Travel News

Difficult weekend awaits motorists as Third Mainland Bridge closes again - BUSINESSDAY

FEBRUARY 04, 2021

Another difficult commuting weekend awaits motorists on Third Mainland Bridge and the adjoining roads as Lagos State government says the bridge will be totally closed between midnight of Saturday, February 6 and 7pm on Sunday, February 7, 2021.

The total closure which will last for 19 hours on the Oworonshoki-bound lane of the bridge means vehicles will be diverted to adjoining roads and that will, expectedly, worsen traffic situation on those roads.

Apart from the long hours motorists will be spending on the roads, commuters will have to pay more as they did last weekend when they spent upwards of six hours commuting from Obalende to Oshodi, and paying N700 instead of N300 they used to pay for the same trip.

The state government explained in a statement on Wednesday that the closure of the bridge was to enable the contractor to remove the last expansion joint on the affected lane.

Fredric Oladeinde, the state Commissioner for Transportation, explained further that the closure was vital to enable the contractor to move their equipment to the Oworonshoki-bound lane within the given period without any interruptions that could be caused by vehicular movement on the bridge.

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“The rehabilitation process is being done assiduously to ensure set deadlines are met,” Oladeinde assured, advising motorists from Ogudu, Alapere and Gbagada to use Ikorodu Road, Jibowu and Yaba as alternative routes, while Iyana Oworosoki bound traffic from the Lagos Island, Iddo, Oyingbo, Adekunle and Yaba should use Herbert Macaulay Way, Jibowu and Ikorodu road as alternative routes.

He assured that traffic management personnel would be deployed along the affected routes to minimize and address any traffic impediments during the closure and appealed to residents to cooperate with the state government as the ongoing repair works on the bridge was for the safety of all and sundry.

“The Governor Babajide Sanwo Olu-led administration will not relent in ensuring safety on Lagos roads,” the commissioner assured.

2021: National carrier, others may dictate the pace - THE SUN

FEBRUARY 05, 2021

By Chinelo Obogo

Year 2020 has, no doubt, been the worst year for the aviation industry in many decades. In Nigeria, an already financially challenged industry has to contend with the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and an economic recession which experts say is the worst since 1983. Many domestic operators have had to cut cost by sacking staff, slashing salaries and reducing flight frequencies to avoid collapse. 

The Federal Government recently intervened by providing N5 billion bailout, though experts say the amount is insufficient. But as the sector tries to recover, this report x-rays events expected to happen this year which will shake up the industry by providing jobs, curtailing capital flight, easing the leasing process for domestic airlines, encouraging foreign investment, improving aircraft maintenance turnaround time and generally develop the aviation sector. 

AMCON to float new airline Early last month, the Asset Management Company of Nigeria (AMCON) appointed the former Director of Flight Operations of Arik Air, Captain Abdullahi Mahmood as the Chief Executive Officer of Aero Contractors following the stepping down of Captain Ado Sanusi as Managing Director on December 31, 2020. AMCON took over the management of Aero in February 2016 and Arik Air in February, 2017 due to the huge debts owed to both local and foreign creditors, with a view to repositioning them. 

As many in the industry wondered what would become of Captain Sanusi, information emerged that he has already been penciled down by AMCON to take over Nigerian Eagle, a new airline which would be floated by the agency, while Captain Roy Ilegbodu would continue as Arik Air’s CEO. 

Nigerian Eagle was incorporated on July 11, 2019 with share capital of 1,000,000,000 units and shareholders are AMCON, 499,999,999 units, while Omokhide Alaba has one unit and is very likely to begin commercial operations by the second quarter of the year. 

In order to get an Air Operating Certificate (AOC) from the NCAA, Daily Sun gathered that three aircraft would be brought in for Nigerian Eagle and four more would be added when it starts domestic operations. 

AMCON took over the management of Arik Air in February 2017 when the airline had 26 aircraft but before then, Arik bought Boeing 737-700, Boeing 737-80, Bombardier Q400 and Bombardier CRJ as brand new aircraft and still has pending orders from the plane manufacturers for seven Boeing 787-9 and 12 Boeing 737 max. Industry sources say that Nigerian Eagle and would commence with domestic operations before veering off into international flights but there have been concerns raised over what would become of Arik Air and Aero after AMCON floats the new airline. 

Presently, Arik Air doesn’t have up to eight operational aircraft, while Aero has even less and the AMCON Act gives the agency immunity against litigation. The head of corporate communications of AMCON, Jude Nwauzor, says both airlines would still be operational as AMCON has no plans to liquidate them, or else, there would have been no need to appoint a new MD for Aero. 

