Heathrow Airport urged government to reopen the UK border to fully vaccinated EU and US travellers

(qlmbusinessnews.com via news.sky.com– Mon, 26th July 2021) London, Uk – –

The company behind the UK's largest airport says that unless the government takes immediate action to help reopen the skies across core US and European markets, the aviation industry will need further financial support.

Heathrow Airport has urged the government to reopen the UK economy to fully vaccinated travellers from the EU and US by the end of the month after revealing coronavirus crisis losses of almost £3bn to date.

The company said expensive COVID testing requirements were hampering an effective reopening of the skies, while it also reported that the UK was falling behind its EU rivals in international trade by being slow to remove restrictions.

Heathrow said fewer than four million people travelled through the hub airport during the first six months of 2021 – a level that would have been surpassed by 18 days' worth of traffic in pre-pandemic times.

It posted a loss before tax of £868m compared to a figure just above £1bn for the same period last year, as demand for international travel slumped in the face of the first lockdowns Europe-wide.

The figure took its cumulative losses to £2.9bn, Heathrow said, adding: “Recent changes to the government's traffic light system are encouraging but expensive testing requirements and travel restrictions are holding back the UK's economic recovery and could see Heathrow welcome fewer passengers in 2021 than in 2020.”

It said that cargo volumes remained 18% down on pre-pandemic levels while rivals, such as Frankfurt and Schiphol, were up by 9%.

“Britain is losing out on tourism income and trade with key economic partners like the EU and US because ministers continue to restrict travel for passengers fully vaccinated outside the UK,” the statement continued.

It said that unless the government acted, the sector must be continue to be supported through an extension of the furlough scheme beyond September and business rates relief – the latter worth almost £120m to Heathrow.

Chief executive John Holland-Kaye said: “The UK is emerging from the worst effects of the health pandemic, but is falling behind its EU rivals in international trade by being slow to remove restrictions.

“Replacing PCR tests with lateral flow tests and opening up to EU and US vaccinated travellers at the end of July will start to get Britain's economic recovery off the ground.”

He was speaking following a weekend in which COVID checks were blamed for long queues at Heathrow's arrivals halls on what was its busiest day of the year so far.

Significant waiting times were also reported at check-in desks and at UK airports more widely where staff shortages as a result of the so-called ‘pingdemic', that has forced personnel to self-isolate if identified as a close contact by the NHS COVID app, were blamed for waits of over two hours.

By James Sillars

DVLA managers decisions meant ‘Catastrophic’ backlog of 1.4 million cases, union says

(qlmbusinessnews.com via bbc.co.uk – – Wed, 21st July 2021) London, Uk – –

Decisions made by managers at the DVLA driving licence body have meant a “catastrophic” processing backlog of 1.4 million cases, a union says.

Mark Serwotka, head of the Public and Commercial Services union, said if staff were allowed to work from home the backlog could be reduced.

He told Transport Committee MPs other members of the civil service “were tearing their hair out” at the DVLA.

He said it is a “stain” on the reputation of the civil service.

Mr Serwotka said the DVLA are “refusing to engage in a proper discussion.”

“In 21 years (in this role), I have never encountered the level of incompetence and mismanagement that is on display at the DVLA in Swansea,” Mr Serwotka told the MPs on Wednesday.

“The tragedy of that is not just that public are suffering. Our members many of whom are quite lowly paid and very stressed at work are bearing the brunt of this.”

Mr Serwotka said there had been 643 Covid cases and one fatality at the DVLA during the course of the pandemic and that there are serious risks to staff's health and safety because of its actions.

Don't complain

Sarah Evans, the DVLA branch chair at PCS, said that staff are worried as they can see cases rising on site, but that they have been told not to complain.

“Our work site is very different because there is a high volume of staff in a small area,” Ms Evans told the committee.

The union want more staff to be able to work from home to be able to allow for better social distancing in the offices and to allow those isolating at home to still continue to be productive, pointing out the other departments had been able to deliver remote working.

“We believe that if the department of work and pensions can deal with three million universal credit claims, if HMRC can deliver furlough scheme, if we have workers in the home office ministry of justice, devolved nations, working from home handling in some cases much more secure data so could the DVLA,” said Mr Serwotka.

“We know there cant be a security issue in the DVLA that's not the same in the rest of the civil service.

“Weeks and weeks of productivity have been lost by stopping staff working from home,' said Ms Evans. ‘There's no doubt at all that we would not be in situation we are in … had we been given the capability.”

Industrial dispute

Mr Serwotka added that although they believed there was a lack of investment in technology that the union had been told that it was also because the DVLA were concerned about trust and supervision of staff.

The PCS and the DVLA are currently in an industrial dispute that has seen targeted strike action since April where staff in different departments have walked out for a few days at a time.

The PCS say that they had negotiated a deal after months of discussions that would protect the health of workers and provide respite and recognition of what they had done over the last few months. They say that the agreement was withdrawn on 1 June without an explanation.

Julie Lennard, DVLA chief executive, and The Baroness Vere of Norbiton, Minister for Roads, Buses and Places at the Department for Transport are due to give evidence later.

By Caroline Davies

EasyJet summer comeback driven by European travel demand

(qlmbusinessnews.com via uk.reuters.com — Tue, 20th July 2021) London, UK —

LONDON, July 20 (Reuters) – EasyJet (EZJ.L) plans to fly 60% of its pre-pandemic capacity in July-September as a travel recovery takes hold in mainland Europe, and Britain is expected to catch-up in the coming weeks.

