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Phuket Media Watch: Russian round-up

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PHUKET MEDIA WATCH

– World news compiled by Gazette editors for Phuket’s international community

Russia’s first hybrid vehicle to go on sale next year
Phuket Gazette / News Wires

Russian automobile manufacturer Yo-Auto on Tuesday announced that it will be offering the country’s first hybrid vehicle late next year.

The company’s billionaire co-owner Mikhail Prokhorov spoke on national television on Tuesday to confirm that the first Yo-hybrid is scheduled to come out on sale in December 2012. Prokhorov had said in previous announcements that the goal is to manufacture and offer an eco-friendly vehicle for under $10,000 (approximately 310,000 Thai Baht).

The first Yo-mobile manufacturing plant, which is located near the Russian city of St. Petersburg, is estimated to have an annual production capacity of around 45,000 vehicles. However, the capacity is expected to double after the second stage of the plant’s construction is completed.

The high-profile billionaire, 46, announced earlier this month that he will take part in next year’s presidential election and challenge Prime Minister Vladimir Putin. Prokhorov is considered to be Russia’s third richest billionaire with a net worth of approximately $18 billion.

Despite his political aspirations, Prokhorov aims to carry out his business projects as planned. “I have a very strong team and highly-skilled and professional staff,” Prokhorov said, as quoted by RIA Novosti. “All the projects I announced in business will be implemented in full.”

Prokhorov made his fortune in metals and banking, but he is also well known as the owner of the New Jersey Nets, which he bought in 2009.

Turkey, Russia reach agreement on South Stream pipeline
Phuket Gazette / News Wires

Turkey has approved the construction of the South Stream gas pipeline which is intended to carry Russian natural gas under the Black Sea to Europe, Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has announced.

The South Stream pipeline is expected to transport up to 63 billion cubic meters of gas to central and southern Europe. Commercial gas deliveries are excepted to start at the end of 2015, according to Alexei Miller, the head of the Russian natural gas monopoly Gazprom.

“I am pleased to note that our energy talks, which have been fairly strained and difficult, have yielded positive results,” Putin said during a meeting with Turkish Energy and Natural Resources Minister Taner Yildiz. “I would especially like to thank the Turkish government for its decision to give its final authorization to Gazprom to build the South Stream gas pipeline system on the Black Sea bed in Turkey’s exclusive economic zone.”

Putin said the accord will contribute to stable energy supplies to the European market. “This truly is a pan-European project,” he noted. The prime minister added that Russia also agreed on long-term contracts for the delivery of gas to Turkey until 2021 and 2025, with a boost in gas supplies to Turkey by eight percent or 2 billion cubic meters in 2012.

The South Stream pipeline is an attempt to diversify Russian gas routes away from transit countries such as Ukraine. The neighboring ex-Soviet republic accounts for 80 percent of Russian gas transit to European Union nations but frequent rows with Moscow over gas prices have sometimes ended with Kiev switching the gas tap off in wintertime.

Miller said the construction of the South Stream pipeline will not affect the gas price formula for Ukraine or other countries.

Passenger plane crashes in Kyrgyzstan, injuring 12 people
Phuket Gazette / News Wires

Twelve people were injured on early yesterday afternoon when a passenger plane crashed while landing at an airport in Kyrgyzstan, government officials said. There were no fatalities.

The accident happened at around 1:48 p.m. Phuket time, when Kyrgyzstan Airlines Flight 3 was attempting to land during bad weather at an airport in Osh, the second largest city in the Central Asian country. The plane, a Tupolev Tu-134, was en-route from the capital of Bishkek.

A spokesman for the Emergencies Ministry said the aircraft, which was carrying 73 passengers and 6 crew members, skidded off the runway and overturned before coming to a stop. The aircraft sustained heavy damage and both the right wing and the landing gear were broken off, according to officials.

The Kyrgyz Health Ministry confirmed twelve people were injured, including nine people who were treated at the scene by ambulances. A 7-month-old girl and a 19-year-old man were among those hospitalized, both suffering from a concussion and other injuries.

It was not immediately known what caused the accident, but officials said heavy fog and possible icing are being investigated as possible causes. The aircraft was manufactured in 1979 and its airworthiness certificate was to expire on January 19.

In August 2008, Iran Aseman Airlines Flight 6895 crashed after taking off from Manas International Airport in Bishkek, killing 68 people and injuring 18 others. It remains the deadliest aviation accident in the country’s history.

— Phuket Gazette Editors

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Tourism

No vaccine, no flight – Qantas will require international travellers to be vaccinated

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No vaccine, no flight – Qantas will require international travellers to be vaccinated | The Thaiger

Qantas, Australia’s national airline, is announcing a new requirement that all international travellers will need to have a vaccination against Covid-19 in a move that could become the norm for the world’s airline industry. Qantas CEO Alan Joyce says the Australian flag carrier would implement the measure once a coronavirus vaccine was made available to the public.

“We are looking at changing our terms and conditions to say for international travellers that we will ask people to have a vaccination before they can get on the aircraft.”

“Whether you need that domestically, we will have to see what happens with Covid-19 in the market but certainly, for international visitors coming out (to Australia) and people leaving the country, we think that is a necessity.”

