Travel News

US Tightens Entry Rules for Hungarians, Citing Security Concerns - BLOOMBERG

AUGUST 01, 2023

(Bloomberg) -- The US tightened entry rules for Hungarians under its visa-waiver program, citing security concerns about a fast-track naturalization plan Prime Minister Viktor Orban put in place for people living outside Hungary’s borders.

The US will limit the number of times Hungarians can enter to once a year, rather than allowing multiple visits, and it will cut the period that electronic authorizations are valid under the ESTA program to one year, instead of two now.

“This change will go into effect immediately and remain until the security concerns underlying it are addressed,” the embassy said. The restrictions will only apply to new ESTA approvals and don’t prohibit travel to the US. Hungarians are also allowed to submit regular visa applications.

The US has been a vocal critic of Hungary over its lukewarm support of Ukraine after Russia’s invasion, as well as for the erosion of the rule of law under Orban’s 13-year rule. The new steps over entry into the country, however, are separate to that, according to a senior US government official, who asked not to be identified.

Still, the announcement came a day after Hungary’s ruling party boycotted a parliament meeting on Monday, torpedoing opposition efforts to ratify Sweden’s accession into NATO. Hungary and Turkey are the only members of the alliance yet to approve Sweden’s entry bid, blocking an expansion triggered by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

The naturalization program that’s under US scrutiny ran from 2011 to 2020 and granted citizenship to almost 1 million people as Orban pursued a nationalist vision to enfranchise mostly ethnic Hungarians living outside of his country’s borders. 

But background checks were inadequate and some people who received passports from the European Union and NATO member were alleged criminals and people using fake identities, raising serious security vulnerabilities, according to the US official. Some had no connection to Hungary, the official added.

Hungarian authorities had refused to address the concerns despite years of bilateral talks with the US, including during the previous administration led by former President Donald Trump.

Hungary’s government said its refusal to share data on its dual citizens had prompted the US restrictions. Some of Hungary’s neighbors bar dual citizenship, putting those living there and also holding Hungarian passports in a potentially precarious position.

“Hungary doesn’t share that with anyone because the safety of Hungarians abroad is at stake,” the Interior Ministry said in a statement, referring to its of passport holders who live abroad.

Currently the citizens of 40 countries have access to the ESTA program, including most of Hungary’s EU allies, which allows people to travel to the US for business or tourism for stays of up to 90 days without a visa.

(Updates with Hungarian government’s reaction in ninth and 10th paragraphs.)

Saudi Airline Resumes Full Services, Launches New Aircraft In Kano - DAILY TRUST

AUGUST 01, 2023

Saudi Airline has launched a new aircraft and new office in Kano in an effort to improve access to business, tourism and religious opportunities to…

    By Zahraddeen Yakubu Shuaibu

Saudi Airline has launched a new aircraft and new office in Kano in an effort to improve access to business, tourism and religious opportunities to Nigerians and Africans in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. 

Speaking during the opening ceremony, Consul General to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in Kano,  Kahlil Ahmed Admawi said Saudi Airline has been in existence in Kano for many decades as the first branch was opened in the state in 1982.

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He said over the past years, it has been serving the people of the state by offering thorough guidance to the populace willing to visit Saudi Arabia for businesses, religious and tourism purposes. 

“Today, we are pleased with the opening of the new Saudi Airline and the new aircraft. It is the right place to guide those wishing to visit the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and enjoy spending comfortable times and tourism in addition to recreational, cultural and health tourism.”

Also speaking, the President of the Coalition of Northern States Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture (CONSCCIMA), Alhaji Dalhatu Abubakar said the coming back of Saudi Airline is a welcome development which in return will enhance the economic growth and development of not only Kane state or Nigeria in particular but the entire West African sub-region in general.

On his part, the Country Manager of the Saudi Airline in Sudan and Nigeria, Engr. Emad Assubhi appreciated the Kano community for the good business relationship and hinted at plans to open another branch in Abuja.

The FAA Approves Largest Uncrewed Aircraft System in the US - BLOOMBERG

AUGUST 01, 2023

BY  Michelle MaBloomberg News

(Bloomberg) -- Electric aircraft startup Pyka has received approval from the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to operate its uncrewed zero-emissions aircraft commercially in the US, the company announced Tuesday. 

The aircraft, called Pelican Spray, is a highly automated, 1,125-pound crop sprayer, the largest ever uncrewed aircraft system to receive FAA authorization for commercial operation in the US, according to chief operating officer and co-founder Chuma Ogunwole. 

The Oakland-based company currently leases its battery-operated aircraft to agricultural and crop-spraying companies in Costa Rica, Honduras and Brazil, helping spray pesticides and fungicides for crops like bananas, cotton, soy and corn. With FAA approval in place, it plans on expanding to farms in the US.

Getting FAA authorization for passenger aircrafts is a long and difficult process and a significant hurdle for the electric aviation industry. The main challenge to electrifying commercial passenger aviation, though, is the limitations of battery technology that make it infeasible to fly any meaningful distance with multiple passengers onboard. For context, Pyka’s small, uncrewed crop sprayers need to land every 15 minutes anyway to refill their chemical tanks, which is also when their batteries are swapped. The crafts are able to carry up to 540 pounds of liquid.

