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Luxembourg’s struggling passenger airline faces the threat of being forced to give up profitable landing rights due to an arcane but crucial Europe-wide regulation.
The pressure comes from the European Commission restoring rules that force airlines to use airport time slots they’ve reserved – often keeping them for years at a time – or lose them permanently to competitors.
The rules affect which airlines can fly in and out of Europe’s busiest airports and at what times. The fear is that Luxair could lose business-friendly time slots at airports like Geneva, Milan or Paris that play a key role to its business strategy. These slots represent permission for an airline to land a plane at a congested airport at a fixed time of day, use all needed airport services and then take off at another time.
Pupils in Luxembourg will be free to not wear masks during most of their school day but will have to take regular Covid-19 tests when they return in two weeks, Education Minister Claude Meisch said on Thursday.
When pupils return to school on 15 September they will be allowed to sit in classes without a mask, as they will when running around the playground. But children will still have to wear one when moving around the school corridors and during activities with more than 10 people.
They will also have to take regular Covid tests, with secondary school students taking one at home and one at school on a weekly basis.
Luxembourg will stop offering free PCR tests after 15 September in an effort to encourage more people to get a Covid-19 jab, Prime Minister Xavier Bettel said on Wednesday, as data shows all patients currently in intensive care were not vaccinated.
As every Luxembourg resident has had a chance to get a Covid-19 vaccine, Bettel called for a "paradigm shift", saying that "we can no longer justify that the general public pays for PCR [tests] for people who do not want to get vaccinated".
With the country's large scale testing scheme ending in two weeks, there will be no free PCR tests any more. Children younger than 12 and those who cannot be vaccinated may still be eligible for free tests, but authorities are still working on this, Bettel said.
Cross-border workers living in Belgium will be allowed to work from home for up to 34 days per year without paying additional taxes from the start of 2022, Luxembourg Prime Minister Xavier Bettel and his Belgian counterpart Alexander de Croo said on Tuesday, extending the current period by 10 days.
Owing to the pandemic, Luxembourg reached an agreement with Belgium so that cross-border workers could work from home for an unlimited number of days without having to pay taxes in both countries. The same waiver has been in place for people living in France and Germany. Some 48,000 Belgians commute to the Grand Duchy each day for work.
Before the pandemic, those living in Belgium could work up to 24 days a year from their home. Luxembourg has similar agreements with its other neighbours, France and Germany. French cross-border workers can work from home for a period of 29 days per year and Germans for just 19 days.
Foreigners living in Luxembourg will be allowed to vote for their local councillors as soon as they move to the country instead of having to wait five years, the government said on Thursday.
Previously, foreigners had to live in the Grand Duchy for at least five years, including the preceding 12 months, before being allowed to cast a vote in local races.
The local elections – also known as the communal or municipal elections – are held every six years and decide local government positions like mayors and councillors. Their remit stretches from local budget decisions to deciding construction projects.