The United States has joined the United Kingdom, Israel, European Nations and a host of others to restrict flights from South Africa, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Lesotho, Eswatini, Mozambique and Malawi starting from Monday.
US Senior officials announced on Friday, saying the restriction was recommended by Joe Biden’s chief medical officer and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. However, the restriction does not apply to US citizens or permanent residents.
The decision was after reports of a fast-spreading new covid variant called B.1.1.529 hits headline on Thursday, raising concerns it could spread across the world if nothing is done fast. On Friday, Hong Kong reported two cases of the virus while Belgium confirmed one case in a traveler from Egypt.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) has designated the heavily mutated coronavirus strain ‘a variant of concern’.
WHO said the new COVID variant would be given the name Omicron after data examined by its officials showed exponential growth in cases of the B.1.1.529 Sars-Cov-2 variant.
The news plunged global financial markets, with stocks falling to their lowest in more than a year. The Standard and Poor 500 dropped 2.3 percent while Europe’s Stoxx 600 sheds 3.7 percent and the MSCI Asia-Pacific index dipped by 1.7 percent.
Crude oil dropped over $10 or more than 5 percent to $72 a barrel. Even gold, a known haven commodity, pulled back, losing its earlier gains.
“What should have been a quiet Friday trading in both bonds and equities globally has turned into a rout,” said Andrew Brenner, head of international fixed income at NatAlliance Securities.
Nigeria Digitalises Payment for Passport Application and Renewal
The Federal Government of Nigeria has announced a new e-passport, and has implored Nigerians to avoid paying money to unauthorised and corrupt officials.
The Nigerian Minister of Interior, Rauf Aregbesola also said at the Nigerian Immigration Service office in Ibadan that payments for Nigerian passports have now been digitalised, meaning that Nigerians can now pay for their passports online and do not necessarily have to pay officials who collect incentives to circumvent due process.
Aregbesola stated that some reforms were taking place in the passport process, which includes the digitalisation of both passport applications and payments. The minister then went ahead to lament that people still go to unauthorised officials in order to speed up the passport process.
He stated that most times, Nigerians who have been dealt blows by these officials then go to complain to the government, who in turn doles out disciplinary measures concerning the whole process.
The Minister went ahead to implore Nigerians to avoid engaging directly with their officials, and to strictly follow all the processes that have been put in place by the government. He said that the only direct engagement that Nigerians are required to have with the officials is the enrolment of biometric details.
Aregbesola reminded Nigerians of the template, which gives a maximum time period of six weeks to collect new passports and a maximum of three weeks to complete renewal of old passports. He claimed that the system works within this particular schedule so that they can identify any issues that have been reported by people and work towards correcting the reported errors.
The Minister then urged those who face any challenges in their application to wait, assuring them that the issues will be resolved in time, without them needing to approach officials to speed up the process. He went ahead to mention that passports all around the world are not received immediately, and that applicants would need to exercise patience before the process is completed.
Emirates Lands In Nigeria In Style
Emirates has today touched down in both Abuja and Lagos, marking the restart of daily services to Nigeria from Dubai. It received a spectacular water canon welcome at Murtala Mohammed Airport, Lagos.
Both flights from Dubai, EK 785 to Abuja and EK 783 to Lagos, were welcomed to Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport and Murtala Muhammed International Airport with water cannon salutes. Upon arrival, a cake cutting ceremony was also held between Emirates officials and the airport authorities to mark the resumption of operations.
Paulos Legesse, Country Manager Nigeria said: “We are delighted to resume operations to and from Nigeria, and are pleased to see strong interest from our customers, reflected in robust forward bookings from the time of our announcement, as well as today’s full flights from Dubai to Abuja and Lagos. The services will also give our customers the opportunity once again to safely experience Emirates’ superior product and service, offering them convenient travel options to Dubai, an already popular destination for Nigerian travellers, as well as seamless connectivity other key cities across our network.”
The aircraft being deployed to both Nigerian cities is the three class Boeing 777-300ER which offers 8 luxurious First Class suites, 42 generous Business Class seats, and over 300 seats in Economy Class.
Customers across all classes were able to enjoy the airline’s regional delicacies onboard, as well as its renowned in-flight entertainment system, ice, featuring over 4,500 channels of on-demand entertainment, including Nollywood films and content.
Emirates operates to Abuja with EK 785 and 786. EK 785 departs Dubai at 1100hrs, arriving in Abuja at 1540hrs. The return flight, EK 786 takes off from Abuja at 1900, arriving in Dubai at 0435hrs the next day. Emirates flight EK 783 to Lagos departs Dubai at 1030hrs, arriving in Lagos at 1540hrs. The return flight EK 784 departs Lagos at 1810hrs, arriving in Dubai at 0415hrs the next day.
Travelling to Dubai: Ensuring the safety of travellers, visitors, and the community, Covid-19 PCR tests are mandatory for all inbound passengers arriving to Dubai, including UAE citizens, residents and tourists, irrespective of the country they are coming from. Travellers coming from Nigeria must hold a negative Covid-19 PCR test certificate for a test taken no more than 72 hours before departure.
Additionally, the Nigerian Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) has specified designated laboratories for passengers departing Nigeria and travellers must obtain their certificate from one of the labs listed here to be accepted on the flight. Travellers coming from Nigeria will also need to take another Covid-19 PCR test on arrival at Dubai International Airport.
Since it safely resumed tourism activity in July 2020, Dubai remains one of the world’s most popular holiday destinations, especially during the winter season. The city is open for international business and leisure visitors. From sun-soaked beaches and heritage activities to world class hospitality and leisure facilities,
Dubai offers a variety of world-class experiences. It was one of the world’s first cities to obtain Safe Travels stamp from the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) – which endorses Dubai’s comprehensive and effective measures to ensure guest health and safety.
Dubai is currently hosting the world for Expo 2020, happening between October 2021 and March 2022. Through the theme of Connecting Minds, Creating the Future, Expo 2020 Dubai aims to inspire people by showcasing the best examples of collaboration, innovation and cooperation from around the world.
Its programme is packed with experiences to suit all ages and interests, including a rich line-up of themed weeks, entertainment, and edutainment. Art and culture fans as well as food and technology enthusiasts can explore exhibits, workshops, performances, live shows and more.
Emirates continues to lead the industry with innovative products and services and recently took its customer care initiatives further with even more flexible booking policies which have been extended to 31 May 2022.
Ibom Air in Talks to Acquire 10 Airbus A220 Jets
The management of Ibom Air, an Akwa Ibom State Government-owned Airline in Nigeria, is in talks to acquire at least ten A220 jets from Airbus, a European plane manufacturer.
Ibom Air delegates to Dubai Airshow said on Sunday.
A source familiar with the deal said it could extend to 20 aircraft.
The airline commenced operations on June 7 2019 when a Bombardier CRJ900 aircraft marked Ibom Air took off from Victor Attah International Airport (IATA: QUO), Uyo, with government officials on board, en route to Muritala Muhammed International Airport in Lagos. Akwa Ibom is the first state in the country to own an airline.
In May 2021, the Airline also signed Nigeria’s first domestic codeshare agreement with Dana Air. Dana Air COO Obi Mbanuzuo said the agreement is “the first of its kind for domestic airlines in Nigeria”.
Mr Mbanuzuo added: “We do hope that this partnership… will set a positive precedent for the greater good of the industry”
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