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Sri Lankan Ratmalana Airport has started international flights for the first time to the Maldives.

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The Airport in Sri Lankan Westernmost Province Colombo Ratmalana District has started international flights for the first time in 50 years, and their first international destination has been set to be the Maldives.

According to Sri Lankan Tourism Ministry, the flight is scheduled for next month.

The Sri Lankan Tourism Ministry has said that the decision was made after long discussions with Maldivian Airlines.

Ratmalana Airport was established in 1938. However, the flights were suspended in the airport in 1968.

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Italy imposes antitrust fines on Apple, Google

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The Italian competition authority fined Apple and Google $11 million each for violations of the consumer code, including failing to provide enough information to customers.

Italy’s antitrust watchdog imposed 20 million euros ($22.5 million) in fines on Apple and Google on Friday, the second time the regulator has sanctioned US tech giants this week.

European countries have cracked down on the business practices of Big Tech in recent years, while the EU is moving forward with legislation to tighten regulation.

The Italian competition authority said it fined Apple and Google 10 million euros ($11 million) each for violations of the consumer code, including failing to provide enough information to customers and resorting to “aggressive methods” in the use of their data for commercial ends.

“Neither Apple nor Google provided clear and immediate information on the acquisition and use of user data for commercial ends,” the statement said.

The regulator imposed a 200-million-euro ( $225 million) fine on Apple and e-commerce giant Amazon earlier this week for restricting access for certain sellers of Apple products on Amazon.

Meanwhile, European Union member states on Thursday agreed their common position on two landmark legislations that could set unprecedented oversight on Big Tech.

READ MORE: Google to pay German media for online content under ”milestone” deal

Regulating big tech companies

The European Union’s second-highest court has previously upheld a $2.8-billion (2.4-billion-euro) fine on Google by anti-trust authorities in Brussels for search engine dominance.

Lost month’s decision was considered a major win for the bloc’s competition chief Margrethe Vestager in the first of three court rulings that will strengthen the EU’s push to regulate big tech.

The court said the commission correctly found that Google’s practices harmed competition on comparison shopping service and swatted away the company’s argument that the presence of merchant platforms showed there was strong competition.

Source: TRTWorld and agencies

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New coronavirus variant Omicron triggers market sell-off

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New concerns over the variant pummelled financial markets, especially stocks of airlines and others in the travel sector, and oil, which tumbled by about $10 a barrel.

The discovery of a new coronavirus variant named Omicron has triggered global alarm as countries rushed to suspend travel from southern Africa and stock markets on both sides of the Atlantic suffered their biggest falls in more than a year.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) said on Friday Omicron may spread more quickly than other forms, and preliminary evidence suggested there is an increased risk of reinfection.

Those worries pummelled financial markets, especially stocks of airlines and others in the travel sector, and oil, which tumbled by about $10 a barrel.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed down 2.5 percent, its worst day since late October 2020, and European stocks had their worst day in 17 months.

Cruise operators Carnival Corp, Royal Caribbean Cruises and Norwegian Cruise Line plunged more than 10 percent each, while shares in United Airlines, Delta Air Lines and American Airlines slumped almost as much.

READ MORE: Global remittances to drop 20 percent amid coronavirus – World Bank

Too late for travel curbs?

Epidemiologists warned travel curbs may be too late to stop Omicron from circulating globally.

The new mutations were first discovered in South Africa and have since been detected in Belgium, Botswana, Israel and Hong Kong.

The United States will restrict travel from South Africa and neighbouring countries effective Monday, a senior Biden administration official said.

Going further, Canada said it was closing its borders to those countries, following bans on flights announced by Britain, the European Union and others.

But it could take weeks for scientists to fully understand the variant’s mutations and whether existing vaccines and treatments are effective against it. Omicron is the fifth variant of concern designated by the WHO.

The variant has a spike protein that is dramatically different than the one in the original coronavirus that vaccines are based on, the UK Health Security Agency said, raising fears about how current vaccines will fare.

Scientists issued similar warnings.

“This new variant of the Covid-19 virus is very worrying. It is the most heavily mutated version of the virus we have seen to date,” said Lawrence Young, a virologist at Britain’s University of Warwick.

“Some of the mutations that are similar to changes we’ve seen in other variants of concern are associated with enhanced transmissibility and with partial resistance to immunity induced by vaccination or natural infection.”

Several other countries including India, Japan, Israel, Turkey, Switzerland and the United Arab Emirates also toughened travel curbs.

Source: TRTWorld and agencies

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Ikea to rent apartment for $0.86 month in Japan.

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Swedish retail giant IKEA is set to become a landlord in Japan as it sets to rent out micro-apartments at an unbelievable price.

According to IKEA, they will be renting out 107 sqft apartments in the Shhinjuku district at a rent for $0.86 a month.

While only one unit is available for rent, IKEA stated that they will be accepting applications from prospective tenants until 3rd December. The fully furnished apartment will be rented out till 15th January 2023.

Tokyo is noted for its extremely high population density which has caused an increase in rent and demand for micro apartments.

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