The startup intentionally focused on developing uncrewed vehicles in part because they are easier to get regulatory approval, said chief executive officer and co-founder Michael Norcia. Pyka also recently released a cargo aircraft with around 70 cubic feet of cargo volume — about as much as a Subaru Forester — that is awaiting FAA approval. The two aircrafts are the company’s attempt to “build trust in the technology” before the industry is able to move towards fully electrified passenger aircrafts, he said.

Aviation accounts for roughly 2% of global carbon dioxide emissions. Given the challenges of electrification, most airlines have focused on purchasing sustainable aviation fuel (SAF), which can be made synthetically or using things like plant waste and cooking oil. Those fuels can then be blended with traditional fuels and don’t require planes to install new engines. But SAF is still far from mass commercialization and currently very expensive compared to conventional jet fuel. 

Despite the current challenges for both approaches, Norcia said he sees a future 20 years from now in which electric aircrafts run regional, short-haul flights and SAF-powered fleets operate long-haul flights.

Cargo Planes To Start Departing Nigeria With Exports – FAAN - DAILY TRUST

AUGUST 01, 2023

The Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) yesterday declared that within the next few months, cargo planes will be departing from Nigeria airports fully loaded…

    By Abdullateef Aliyu

The Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) yesterday declared that within the next few months, cargo planes will be departing from Nigeria airports fully loaded with goods that meet destination standards and acceptance.

Managing Director/Chief Executive of FAAN, Mr Kabir Yusuf, stated this when he performed the ground-breaking of the first Aviation Cargo Village at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport (MMIA), Lagos.

The Cargo Village to be sited on 2.7 hectares of land along the MMIA road would be a one-stop centre for processing, packaging, documentation, data processing and laboratory facilities for cargo exports.

The establishment of the Aviation Cargo Village was one of the recommendations at the first Aviation and Cargo Conference in 2021, codenamed “CHINET 21” which is being implemented by FAAN Avia-Cargo Committee.

The managing director said establishing an Avia-Cargo Village was identified as one of the quick wins in addressing the rejection of Nigeria’s avia-cargo exports, and increasing exports and earnings.

Chairman of the Avia-Cargo Committee, Ambassador Ikechi Uko, said the cargo village building would be a great leap for Nigeria in its bid to emerge as the number one in Africa from the current 5th position in cargo exports.

He explained that the cargo village would be implemented as a public-private-partnership (PPP) project, adding that there would be export laboratories, packaging companies and other relevant bodies would be on ground.

Flight delays loom as aviation workers set to join strike - BUSINESSDAY

AUGUST 01, 2023


There may be flight delays from Wednesday as labour unions in the aviation sector have mobilized workers for the nationwide strike proposed by the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) starting Wednesday, August 2, 2023.

NLC and the Trade Union Congress (TUC) have threatened to shut down the nation’s economy from Tuesday, August 1st, 2023, due to the total removal of fuel subsidies and the attendant consequences on workers in the country.

Aviation unions under the aegis of the National Union of Air Transport Employees (NUATE), Nigeria Aviation Professionals (NAP), and National Association of Aircraft Pilots and Engineers (NAAPE) issued a circular to workers, directing all aviation workers to comply with the protest.

The circular was signed by Ocheme Aba; General Secretary, NUATE, Abdul Rasaq Saidu; General Secretary, ANAP and Umoh Ofonime, Deputy General Secretary, NAAPE.

“As you are all aware, the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has directed nationwide protests against the present regime of subsidy removal, which has wrecked untold hardship on workers and the common people.

“Accordingly, as affiliates of NLC, all state councils and branches of the above-named Trade Unions are hereby directed to fully join the respective State Councils of the Nigeria Labour Congress in all States of Nigeria, starting on August 2, 2023, for the protests. All must comply,” the circular reads.

Vancouver home prices rise as sales up nearly 30 per cent from last July - REUTERS

AUGUST 02, 2023

VANCOUVER — The Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver says last month's home prices rose from June amid strong sales figures and low levels of housing inventory.

The board says the composite benchmark sat at just over $1.2 million in July, up 0.6 per cent from the previous month and 0.5 per cent compared with the same month last year.

Sales in the market totalled 2,455 last month, a 28.9 per cent increase from a year ago.

The board says the sales were 15.6 per cent below the 10-year seasonal average of 2,909.

New listings hit 4,649 last month compared with 3,975 in July 2022.

The board's director of economics and data analytics says the "not insignificant" year-over-year bump in sales corresponds with the shock felt in 2022 from the Bank of Canada's steep rate hikes.

“Looking under the hood of these figures, it’s easy to see why sales are posting such a large year-over-year percentage increase," Andrew Lis says in a news release.

"Last July marked the point when the Bank of Canada announced their ‘super-sized’ increase to the policy rate of one full per cent, catching buyers and sellers off guard, and putting a chill on market activity at that time.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 2, 2023.