While confirming that Captain Sanusi has been designated to head the new airline, Nwauzor said the agency has other aircraft that would be deployed from other airlines and not necessarily from Arik Air. For Aero, one of its assets is its functional Maintenance Repair and Overhaul (MRO), an essential requirement to ensure that aircraft are maintained in pre-determined conditions of airworthiness to safely support passengers and cargo. 

Daily Sun learned that the Ibru family which originally owned the airline, acquired about 40 percent stake after AMCON took over it and are being kept in the loop over the happenings but that there are no plans to take over the facility. New airlines United Nigeria, Cally Air, Green Africa are also expected to commence operations in the second and third quarter of the year.

The chief executive officer of United Airlines, Obiorah Okonkwo, a businessman and owner of The Dome Entertainment Limited, Abuja, told journalists that what has delayed commencement of operations is the one-year rehabilitation of the Akanu Ibiam Airport, Enugu, where the airline is based. He said that as soon as normal flight operations resume at the airport, the company will take off with five aircraft already on the ground. The routes the airline will operate are Lagos, Abuja, Asaba, Owerri in addition to Enugu and Port Harcourt. 

The airline recently carried out a demo flights from the Murtala Muhammed Airport, Lagos, to Sam Mbakwe International Airport, Owerri. It has already received its Air Operator Certificate (AOC) from the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) and Aerokeys has undertaken the training of its crew. Cally Air is a proposed joint venture between the Cross River State government and Dana group, owners of Dana Air. 

The state Governor, Ben Ayade, told journalists that the venture is part of his effort to increase tourism in the state. Using the state’s Dash 8-200 5N-GRS, the airline plans to start flights later in the year that would operate from its Calabar hub and fly to Lagos, Abuja and Obudu where the state’s famous Obudu Cattle Ranch resort is located. Presently, only Ibom Air and Air Peace flies to Calabar. Green Africa airline, owned by Babawande Afolabi, has submitted applications to the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) for its AOC to commence operations.

In October 2020, the airline entered into a partnership with First City Monument Bank (FCMB), which yielded $31 million in a combination of standby letter of credit and rolling working capital and in December 2020, it sent its pilots on a type-rating training and recruited cabin crew members. The airline earlier ordered 50 A220-300s aircraft from Airbus which it plans to launch as it commences operations later in the year.

MRO The establishment of an MRO and aviation leasing company would be one of the most crucial achievements of the President Muhammadu Buhari administration and would be a huge boost for the industry. According to the Ministry of Aviation, the establishment of both facilities would curtail capital flight, ease the leasing process for domestic airlines, encourage foreign investment, enhance technology transfer to Nigerians, improve aircraft maintenance turnaround time and generally develop the aviation sector. 

The Ministry said that there is presently no aviation leasing company in the entire African continent and the existing ones are controlled by major international lessors who are usually reluctant to lease aircraft to African airlines because of the risks involved. For the MRO, the Ministry said the plan is to have an independent facility which would be sited at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja and would cater to the West and Central African market and will also service the proposed national carrier and the leasing company. 

It said most airlines take their aircraft oversees for maintenance and the cost is ernomous. The leasing company would be structured as a joint venture between the FG and the private investor, where in the short term, aircraft would be leased from international lessors and sub-leased to African airlines but the long term plan is to acquire, own and lease aircraft directly to African airlines.  

The MRO would have the capacity to service narrow and wide body aircraft and the government would support this venture by establishing a free zone at the airports. Already, the Ministry has announced the Consortium of A J Walters Leasing Limited and Glovesly Pro-Project Limited as the preferred bidder to establish the leasing company; while the Consortium of A J Walters Aviation Limited, EgyptAir Maintenance & Engineering (EGME) and Glovesly Pro-Project Limited as the preferred bidder to establish the MRO. A J Walters Leasing (AJW Leasing) is the leasing subsidiary of A J Walter Group. 

The company optimises airline fleet strategies by leasing aircraft engines and spare parts. It manages a substantial portfolio of leases and has a customer base of 22 airlines in more than 20 countries. Glovesly Pro-Project Limited is an indigenous and integrated company incorporated under the laws of Nigeria. The company has the capacity to contribute to the challenging and growing requirements in the Aviation industry, communication, power sector, building construction, civil engineering, Road Construction and General procurement. 

