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Covid travel restrictions have ended in the UK



Covid travel restrictions have ended in the UK

As of 04:00 GMT, unvaccinated arrivals will no longer have to take tests – the rule had already been lifted for the vaccinated – and passenger locator forms have been scrapped.

It comes almost exactly two years after the first Covid lockdown measures were imposed in the UK.

Travel bosses said lifting the rules was the “final game-changer”.

Aviation minister Robert Courts said: “Everything we have worked for – every jab, every test, and the sacrifices made by the whole country means that finally, nearly two years on, we can all travel without bureaucratic restrictions.”

The government said the change had been deliberately timed before the Easter holidays, but added that contingency plans had been drawn up to respond to any future Covid variants.

Derek Jones, chief executive of Kuoni, a tourism company, said bookings had surged in recent months.

“The removal of all travel restrictions is the final game-changer – people can now go on holiday or visit family and friends overseas without all of the stress that comes with testing before they return home,” he said.

“Finally, we’ve seen the back of the unpopular and ineffective passenger locator forms, which were always a hassle to complete. Travel has been in turmoil for two years but now it’s back.”

However, UK travellers are still advised to check the rules for the countries they are visiting – as many still have restrictions and testing requirements in place.

The removal of the rules marks the end of a rapidly-changing – and often complex – set of Covid rules for people arriving in the UK.

People were first advised against all non-essential international travel in March 2020.

Later that year, passenger locator forms for arrivals were introduced, along with “travel corridors” – with people arriving from countries outside the corridors having to self-isolate at home for up to 14 days.

Other rules have included pre-departure and post-arrival tests; hotel quarantine for some arrivals; and a “traffic light” system of red, amber, and green countries.

The traffic light system could often cause short-term changes to people’s plans as countries moved from one colour to another.

In a further complication, all four nations could set their own rules – meaning there were sometimes different restrictions in different parts of the UK.

More recently, changes have been agreed by all governments in the UK.



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Airline operators announce flight disruption over scarcity of aviation fuel




Airline operators announce flight disruption over scarcity of aviation fuel

Nigerian airlines, under the aegis of Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON),  say there will be disruption of scheduled flight operations over the growing scarcity of aviation fuel popular as Jet-Al.

Obiora Okonkwo, chairman, United Nigeria airline and spokesperson of AON, said this in a public notice issued on Monday.

The statement said that the scarcity of aviation is impacting negatively on the seamless conduct of air transport operations and “would lead to flight rescheduling, and, or, cancellations”.

“The Airline Operators of Nigeria wish to alert the public of impending disruptions to scheduled flight operations of members of the association. This development is being forced on members by the growing scarcity of aviation fuel popular as Jet-Al,” the statement reads.

“The scarcity is impacting negatively on the seamless conduct of air transport operations and would lead to flight rescheduling, and, or, cancellations.

“However, the association and its members are working very hard, and in alliance with product marketers, government and relevant stakeholders, to ensure availability and proper pricing of aviation fuel in the country.

“While pleading the understanding of the flying public in the face of this reality, we also promise to do all that is necessary, and within our powers, to restore normal flight schedules as soon as possible.”

Two weeks ago, some airlines had complained about the rising cost of aviation fuel and threatened to shut down operations.

The proposed strike was aborted after Femi Gbajabiamila, speaker of the house, convened a meeting of all stakeholders in the industry, including marketers and the Central Bank of Nigeria.

After the meeting, Gbajabiamila said the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) agreed to provide the aviation fuel at N480/litre pending when the carriers would be granted a license to import the commodity.

Allen Onyema, vice-president of AON, had said the rising cost and fuel scarcity can be addressed if airliners are allowed to purchase aviation fuel directly. 

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Aviation fuel: NNPC, airlines agree on three-month supply at N480/litre




Aviation fuel: NNPC, airlines agree on three-month supply at N480/litre

The House of Representatives on Monday held a stakeholders meeting to resolve the crisis trailing the aviation fuel price increase, with the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPC) and domestic airline operators reaching a deal.

It was agreed that the NNPC would supply Jet-A1 to marketers nominated by airline operators for a period of three months at N480 per litre, pending when the carriers would be granted licences to import the commodity.

This is just as the Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON) said it had nominated 10 marketers for the purpose.

The Speaker of the House, Femi Gbajabiamila; and Deputy Speaker, Ahmed Wase, presided over the meeting that lasted about four hours, with the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Godwin Emefiele; and the Group Managing Director, Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited, Mele Kyari, among others in attendance.

Airline operators had last week threatened to halt their services over soaring aviation fuel prices, effective Monday (yesterday).

They had given a notice to the Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika; and the Director-General, Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), Musa Nuhu.

The AON said the price of aviation fuel had risen from N190 to N700 per litre.

The operators, however, suspended the planned flight shutdown for economic and security reasons.

The Senate and the House had intervened in the fuel crisis before the notice.

After the meeting on Monday, Gbajabiamila said the stakeholders had reached a four-point agreement, following their meeting with the airlines. Firstly, he said the carriers had agreed to call off the proposed withdrawal of services.

The Speaker said in part, “Two, NNPC and the airline operators have both agreed that in the interim – for three months, your (AON’s) marketers of choice, that you are comfortable with, that you know their price would not drive you out of business, would be supplied with jet fuel.