Joyce says the new rule is likely to become a standard practice by all airlines worldwide as many governments are now working to introduce electronic vaccination passports. Vaccination requirements are already widely used around the world for those wishing to enter certain countries, with many countries wanting travellers show they have been inoculated against yellow fever if they are coming from regions where that disease could be acquired.

The International Air Transport Association has also announced it is in the “final stages” of developing a digital health pass that it says can be used to record Covid-19 tests or vaccinations and will “support the safe reopening of borders.”

“We are bringing this to market in the coming months to also meet the needs of the various travel bubbles and public health corridors that are starting operation.”

Australia’s borders have been closed since March to help stop the spread of the virus, which has taken the lives of more than 1 million people worldwide. The country has even limited its own citizens arrivals from abroad by implementing a weekly quota that has left thousands stranded overseas. Qantas has grounded more than 200 planes and let go 8,500 staff members as it attempts to offset a US 1.9 billion loss.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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Malaysia

Technical issues force Singapore aircraft to land on Malaysian highway – VIDEO

Maya Taylor

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Technical issues force Singapore aircraft to land on Malaysian highway – VIDEO | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Twitter

A single-engine prop plane from Singapore has been forced to make an emergency landing on a Malaysian highway due to technical difficulties. A report in Coconuts says the aircraft touched down on the hard shoulder of a highway in Johor, as cars sped past. The 2 pilots on board are believed to be in stable condition.

Chester Voo, CEO of Malaysia’s aviation authority, says an investigation has been launched to determine what went wrong with the plane, which has now been removed.

“Search and rescue teams have completed all required tasks. The investigation will be conducted by the Air Accident Investigation Bureau under the Ministry of Transport, Malaysia.”

It’s understood the plane left Seletar Airport in Singapore and was flying to Melaka when the pilots contacted Air Traffic Control at Johor, requesting permission to land at Senai International Airport, due to technical problems. However, Voo says the aircraft did not make it to the airport before it had to land on the highway.

Meanwhile, Thomas Ong from Premier Aero Singapore, who provide services at Seletar Airport, says his company provided immigration assistance to one of the pilots prior to departure, but doesn’t know what happened to cause the emergency landing.

“We only assisted Dr Yang in immigration formalities with the Seletar Airport Authority for his arrival and departure.”

SOURCE: Coconuts

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Singapore – Hong Kong travel bubble delayed due to Covid rise in HK

Maya Taylor

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Singapore – Hong Kong travel bubble delayed due to Covid rise in HK | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Ruslan Bardash on Unsplash

Singapore and Hong Kong have agreed to delay their travel bubble plans as Hong Kong experiences a jump in Covid-19 cases. Although case numbers in both cities are nowhere near as serious as what’s currently being seen in places like Europe and the US, officials are erring on the side of caution and postponing the plan by at least 2 weeks.

The travel pact would have allowed people to travel between both cities without having to endure mandatory quarantine, but authorities on both sides had agreed it would be postponed if either location reported more than 5 new local cases in a rolling 7 day average. The Bangkok Post reports that travel between both cities remains possible, but quarantine is still a requirement in both places.

Mungo Paterson, a British national who lives in Hong Kong and had booked a ticket to Singapore for December 7, says the reinstatement of the quarantine requirement is the biggest problem.

“That is the main deterrent, I have no interest in sitting in a hotel room for 2 weeks – it’s not healthy. I was excited when they announced it, I thought ‘here we go’. I’m now holding off confirming until Dec 2. I think there’s a 50-50 chance the flight will happen.”

Singapore Transport Minister Ong Ye Kung says the rise in cases in Hong Kong shows that any attempted travel arrangement will not be plain sailing.

“This is a sober reminder that the Covid-19 virus is still with us, and even as we fight to regain our normal lives, the journey will be full of ups and downs.”

The strict border controls seen in Asia appear to have helped countries here suppress the virus better than elsewhere in the world, but the controls have come at a significant cost, crippling tourism and the aviation sector. Rico Merkert from the University of Sydney’s business school says that, without international traffic, Cathay Pacific and Singapore Airlines will continue to struggle, even when the travel bubble between their 2 hubs does begin.

“Even if the Hong Kong-Singapore corridor opens, the boost to the 2 aviation hubs will be limited. Singapore Airlines and Cathay will continue to struggle because they can’t funnel onto the route those travellers who would normally arrive from Europe and the US. Without that feeder traffic, those bubbles will at best be limited to the local population. International travel is going to remain a tricky affair.”

October traffic for both carriers has plummeted compared to the same period last year, with Cathay carrying just 38,541 passengers, down 98.6% on 2019 figures. Singapore Airlines has experienced a similar slump, with October numbers down 98.2% on last year’s, at 35,500.

Brendan Sobie from Sobie Aviation says at this stage, the implementation of a travel bubble is mostly symbolic, adding that the aviation sector will take years to fully recover.

“Bubbles provide a little bit of incremental additional international traffic in the interim period until the pandemic ends. A full recovery in air traffic will still take a few years, even with a vaccine, though bubbles will help get the process moving.”

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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