business trip

Air Canada Exits Canadian Government Support Program


Air Canada is withdrawing from the Canadian federal government’s financial support programs due to its improved liquidity position and ongoing recovery from the pandemic, the carrier announced Friday.

The support package under the Large Employer Emergency Financing Facility, announced in April 2021, provided access to interest-bearing loans of C$5.4 billion and C$500 million in equity. To date, Air Canada has accessed about C$1.2 billion of the aid dedicated to refunding customers’ nonrefundable tickets, according to the company. Approximately 58 percent of eligible customers requested refunds. The money used for refunding those tickets will be repaid as per the terms of the agreement with interest paid quarterly by Air Canada.

The government purchased $500 million worth of Air Canada common shares at C$23.18 per share, which it continues to hold. Air Canada also issued to the government about 14.6 million 10-year warrants for the purchase of an equal number of Air Canada shares, at a price of approximately C$27.27 per share. With the termination of the operating credit facilities, half of these warrants, which have not yet vested with the government, have been canceled immediately. Subject to Toronto Stock Exchange approval, Air Canada intends to call the balance of the vested warrants for cancellation as per their terms at fair market value, according to the carrier.

RELATED: Air Canada to Issue Refunds for Canceled Tickets in Government Agreement



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UK government sets new APD rates for 2023


The UK government will introduce a lower rate of Air Passenger
Duty (APD) for domestic flights from April 2023 in a bid to boost connectivity within
the nation, but long-haul taxes are due to increase.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak made the announcement as he laid out
his autumn budget plan. It includes a 50 per cent cut in APD for flights between
airports in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland in 2023/24 that will
be delivered via a new domestic band. That means passengers will pay £7.50 for each flight rather than the current £13.

However, a new rate of £91 for economy seats will be
introduced for ultra-long-haul flights of 5,500 miles or more, which Sunak said
will help the UK government achieve its carbon emissions reduction goals
because “most emissions come from international rather than domestic aviation”.

The current rate of APD for long-haul destinations (more than 2,000 miles) is £82 in
economy for 2021/22. From April 2022 this will increase to £84. 

Sunak claims less than 5 per cent of passengers will end up
paying more APD, but that “those who fly furthest will pay the most”.

However, there were no details in the announcement about
whether money obtained through APD would be used for sustainability initiatives
as the UK strives to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2050.

The news has come as a disappointment to the business travel
industry, which has been pushing for a reduction across all APD bands for
years.

Clive Wratten, CEO of the Business Travel Association (BTA),
said: “The BTA welcomes the reassessment of domestic APD.

“The introduction of a new ultra-long-haul classification
will unfairly impact business travellers at a key point in the recovery of our
economy. The government said this was a budget bringing in a new wave of
optimism and yet business travellers will be heavily taxed to go to crucial
destinations such as Singapore, Hong Kong and Australia.

“We are calling on the government to ring fence at least 75
per cent of APD for sustainable initiatives to help our sector deliver on its
Jet Zero commitments. This must be about building a sustainable future, not just
grabbing taxes.”

Andrew Crawley, chief commercial officer at American Express
Global Business Travel, commented: “APD was supposed to be an environmental
tax, yet no money has been ringfenced for sustainable initiatives. The
government needs to get serious by investing the proceeds of APD in the
infrastructure we need to support the development of sustainable aviation fuel
(SAF). Making SAF widely available is the only way to make meaningful progress
against our net zero targets. If revenue generated from the new long-haul band
is not invested in a sustainable future, it will do nothing except penalise
British businesses trying to embrace the government’s own Global Britain initiative.”