The British airline said it was confident on demand for the summer and autumn, issuing its most buoyant update since the start of the pandemic almost a year and a half ago, and allowing it to lift capacity from just 17% of 2019 levels in March-June.

The travel pick-up has to date been led by the European Union, said easyJet, leading it to shift planes from Britain to markets including Scandinavia and Holland.

Two-thirds of bookings are currently coming from the rest of Europe, while normally its business is evenly split between Britain and the continent, but easyJet expects that to change now travel rules for fully-vaccinated Britons have been relaxed.

“I have absolutely no doubt in my mind that the UK demand will follow the same pattern that we're seeing outside the UK in mainland Europe,” chief executive Johan Lundgren told reporters on Tuesday.

Lundgren has been one of the most vocal critics of Britain's approach to travel over the last two months, slamming last-minute changes which have resulted in booking surges and mass cancellations.

Britain should add more countries to its “green list” of low-risk destinations, Lundgren said.

Asked about worries quarantine could be reintroduced for Britons returning from Spain, as it was for France recently, he said easyJet was flexible. 

“We set ourselves up to be able to cope with shifting demands,” he said.

Shares in easyJet traded up 2% to 785 pence at 0845 GMT. The stock has lost about 20% of its value over the last month over worries about the impact of strict UK travel rules.

The airline's plan for more flights in July-September, when it tends to make almost all of its profit, is being mirrored at rivals such as Ryanair (RYA.I) and Wizz Air (WIZZ.L).

EasyJet, which has shed staff, cut the size of its fleet and taken on new debt to survive, said it was well-placed financially, with 2.9 billion pounds ($4 billion) of liquidity, and had cut costs to improve its cash burn rate.

But it said limited visibility and ongoing uncertainty meant it could not provide guidance for the rest of the year. For the three months to June 30, easyJet posted a pretax loss of 318 million pounds.

Saudi state fund buys McLaren stake in £550m deal

(qlmbusinessnews.com via news.sky.com– Fri, 16th July 2021) London, Uk – –

Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund and Ares Management will invest £400m into the Surrey-based automotive giant, Sky News learns.

Saudi Arabia's sovereign wealth fund is in advanced talks to acquire a stake in McLaren Group as part of a fresh shake-up at the British supercar manufacturer and Formula One (F1) team-owner.

Sky News has learnt that the Saudi Public Investment Fund (PIF) is to participate in a £550m equity-raise which could be unveiled by McLaren within days.

Banking sources said the deal would include £400m of new capital from PIF and Ares Management, a major global investment firm, with £150m being injected into the company by McLaren's existing shareholders – who include Mumtalakat, the sovereign investment fund of Bahrain.

The equity-raise was still being finalised on Friday and could still be delayed, the sources cautioned.

If completed, however, it would represent a major vote of confidence in McLaren's strategy under the leadership of Paul Walsh, the former Diageo chief who joined last year as executive chairman. The Woking-based company endured a torrid start to the pandemic as it sought a government loan to shore up its balance sheet.

It was also forced into a restructuring of its workforce which saw hundreds of jobs axed.

Sales of its luxury road-cars have, however, rebounded strongly in recent months, while its racing fortunes have also continued to recover.

The Saudis' acquisition of a minority stake in McLaren Group could pave the way for a series of commercial tie-ups involving the company and the oil-rich Gulf state, one analyst suggested on Thursday evening.

The PIF has also been part of a consortium attempting to buy Newcastle United Football Club from the retail tycoon Mike Ashley – a role which has attracted intense scrutiny from the Premier League and triggered a formal arbitration process that is expected to be resolved this month.

The Saudi fund has been a big investor in technology companies, in part through the giant Vision Fund led by Japan's SoftBank, and also through individual companies such as the electric vehicle start-up Lucid Motors, which it listed in New York earlier this year.

Its experience with Lucid could be of benefit to McLaren as it develops more hybrid and electric cars such as its Artura model.

Ares Management is regarded as a blue-chip provider of capital to companies around the world, and has an existing relationship with McLaren, according to insiders.

The equity-raise will allay any lingering questions about the strength of McLaren's balance sheet and will take the total funding raised by the group since Mr Walsh's arrival to well over £1bn.

That figure comprises a £300m equity injection in March 2020, a £170m sale-and-leaseback of its spectacular Surrey headquarters and a £185m windfall from the sale of a separate stake in McLaren Racing.

McLaren also secured a £150m loan from the National Bank of Bahrain, reflecting its close ties to the Gulf state, last year.

The sale of a stake in McLaren Racing, which comprises its F1 team and INDYCAR Championship outfit, came during a revival in its on-track fortunes after years in the doldrums.

Lando Norris, one of its F1 drivers, sits in fourth place in the drivers' championship, with team-mate Daniel Ricciardo lying in eighth.

The team, which is overseen by McLaren Racing chief executive Zak Brown, occupies third spot in the constructors' championship behind Red Bull and Mercedes.

As well as its racing arm, the group consists of McLaren Automotive, which makes luxury road cars and which was highly profitable prior to the COVID-19 crisis; and McLaren Applied Technologies, which generates revenue from sales to corporate customers.

Founded in 1963 by Bruce McLaren, the car marque is one of the most famous names in British motorsport.

During half a century of competing in F1, it has won the constructors' championship eight times, while its drivers have included the likes of Mika Hakkinen, Lewis Hamilton, Alain Prost and Ayrton Senna.

In total, the team has won 180 Grands Prix, three Indianopolis 500s and the Le Mans 24 Hours on its debut.