EgyptAir Maintenance & Engineering (EGME) is a leading MRO in the Middle East and Africa offering Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul (MRO) services to commercial aircraft, engines and components, with a customer base of over 81 airlines. Glovesly Pro-Project Limited is an indigenous and integrated company incorporated under the laws of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. In compliance with the Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission (ICRC) guidelines, a delegation from the Federal Ministry of Aviation, ICRC and the Transaction Advisers will conduct a physical due diligence exercise on the preferred bidders at their operational premises.

This will precede negotiations between the Government and the bidders, after which the Full Business Case for each project will be submitted and approved by the ICRC and the Federal Executive Council.

Subsequently agreements will be signed between the preferred bidders and the Federal Government of Nigeria and implementation of the projects are expected to commence by the third quarter of this year. Proposed concession of airports.

The planned concessioning of four major international airports was supposed to kick off this year but the opposition by the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) and the Federal House of Representatives may stall the process. Sirika had planned to push ahead with the concession the international airports in Lagos, Abuja, Port Harcourt this year and Kano but the NLC is putting pressure on President Buhari to call for the scrapping of the plans. Aviation unions say that the concession which will see the concessionaire get 60 percent of the revenue sharing formula while the Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) gets 40 percent and still has to service the Chinese debt of over one billion US dollars is dead on arrival, providing facts that have spurred their agitation about the plan. 

The NLC president, Ayuba Wabba, alleged that the concession would only maximise profit for a few individuals at the expense of tax payers and that the fine lines in the tender documents exempts the would-be concessionaire(s) from improving any facility at the airports in the next 25 years. It alluded to a potential hemorrhage of government revenue, industrial crisis which will follow the massive layoff of workers stating that there is no compelling reason to gift away national assets to private hand who would not improve on what is all through their stay as concessionaires.

The NLC also puts FAAN’s current revenue generation into account, stating that the airport manager currently generates enough to pay N70 billion into the coffers of government annually. “As it is, FAAN currently generates about N100 billion into the coffers of the government yearly. When FAAN expenditure of about N30 billion is removed from the net income of N100billion generated by it, there is a handsome N70billion left to government to re-invest in the maintenance and upgrade of our airports,”Wabba said. In response to the unions, the Director, Public Affairs, Ministry of Aviation, James Odaudu, posted a lengthy statement on the official Facebook page of the ministry, saying the ministry does not approve infrastructure concession programme as the role is independently played by the Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission (ICRC Establishment Act 2005).

It said the ICRC is Nigeria’s regulatory agency responsible for regulating all infrastructure concessions and Public-Private-Partnerships in Nigeria. “Concessions and public-private-partnerships differ from privatization programmes. In a concession or PPP, the assets remain the property of the government and so are subject to the regulations and processes already outlined. Private programme, which is not at all what this programe is, are driven by the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE) and involve a full or partial sale of equity in the asset, thus a transfer of ownership to private parties,” Odaudu said.

‘NPA working against our interest’, WLFCA boss - THE NATION

FEBRUARY 05, 2021

The Chairman of the Lagos State Wharf Landing Fee Collecting Authority (WLFCA), Prince Gboyega Salvador-Adebayo has  stated that the management of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) has consistently worked against the interest of the agency.

But notwithstanding this, he said, the Authority has not relented in its zeal to continue the collection of the fees (meant for the local government) as there are plans to work with the Lagos State Ministry of Justice in order to prosecute erring importers.


“NPA is our major challenge. I wonder why an agency of government will undermine the Joint Tax Board and the Federal Ministry of Finance. The law establishing this Authority has already been gazette,” he said.

According to the Chairman, because of the illegal fees being collected by NPA inside the ports, it has consistently refused to cooperate with his WLFCA, even after a meeting was held last year between the two authorities.

He accused the management of the NPA of not being straight forward, as after a meeting was held between the two bodies last year, NPA changed its position and refused to recognise the WLFCA.

420 stranded Nigerians evacuated from Saudi - PUNCH

FEBRUARY 05, 2021

BY  Adelani Adepegba, Abuja

Another batch of 420 Nigerian returnees from Saudi Arabia, comprising 27 children and 393 adults arrived the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja, on Wednesday.

The returnees were received by senior government officials of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Presidential Task Force on COVID-19, and other relevant agencies.

A statement from the foreign affairs ministry on Thursday said the Director Consular and Legal Department, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Amb. Akinremi Bolaji, urged the returnees to cooperate with the government, “as provisions have been made for their basic needs during the mandatory 14-day isolation in line with COVID-19 protocol.”