Dale Keller, chief executive of the Board of Airline
Representatives in the UK (BAR UK), added: “It is inconceivable that the chancellor
is choosing to suppress his ‘Global Britain’ aspirations and posture ahead of
COP26 behind a highly flawed environmental rationale. The British public won’t
be fooled into thinking that the government is investing their APD money to
reduce CO2 emissions from air travel. This is another missed opportunity for
the UK to lead on overhauling obsolete taxation policies that are undermining
the huge investments in technology and infrastructure needed to drive the
sustainable recovery of a critical sector of the economy. Airlines have
committed globally to 2050 net-zero targets that require governments to develop
pragmatic policies and implement tangible interventions – not resort to
tinkering with blunt and regressive taxation that fails to meet the
expectations of the public or support the sustainability initiatives of the
industry.

“We welcome the solution to a longstanding anomaly where
return domestic flights have been taxed higher than international flights to
Europe, but why wait until 2023? This eventual correction should not be
regarded as a tax cut but simply the government finally doing what is fair and
right. But the notion that the world’s most heavily taxed long-haul travellers
should be expected to subsidise a tax correction for domestic travellers
underscores how APD remains not fit for purpose in stimulating a sustainable future
for aviation.”

Joanne Dooey, president of the Scottish Passenger Agents’
Association (SPAA), said: “The increase in long haul APD… won’t help Scotland’s
economic recovery. It’s vital that businesses are able to trade globally from
their Scottish bases.

“According to Transport Scotland, international air
connectivity is important to our nation’s economy and that as an organisation
it ‘promotes sustainable economic growth through helping to improve Scotland’s
international air connections, providing enhanced access for business
travellers and inbound tourists alike’. It also continues ‘to promote Scotland
as a destination that can sustain more direct international air services and
better links to international hub airports’.

“As a small nation, Scotland needs its connectivity, so this
planned increase is disappointing not only for the travel industry but for
Scottish businesses.

“We hope that the tax raised by this increase will be ring fenced
to support developments in sustainable fuels and other measures to move towards
net zero.”

Lauren Broughton, head of public affairs at UKinbound, said:
“While the reduction in domestic APD is a positive step, increasing APD on
long-haul flights is a kick in the teeth to the UK’s third largest export
industry, which is only just beginning its recovery. Inbound tourism brings new
money into regional economies, supports over 500,000 jobs across the country
and will significantly aid the country’s economic recovery and Global Britain ambitions,
but imposing further taxes on an already struggling industry is
counterintuitive.”



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Australian Government to update international travel warnings


With international travel back on the cards from November 1 – at least out of Sydney and Melbourne – and thousands of Australians headed overseas for the first time in over 18 months, the government will this week revise its travel warnings for almost 200 countries.

It’s a critical step in the restart of overseas travel, as the warnings – published on the Smarttraveller.com.au website operated by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade – impacts the availability of travel insurance.

And international travel insurance will be more important that even in the Covid era of travel, especially as several countries make some form of ‘Covid cover’ a condition of entry.

Singapore’s Vaccinated Travel Lanes – which may extend to Australia in November – require that inbound travellers hold a policy which includes at least SGD$30,000 for Covid-related medical expenses.

In Thailand, which will reopen to fully-vaccinated Australians from November 1 – mandates “medical insurance with a minimum coverage of USD$50,000.”

Also read: As Australia’s borders reopen, will your travel insurance cover Covid-19?

DFAT and Smarttraveller.com.au currently list all of the 177 countries on their watchlist as ‘Level 4 – do not travel’ destinations, with the sole exception of New Zealand which remains pegged as ‘Level 3 – reconsider your need to travel.’

Australian travel insurance providers typically won’t offer a policy if you’re headed for a country which DFAT has flagged as a Level 4 destination, which means that many people booking airfares right now for flights in November aren’t able to get travel insurance.

Travel insurance coverage is normally extended only to countries earmarked as ‘Level 1 – exercise normal safety precautions’ or ‘Level 2 – exercise a high degree of caution.’

In fact, the Smarttraveller website still carries the long-standing red alert first put in place in March 2020 saying “There’s a ban on overseas travel from Australia. You can’t leave Australia unless you have an exemption from the Department of Home Affairs, or are travelling to a destination that is exempt from the ban.”

