Travel News

Nigeria's Green Africa Airways postpones launch to 1Q21 - CH-AVIATION

OCTOBER 02, 2020

The launch date for Nigerian start-up Green Africa Airways (Q9, Lagos) has been delayed to early 2021, with the airline currently going through its AOC certification process, a spokesperson confirmed.

“We’re working with the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority to get our certification finalised,” the spokesperson told ch-aviation, but declined to elaborate. Attempts to reach the NCAA were unsuccessful.

Green Africa in a statement said it had received its Air Transport License (ATL) from the Nigerian government and had signed a strategic partnership with Nigeria’s First City Monument Bank (FCMB), which gives the airline access to short- to medium-term liquidity.

According to the agreement, FCMB will provide Green Africa with up to USD31 million in a combination of working capital and credit during the pre-sales period beginning early 1Q21. Revenue from customer sales will be deposited exclusively at Green Africa’s operating account with FCMB. The lender’s payment solutions are to be integrated into Green Africa’s ticketing platform and the parties will explore other areas of commercial opportunities. They will also work together to provide loans to develop aviation talent, including the training of pilots, crew and engineers.

The airline earlier this year placed an order for fifty A220-300s, Airbus's largest order from an African customer. Deliveries are scheduled to begin in 2021. To bridge the gap before the first delivery, Green Africa plans to lease three A220-300s from GTLK - State Transport Leasing. In August, the airline appointed Kiran Koteshwar, ex-Chief Financial Officer of SpiceJet (SG, Delhi Int'l), as its new Group CFO.

Green Africa founder and Chief Executive Officer Babawande Afolabi said the partnership provided the carrier with additional tailwind to launch and scale-up in the years ahead. FCMB Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer Adam Nuru said: ”Green Africa, with the support of its high-quality equity backers, a world-class team on the ground, and landmark partnership with Airbus, has a unique opportunity to redefine the aviation landscape in the region. This strategic partnership provides Green Africa with further access to short to medium-term liquidity and an institutional platform for scaling. It also positions FCMB as a preferred long-term anchor player in the future of an industry that will be key to realising the economic potentials of Nigeria and the broader African continent.”

FCMB is a member of FCMB Group Plc, which obtained a USD50 million loan from International Finance Corporation in June to support companies affected by the coronavirus pandemic. The fund is from a USD8 billion credit facility launched in March by the World Bank’s private-lending arm to support companies impacted by COVID-19.

FCMB said in May it plans to restructure half of its loans after the pandemic affected corporate clients and impairment charges surged 61% to NGN3.7 billion Naira (USD9.6 million) in 1Q20.

Foreign air traffic shows no signs of recovery - THE GUARDIAN

OCTOBER 02, 2020

• IATA downgrades 2020 forecasts 

About a month after international flight operations resumed in Nigeria and other countries, air traffic is not showing signs of recovery, suggesting global traveller apathy and adverse impact of border restrictions.    In the African region, for instance, African airlines’ traffic sank 90.1 per cent in the last one month, though slightly improved over a 94.6 per cent decline in July.    Capacity contracted 78.4 per cent, and load factor fell 41.0 percentage points to 34.6 per cent, which was the lowest among regions.In a similar vein, the International Air Transport Association (IATA), has downgraded its traffic forecast for 2020 to reflect a weaker-than-expected recovery, as evidenced by a dismal end to the summer travel season in the Northern Hemisphere. IATA now expects full-year 2020 traffic to be down 66 per cent compared to 2019. The previous estimate was for a 63 per cent decline. 

Across the regions, August passenger demand continued to be hugely depressed against normal levels, with revenue passenger kilometres (RPKs) down 75.3 per cent compared to August 2019. This was only slightly improved compared to the 79.5 per cent annual contraction in July.   
Domestic markets continued to outperform international markets in terms of recovery, although most remained substantially down since a year ago. August capacity (available seat kilometres or ASKs) was down 63.8 per cent compared to a year ago, and load factor plunged 27.2 points to an all-time low for August of 58.5 per cent.
Based on flight data, the recovery in air passenger services was brought to a halt in mid-August by a return of government restrictions in the face of new COVID-19 outbreaks in a number of key markets.
Forward bookings for air travel in the fourth quarter show that the recovery since the April low point would continue to falter. Whereas the decline in year-on-year growth of global RPKs was expected to have moderated to -55 per cent by December, a much slower improvement is now expected with the month of December forecast to be down 68 per cent on a year ago.