This weekend, it will compete in the British Grand Prix at Silverstone.

McLaren's on-track operations account for roughly 20% of the group's annual revenues.

It has sponsorship deals with companies including Darktrace, the cybersecurity software provider, Dell Technologies, the computing giant, and – as of this week – Stanley Black & Decker, the tool manufacturer.

McLaren is a major British exporter, directly employing about 3000 people and supporting thousands of jobs across the UK supply chain.

The company saw its separate divisions reunited following the departure in 2017 of Ron Dennis, the veteran McLaren boss who had steered its F1 team through the most successful period in its history.

He became one of Britain's best-known businessmen, expanding McLaren's technology ventures into a wide range of other industries through lucrative commercial partnerships.

Mr Dennis offloaded his stake in a £275m deal following a bitter dispute with fellow shareholders.

He had presented to McLaren's board a £1.65bn takeover bid from a consortium of Chinese investors, but did not attract support for it from boardroom colleagues.

HSBC and Goldman Sachs are advising on the latest equity-raise.

McLaren did not respond to a request for comment on Friday morning.

By Mark Kleinman

Virgin Galactic aims to reach space nine days before Amazon rival Jeff Bezos

(qlmbusinessnews.com via news.sky.com– Fri, 2nd July 2021) London, Uk – –

The founder of the Virgin Group revealed his plan in a video on Twitter and teased viewers to “watch this space” for an announcement that will “give more people the chance to become astronauts” when he returns from the trip.

Billionaire Sir Richard Branson has announced his plan to reach space nine days before Amazon boss Jeff Bezos by taking part in a test flight for his company Virgin Galactic.

In a video posted on Twitter, the Virgin Group founder introduced himself as “Astronaut 001” and said he will be “evaluating the customer space flight experience” during the test, beginning on July 11, ahead of Mr Bezos's maiden voyage on 20 July. “This July, our dream will become a reality and we are really excited to share that moment with you all.”

The Unity 22 mission will be the company's first to carry a full crew of two pilots and four mission specialists in the cabin but will be the 22nd flight test for rocket plane VSS Unity.

Taking off from a spaceport in New Mexico, the crew will be evaluating the “cabin environment, seat comfort, the weightless experience and the views of Earth that the spaceship delivers” in the commercial cabin.

Sir Richard also said Virgin Galactic “stands at the vanguard of a new commercial space industry, which is set to open space to humankind and change the world for good”.

The company said it also wants to demonstrate the conditions for conducting human-tended research experiments.

The business tycoon, estimated to be worth around $5.5bn (£3.9bn), also teased potential customers that an “exciting” announcement will be made when he returns from the trip.

“When we return I will announce something very exciting to give more people the chance to become astronauts because space does belong to us all, so watch this space,” Sir Richard said.

Virgin Galactic was given the go-ahead to fly paying customers to space after its licence was updated by the United States' Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) earlier this month.

One of the world's richest men, Mr Bezos is due to fly to space this month with his rival company Blue Origin.

The Amazon chief executive is set to be joined by his brother, an 82-year-old pilot and an anonymous bidder, who has paid $28m (£19.8m) to be on board the rocket's first trip on 20 July – the 52nd anniversary of the moon landings.

It is not clear when Blue Origin will be open for commercial business, but ticket sales and price lists are due to be available soon.

By Jess Sharp

Vauxhall owner: UK Government must commit to electric vehicles with financial support for new battery gigafactories

(qlmbusinessnews.com via news.sky.com– Wed, 30th June 2021) London, Uk – –
The car industry says it has no control of factors such as energy costs and infrastructure for a viable transition to electric.

The government must back its commitment to electric vehicles with financial support for new battery gigafactories and manufacturers considering where to build the next generation of cars and vans, Vauxhall's parent company has told Sky News.

Stellantis, which owns the Peugeot and Fiat brands as well as Vauxhall, is currently in talks with ministers over whether to commit to building a new electric vehicle at its Ellesmere Port plant.

The decision has been given added urgency by the government's ban on new petrol and diesel engine vehicles from 2030, a decision Stellantis has said makes anything but an electric model unviable at Ellesmere Port.

Earlier this month Mr Kwarteng described talks as “very positive” but Alison Jones, Stellantis' UK group managing director, told Sky News no decision had yet been made.Advertisement

She called on the government to make good on its rhetoric and back electric vehicle production in the UK, which lags behind competitors in Europe.

“The cost of manufacturing has practical components to it, energy being one of them. So when we're considering what it takes to manufacture in the UK compared to other countries we have to assess the costs.

“So the discussion with government is OK, how do we make our manufacturing base relevant and able to be done within the UK when you are competing effectively with other countries for that investment?”

This week Nissan will announce it is building a new gigafactory in Sunderland with government support to enable it to dramatically increase electric vehicle production at its existing plant.

Ms Jones said Nissan's investment emphasised that domestic battery manufacturing capacity should be a priority.

New “rules-of-origin” regulations agreed as part of the Brexit deal mean that batteries will have to be produced in the UK or Europe by 2027 if British cars are to avoid damaging tariffs.

“We are part of Europe, geographically, we are a large market within Europe, so we should absolutely be considering asking our government to consider really pushing forward for that investment they spoke about an industrial strategy to end sale of combustion engines by 2030 and plug in hybrids by 2035.

“So contribute. Contribute in terms of that investment we need. You can't just say it, you have to work out the investment required.

“We have been really clear, to be able to move to electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles we need the technology, the infrastructure for customers to be able to charge their vehicles, you need the energy companies to work on making that readily available.