Executive Traveller understands that DFAT is now working through a ‘risk assessment’ of all countries to update its travel advice to align with the reopening of Australia’s international border.

However, many countries are expected to remain at the current global ‘Level 4 – do not travel’ advisory or be nudged up to ‘Level 3 – reconsider your need to travel.’

“It’s important to check the reason that the country is under advice level 3, as you may not be covered for it,” DFAT advises.

Also read:



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Cheapest lateral flow travel test – Government approved list in full | Travel News | Travel


The Government has unveiled its list of “approved” COVID-19 lateral flow test providers two days before the latest travel testing update is due to come into force. The aim of the new “simplified” system is to offer “lower-cost” tests to those who have been fully vaccinated according to Secretary of State for Transport Grant Shapps.

What are the rules for day two lateral flow tests?

Testing requirements will change for fully vaccinated UK arrivals from October 25.

The new rules will also apply to arrivals from “eligible” countries such as the European Union (EU) and the US.

According to the Government, under the new rules “eligible fully vaccinated passengers and those with an approved vaccine from a select group of non-red countries will be able to replace their day two test with a cheaper lateral flow test, reducing the cost of tests on arrival into England.”

Prior to this, fully vaccinated arrivals were still required to book and pay for a day two PCR test, often costing upwards of £50.

READ MORE: The top 10 countries that offer the best expat opportunities exposed

Tests must be pre-booked and purchased from a testing provider included o. n the Government’s “approved” list.

Anyone who tests positive using a lateral flow test will be required to self-isolate and take an additional PCR test at no additional cost.

This PCR test will be provided by the NHS and will be delivered to the traveller’s home.

Anyone who received an inconclusive result will also be required to self-isolate.

Testing for unvaccinated passengers from non-red countries will continue to include pre-departure tests, day two and day eight PCR tests. Test to release on day five remains an option for those who want to reduce their quarantine period.

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Which company currently provides the cheapest lateral flow tests based on the “approved” list?

The Government has updated its list of “approved” providers under the new lateral flow testing scheme.

However, it notes this list may continue to be updated.

According to Gov.uk, they are still working to “bring the site fully online.”

Based on the Government’s current list, a firm named PeopleBio offer the cheapest day two lateral flow test costing £18.

This is a self swab to take at home.

But travel expert Paul Charles has warned Britons to do their research and be savvy before selecting the cheapest options they can find.

He said: “It’s vital to shop around and choose a low-cost but bona fide provider.”





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Canada Government, Provinces Agree COVID-19 Vaccine Travel Passport – Officials | World News


OTTAWA (Reuters) – Canada’s federal government and the 10 provinces have agreed on a standard COVID-19 electronic vaccination passport allowing domestic and foreign travel, government officials told reporters on Thursday.

The deal prevents possible confusion that could be caused if each of the provinces – which have primary responsibility for health care – issued their own unique certificates. The officials spoke on the condition they not be identified.

The document will have a federal Canadian identifying mark and meets major international smart health card standards.

“Many (countries) have said they want to see a digital … verifiable proof of vaccination, which is what we’re delivering,” said one official.

In addition, federal officials are talking to nations that are popular with Canadian travelers to brief them about the document.

Political Cartoons on World Leaders

The Liberal government of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced earlier this month that from Oct 30, people wishing to travel domestically by plane, train or ship would have to show proof of full vaccination.

(Reporting by David Ljunggren; Editing by Alistair Bell)

Copyright 2021 Thomson Reuters.



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WTTC blames UK government for slow tourism recovery | News


The World Travel & Tourism Council has argued the year-on-year recovery in the UK may only claw back a third, while international travel spending continues to plummet.

Latest research from the body shows the recovery has been severely delayed by the lack of spending from international visitors.

WTTC blames strict travel restrictions, such as the destructive ‘traffic light’ system, for wreaking havoc on the sector.