IATA’s Director-General and Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Alexandre de Juniac, said August’s disastrous traffic performance put a cap on the industry’s worst-ever summer season.
“International demand recovery is virtually non-existent and domestic markets in Australia and Japan actually regressed in the face of new outbreaks and travel restrictions. A few months ago, we thought that a full-year fall in demand of -63 per cent compared to 2019 was as bad as it could get. With the dismal peak summer travel period behind us, we have revised our expectations downward to -66 per cent,” de Juniac said.
August international passenger demand plummeted 88.3 per cent compared to August 2019, mildly improved over the 91.8 per cent decline recorded in July. Capacity sagged 79.5 per cent, and load factor fell 37.0 percentage points to 48.7 per cent.
Asia-Pacific airlines’ August traffic sank 95.9 per cent compared to the year-ago period, barely budged from a 96.2 per cent drop in July, and the steepest contraction among regions. Capacity dived 90.4 per cent and load factor shrank 48.0 percentage points to 34.8 per cent.

European carriers’ August demand plunged 79.9 per cent compared to last year, improved from an 87.0 per cent drop in July, as travel restrictions were lifted in the Schengen Area. However, more recent flight data suggests this trend has reversed amid a return to lockdown and quarantine in some markets. Capacity fell 68.7 per cent and load factor dropped by 32.1 percentage points to 57.1 per cent, which was the highest among regions.

“Traditionally, cash generated during the busy summer season in the Northern Hemisphere provides airlines with a cushion during the lean autumn and winter seasons. This year, airlines have no such protection. Absent additional government relief measures and a reopening of borders, hundreds of thousands of airline jobs will disappear.

“But it is not just airlines and airline jobs at risk. Globally tens of millions of jobs depend on aviation. If borders don’t reopen the livelihoods of these people will be at grave risk. We need an internationally agreed regime of pre-departure COVID-19 testing to give governments the confidence to reopen borders, and passengers the confidence to travel by air again,” de Juniac said.

At 60, Experts Highlight Opportunities, Challenges in Aviation Sector - THISDAY

OCTOBER 02, 2020

BY  Chinedu Eze

 Experts in aviation have x-rayed the performance of the industry since the nation’s Independence, saying even though so much has been achieved, more needs to be done. The Chief Executive Officer of Aero Contractors, Captain Ado Sanusi told THISDAY that Nigeria has recorded many achievements in the aviation, just as he stressed that more needed to be done for the country to become globally competitive.

Sanusi said air transport sector has existed for almost 100 years in Nigeria and has grown to a high level since the first aircraft landed in the country in 1925, and flight operations started in 1936.

“The Civil Aviation Act that made the regulatory body autonomous is worthy of commendation. Nigeria established the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), the Accident Investigation Bureau (AIB), the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA) and the Nigerian Meteorological Agency (NIMET), which have greatly improved the industry and separated service providers from the regulators. “By doing that Nigeria has maintained the best standards and has also abided by the rules of the International Civil Aviation Orgsnaisation (ICAO),” Sanusi said.

Sanusi, however, said while Nigeria needs to build very strong carriers, kudos should be given to Aero Contractors, which was registered in Nigeria in 1960, making it the oldest airline in the country. Not only that the airline has lasted for 60 years, it has also established the first Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul (MRO) for commercial and relatively larger body aircraft, Boeing 737 both in West and Central Africa, he said.

“In the area of training, the Nigerian College of Aviation Technology (NCAT), Zaria has trained hundreds of pilots and engineers who have made their marks globally. It has also trained other professionals and ensured the supply of the needed manpower for the sector,” the CEO said.

Speaking in the same vein, the General Secretary of Aviation Round Table and the Managing Director of Centurion Securities, Group Captain John Ojikutu, told THISDAY that in the last 60 years, the number of federal, states and private airports has increased from about 12 before Independence, to about 26 today.

“International airports have increased also to five, from two; the passenger traffic has increased from a level below one million to about 15 million. “Aside from Nigeria Airways at Independence, there had been over 30 private airlines in and out of the industry so also are the foreign airlines that were also not more than 10 but today about thirty.