“The third resolution is that in the mid-term to long-term, in fact right now, you will begin or commence the process of applying for your license to be able to import your own jet fuel, so that it will remove middleman or the vagrancies of it; you will know the landing cost and how it will assist you in your business.

“According to the CBN governor, there are six million litres available now at N480. You will get an allocation in the next three months through the companies (marketers) that you have nominated so that you would not come back and say jet fuel is now a certain amount and it is the fault of the NNPC. You have nominated those people that are selling to you.”

Gbajabiamila added, “And in the process of applying for their licence, Midstream would as much as possible grant as many waivers as possible that do not touch on security and safety.”

The meeting also agreed that the House Committee on Aviation should be part of the further talks between oil regulators, aviation regulators and the airline operators.

Re-echoing what other stakeholders had alleged, Gbajabiamila stated, “I agree with you; I think the problem is with the marketers.”

While thanking those in attendance, the Speaker said, “The last people we want to thank are the marketers right now.”

Before then, Kyari had accused the AON of “attacking” and “making institutions” on the NNPC over its role in the crisis.

The Vice-Chairman, AON, Allen Onyema, who is also the Chairman of Air Peace, however, denied the allegation, saying the operators took exception to the GMD’s comments.

Earlier in his opening remarks, Gbajabiamila said, “We are at the precipice today in Nigeria. It is a crucial moment for us. There is a crisis at hand. The shutdown of airline operations has the potential of shutting down this government. We cannot sit here as stakeholders and fold our arms and watch this happen. We need to address this matter once and for all.”

Onyema also said, “We were told here at that last meeting that fuel would be sold to us at N500, which we protested that it was still on the high side because even when fuel was selling at N200 or N250, the operating cost was about 40 per cent worldwide. It is like that.

“It rose to N400 and then to N450, and that was when we were alarmed and you noticed that everybody tweaked his inventory when we now raised our base fare to about N50,000, which did not actually address the matter. That was when it was N400.

“We were invited to the House and when we came here, it was reached that they would give us fuel at N500 within three days. That never happened. We continued writing and nothing happened.”

The AON vice chair added that Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority later invited the operators and they were told that the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), had “approved 25,000 metric tonnes for us as a palliative to help us.”

He said, “We were very grateful to the President. It was not free. We were happy. We were told to nominate marketers that would market this product for us. We were told to have a meeting with these marketers. We called all the marketers. We held a meeting with them. We decided the logistics, so they would take their logistical costs and everything.

“At the end of the day that fuel was getting to them, they told us, at N335. So, we put everything together and it would be less than N400 for the cost and we said even if they sell to us at N450, it would be okay.

Onyema stated, “If we crumble today, over a million jobs would be lost.” Kyari also admitted that the last meeting agreed to make the marketers sell the product to airlines at N500 per litre for three days, pending the day they would sit down and agree on this pricing formula.

He said, “I confirm that they had sat down and engaged and agreed on a pricing structure. Needless to say, there is no fixed price. This is a deregulated product. So, you cannot hold onto any price. And indeed, what you have seen in the media is a N700 reference point. It cannot be a reference point. It depends on the market condition. It can be higher than N700, depending on the market. This market shifts. As we speak, it is closely related to the price of crude oil.

“We cannot fix the price. We cannot ask for N500. We cannot say it must be below N600 or N700. That is why we insisted they go and have a formula that is transparent that each one of us can see. The only way we can have fixed prices is if we put subsidies on. You can say it can sell for N500 in any circumstance, then somebody has paid for that difference. I am not sure this is what we are doing.”


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Airfares record 28% increase in one year – NBS




Airfares record 28% increase in one year – NBS

Air transportation fares rose by 28.26 per cent in one year, according to a new report by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS).

In a report titled, ‘Transport fare watch (March 2022),’ the NBS said the average fare paid by air passengers for specified routes on a single journey increased by 4.43 per cent month-on-month from N44,825.04 in February 2022 to N 46,810.62 in March 2022.

It said, “The average fare paid by air passengers for specified routes single journey, increased by 4.43 per cent on a month-on-month from N44,825.04 in February 2022 to N46,810.62 in March 2022. On a year-on-year, the fare rose by 28.26 per cent (N36,495.41) in March 2021.

“The average fare paid by commuters for bus journey intercity per drop rose to N3,270.94 in March 2022 indicating an increase of 5.29 per cent on a month-on-month compared to the value of N3,106.72 in February 2022. The fare, however, rose by 35.65 per cent (N2,411.29) on a year-on-year, in March 2021.”

According to the report, the average fare paid by commuters for bus journeys within the city per drop, increased by 4.41 per cent on a month-on-month from N513.72 in February 2022 to N536.35 in March 2022.

In terms of year-on-year, however, the average fare paid by commuters for bus journeys within the city per drop rose by 42.17 per cent from N 377.27 in March 2021 to N536.35 in March 2022.

The NBS added, “In another category, the average fare paid by commuters for journey by motorcycle per drop increased by 4.22 per cent on month-on-month from N379.12 in February 2022 to N395.12 in March 2022.

“Also, in terms of year-on-year, the fare rose by 45.57 per cent from N 271.44 in March 2021 to N395.12 in March 2022.

“The average fare paid for water transport (waterway passenger transportation) in March 2022 dropped to N 890.03 showing a decrease of 2.53 per cent on month-on-month from N 913.13 in February 2022. On year-on-year, the fare rose by 10.10 per cent from N808.38 in March 2021 to N890.03 in March 2022.”

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