s busiest hubs.

“We’re going to see a very sharp up-tick,” Dubai Airports Chief Executive Paul Griffiths said on Bloomberg Television on Tuesday. The lifting of curbs between Dubai and countries such as the U.K., U.S. and Saudi Arabia will have a “massive impact” on the Gulf state, with about 27 million people passing through this year alone, he said.

Dubai is “very confident” that from Oct. 4 the United Arab Emirates will be included among countries not deemed by the U.K. as high-risk for coronavirus infections, Griffiths added. Dubai International Airport, the world’s largest by international traffic, counts London as its leading destination.

The U.K. said on the weekend it would reduce testing requirements for visitors for more countries and recognize coronavirus vaccines administered in 17 nations, including Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain and Israel. The UAE wasn’t included in the list but Britain’s Minister for the Middle East and North Africa, James Cleverly, said on Sept. 17 that could change.

“There’s a minor technical issue that’s already been resolved and we’re expecting an announcement very shortly,” Griffiths said.


Why some airlines' planes fly slower than others - YAHOO FINANCE

SEPTEMBER 22, 2021

BY Ethan Wolff-Mann  ·Senior Writer

Virgin Atlantic, British Airways Sales Jump on U.S. Opening - BLOOMBERG

SEPTEMBER 22, 2021

(Bloomberg) -- Virgin Atlantic Airways Ltd.’s U.S. bookings surged more than 600% overnight Monday from a week earlier after the Biden administration said most foreigners fully inoculated against Covid-19 would be able to visit again.

New York saw the biggest surge in demand, the U.K. airline said in a statement Tuesday, while leisure destinations also performed well. Sales to Orlando, Miami and Las Vegas soared.

British Airways said its vacation division saw an almost 700% increase in searches week-on-week to destinations including Los Angeles and Boston.

The shares of European airlines and other travel-related companies gained for a second day following the U.S. decision. British Airways parent IAG SA led the way with a 7% advance after an 11% gain Monday before closing 3.1% higher. Deutsche Lufthansa AG rose as much as 5% and Air France-KLM 3.8%.

Virgin Atlantic isn’t listed but is considering a public offering in London as flights return, people with knowledge of the plan said last month.

Airline stocks were also buoyed by suggestions that the U.S. will allow in people inoculated with a range of Covid-19 shots. Officials told Bloomberg that the Centers for Disease Control currently considers people fully vaccinated when they have received a full course of a jabs listed for emergency use by the World Health Organization. That would include those from AstraZeneca Plc and Chinese developers Sinopharm Group and Sinovac Biotech Ltd.

Airlines Rejoice as U.S. Agrees to Trans-Atlantic Restart

Liberum said in a note that the news from Washington will boost carriers whose most profitable market has been largely closed for 18 months, identifying IAG, normally the No. 1 North Atlantic operator, as “the biggest beneficiary.”

The corridor connecting the U.S. and Europe was the most profitable corner of the aviation market before the coronavirus crisis, a hotspot for those paying extra for first- and business-class seats. European flag carriers are far more reliant on those routes than their U.S. counterparts, which have extensive, profitable domestic networks to fall back on.

Germany, Spain

Flight-search specialist Skyscanner said its website experienced a 54% surge in visits following the American announcement from a week earlier.

While U.K. routes led the way with a near 900% increase in economy-class bookings on Monday compared with Sunday, German flights to the U.S. saw a surge of more than 750% and demand from Spain was up in excess of 350%.

Airlines on both sides of the Atlantic have lobbied forcefully for a relaxation of travel curbs throughout the pandemic, and particularly after vaccine rollouts gathered pace earlier this year. While the European Union and the U.K. began allowing in inoculated Americans over the summer, the Biden administration had held off on reciprocating.

Limited Impact

EasyJet Plc, Britain’s biggest short-haul airline, said it has also experienced an increase in bookings following the U.K. government’s decision Friday to ease coronavirus testing requirements for fully vaccinated arrivals, removing a significant barrier to travel.

However, while sales picked up over the weekend, the impact was limited following the end of the summer vacation season, with only a week of school holidays -- in October -- remaining this side of the festive season, Chief Commercial Officer Sophie Dekkers told a House of Commons transport committee hearing.

(Updates with Skyscanner data from ninth paragraph, EasyJet testimony in U.K. parliament from 12th)


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