A total of 384 Nigerians had arrived at the Abuja airport penultimate Thursday.

The returnees included 300 males, 83 females and one infant.

The returnees were among over 600 Nigerians held in Saudi Arabia for migration reasons.

Emirates Explains Rapid COVID-19 Test - THISDAY

FEBRUARY 05, 2021

Emirates Airlines has said that it introduced the rapid COVID-19 test for passengers travelling from Nigeria as part of efforts to control the spread of the virus.

“As part of the UAE Government’s ongoing efforts to ensure a safe and healthy environment in its fight against the COVID pandemic, a range of health requirements and testing protocols have been put in place. Similarly, to the measures taken by governments around the world, including the Nigerian Government, protocols like testing frameworks undergo reviews and updates based on the prevailing situation at the time,” it stated.

The latest updated requirement mandated by the UAE government is that passengers travelling from Nigeria to Dubai are required to complete a Rapid COVID-19 test no more than 4 hours before departure, in addition to PCR tests done within 72 hours before departure at approved laboratories.

“Emirates is keen to ensure that flights between Nigeria and Dubai continue. We moved very quickly to ensure that RAPID COVID-19 testing facilities were ready in Abuja and Lagos for our passengers.

“Emirates would like to reiterate that the new testing requirements are in no way intended to single out Nigerian passengers, and that these measures are being followed to safeguard the health and safety of all those travelling, as mandated by the UAE government.

“Passengers travelling to Dubai from over 55 countries undergo similar measures, including a number of other African countries,” it added.

Experts predict when we’ll be able to travel again - THE INDEPENDENT UK

FEBRUARY 05, 2021

When can we travel again? That’s the million-dollar question that nobody seems able to answer.

International travel has been banned for all but the most essential reasons since the UK entered lockdown on 4 January, a move which has decimated the £106bn travel industry in Britain. And there’s nothing quite like staying at home for months on end to make you want to go somewhere. 

In January, home secretary Priti Patel drove the message home by saying that “people should simply not be travelling”, with passengers forced to make a declaration at the airport stating their reason for straying from home.

These are extraordinary times, but there’s hope that once a significant proportion of the UK is vaccinated against Covid-19, international leisure travel will be unlocked again. Nobody has a crystal ball, but some people are more clued in than others.

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One thing’s for sure: Covid-19 has changed the travel landscape as we knew it. Travellers might now require proof of vaccinations, or proof that they’ve had coronavirus recently and have the accompanying antibodies. Various countries across the world, including the Seychelles, Romania and Georgia, have said they will allow travellers who’ve had both doses of the vaccine to avoid quarantine.

We asked a handful of travel experts when they think we’ll be able to go abroad again. Some are fairly optimistic; some less so. All predictions come with a big caveat, as nobody knows anything for certain at the moment.

Here’s what they have to say.

Paul Charles, travel commentator and founder of travel PR firm PC Agency

Prediction: May

“I think the vaccine programme will boost confidence and reduce infection rates faster than we might think as we sit here in a dark winter month. Staycations will start again by the end of March; spring will bring warmer weather and reduced rates; and over 30 million people, half the population, will have been vaccinated with at least one dose. 

“Short-haul European breaks will be possible from May and this summer will be a more extended season than last year. Widespread long-haul travel will take much longer to materialise, as many countries won’t open up until 2022. So I predict travel will recover in 2021 but 2022 will be the comeback year.”

Jonny Bealby, founder of tour operator Wild Frontiers

Prediction: March

“With vaccine rollout continuing apace, by March we will see a reduction in Covid-related mortality figures, along with lower infection rates and much less pressure on the NHS, and as a result international travel will start to slowly reopen. We are looking at western European destinations opening first, which for us means Greece, Spain and Italy, to be followed by wider Europe and such destinations as Poland, Slovakia, Georgia and the Caucasus.

“From there, as more of the UK population receives both jabs, we’d expect to see a gradual return of some long-haul destinations from mid-summer through to the end of the year. A lot will depend on testing procedures, vaccine production and supply, and our own government’s appetite to get the industry going, but with a bit of luck I think we will be full steam ahead from early next year.”