“And then you need consumer behaviour, and where the government comes in is to to influence with investment, and driving consumer behaviour.”

By Paul Kelso

UK travellers to Portugal must quarantine from today

(qlmbusinessnews.com via news.sky.com– Mon, 28th June 2021) London, Uk – –

The new rules come into effect on Monday and will last until at least 11 July, the Portuguese government says.

British travellers to Portugal who are not fully vaccinated against coronavirus must quarantine for 14 days on arrival from today.

Anyone travelling to mainland Portugal by air, land or sea, will have to prove they have had two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine at least two weeks ago, or have to isolate.

The new rules, introduced by the Portuguese government, come into effect on Monday and will last until at least 11 July.

They state that quarantine can be “at home or a place indicated by health authorities”.

Portugal is currently on the UK government's amber travel list, which means passengers also have to isolate for 10 days when they arrive back in Britain.

It was taken off the green list, which doesn't require passengers to quarantine, last month over concerns about a rise in cases.

Germany is also trying to get the European Union to ban all travellers from the UK – regardless of whether they have had a coronavirus vaccine or not – according to The Times.

Angela Merkel wants the EU to classify the UK as a “country of concern” due to high rates of the Delta variant that first emerged in India.

The chancellor wants other member states to follow Germany's example by demanding all UK arrivals isolate for 14 days – whether they are jabbed or not.

French President Emmanuel Macron has said he will support mandatory 14-day quarantine for all unvaccinated passengers, the newspaper reports.

Currently, people who are not fully vaccinated are only allowed to travel from the UK to France if they can prove it is essential.

They have to prove they have tested negative for the virus and isolate for seven days on arrival.

Those who are fully vaccinated against COVID do not need to quarantine, but must prove their vaccination status.

Ms Merkel's proposals will be discussed by senior EU officials in the coming days.

But the prospect of a summer washout for holiday firms hit UK-listed travel shares with the parent firm of British Airways falling more than 4%.

TUI, easyJet and Ryanair were also among the fallers.

However, countries such as Spain, Greece, Malta, Cyprus and Portugal, who rely heavily on UK tourists, are expected to resist calls for tougher rules..

Portugal's new restrictions only apply to those who have not been double jabbed.

Malta will move to the UK's green list at 4am on 30 June, but passengers will stay have to isolate on arrival under local rules. Another update on the UK government's travel list is due early next month.

15 Things You Didn’t Know About NIGERIA

Source: Alux

This Alux video we will be answering the following questions:

What are five interesting facts about Nigeria? What is a interesting fact about Nigeria? What is Nigeria known for? How old is the country Nigeria? What is Nigeria famous food? Is Nigeria a beautiful country? What are the three major culture in Nigeria? What are some Nigerian traditions? What are the important of culture in Nigeria? What are the cultural values in Nigeria? What is the main culture in Nigeria? What is Nigeria best known for? What are the 4 types of culture? Which culture is the best in Nigeria? What are the 3 types of culture? What are some examples of Igbo customs and traditions? What is family life like in Nigeria? What is unique about Nigeria? What are the values of Nigeria? What are the three important of culture? How dangerous is Nigeria? What language is mostly spoken in Nigeria? Why is Nigeria important to the world? Why is Nigeria called Nigeria? What makes you a Nigerian? What is Nigeria known for producing? What animals live in Nigeria? Which country is the super power in Africa? What is Nigeria most famous for? What is special about Nigeria? Why is Nigeria the most important country in Africa? What is the poorest country in Africa? What is the weakest country in Africa? Is Nigeria a beautiful country? Is Nigeria a safe country? Is Nigeria still the giant of Africa? Why is Nigeria the giant of Africa? What is Nigeria called in the world? What was Nigeria called before Nigeria? Is Nigeria a future superpower? Is Nigeria military powerful? Is Nigeria a first world country?

EE mobile operator to reintroduce Europe roaming charges in January

(qlmbusinessnews.com via bbc.co.uk – – Thur, 24th June 2021) London, Uk – –

Mobile operator EE will charge new customers extra to use their mobile phones in Europe from January.

Those joining or upgrading from 7 July 2021 will be charged £2 a day to use their allowances in 47 European destinations from January 2022.

EE previously said it had no plans to reintroduce roaming charges in Europe.

It is the first UK operator to reintroduce the charges since the Brexit trade deal was signed at the end of December.

Mobile networks in EU countries are not allowed to charge customers extra to use their phones in other EU countries, within fair use limits.

In January 2021, EE, O2, Three and Vodafone all stated they had no plans to reintroduce roaming charges, despite Brexit giving them the option to do so.

EE said the charges would “support investment into our UK based customer service and leading UK network”.

However, it will not charge UK customers extra to use their phones in the Republic of Ireland.

Customers travelling to the 47 affected countries will be able to buy 30-day passes to use their home tariff abroad. The cost of those will depend on which tariff customers are on.

‘Fair use'

On Wednesday, it was reported that O2 was going to reintroduce roaming charges.

However, it is merely adding a “fair use” data cap of 25GB a month and will not charge customers more to use their phones in the EU.

Fair use limits are normal and were allowed when the UK was still part of the EU. From next month, Three will be reducing its fair use limit from 20GB a month to 12GB.

EU citizens given 28-day deadline to apply to stay in UK

(qlmbusinessnews.com via bbc.co.uk – – Wed, 23rd June 2021) London, Uk – –

Immigration enforcement officials will begin giving EU citizens who live in the UK a 28-day warning to apply to remain, the government says.