“With all these seen as development, there isn’t much progress towards the global standard. The Nigeria Airways that was built as national carrier became defunct as a government carrier; the lifespan of the private airlines on the average, fall short of ten years; they were mostly single ownership without management board. “The major and common problems of the private and public operators are; poor business plans; poor financial health and ineffective oversight on the compliance to the economic regulations by the responsible regulatory authority,” Ojikutu said.

He also noted that there is inadequate aeronautical facilities at most airports that either make them dormant or out of operation at sunsets or in inclement weather, thus giving multiple destinations to the foreign airlines and the lack of considerations for the markets on the domestic routes for the domestic airlines.

“We must review our policies that put the foreign airlines before the domestic airlines on the domestic routes by limiting the destinations of the foreign airlines to either Lagos or Abuja and any other but they can make multiple landings at these airports daily or weekly.

“If we cannot establish a national carrier, we should at least make policies that would give rooms for three flag carriers for regional, continental and intercontinental regions. “However, no domestic airlines should be designated as regional without fulfilling the requirements of the commercial audit reports for at least three years before going regional; another successful three years audit reports before continental and another before the intercontinental routes. “It should not again be automatic or a finger call to put a domestic airline on international routes if they would be designated and called flag carrier,” he added.

Qatar Airways resumes 19 weekly flights to South Africa - ARABIAN AEROSPACE

OCTOBER 02, 2020

Qatar Airways will resume three key destinations in South Africa; Cape Town, Durban and Johannesburg.

Qatar Airways resumes 19 weekly flights to South Africa. Image:  Emirates Airlines

Services to South Africa will be operated by a mix of the airline’s modern fuel-efficient Airbus A350and Boeing 787 aircraft. With the addition of 19 weekly flights to South Africa, Qatar Airways will operate 63 weekly flights to 17 destinations across the continent including Accra, Addis Ababa, Dar es Salaam, Djibouti, Entebbe, Kigali, Kilimanjaro, Lagos, Maputo, Mogadishu, Nairobi, Tunis, Windhoek and Zanzibar.

Qatar Airways Group chief executive, Akbar Al Baker, said: “We are delighted to resume flights to South Africa further expanding our network in the region. We know many passengers across the world and in South Africa have been eagerly awaiting the resumption of scheduled international flights and we look forward to helping reunite them with their families and loved ones. 

Qatar Airways has worked closely with the Government of South Africa throughout this crisis operating 28 special charter flights to help take over 11,500 South Africans and international travellers home. With the most international flights from South Africa and one of the largest global networks, passengers travelling to or from South Africa can enjoy more flexible travel options with seamless connections via the most connected and Best Airport in the Middle East, Hamad International Airport. Passengers travelling on our Qsuite equipped Airbus A350 can also enjoy the most private business class in the industry with sliding privacy partitions, lie-flat double bed options and world-class entertainment with more than 4,000 options to choose from.

 â€œWe have clearly demonstrated an ongoing reliability for customers with our generous travel policies, our comprehensive safety procedures and our continued commitment to sustainable flying. Despite global challenges, we have always been there for our passengers and this resilience continues to inspire confidence that Qatar Airways remains a strong and reliable partner. The airline currently operates over 650 weekly flights to more than 90 destinations across the globe including 27 destinations in Asia-Pacific, 31 in Europe, 12 in the Middle East and nine in North America.”

Nigeria govt explains reasons for Kano-Maradi rail link - P.M.NEWS

OCTOBER 02, 2020

By Rotimi Ijikanmi

The Federal Government has clarified that the extension of the Lagos-Kano-Katsina rail line to Maradi in Niger Republic is for economic and commercial benefits.

The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed gave the explanation on Friday when he featured on Nigeria Television. Authority (NTA) live programme, “Good Morning Nigeria”

The programme which focused on “Nigeria at 60: Matters Arising” was monitored by the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja.

Mohammed said the rail extension is intended for Nigeria to take economic advantages of import and export of Niger Republic, Chad and Burkina Faso which are landlocked countries.

Mohammed said contrary to the disinformation by some commentators on the rail extension project, the decision was taken in the economic interest of the country.

Some Nigerians have queried the rationale behind Nigeria borrowing so much to fund the infrastructure of a neighbouring country.