Tom Marchant, co-founder of tour operator Black Tomato

Prediction: Summer

“While we obviously don’t have a crystal ball, at Black Tomato we’re working diligently to plan and deliver extraordinary, safe travel experiences for our clients seeking to head overseas beyond spring. Despite the current situation and newly tightened border restrictions, we’re encouraged by the vaccine rollout, which will hopefully offer peace of mind for travellers of all ages, and with summer holidays still six months away we remain cautiously optimistic that these long-wanted and much-needed breaks will still go ahead. 

We’re encouraged by the vaccine rollout, which will hopefully offer peace of mind for travellers of all ages, and with summer holidays still six months away we remain cautiously optimistic

“When speaking to clients we’re supporting the train of thought that overseas summer travel could very well still be on the cards. We certainly know there’s a huge appetite for international trips this year, evidenced by the large increase in bookings and enquiries we’ve recently received. Of course it’s still unclear as to which destinations we may or may not be allowed to travel to this summer.”

Alan French, UK chief executive at Thomas Cook

Prediction: May

“Given the success of the vaccine rollout so far, it feels like holidays to Europe in May are a distinct possibility. And certainly from June onwards we’d expect to see an increasing number of countries that we can holiday in as more and more places benefit from the vaccine and the better controls we have in place to manage the virus.”

Axel Hefer, CEO of Trivago

Prediction: Late spring

“As the UK has been on a faster pace rolling out the vaccine than the rest of Europe, we’ll likely see travel return quicker there than for the rest of the continent.

“As infections start to go down and more people get vaccinated, we are hopeful that close to Easter will be a crucial turning point for domestic travel in the UK, with travel abroad following that in the months ahead. Our recent survey found that for 34 per cent of Brits, their number one “dream holiday” would be the chance to reunite with friends and family. This desire among Britons will fuel a strong return to domestic travel before we see an uptick in international travel. There is reason for optimism about a strong return to travel later this year.”

Kerry Golds, managing director of Abercrombie & Kent and Cox & Kings

Prediction: Summer

“For many, the idea of going abroad is still unfathomable; however travellers are still dreaming of that next trip, so we remain positive and optimistic. Positive vaccine news has meant renewed consumer confidence. 

“It does however remain a million-dollar question: when can we venture on holiday again? It is no surprise that we predict that domestic breaks will return first in approximately May, with ease of travelling within the same country being paramount for many. This will be followed by Europe in the summer â€“ the need for sun and escapism will become a priority for travellers after months of lockdown and no holiday in 2020,  but the necessity to stay closer to home will take priority. We feel that the long-haul, more adventurous destinations  will take a little longer to return, with this not happening until late in the third quarter, so from September onwards.”

Zina Bencheikh, managing director, EMEA, Intrepid Travel

Prediction: May/June

“It’s too early to know for sure when we might be able to travel overseas again. However, if the UK’s vaccination programme is successful, I’m optimistic that by May or June we will be able to travel abroad once again.

“Many of us have spent lockdown dreaming of our next holiday, and there will be a lot of pent-up demand and not much capacity, so it would be wise to book early. It’s also important to book with a company that offers flexible booking conditions in case your plans have to change further down the line.

“The over-50s are likely to be the first people who feel confident to make travel plans and we have already seen an uplift in bookings from that market.  In terms of trips, I’d expect our UK and Europe tours to be the first to restart, and long-haul holidays later in the year.

“Tourism is vital for many countries in the world and many local people have lost their livelihoods due to the pandemic. The best thing we can do for those people is to start travelling again, in a safe and controlled manner.”

Pablo Caspers, Chief Travel Officer at eDreams ODIGEO

Prediction: July

“We can see from our search data that UK travellers are currently pinpointing July as the most popular month for travel over spring and summer 2021, with 37 per cent more people searching to travel in July than in May. 

“With vaccine programmes being rolled out across Europe, consumer confidence is progressively rebuilding. Of course, it is too early to know what travel will be permitted over the summer period, but what we can see right now is that UK travellers are keen to travel again, should this be safe.”

Covid-19: All passengers entering UK from ‘red list’ countries will be forced to quarantine in hotels - THE INDEPENDENT UK

FEBRUARY 05, 2021

BY  Richard Vaughan 

All passengers entering the UK from global Covid hotspots will be forced to quarantine in government-approved hotels from 15 February, ministers have announced.

a airplane that is flying in the sky: Travellers arriving in the UK from countries on the travel ban list will have to quarantine in a Government-approved hotel from 15 February (Photo: PA)© Provided by The i Travellers arriving in the UK from countries on the travel ban list will have to quarantine in a Government-approved hotel from 15 February (Photo: PA)

The move comes as Downing Street sought to quash mounting accusations that the tougher new border restrictions were facing serious delays and setbacks.