But the Home Office will allow people indefinite time to complete an application for settled status if they have a reasonable excuse for delay.

There is a week to go until the deadline for applications.

Some 5.6 million European Economic Area (EEA) citizens and their dependents have applied for settled status.

But there are around 400,000 cases outstanding, and the government's helpline is receiving thousands of calls a day.

After the 2016 Brexit referendum, which took place precisely five years ago, settled status was introduced for citizens of the EU and EEA living in the UK.

It allows them to retain the same rights of residence, travel, employment and access to healthcare and benefits.

The countries whose nationals have made the highest numbers of applications are Poland (975,000) and Romania (918,000).

Immigration minister Kevin Foster said anyone whose application was not concluded by next week's deadline would not lose out, as their rights were protected in law.

He added that immigration enforcement officials would begin issuing 28-day notices to people, advising them to apply for settled status.

Migrants' groups had voiced concern that children would be among those who had not applied.

But Mr Foster said there would be an indefinite period where people who had not applied would be allowed to do so, if they had reasonable grounds.

He gave the example of students who might discover when applying to university for the first time that they do not have settled status.

‘Changed guidance'

Maike Bohn, co-founder of the EU citizens' campaign group the3million, said: “It's good that people can apply late, but the crux is they're unlawful as they haven't put an application in.

“Those eligible and not applying on time become unlawful and risk losing work, housing, access to free health care and so much more.”

Mr Foster said existing benefit claimants would not have their payments stopped if they had not been granted settled status.

But he said no-one could begin a benefit claim, job, or tenancy in England without settled status.

He also said the Home Office had “changed guidance” to border officials after reports that some EU citizens had been detained for long periods at the border last month.

Speaking to the House of Lords European Affairs Committee on Tuesday, he said: “I want to get as many people through the door before the 30th [of June] as possible.”

The EEA is made up of the 27 EU states plus Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway.

What is settled status?

EU nationals living in the UK have until 30 June to apply to stay in the UK.

They can apply for:

  • Settled status – on offer to anyone who can prove that they had been in the UK continuously for five years or more before 31 December 2020. As of 31 May, it has been granted to 2.75 million people.
  • Pre-settled status – on offer to anyone who had been in the UK for less than five years by the end of 2020. As of 31 May, it has been granted to 2.28 million. They can apply for settled status in future, but there is no guarantee they will get it.
By Callum May

London underground to get full mobile network by end of 2024, says Sadiq Khan

(qlmbusinessnews.com via theguardian.com – – Tue, 22nd June 2021) London, Uk – –

Sadiq Khan says work will begin soon on connecting busiest underground stations for end of next year.

Passengers on the London underground will have mobile coverage throughout the network by the end of 2024, the mayor of London has said.

Transport for London (TfL) said work on preparing some of the capital’s busiest stations, including Oxford Circus, Tottenham Court Road and Bank, would begin soon, and they would be among the first fully connected stations by the end of next year.

TfL has awarded a 20-year concession to BAI Communications (BAI), a global provider of 4G and 5G connected infrastructure, to counter so-called not-spots in the network.

The London mayor, Sadiq Khan, who was re-elected last month, said: “I promised Londoners that if they re-elected me for a second term as mayor I would deliver 4G throughout the tube network.”

Permanent phone reception was made available on underground sections of London’s tube network for the first time in March last year when the eastern half of the Jubilee line was covered.

Mobile coverage on underground sections of the tube had previously been available only in a short trial on the Waterloo and City line during summer 2017.

Khan said: “It’s already up and running on the eastern half of the Jubilee line and I’m delighted to announce today that I am fulfilling that commitment and full internet access will be available across the tube, with key central London stations such as Oxford Circus and Euston set to benefit before the end of next year.”

Camden Town and Euston are the other stations that will be among the first tranche to be connected.

Shashi Verma, the chief technology officer at TfL, said: “London underground was born in the 19th century, and this concession to deliver mobile coverage to the whole tube network ensures it continues to adapt for customers in the 21st century.

“Providing mobile connectivity to customers within the tunnels and on platforms across London will help them stay connected more easily, and will both provide a long-term revenue stream for TfL and support economic growth across the city.”

Ryanair accuses PM of mismanaging the reopening of the skies to allow hassle-free holidays

(qlmbusinessnews.com via news.sky.com– Wed, 16th June 2021) London, Uk – –

Chief executive Michael O'Leary accuses the PM of mismanaging the reopening of the skies to allow hassle-free holidays.

Ryanair has hit out at the UK government's traffic light system for global travel, describing the meagre green list of destinations as a “red list shambles”.

The airline, Europe's largest carrier, spoke up amid growing industry anger that holidays abroad are being discouraged at a time when COVID-19 vaccine rates should, they argue, be prompting a reopening of the skies.

They accuse the government of taking a harsh approach compared to many destinations in the EU, though ministers say the caution is justified given the surge in the Delta variant strain.

The removal of Portugal from the UK's green list earlier this month means people returning from every major viable tourist nation must self-isolate.

All travellers returning from amber locations must take a pre-departure coronavirus test, two post-arrival PCR tests costing around £100, and self-isolate for 10 days.

EasyJet revealed on Tuesday that it had moved aircraft from the UK to Germany in response to the countries'
differing approaches to coronavirus travel restrictions.

Ryanair boss Michael O'Leary called for a pragmatic approach in a bid to help the sector get back on its feet after unprecedented losses and damage inflicted on the wider economy.