The Minister, however explained: “I think there have been a lot of disinformation and total lack of information over that linking of Lagos, Kano, Katsina railway to Maradi”

“The wisdom behind it is that Niger, Chad, Burkina Faso are all landlocked, meaning that they do not have access to sea.

“What this means is that most of their imports and exports have to go through neighbouring countries’ sea ports like Cotonou in Benin Republic, Togo and Ghana.

Because we do not have a road infrastructure that will encourage Niger Republic to use our seaports, we believe that we will be able to take over their imports and exports with the rail linkage.

“The simple reason, therefore is to strengthen the economy of Nigeria,” he said.

Mohammed explained further: “For now, Niger Republic used seaport of Benin Republic, Togo and Ghana and the exporters go through the stress, challenges and time of being on the road from Cotonou, Lome or Accra to their country.

“But when you look at the distance by rail by the time we link them from Katsina to Maradi, it will be easier for us to take over the business.

“There is nothing like territorial expansion, it is purely economic. We are taking advantage of proximity and efficiency of rail system”.

The Minister further explained that the distance from Jibia, the Nigeria border town with Niger Republic to Maradi is a few kilometres and there is existing business relations between the people at both border towns.

He admonished critics of government policies and decisions to always seek clarifications before going to town to misinform the public.

Mohammed equally said that government will keep engaging in more conversation to enlighten the public on its policies, programmes and decisions.

The Federal Executive Council on Sept. 23 approved over $1.95 billion dollar for the construction of the rail line from Kano to Maradi in Niger Republic.

The Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi who disclosed this to State House correspondents said the rail line is designed to take off from Dutse in Jigawa and terminate in Maradi.

FG lifts Emirates ban as UAE begins Nigerians’ visas renewal - PUNCH

OCTOBER 02, 2020

BY  Okechukwu Nnodim, Abuja

 The Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, on Wednesday said the Federal Government had decided to allow Emirates Airlines to start flying into Nigeria after banning the carrier from the country more than a week ago.

On September 18, Sirika announced via his official Twitter handle that Emirates was banned from operating in Nigeria from Monday, September 21.

The minister had tweeted, “The PTF (Presidential Task Force) sub-committee met today with EU Ambassadors to discuss Lufthansa, Air France/KLM ban.

“The meeting progressed well.  Emirates Airlines’ situation was reviewed and they are consequently included in the list of those not approved, with effect from Monday, September 21, 2020.”

But on Wednesday, Sirika explained via another tweet that a decision to lift the ban had been reached as the United Arab Emirates had agreed to issue visas to Nigerians.

The minister said, “UAE has written to state that they agree to issue visas to Nigerians, consequently decision has been reached to allow Emirates to fly into Nigeria.

“Commencement of the visa issuance is condition precedent. Please bear with this unusual situation. Many thanks.”

In August, the Federal Government vowed to enforce the principle of reciprocity in granting permission to international airlines to resume operations into Nigeria.

Before the resumption of international flights in the country, the Federal Government had announced that Air France, KLM, Etihad, RwandAir, Air Namibia, Royal Air Maroc, Lufthansa, TAAG Angola Airlines were not granted approval to commence flight operations.

Cabo Verde and South African airlines were also denied approval as international flights had yet to resume in their countries at the time.

Middle East Airline, British Airways, Delta, Qatar, Ethiopian Airlines, Emirates Airlines, Air Peace, Virgin Atlantic, Asky Airlines, Africa World Airways, Air Cote D’ Ivoire, Kenya Airways, EgyptAir, Turkish Airlines were all granted approval to resume operations in Nigeria.

Arik Resumes Service to Enugu - THISDAY

OCTOBER 02, 2020

Arik Air has announced that it will resume services from Murtala Muhammed Airport, Ikeja, Lagos, to Akanu Ibiam International Airport, Enugu, effective October 6, 2020. Flights between Lagos and Enugu would operate three times weekly: Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday in the first instance.

Arik Air had suspended flights to Enugu last year when the federal government closed the airport for reconstruction. Passengers have been yearning for the return of the airline to Enugu following the reopening of the airport for commercial flights earlier in September.

The airline's Chief Executive Officer, Captain Roy Ilegbodu said the carrier is happy to be back in Enugu.