Now, despite its highly successful vaccine rollout, the UK is set to record further losses in inbound visitor spending than the previous year, during which international travel ground to an almost complete standstill.

At the current rate of recovery, WTTC research shows the UK sector’s contribution to the nation’s economy could rise year on year by just under a third (32 per cent) in 2021, broadly in line with the global average of 31 per cent.

However, research conducted by the global tourism body goes on to show the increase has been primarily spurred on by the recent boom in domestic travel, with domestic spending growth set to experience a year-on-year rise of 49 per cent in 2021.

While this surge in domestic travel has provided a much-needed boost, it will not be enough to achieve a full economic recovery and save millions of jobs still under threat.

The research reveals that international spending is predicted to plunge by nearly half on 2020 figures – one of the worst years on record for the tourism sector – making the UK one of the worst performing countries in the world.

While other countries, such as China and the United States, are set to see a rise in inbound international travel spending this year, the UK lags behind and continues to record significant losses.

Severe travel restrictions, ever-changing policies, and barriers to travel to the UK, such as the current requirement for visitors to take an expensive day two PCR test after arriving in the country, have had their toll.

Julia Simpson, WTTC chief executive, said: “WTTC research shows that while the global tourism sector is beginning to recover, the UK continues to suffer big losses due to continuing travel restrictions that are tougher than the rest of Europe.

“Despite government announcements the UK still has a red list, costly PCR tests and a requirement for day two tests which simply put people off travel.

“Just as the world opens up the UK has more requirements for the double vaccinated than our neighbours.”





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Portugal holidays: UK Government updates travel advices for vaccinated Britons | Travel News | Travel


The latest update to the travel advice for Portugal said: “If you have an NHS COVID-19 Pass or an EU digital COVID-19 vaccination certificate showing you have been fully vaccinated with an EU approved COVID-19 vaccine at least 14 days before you travel, or an EU COVID-19 recovery certificate showing you have recovered from COVID-19 no less than 11 days and no more than 180 days of when you are due to travel: 

“You do not need to have a COVID-19 test to enter Portugal, however some airlines have not yet updated their requirements. Check with your airline before you travel.

“Be prepared to show a digital or paper copy of your COVID-19 vaccination or recovery certificate when you check-in for your flight, and complete an online passenger locator card.”

Unvaccinated passengers will still need to present a negative COVID-19 test to enter Portugal.

Before the rules were changed, Portugal only accepted the EU vaccination certificate and a few other third country vaccination certificates but not the UK.

READ MORE: The countries British tourists still can’t visit





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Government cuts travel red list to seven countries | News


The UK government has confirmed 47 countries and territories will be removed from its red list, making it easier for more people to travel abroad to a larger number of countries and territories.

Passengers returning to England from these destinations will no longer be required to enter hotel quarantine.

The changes come into effect from Monday at 04:00.

Eligible fully vaccinated passengers and eligible under 18s returning from countries and territories not on the red list, can do so with just a day two test.

Other passengers who are not fully vaccinated with an authorised vaccine returning from a non-red destination must still take a pre-departure test, a day two and day eight test and complete ten days self-isolation (with the option of test to release on day five).

Also announced today, from Monday, eligible travellers vaccinated in over 37 new countries and territories including Brazil, Ghana, Hong Kong, India, Pakistan, South Africa and Turkey, will also be treated the same as returning fully vaccinated UK residents.

That is so long as they have not visited a red list country or territory in the ten days before arriving in England.

The latest travel update builds on the announcement from the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office earlier this week that it has lifted advice against all but essential travel for over 30 countries and territories.

More advisories will be removed as countries and territories come off the red list, making it easier for people to be covered by insurance when travelling to a wider list of destinations.

Transport secretary, Grant Shapps, said: “With half-term and winter sun around the corner, we’re making it easier for families and loved ones to reunite, by significantly cutting the number of destinations on the red list, thanks in part to the increased vaccination efforts around the globe.

