China OKs U.S. NTSB travel to take part in Boeing 737-800 crash probe

rescue workers work at the site where a China Eastern Airlines Boeing 737-800 plane flying from Kunming to Guangzhou crashed, in Wuzhou, Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, China March 24, 2022. REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins/File Photo

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WASHINGTON, March 29 (Reuters) – (This March 29 story corrects to show CFM representatives will not travel to China after NTSB issued revised statement.)

China has issued visas to American investigators and technical advisers to support its investigation into last week’s deadly crash of a China Eastern Airlines (600115.SS) Boeing 737-800 in that country, the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board said on Tuesday.

“The team hopes to depart this week,” the NTSB said in a tweet.

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In addition to NTSB investigators, China has issued visas to technical advisers from the Federal Aviation Administration and Boeing Co. (BA.N).

It is still unclear whether the U.S. team will need to quarantine in China under its COVID-19 protocols, the NTSB said, adding that the issue is still under discussion. China has been experiencing a surge in coronavirus cases.

The plane crashed into a mountainside in southern China on March 21, killing all 132 people onboard, in mainland China’s deadliest aviation disaster in 28 years. Recovery crews on Sunday found the second black box – the flight data recorder – in the wreckage.

The NTSB has been in regular contact with the Civil Aviation Administration of China since the crash. Under an international agreement, the NTSB has the right to participate since the plane was designed and built in the United States.

FAA Administrator Steve Dickson told reporters on Tuesday he was encouraged by indications that China is following its obligations under that treaty.

“We’re ready to go,” Dickson said, but added: “We’re not over yet — so that needs to happen.” He noted there were ongoing discussions between China and the United States about outstanding issues including China’s COVID-19 protocols.

Jet engine maker CFM is a joint venture between General Electric (GE.N) and France’s Safran (SAF.PA) and is a technical adviser to the NTSB as part of the investigation. However, representatives from CFM will not travel to China, the U.S. agency said, after saying earlier that they were planning to go.

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Reporting by David Shepardson; Editing by Franklin Paul and Jonathan Oatis

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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UK OKs holiday travel to Portugal, Israel; not France, Spain – FOX23 News

LONDON — (AP) — The British government on Friday announced a “first tentative step” toward resuming international travel, saying U.K. citizens will be able to travel to countries including Portugal, Iceland and Israel later this month without having to quarantine on their return.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said the country’s current blanket ban on overseas vacations is being replaced by a traffic-light system classifying countries as low, medium or high risk.

The “green list” of 12 low-risk territories also includes Gibraltar, the Faroe Islands and the Falkland Islands — but not major vacation destinations for Britons such as France, Spain and Greece. Britons traveling to those countries will have to self-isolate for 10 days upon their return.

All but essential travel remains barred to countries with severe outbreaks, including India and South Africa, and people returning from them face 10 days of mandatory hotel quarantine. On Friday the government added Nepal, the Maldives and Turkey to that list.

Friday’s decision throws into doubt fans’ ability to travel to the Champions League soccer final between two English teams — Manchester City and Chelsea — which is due to be played in Istanbul on May 29.

The changes take effect May 17, the next date on the government’s roadmap out of lockdown. Pubs and restaurants in England can reopen indoor areas that same day, and venues including theaters and cinemas can open to limited audiences.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. The AP’s previous story is below:

People under 40 in Britain will not be given the Oxford-AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine if another shot is available because of a link to extremely rare blood clots, the government said Friday. It said the change would not affect the goal of giving all U.K. adults at least one vaccine dose by July.

The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunization said people aged 30 to 39 without underlying health conditions should receive an alternative vaccine, “where available and only if this does not cause substantial delays in being vaccinated.” Last month it gave the same advice for people under 30.

”Any vaccine offered early is preferable to a vaccine offered too late,” said Wei Shen Lim, who chairs the JCVI, an expert body that advises the government.

England’s deputy chief medical officer, Jonathan Van-Tam, said the government expects to be able to follow the new advice and still meet its target of giving everyone over 18 a vaccine jab by July 31.

“We have to maintain the pace and scale of the U.K. vaccination program,” Van-Tam said, adding that the AstraZeneca vaccine is safe and effective and “thousands are alive today” because they received it.

Britain has recorded more than 127,500 coronavirus deaths, the highest toll in Europe. But recent infections and deaths have plummeted thanks to extensive lockdowns and a rapid vaccination program. Two-thirds of U.K. adults have received at least vaccine jab and almost a third have had both doses.

A majority have had the AstraZeneca shot, though Britain is also using vaccines made by Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech.

Several countries in Europe have chosen only to use the AstraZeneca vaccine on older people because of evidence there is a link to a type of very rare blood clot, accompanied by low blood platelet count.

British health officials say the risk from COVID-19 far exceeds any risk from the AstraZeneca vaccine for the vast majority of people, but the calculation is “more finely balanced” for younger groups, who tend not to suffer serious illness from coronavirus infections.

Up to April 28, Britain’s medicines regulator had received 242 reports of blood clots accompanied by low platelet count in people who had received the AstraZeneca vaccine, out of 28.5 million doses given. There were 49 deaths.

Most of the cases occurred after the first dose, and health officials said there were no concerns about people getting second AstraZeneca shots.

The AstraZeneca vaccine, which is cheaper and easier to store than many others, is critical to global immunization campaigns and is a pillar of the U.N.-backed program known as COVAX that aims to get vaccines to some of the world’s poorest countries.