Officials are holding talks with their counterparts in Australia and New Zealand, where strict quarantine measures have been in place since last year, to develop the plans, with the full details due to be announced next week.

Labour wrote to Home Secretary Priti Patel demanding an explanation for the delays.

Tougher border measures

It followed claims that a legal problem is partly behind the Government’s delay in releasing details of how quarantine hotels will work.

The obstacle relates to enforcement of the tougher border measure, a Government source said. Officials are said to be confident of solving the problem, though a source said it would require laws to be tightened so that it applies to everyone.

a group of people standing around a plane: Tourists party on a yacht in Dubai, which is on the red list. (Photo: Getty)© Provided by The i Tourists party on a yacht in Dubai, which is on the red list. (Photo: Getty)

A Downing Street spokesman said: “We are continuing to work on the operational side and we will set out more detail next week.”

Under the plans, UK nationals and residents returning from “red list” countries will be kept in hotels for 10 days to slow the spread of new coronavirus strains. Currently they must self-isolate at home.

Plans criticised by hotel boss

Hotel chain Best Western’s chief executive Rob Paterson criticised the Government’s delay in releasing further details of how the new rules will work.

He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “I think in any normal company if you went out and announced a programme nationally, and you hadn’t thought about how you were going to plan that, and you hadn’t spoken to the people involved, I’m not sure I’d have a job if I did that in my company.”

‘Hotel quarantine’ plan to come into force on 15 February, after criticism of government delays - THE INDEPENDENT UK

FEBRUARY 05, 2021

The “hotel quarantine” plan will finally come into force on 15 February, amid rising criticism of government delays and bungling.

Anyone returning to the UK from a country on the banned ‘red list’ will be required to pay to isolate in government-supervised accommodation for 10 days.

However, the announcement did not contain any information about how passengers will book into their designated hotels, with “further details” to be set out next week.

a plane flying over a building© Provided by The Independent

Hotels near ports and airports have been “asked for proposals” on how they can join the scheme “ahead of formal contracts being awarded”, the Department for Health and Social Care (DHSC) said.

Matt Hancock, the Health Secretary, will lead “cross-government efforts to deliver mandatory quarantine and enhanced testing” to tackle the threat from new variants of Covid-19.

The announcement appeared to have been rushed out after stinging criticism from the boss of the Best Western chain, who said hotels were still “in the dark” about what was planned.

It is 3 weeks since it was first revealed that hotels were being lined up for quarantining passengers – from high-risk areas only, it later emerged – and 8 days since the plan was confirmed.

Labour said it was “beyond comprehension that these measures won’t even start until 15 February” and repeated its calls for all arriving passengers to be quarantined.

Instead, the crackdown will apply to only the 33 ‘red list’ countries – mainly in Southern Africa and South America – from which travel is already banned.

That means only Britons returning to the UK will be affected, and required to pay an estimated £1,500 or more to stay in a room for 10 days.

“We are now working at pace to secure the facilities we need to roll out managed quarantine for British nationals returning home from the most high risk countries, and are rightly engaging with representatives from the hospitality, maritime and aviation industry, and learning from our friends around the world.”

The last point is a reference to talks Mr Hancock held with his counterpart in Australia – which has among the world’s toughest quarantine policies – with his staff also due to receive tips from officials in New Zealand.

Why Nigeria ranks top in global unserviceable airplane poll - THE GUARDIAN

FEBRUARY 05, 2021

• How poor funding, wrong equipment, zero maintenance facility populate boneyards
• Experts blame regulators, wrong business models

Nigeria has ranked top among countries with the highest number of unserviceable aircraft in global commercial aviation.

CH aviation, a Swiss-based firm that specialises in data and information gathering for global aviation operators, estimated that Nigeria, though with smaller industry, now ranks higher than Germany, United Kingdom, Argentina, and Malaysia in the top countries with the highest number of retired airplanes.

Findings by The Guardian showed that the high toll of abandoned or retired aircraft in airports nationwide earned Nigeria the unenviable top spot. This is not unconnected with operators’ penchant for the cheaper middle-range jet engine aircraft type, which often turns out to be a wrong choice, in the long run, coupled with the lack of maintenance facility to support the aircraft and ease the burden of the cost locally.
Experts did not spare the quality of regulatory oversight and wrong business models used by some operating carriers for the waste. They queried the regulatory body for not, as a policy, insisting on a smaller aircraft type that fits the peculiarity of the Nigerian environment, over the popular middle-range jets that are most ideal for regional operations.