“Restoring people’s confidence in travel is key to rebuilding our economy and levelling up this country.

“With less restrictions and more people traveling, we can all continue to move safely forward together along our pathway to recovery.”

Only seven destinations now remain on the red list – Colombia, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Haiti, Panama, Peru and Venezuela.

Julia Simpson, chief executive of the World Travel & Tourism Council, called for the list to be scrapped entirely.

“There is no justification for a red list to remain in the UK.

“Other countries have realised that blanket country measures are no longer needed and instead assess on individual risk and whether travellers have been fully jabbed.

“While this is great news for countries such as South Africa which have been severely impacted by their red list status, welcoming all fully-vaccinated travellers, regardless of country of origin is key to restarting safe international travel.”





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Belgium’s Travel Organizations Urge the Government for Introduction of COVID-19 Rapid Testing


A total of 14 organizations in Belgium have addressed an open letter to the country’s Health Minister, Frank Vandenbroucke, urging for the acceptance of COVID-19 rapid antigen tests in order to ease the travel process.

The Belgian Association of Travel Management (BATM), together with Belgium and the Brussels Airport Company, as well as other organizations, expressed their concerns regarding the inconsistent measures imposed by each country and region that, according to them, are making the air travel process extremely difficult, SchengenVisaInfo.com reports.

In addition, the organizations also called on Belgium to fall in line with European Union Member States.

 “Restarting international aviation will energise the economic recovery from Covid-19. Along with vaccines, testing will play a critical role in giving governments the confidence to reopen their borders to travellers. For governments, the top priority is accuracy. But travellers will also need tests to be convenient and affordable since the cost of PCR testing can completely alter the economics of travel,” the organizations noted in the letter.

Furthermore, the organizations have stressed that rapid antigen testing is as effective as PCR testing in reducing the risk of cross-border transmission.

“Meanwhile, the cost and bureaucracy of PCR tests add huge burdens to…businesses looking to travel. These are important considerations in preparing for a successful restart,” the letter reads.

Even though no concrete decision has been taken regarding the acceptance of the COVID-19 rapid antigen test for travel up to this point, Belgium’s health authorities previously abolished several restrictions after confirming that the country was close to meeting the objective of 70 per cent of the population being fully vaccinated in all municipalities.

The announcement clarified that tourists visiting Belgium would be permitted to attend many events and activities, including private gatherings and other organized activities.

Recently, Brussels Airlines revealed that there was marked an increase in booking of 30 per cent to 40 per cent, while the airline expects that companies will further relax travel restrictions starting from the next month.

However, previously, SchengenVisaInfo.com reported that the COVID-19 situation brought Belgium’s tourism sector on its knees, followed by the weak weather conditions. In this regard, the representatives of the tourism sector in Belgium called on the country’s government to extend the temporary unemployment measures.

Such a measure is granted to all temporarily unemployed persons, while aid consists of 65 per cent of their average salary, with a total sum of €2,785.07 per month.



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How did 14,000 Haitians travel across Mexico without the government noticing?


It started with a trickle. A dozen people one day, maybe 20 the next day. Then several busloads in the weeks after. People noticed the presence of Black people in the bus stations of cities like Saltillo and Monclova in the Mexican state of Coahuila, but they didn’t pay much attention.

Until one day last week, 14,000 Haitian immigrants converged in the city of Acuña, across the Rio Grande from Del Rio. The imperceptible trickle of weeks became a humanitarian crisis overnight, and people started asking, “How did this happen?”

The question seeks to explain why there is a crisis like this when the Mexican government agreed to stop the flow of migrants to the U.S. at Mexico’s southern border. That is why we regularly see in the news images of the Mexican National Guard breaking up migrant caravans in the state of Chiapas, right after the migrants cross to the border from Guatemala.