The success of Britain’s vaccination campaign is allowing the government to gradually lift lockdown measures. Later Friday, it’s expecting to confirm that it will end a ban on overseas vacation travel, revealing a list of countries that U.K. residents will be able to visit starting later this month without having to quarantine upon return.

The “green list” of countries with low coronavirus infection rates is likely to include Israel, which has vaccinated most of its population, along with Malta and Gibraltar.

Foreign holidays are currently illegal under sweeping powers the British government has taken to restrict business and everyday life during the coronavirus pandemic.

The blanket travel ban is due to end on May 17. Pubs and restaurants in England can reopen indoor areas that day, and venues including theaters and cinemas can reopen to limited audiences. The other parts of the U.K. — Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland — are following slightly different reopening timelines.


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Governor OKs Kauai’s request to ease travel restrictions on out-of-state visitors – Hawaii News Now

Governor OKs Kauai’s request to ease travel restrictions on out-of-state visitors  Hawaii News Now

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Judge OKs sale of ShoreTrips and extends window for claims: Travel Weekly

A Wisconsin judge last week approved the sale of defunct cruise excursion seller ShoreTrips for less than a third of the $6 million it owes in customer refunds and other debts. But he extended for a month the window under which jilted customers can seek at least partial reimbursements.

The court-appointed receiver overseeing the case said “it’s way too soon to estimate what the distribution to unsecured creditors will be” once the sale of the company’s assets to Hornblower Group, the parent of American Queen Steamboat Company and Victory Cruises, for $1.8 million is complete.

But court filings indicate that after $365,000 in secured debts and other guaranteed payments are settled, there will be just a little over $1.4 million to divvy up between customers who are owed $4.7 million in refunds and other unsecured creditors who are owed just under $1 million.

That means if everyone listed as being owed money by the company filed a claim, they would get less than 25 cents on every dollar owed. If only half filed, that could increase to about 50 cents on the dollar.

How much is ultimately in the distribution pot also depends on who files a formal claim with the court, how many of those are approved for payment and how much is deducted to pay the receiver, who is managing the sales and distributions.

Claims in the case, No. 20-CV-6868, must be filed by March 30.

Forms are available here and must be submitted to:

Honorable Timothy Witkowiak
Milwaukee County Courthouse
901 N. 9th Street, Room 415
Milwaukee, WI 53233 


It was also unclear if travel advisors’ claims for commissions owed on booked excursions would be approved; commissions generally aren’t paid until a trip is completed.

Asked about whether commission claims would be considered, receiver Seth Dizard said the figures and creditors cited in court documents “are based upon the company’s books and records.

“As these cases go, receivers and trustees don’t begin the claims review process until all assets have been recovered, so I haven’t delved into them yet,” he said.

During the Feb. 23 Zoom hearing on the sale, travel advisor Jason Webb of Mosaic Travel Design in Valencia, Calif., told the court he was “disappointed that all the big fish will get their money … and all the consumers will not.”

He also questioned where the money went, and why it wasn’t held in trust.

But both the judge and the receiver said the ultimate payout will likely exceed the norm for such cases. And the purchase price, reached after 22 rounds of bidding, is five times that of the original offer of $375,000 made by an unnamed Florida company.

Dizard, the receiver, told the court the balance should be enough to pay a “substantial percentage of … unsecured claims, which in receivership is considered a favorable outcome.”

“Unfortunately, the company’s assets were not of sufficient value to pay all these creditor claims,” Dizard told the court.  “But the market has spoken, your honor.”

Dizard said the sale process was “reasonable and yielded fair results, or a fair representation of the company’s assets.

“We are talking about a business that was shut down and relied exclusively on international travel, which has been shut down for roughly a year now.”

In approving the sale, Milwaukee County circuit court judge Timothy Witkowiak said “that as a judge for 18 years, I don’t think I’ve seen this kind of return to unsecured creditors. You just don’t see it that often.”

Travel agent Webb’s concerns about the sale and where the money went “do not fall on deaf ears,” Dizard said. Once the sale is complete, he said, he will turn his attention to investigating the history of the business and “whether there are any other avenues of recovery.”

ShoreTrips, which was one of the leading sellers of independent, commissionable cruise excursions, filed for protection from creditors in November in what is a Wisconsin state alternative to federal bankruptcy protection.

According to court filings, ShoreTrips had just $100,000 in cash, with debts exceeding $6 million. Liabilities include $4.76 million in customer deposits and payments, $974,324 in accounts payable and $345,000 in long-term, secured debt.  

The secured debt is held by Bank of the West, the company’s landlord and the Small Business Administration.

The sale also calls for a $20,000 “break up” fee to the company whose initial bid was accepted, with the stipulation that the sale would then go out to bid.

In filing for receivership in November, company founder Barry Karp blamed the pandemic for the company’s trouble and said he and his wife, Julie, had sought voluntary receivership in hopes of being able to resume operations with new owners.

“As we begin our restart process, and with the recent positive news of a vaccine underway, we anticipate returning for the 2021 cruise season in a position to better serve the industry and cruise-goers around the world,” Karp said in a statement in December.

Neither the Karps nor Hornblower immediately responded to requests for comment about the sale or how the company’s assets would be used going forward.  

But the court order said “the buyer is not a successor to ShoreTrips or the Receiver. The sale does not constitute a consolidation, merger or de facto merger of ShoreTrips and the Buyer or the Receiver and the Buyer. The Buyer is not a mere continuation of ShoreTrips or the Receiver.”

The order did say, however, that the offer “consists of a promise to offer employment to substantially all who were employed by ShoreTrips at the time this receivership action was commenced.”

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