The 2021 CH report of 10 countries with the most unserviceable aircraft has Nigeria polling 69.2 per cent. Next is Germany, 51.2 per cent. Others include the United Kingdom, Argentina and Malaysia.

Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, who also referenced the CH aviation report recently, said one of the reasons for Nigeria having more airplanes in the graveyard than in the skyline was due to poor funding of the airlines to run well and do maintenance as and when due.
But partly due to poor funding, Sirika said, the norm is for aircraft that are due for maintenance and engine change to be on the ground for months without end.
He added that the choice of equipment that is deployed, getting professionals in the industry and allowing them to work as they should, all determine the profitability and sustenance of the business – both of which are rare in the local operating environment.

“There is no way you (operator) can compete and compare yourself with the airlines that are properly kitted with the right type of equipment – talk of aircraft that consumes less fuel, requires less maintenance, the cheaper premium on insurance and quite simple to operate for the pilot – when you do not have the right type of aircraft.
“The request is, those of you that decide to put your money in civil aviation, kindly seek professional advice and invest your money where you will be properly advised. It is not as easy as you see it. Aviation is not 140 passengers by N40, 000 to Kano. No!
“This is a precise industry with minimum margin, and highly volatile. It is an industry that you need to understand. Being a pilot or engineer like me does not give you the right to understand the market, the business and civil aviation. You need to partake, acquire the knowledge, feel it, eat it and live it.”
The Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) estimated that more than 50 registered airlines have bit the dust in the last three decades, with the carcass of their erstwhile operations visible across airports.

Besides, the local scheduled carriers, of which nine are in operation, operate more Boeing737 aircraft types because they are offered at giveaway prices in Europe, yet arguably not the most suitable or profitable for the Nigerian environment.
According to experts, the Boeing series are not fuel-efficient, and very expensive to maintain, which explains why global airlines phase them out to acquire the latest range of more efficient aircraft.
Chief Operating Officer of a local airline said “between an old Boeing 737 jet that costs $1.5 million and new aircraft that cost more than twice or thrice, which will you buy? Most airline owners are going for the cheaper Boeing because they are like giveaway offers; buy-one-get-one-free.
“Yes, it looks likewise investment and it runs for between one or two years. When it is time for maintenance – C-check costs between $2 million to $3 million per aircraft – that is when it dawned on them that they have made the wrong investment. Instead of paying so much for maintenance, why not just abandon the aircraft and buy another one? That is the dominant mindset among our operators.”

Besides, the Boeing series are middle-range aircraft that do better on regional two-to-four flight cycle. (A cycle is the operation of an engine from take-off to landing). But given the small size of the Nigerian landscape and comparative low traffic, the maximum flight time is about the one-hour per cycle. 

Former president of the National Association of Aircraft Pilots and Engineers (NAAPE), Isaac Balami, affirmed that Nigerian carriers had been using the medium-range aircraft for short-haul domestic flights, describing it as the bane of unaffordable cost of maintenance, business failure and a high number of unserviceable aircraft.
Balami, an engineer and CEO of 7 Stars Global Hangar, said he was not surprised by the rating, given that Nigeria accounts for 80 per cent of all aircraft in the West and Central African region, majority of which are the Boeing series.
“The problem is flight-cycle and maintenance requirements. The aircraft engine and maintenance schedule are measured by the flight-cycle. Lagos-Abuja is less than one hour, compared to other countries that use Boeing737 for three or four-hour flight duration. I was on a Boeing jet engine from Abuja to Jos for just a 21 minutes flight-cycle. And once you have reached your flight-cycle number, irrespective of the hours flown or passenger traffic, you must go for maintenance.”

An airline like Overland Airways uses small aircraft like the ATR turboprop aircraft, which is deemed the right type for local operations. Aero Contractors and Arik Air have some Dash-8 and turboprops. Air Peace is acquiring Embraer 145 jets of about 50 passenger seats – all of which are the right equipment for short-hauls and easy to fill up on low traffic routes.