But this time, the flow of migrants is not in caravans. Instead, it is Haitians coming into Mexico from different countries where they had been refugees for years, particularly since the devastating 2010 earthquake. After another earthquake hit amid a political and economic crisis earlier this year, many gave up hope of returning to their homeland and made their way to the United States.

They came in small groups, not in a large caravan, through different points of entry into Mexico, and made their way north. A tip spread by word-of-mouth that the city of Acuña is a better environment for migrants than other Rio Grande towns, safer than the border cities of Tamaulipas and less surveillance by the National Guard than in Piedras Negras. Also, the Rio Grande is shallower in this area and easier for crossing. Authorities are also exploring the possibility that many were lured there by organized crime groups.

And yet this doesn’t answer the question of how the migrants arrived. Because they had to cross almost the length of Mexico to get to Acuña without being detected or stopped.

This is something the governor of Coahuila, Miguel Ángel Riquelme, would like to know.

“It’s clear the federal government did not make an effort to contain them,” he told me. “Because they were traveling for some time. How did they cross the country? How long were they traveling?”

To get to Acuña from Mexico City by land, a person must travel through five states. Even though the National Guard polices bus stations, has checkpoints in the highways of Coahuila and has surveillance in railroads, these migrants were not stopped.

Over the past month, migrants came to Acuña and crossed to Del Río, where the Border Patrol caught them and put them in a makeshift camp under the bridge. And yet people kept coming until more than 14,000 migrants were spread out under the bridge and in shelters in Acuña and surrounding towns. A camp of 14,000 people equals almost 10% the population of Acuña and almost half the population of Del Rio. Border agents sorted people, allowing some to apply for asylum and deporting others, eventually dispersing the camp.

This is not the first time a migrant crisis has hit the Coahuila-Texas border. At different moments of 2019 and 2020, thousands of people from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras were stranded in Piedra Negras and Acuña. Just a couple of months ago it was an influx of Venezuelans. But this most recent group of Haitians is by far the largest. The largest number of migrants congregated at the border before this week never surpassed 5,000.

Gov. Riquelme told me the main objective now is preventing migrants from dispersing across towns in northern Coahuila, where they will be harder to find. So far, the migrant crisis has not developed into a health or safety crisis. Many residents of Acuña are responding by giving migrants food, clothing or hygiene supplies, after people left the bridge camp and crossed back to Acuña because there was nothing to eat. Other residents have taken migrants into their homes or they have donated to shelters.

In the rest of the country the issue of immigration is one that comes and goes in the news but does not provoke the political excitement as in the United States. This is not to say that people don’t notice. From time to time in cities across the country, immigrants show up more frequently. Their skin is often darker than the local residents, in some cases bearing the trait of African descent.

In my hometown of Torreón, halfway between Mexico City and Ciudad Juárez, hundreds of Central American immigrants pass by each month. Some stay for a few days or weeks to make some cash, showing up at street intersections where they wipe windshields, sell trinkets, or ask for food or money.

Local people notice and sometimes they are wary, fearing perhaps that the presence of immigrants will drive up crime. To others, the thought that the migrants are only passing, that their goal is to reach another country, is reassuring. But whatever anti-immigrant fear might exist is kept in check because it is not stoked for political purposes, unleashing xenophobic panic.

However, immigration does turn into a political problem, because after failing to prevent migrants from reaching the border, the Mexican government must face the logistical nightmare of sending them back. Haitians are being taken to shelters and then put on flights to Port-au-Prince, even though many migrants have not been there in almost a decade. U.S. authorities are doing the same, flying people from San Antonio.

Already there are reports that Haitians on their way north are stopping their journey seeking shelter in cities along the way as they learn about the situation at the border. They will bide their time until the current crisis subsides, and then they will resume their journey and head to the border in a trickle.

Javier Garza Ramos is a journalist in Coahuila, Mexico, and co-host of the Expansión Daily podcast. He wrote this column for The Dallas Morning News.

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