He said: “The UK's COVID travel policy is a shambles.

“The green list is non-existent because countries such as Malta and Portugal, with lower COVID case numbers than the UK and rapidly rising vaccination rates, remain on amber.

“Meanwhile, UK citizens, almost 80% of whom will be vaccinated by the end of June, continue to face COVID restrictions on travel to and from the European Union, despite the fact that the majority of the European Union citizens will also be vaccinated by the end of June.”

He said a vaccine-driven approach would “at least allow the UK tourism industry to plan for what is left of the summer season and get hundreds of thousands of people back to work.

“It is time for Boris Johnson to end his gross mismanagement of COVID and the recovery from COVID, and take advantage of the UK's successful vaccine programme,” he added.

BA and Ryanair investigated for refusing refunds

(qlmbusinessnews.com via bbc.co.uk – – Wed, 9th June 2021) London, Uk – –

British Airways and Ryanair may have broken consumer law in not offering refunds to customers who couldn't legally take flights due to Covid lockdowns, a watchdog has said.

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) said the airlines' stance could have left customers out of pocket.

The airlines offered other options, but both refused refunds, it said.

However, BA said it had acted lawfully and Ryanair said it had refunded customers in justified cases.

During the three UK lockdowns people were told to avoid all non-essential travel.

The investigation is looking at flights that weren't cancelled, but that people legally could not go on due to lockdown restrictions.

The CMA said that while BA had offered vouchers and rebooking for flights that weren't cancelled, and Ryanair had offered rebooking, both had declined refunds.

Andrea Coscelli, chief executive of the CMA, said: “While we understand that airlines have had a tough time during the pandemic, people should not be left unfairly out of pocket for following the law.

“Customers booked these flights in good faith and were legally unable to take them due to circumstances entirely outside of their control. We believe these people should have been offered their money back.”

The watchdog is concerned that during lockdowns in the UK, when most people were legally unable to fly, the airlines failed to offer refunds.

It said it wanted to resolve those concerns, which might include the airlines offering affected customers refunds “or other redress”.

The CMA has sent a letter to the companies outlining its concerns.

Usually the watchdog tries to work with firms to address any issues. However, if the firms push back, it can seek a court order to compel them to refund customers and make changes to their practices.

The CMA cannot fine the firms if it is found they breached consumer law – which is different to its powers in competition cases, where it can levy fines.

But BA said it offered “highly flexible booking policies at the same time as operating a vastly reduced schedule due to government-imposed travel restrictions, and we have acted lawfully at all times”.

A spokesperson said: “During this unprecedented crisis we have issued well over three million refunds and helped millions of our customers change their travel dates or destinations and we're grateful to them for their ongoing support.”

“It is incredible that the government is seeking to punish further an industry that is on its knees, after prohibiting airlines from meaningful flying for well over a year now.

“Any action taken against our industry will only serve to destabilise it, with potential consequences for jobs, business, connectivity and the UK economy.”

Ryanair said it had looked at refunds on a case-by-case basis and had paid money back “in justified cases”.

“Since June 2020, all our customers have also had the ability to rebook their flights without paying a change fee and millions of our UK customers have availed of this option,” it said in a statement.

Refund action

The CMA has been investigating various parts of the travel industry since July last year.

It opened its investigations after getting complaints about refunds, cancellations and price rises following the first lockdown in March.

The watchdog has received 148,000 complaints overall so far, with many thousands of those being about holiday refunds.

In April it threatened legal action against firms offering vouchers instead of refunds for accommodation.

Then in May it warned travel companies that they needed to be ready to refund customers, and said that five big package holiday firms including Tui, Lastminute.com and Virgin Holidays had refunded a total of £200m.

Stay-at-home holidaymakers warned of summer products shortage due to suppliers import delays

(qlmbusinessnews.com via bbc.co.uk – – Mon, 7th June 2021) London, Uk – –

Some firms are struggling to secure summer items like garden furniture, picnic baskets and outdoor toys, as consumers prepare to holiday in the UK.

About 60% of British suppliers have experienced import delays in the past month, according to customs clearance platform KlearNow.

The six-day-long Suez Canal blockage in March is partly to blame, as goods meant to arrive weeks ago are still stuck on container ships elsewhere.

But there are other factors at play.

KlearNow based its findings on interviews with 300 import-export businesses based in the UK.

“A combination of Covid-19 restrictions, the backlog from the Suez Canal blockage, increasing global demand for shipping containers, disruption to shipping caused by India's public health crisis and a shortage of packaging materials means UK businesses are already struggling to meet summer demand,” said KlearNow's chief executive Sam Tyagi.

“With competition for container space so high, some smaller businesses are simply being priced out of landing the goods and materials that they need.”

Items like camping equipment have seen a spike in demand as more British families look to domestic holidays, with the government tightening rules on international travel rules and moving Portugal to the amber list.

Since many popular products are manufactured in China, retailers are being impacted by shortages in their supply chains and US retailers have experienced similar problems procuring summer essential items.

Heather Attwooll of camping and outdoor equipment retailer Attwoolls, is still waiting on orders placed in October and has nine containers of outdoor clothing, camping gear and hiking equipment stuck in Egypt as a result of the Suez Canal blockage.

“The early May bank holiday was the busiest bank holiday we've ever experienced… But there is a risk that small businesses like ours will soon be unable to meet that demand due to supply chain problems out of our control.

“All of the garden furniture we normally source from China was bought up by Walmart [in the US], for example.”

Garden toys, games and picnic baskets are also being held up by delays, said Katherine Rhodes of the retailer PomPom.