Balami observed that part of the problem is that the average Nigerian traveller is over-pampered with the more comfortable Boeing jets than less-fancied smaller aircraft that are the norm in domestic operations globally.
“First Nation (now defunct) was operating one-hour Lagos-Abuja flights with Airbus that ordinarily should do an average of four or five-hour flight non-stop. By the time maintenance is due, then there is a big problem. I think Nigerians should get used to the smaller aircraft types like the ATR. They are safer and cost-effective than Boeing.
“In the days of Nigeria Airways, pilots were type-rated on Boeing737 and people also got used to jet engines. It was okay to fly Boeing then because Nigeria Airways had no competition so it was profitable. Private airlines that came upstream after Nigeria Airways poached pilots that had already been trained on Boeing. So they went for such aircraft type too. On Boeing, if you have 50 per cent load factor, you are running at a loss, but on the likes of Embraer-145, Dash 8 and ATR, you are just fine and in business.”

Salami said further that it was regrettable that the government has not deemed it fit to establish a Maintenance Repair and Overhaul (MRO) facility in Nigeria in the whole of 60 years of independence.

He said efforts by the private sector to establish the critical facility to support both airlines and the industry had been frustrated by government policies and refusal of banks to support the venture.
Chairman of Air Peace airlines, Allen Onyema, said his preference for Embraer 145 and brand new E195-E2 jets was not to imply that used aircraft were unsafe but to meet emerging local and regional demands.

Onyema said that the main problem of airline operators is the high cost of aircraft maintenance, to which he proffered an adjustment in the applicable regulation.

“The burden of maintenance is enormous and the capital flight is huge, depleting the resources of the country. I would like to appeal for a review of the regulations on C-checks because the manufacturers go by hours – 4000 hours before you go for maintenance. In Nigeria, they will tell you 18 months or at most 24 months. That is not good enough for aircraft utilisation when it is by hours flown elsewhere,” he said.

Findings show that average aircraft can fly for between 25 and 30 years before retirement. Globally, geriatric aircraft are kept in a storage facility (with minimal maintenance), gradually stripped of their over 350,000 individual components for sale, while remains are melted for scrap metal.
Recent trend is to keep the plane fairly intact and recycled for tourism and hospitality purposes. A Swedish businessman, for instance, turned a Boeing 747 into a hotel in a parking lot at Arlanda Airport in Stockholm, Sweden. The hotel has 25 rooms and one suite in the cockpit. 

Geriatric airplanes in Nigeria are hardly treated accordingly because owner-airlines collapsed and are subject to prolonged litigation. Most of their aircraft got abandoned and rot away in the process.
Aviation security consultant, Group Capt. John Ojikutu (rtd), said the oddly familiar rating was an indictment on the regulatory agencies that have a statutory responsibility to safety and routine audit of all operators, including aircraft flown by carriers.
Ojikutu said there are about 100 aircraft in Nigerian local industry that would require a yearly audit, maintenance and inspections. “But does the regulator have sufficient manpower to do this and even ensure that they (operators) are not cutting corners? In the past, Dr. Demuren (former NCAA DG) had to look for professionals from outside to do this for him and establish the true state of things.
“For me, the solution is with the NCAA. Air Peace is doing the right thing with the acquisition of Embraer jets. The industry should leverage on this right path and get things right,” Ojikutu said.

Lagos govt to phase out yellow buses - PUNCH

FEBRUARY 05, 2021

BY  Joseph Olaoluwa

The Lagos State Government says it plans to phase out yellow buses in accordance with its transportation masterplan of the state.

Commissioner for Transportation, Dr Frederic Oladeinde, said this in a virtual forum on Thursday, adding that the busses would be replaced by blue buses.

The virtual forum was titled ‘Transport and traffic conference’.

He said, “We are reforming the bus sector and over time, Lagos will phase out the yellow buses because the yellow buses are not conducive for a mega city like Lagos. That is why we are coming with blue buses you see around.

“We are inviting the private sector to participate in the provision of public transport services. We are also deploying technology just to ensure that we can up our game in terms of efficiency.”

Responding to questions raised regarding the Apapa gridlock, the commissioner said the government was committed to ending the traffic menace by committing hectares of land in Iganmu and Ogun as transit truck parks while relying on the Eto app which would be deployed on February 27.

He said, “Lagos State in collaboration with the Nigerian Ports Authority invited a concessionaire and that concessionaire developed an Eto app that will be deployed February 27.

“Lagos State has committed 31 hectares of land in Iganmu called the Bola Ahmed Tinubu Truck Park to complement what is at Lilypond and we are talking to the Ogun State Government to secure a land in Ogere.”

Similarly, Oladeinde said, the state had come up with a parking strategy named the Lagos State Parking Strategy. He disclosed that a parking authority had been set up with the mandate to regulate parking on the roads.


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