"We are delighted to return services to Enugu having missed our esteemed customers in and around the Coal City.

"We are pleased to be back to offer exceptional travel experience to our highly esteemed customers who will be elated with our on time departures."

The airline advised customers to take advantage of its online booking platform for their ticket purchase and ensure that they observe all COVID-19 protocols at the airport as well as on board.

Qatar Airways resumes flights to Cape Town, Durban and Johannesburg - BUSINESS TRAVELLLER

OCTOBER 02, 2020

Qatar Airways is to resume service to South Africa from this weekend.

The carrier will initially offer a total of 19 weekly flights to Cape Town, Durban and Johannesburg, which it says is “more than any other international airline”.

Rival Gulf airline Emirates also resumed flights to the same three South African destinations at the start of this month.

The move follows the reopening of South Africa’s borders to international flights on October 1.

Qatar Airways has been gradually rebuilding its network across the African continent, and now offers 63 weekly flights to 17 destinations including Accra, Addis Ababa, Dar es Salaam, Djibouti, Entebbe, Kigali, Kilimanjaro, Lagos, Maputo, Mogadishu, Nairobi, Tunis, Windhoek and Zanzibar.

The carrier recently passed the milestone of 90 destinations worldwide, including 27  in Asia-Pacific, 31 in Europe, 12 in the Middle East and nine in North America.

Commenting on the news Qatar Airways’ Group CEO Akbar Al Baker, said:

“We are delighted to resume flights to South Africa further expanding our network in the region. We know many passengers across the world and in South Africa have been eagerly awaiting the resumption of scheduled international flights and we look forward to helping reunite them with their families and loved ones.

“Qatar Airways has worked closely with the Government of South Africa throughout this crisis operating 28 special charter flights to help take over 11,500 South Africans and international travellers home.”

Virgin Atlantic extends double points offer - BUSINESS TRAVELLER

OCTOBER 02, 2020

by Mark Caswell

Customers booking flights with Virgin Atlantic over the next two weeks will continue to earn double points.

The carrier had been running a double points promotion to celebrate the rebranding of Flying Club Miles as Virgin Points, with the original expiry date of the offer of October 1.

But Virgin has confirmed to Business Traveller that the promotion has been extended by a further two weeks until October 15. In a short statement the carrier said:

“Our double points promotion to celebrate the launch of Virgin Points has been such a hit, we’ve decided to extend it for two more weeks to give you a final chance to take advantage of this fantastic offer.

“All you have to do is book a Virgin Atlantic flight before October 15, 2020, via our website or our contact centre, and you’ll earn double the usual points. Any cabin, any class. Our treat. Terms and conditions apply – click here for more details.”

The link above still shows an expiry date of October 1 for the offer, which we have alerted Virgin Atlantic to. Note that codeshare flights are excluded from this offer.

The launch of Virgin Points is part of a move towards a unified rewards currency for all Virgin companies, and follows a number of enhancements made to the Flying Club programme in August, including a further status extension and a new benefit which will see members able to earn tier points on reward flights.

Nigeria Government increases number of passengers per flight from 116 to 200: NCAA - DEVDISCOURSE

OCTOBER 05, 2020

The Government of Nigeria has approved the increase of passengers per flight for international airlines from 116 passengers to 200 with a total of 25, 200 seats per week for both Lagos and Abuja airports, according to a news report by Ynaija.com.

The Director-General of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), Captain Musa Nuhu disclosed the approval in a statement.

The statement said that the federal government has approved capacity increase to 'All Foreign Airline Operators Flying Into Nigeria' through the Air Operators Letter (AOL) dated October 2 effective date of the updated flight schedule.

International flights only operate at Abuja and Lagos airports and Lagos records 11 to 12 flights daily while Abuja records seven flights.

In a letter addressed to all foreign airline operators flying to NigeriaNCAA explained that the update followed the request for additional flight frequencies by the airlines.

The letter, which was signed by the Director-General, NCAACaptain Musa Nuhu, stated that all airlines must ensure they comply with the COVID-19 health protocols as issued by Aeronautical and public health authorities.

It stated, "On Mondays in Lagos, Delta, Turkish, Qatar, Ethiopia, Kenyan Airlines, and four others are expected to fly to different destinations."


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