“We're experiencing delays of up to four months on wooden toys coming from the Far East, handmade baskets and wood supplies. And we've had to wait 16 weeks for cardboard boxes.”

Shipping delays are only one part of the problem. According to retail expert Kate Hardcastle, there has been an explosion of demand coming from the hospitality industry as it gets back on its feet following lockdown.

“Campers and caravaners have got competition from restaurants and hotels for outdoor equipment,” she said.

“The demand is so high, not just because of a shortage in supply, but also because things are being repurposed in very different ways.”

One example is the Devonshire Arms Hotel & Spa in North Yorkshire, which has brought its entire spa operation outdoors to ensure it maintains social distancing.

It ordered in garden furniture, bell tents and other equipment back in March, as it feared supply chain problems amid the easing of restrictions. However, it struggled to procure the items.

“What we found is that your first choice is not always available and you need to think out of the box,” said Mr Palmer.

“Our general hospitality supply chains are not always ready – it's domestic consumer supply chains that have come to the rescue and even Amazon.”

The hotel even ended up sourcing some of the lawn furniture it needed second-hand from Carluccio's, after the troubled Italian restaurant chain shut 40 restaurants.

Other hospitality businesses are looking to enhance their outdoor offerings, leading to a surge in demand for summer products, said Ms Hardcastle.

“Everyone's trying to compete by trying to create the theatre and ambience and space – it's been a horrendous time for retail and this is just another incredible challenge for retailers to deal with.”

Ryanair boss calls for travel to EU and US to open up

(qlmbusinessnews.com via news.sky.com– Wed, 2nd June 2021) London, Uk – –

Michael O'Leary says he has had enough of doctors and scientists urging caution and calls for people to start travelling again.

Michael O'Leary, the outspoken chief executive of Ryanair, has said it is “absolutely imperative” that “big tourist destinations” such as Greece and Spain be added to the UK's green list at the end of this week.

“The restrictions should be lifted, we should be allowing British families to travel to the US and Europe, and also to return without having to complete useless PCR forms for people who've already been vaccinated,” Mr O'Leary told Sky News.

But scientists have warned that any increase in international travel could put Britain's recovery from COVID-19 at risk, with the potential for new variants to enter the country as tourists return from less vaccinated countries.

“Nothing is absolutely safe,” Mr O'Leary said, but “it is scientists and doctors' jobs to urge caution and care and worry,” he added. “The vaccines are effective against the Indian variant, it's a scariant being used by the science and medical professions to urge caution.

“It's time that we got on with our lives. We've had 18 months of the scientists and the doctors worrying us about scariants and variants and all the rest of it.”

Current data suggests that the variant first identified in India is up to 60% more transmissible than the one first identified in Kent.

The newer Indian variant is “taking over” as the dominant COVID strain in the UK as cases rise across the country, Dr Deepti Gurdasani, a clinical epidemiologist told Sky News.

Mr O'Leary later acknowledged that the variant was indeed more transmissible, and said he backed a stricter border policy for travellers from southern hemisphere countries.

But the airline boss went on to slam the requirement for vaccinated British travellers returning to the UK from green list countries to produce negative PCR tests, calling the situation “bizarre”.

“There's no excuse for the government to restrict air travel,” he said. “It's time to go on holidays and it's time to fly Ryanair.”

By Ed Clowes, Business reporter

The New Rolls Royce Boat Tail Valued at £20 Million And The Most Expensive New Car In The World!

Source: MR JWW

This is – a truly bespoke, coach build Rolls Royce rumoured to be valued at £20 million – making it the most expensive new car in the world! Based on a true commission model, ‘Boat Tail’ represents a collaborative exploration of luxury, design and culture between the marque and commissioning clients. Using the ‘architecture of luxury' as a chassis platform and the V12 engine from the current Phantom 8 platform, Rolls Royce once again redefine luxury motoring with the Boat Tail.

Uber UK drivers join GMB union

(qlmbusinessnews.com via uk.reuters.com — Thur, 27th May 2021) London, UK —

Uber (UBER.N) on Wednesday said it was recognising Britain’s GMB union, allowing it to represent up to 70,000 drivers and boosting the power of workers with collective bargaining.

Recognition means a union has the right to negotiate on behalf of the workforce.

Meetings will take place quarterly to discuss issues and the pair will work on matters such as pay, pensions and safety, according to a statement released by the ride-hailing app.

Drivers will retain their ability to choose if, when and where they drive.

“Whilst Uber and GMB may not seem like obvious allies, we’ve always agreed that drivers must come first, and today we have struck this important deal to improve workers’ protections,” said Northern and Eastern Europe boss Jamie Heywood.

The Silicon Valley-based company has long faced disputes and legal action with unions over its business model.

“This agreement shows gig economy companies don't have to be a wild west on the untamed frontier of employment rights,” said GMB National Officer Mick Rix.

In March, drivers gained workers’ rights, following a Supreme Court ruling.

Thousands head overseas on holiday taking advantage of easing lockdown rules

(qlmbusinessnews.com via bbc.co.uk – – Mon, 17th May 2021) London, Uk – –

Thousands of British holidaymakers have begun taking advantage of the easing of lockdown rules on overseas travel.

Travellers from England, Scotland and Wales are jetting off to some countries in what the crisis-hit tourism industry hopes is the start of a recovery.

Travellers can now visit 12 countries on the government's green list, including Portugal and Israel, without isolating on their return.

The bosses of British Airways and Ryanair said confidence was returning.