The Canadian Press

Greece plans hourly caps on visitors to ancient Acropolis and will let in up to 20,000 daily - AP

AUGUST 02, 2023

ATHENS, Greece (AP) — Visits to the Acropolis of Athens, Greece's most popular archaeological site, will be capped starting next month at a maximum 20,000 daily and subject to varying hourly entry limits, the Greek government said Wednesday.

Culture Minister Lina Mendoni said the controls are needed to prevent bottlenecks and overcrowding at the UNESCO World Heritage site. As many as 23,000 people a day have been squeezing into the monument complex, mostly large groups visiting before noon.

“That's a huge number,” Mendoni said in an interview with the Real FM radio network. “Obviously tourism is desirable for the country, for all of us. But we must work out how excessive tourism won't harm the monument.”

The new entry limits will be implemented on a trial basis from Sept. 4, and will come permanently into effect from April 1 2024, the minister said. There will be no limit on how long visits may last, although Mendoni said people who come with organized tours or from cruise ships, who account for about 50% of the daily visitor count, spend an average 45 minutes at the site.

Different numbers of visitors will be allowed in hourly during the site's 8 a.m.-8 p.m. opening hours. Half of the Acropolis' foot traffic currently arrives between 8 a.m. and noon, Mendoni said. Under the new system, 3,000 people will be granted access from 8-9 a.m., 2,000 during the next hour and the numbers will vary during the rest of the day.

“The measure will address the need to protect the monument, which is the main thing for us, as well as (improving) visitors' experience of the site,” she added.

Similar caps will be imposed for other popular archaeological sites, Mendoni said. The decision for the Acropolis followed consultations with tour and cruise operators, and was delayed due to Greece's June 25 general election, she added.

More than 3 million people visited the site last year, according to Greece's statistical authority.

Greek authorities closed access to the Acropolis and other ancient sites during midday hours last month at the height of a heat wave that also caused huge wildfires across the country. They also installed awnings as sun protection for people lining up to see the Acropolis’ 5th century B.C. temples. Mendoni said those steps would be repeated, if necessary.

The Associated Press

American Airlines says in talks with Airbus, Boeing over narrowbody jet order - REUTERS

AUGUST 02, 2023

(Reuters) - American Airlines said on Wednesday that it is in talks with planemakers Airbus and Boeing over a new narrowbody jet order, at a time when airlines rush to order more aircraft amid a travel boom.

Bloomberg News earlier reported that the airline was in talks with the companies to order at least 100 jets, citing people familiar with the matter.

"We are talking to Boeing and Airbus about our narrowbody aircraft needs for the latter half of this decade and beyond," American said in a statement.

Airbus, when contacted by Reuters, said "we have no comment on our confidential commercial talks, which may or may not be happening."

Boeing did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Industry sources told Reuters that the talks were at an early stage and no decision was imminent.

"Due to the young age of our aircraft, our fleet replacement needs are very limited. Therefore, we expect aircraft capex for the next several years and likely through the end of the decade to average about $3.5 billion per year," American said during an investor call last month.

The Bloomberg report added that the deal size could top 200 jets, with commitments for future purchases.

According to the report, the airline, whose negotiations have been under way for several months, is considering Boeing's 737 Max and Airbus's A321neo to replace its 737-800, A319 and A320 single-aisle models later this decade.

(Reporting by Nathan Gomes in Bengaluru, Tim Hepher in Paris and David Shepardson in Washington, DC; Editing by Milla Nissi and Shailesh Kuber)

Spain says 37.5 million foreign tourists visited in the first half of 2023, up 24% from 2022 - AP

AUGUST 02, 2023

BARCEL, Portugal — Spain received 37.5 million international tourists in the first half of 2023, a 24% increase from the same period last year, the government announced Wednesday.

The figure is lower than for the same period in 2019, the year before the COVID-19 pandemic, when 38 million tourists arrived. But officials say the numbers are a sign that international tourism has rebounded strongly since the health crisis.

Visitors from Britain topped the tourist list, totaling some 8 million, followed by some 5 million tourists from both France and Germany.

Spain is heavily dependent on tourism, which accounts for 12% of gross domestic product.

The northeastern region of Catalonia, including Barcelona and the Costa Brava, was the most visited area.

The Associated Press

FAAN suspends car hire services at Abuja airport - THE GUARDIAN

AUGUST 03, 2023

The Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) has suspended with immediate effect airport car hire services at Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport in Abuja.

The suspension is a result of an unresolved factional dispute amongst the car hire operators which has been affecting airport car hire service operations.

A spokesperson for FAAN, Director, Abdullahi Yakubu-Funtua, in a statement, advised the general public and all airport users to use secured alternative means of transportation or E-hailing services in and out of the airport.

He said the Management of FAAN regrets any inconvenience the suspension may cause passengers, airport users, and the general public.

He stated that normal Car Hire Services will resume as soon as their differences are resolved.

Yakubu-Funtua he added that FAAN remains committed to her core values of safety, security, and comfort.


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