The vast majority of tourist destinations remain on the amber and red lists, meaning travellers must quarantine when they get back.

Bookings also remain well down on pre-pandemic levels.

‘Small step'

However, BA chief executive Sean Doyle told the BBC that the airline's six flights due to depart from Heathrow on Monday to “green” destinations such as Lisbon, Faro and Madeira were “very busy”.

He said the latest relaxation of restrictions was “a small step in the right direction”.

Ryanair chief executive Michael O'Leary said there were definite signs of an early rebound in travel to European destinations.

Bookings are up from 500,000 a week in early April to 1.5 million a week now. “The rate of bookings suggests there is a huge amount of confidence,” he told BBC Breakfast. “We are very optimistic for the next couple of months.”

‘We're super excited to be able to travel again'

Nellie and Jill are off to Portugal on Monday – but it seemed touch and go right up to the moment they got to the airport.

They are “super excited and really happy to be able to travel again”. But the past few weeks have been stressful, especially as it was only confirmed on Friday that they could definitely travel.

Nellie said it was then a real scramble to get PCR coronavirus tests over the weekend, which Jill added was quite complicated.

“Adding all the documentation wasn't easy but we persevered and we're glad we did,” Jill said. Some holiday sun and a glass of wine on their balcony would make it all worth it, she added.

‘Important day'

Gatwick Airport chief executive Stewart Wingate said welcoming holidaymakers for the first time in months was a “big relief”.

He expected the number of travellers to increase significantly by the end of May – but this will still be less than 15% of the traffic seen in pre-pandemic times.

“It's an important day for us… we're looking forward to seeing more countries added to the green list in the weeks ahead,” he added.

But there is still caution. Online travel agent Thomas Cook said the number of people booking to travel abroad was “still small”.

It said 75% of its bookings were for Portugal, although Thomas Cook customers planning to jet off this week numbered only in their hundreds.

On Friday, Portugal announced that travellers from the UK would be allowed to enter its borders provided they could show a negative PCR test result from the previous 72 hours.

That led to an increase in demand for flights to the country. Tui, which has 19 flights scheduled from the UK to Portugal next week, said eight of those would now be on a Boeing Dreamliner, which can carry up to 345 people – almost twice as many people as the Boeing 737s that it had planned to use.

Splashing out

Many of those who do intend to get away plan to do so in style. Thomas Cook reported that 85% of customers had booked four or five-star hotels. Before the crisis, only around half of people chose to splash out on that kind of luxury.

Hays Travel has noticed a similar trend. At present around half of its customers are booking for next year but it highlighted a “cautious optimism” among travellers following an almost four-fold increase in bookings for Portugal this summer.

Chief operating officer Jonathon Woodall said the average spend on a two-week holiday for a family of four had increased by £370 to £4,000 as people look to “fulfil their bucket list”.

“People are upgrading to better destinations and accommodation, spending more to treat themselves,” he said.

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From near empty departure halls to queues of passengers

Analysis: By Caroline Davies

After months of keeping apart, travelling on a busy plane feels both familiar and strange. Face masks are mandatory except to allow for eating and drinking, but seats are not socially distanced. I was handed a complimentary antibacterial wipe on boarding.

The paperwork is far more complicated than normal. Alongside my passport and ticket, I'm carrying proof of my negative PCR test, a passenger locator form for Portugal and proof of my booked tests for my journey home. I'll have to complete another locator form to come back to the U.K.

Still at 35,000 feet, we don't know how long the queues will be at the Portuguese border when we land or on the return journey.

Passengers on board have said they feel a little like guinea pigs. The travel industry knows it's important to make this process smooth and safe if it's to have a good summer.

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While travel from England, Scotland and Wales is permitted to the 12 countries on the green list, most of the destinations are either remote islands or do not currently allow UK tourists to enter.

And the government is advising people not to make non-essential trips to locations on its amber list, which covers popular destinations such as Spain, France, Italy and Greece. However, the guidance is expected to be ignored by some holidaymakers.

EasyJet and Tui have both said that they will operate holidays to countries classified as amber, provided Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) does not advise against “all but essential” travel.

The majority of countries around the world are in the amber category, meaning that arrivals from these places to the UK are required to quarantine at home for 10 days as well as taking a Covid test before departure and two more on arrival.

Travellers arriving back in England from an amber country have the option after five days of quarantine to pay for a private Covid test under the Test to Release scheme. If the result is negative, the quarantine can end.

BA boss Sean Doyle said “cautious optimism” should be exercised when decisions are made about whether to expand the green list when it is reviewed on 7 June.

He said vaccination and infection rates in a number of the major aviation markets were “trending positively”, noting that the US – an important market for both tourism and business “now has 60% of its adult population vaccinated [and] infections are falling”.

From Monday, people travelling abroad will be able to use the NHS app – which is different to the NHS Covid-19 app – to prove they have had the vaccine.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps previously said people who have had both doses will be able to use the app at border controls, although the government says people should still check countries' entry requirements as tests or quarantine might still be needed.

Why Celebs Are Shelling Out Over $1,000 A Haircut

Source: Insider

Hair stylist Julien Farel's $1,000 haircut is a transformation that celebrities like Kate Moss and Celine Dion can't get enough of. His full Power Hour treatment is an extra $500 and gets you a manicure, pedicure, hair color, and, of course, Champagne. Insider's Emily Christian is on a mission to find out why celebs are shelling out over $1,000 for a haircut. She chats with Julien about how a haircut is set apart from the rest when it complements the architecture of the face.