Travel News

Aviation: New Handling Rates Begin January 1 - DAILY TRUST

DECEMBER 22, 2021

After an initial delay, the Federal Government through the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) has finally approved a discount of 25 percent on new...

After an initial delay, the Federal Government through the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) has finally approved a discount of 25 percent on new handling charges as requested by the ground handling companies.

To this end, the ground handling operators have signed a memorandum for the commencement of new safety handling threshold charges on January 1, 2022.

This is coming after consultations with the NCAA, the National Assembly and other relevant stakeholders within the aviation industry.

Daily Trust reports that the NCAA had approved new handling rates to take effect in October this year for international airlines and January 1, 2022 for the domestic carriers before the National Assembly intervened following a petition from airlines.

But three months after, the Chairmen and the Chief Executive Officers (CEOs) of the five handling companies in Nigeria have finally signed a joint agreement ahead of the take-off of the new rate.

A communique by the five CEOs indicated that the new handling rates are between $1,500 and $5,000 (passenger and cargo flights) for narrow and wide body aircraft on international routes, respectively, while for domestic operators’ rate is pegged at N25,000 and N70,000, depending on the aircraft type.

“In view of the foregoing, kindly find attached the new revised ground handling rates for our operations. The commencement date for these new revised rates is as follows:

“International/regional operations; effective January 1, 2022 and domestic operations; effective March 1, 2022.”

The new rate is coming 36 years after the last review was carried out.

Before the new rate, international airlines were paying as low as $400 to handle narrow body aircraft, while they were charged between $1,000 and $1,200 for wide body aircraft.

This was said to be the lowest in Africa fueling agitation by the handling operators to bring the rate at par with international standards.

Chairman of the Association of Ground Handlers of Nigeria (AGHAN), Mr. Olaniyi Adigun said the operators needed to increase the rates based on the economic realities on ground.

He commended the Minister of Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika and the NCAA DG, Capt. Musa Nuhu for the approval.

“To us, it is a win-win situation for us all, including the airlines,” he said, adding that the association is setting up machinery to monitor compliance.

Also, CEO of Butake Handling Firm, Alhaji Bello Salihu, said, “All the five of us unanimously agreed to apply sanctions for whosoever that violates the agreement. Sanction will be applied and NCAA will be involved in punishing any recalcitrant member of AGHAN that violates the agreement. Anyone that does that, we are going to report such to the NCAA.”

NCAA Director-General, Capt. Musa Nuhu also justified the increase.

He said, “The issue of the handling rates was justified because for over 30 years, the handling rates were not adjusted and imagine, these ground handlers, they import a lot of their equipment using foreign exchange, just like the airlines use foreign exchange to procure their machines.

“So, what affects the airlines, directly affect these ground handlers and the ground handlers are a critical component for the success of the industry. So, we sat down, compare what we charge here with that of the other countries, but because of the devaluation of naira and the non-increase of ground handling over the years, the increase looked very high.”So, the airlines complained. Then, we mediated into the issue, listened to their complaints and reduce the new rates with 25 per cent. We did this so that we don’t shock the system, but we can gradually fully increase. I just read something this morning, the ground handlers have come together and know that the competition is detrimental. So, they are working together now. I think if the ground handlers can work together, they should be able to implement the new rates. The handlers were undercutting themselves in the past.”

"104 international passengers have tested Covid-19 positive so far" - DEVDISCOURSE

DECEMBER 22, 2021

As many as 104 people who arrived in Tamil Nadu from various countries have tested COVID-19 positive till date, of whom 82 were detected with the 'S gene drop' variant of coronavirus, state Minister Ma Subramanian said on Wednesday.

The samples of the 82 passengers have been sent to the Institute for Stem Cell Science and Regenerative Medicine (inStem), Bengaluru, for genomic sequencing analysis, the Minister for Medical and Family Welfare said.

''All the 82 passengers are fine'', he told reporters.

On test samples already sent to inStem, Bengaluru last week, he said the department has received the results of 13 people who were tested, of which one was confirmed to have the 'Omicron' variant of the coronavirus, the 'delta' variant in eight and four 'non-sequence'. On December 15, Tamil Nadu declared its first Omicron variant of coronavirus, which was a 47 year-old passenger who arrived from Nigeria.

Meanwhile, to step up surveillance at international airports, the government has requested the Centre to allow the health department to conduct COVID-19 tests of all international passengers arriving to Tamil Nadu, as against the current practice of testing those arriving from 'at risk' countries, the minister said.

On the vaccination front, he said the 16th state-wide mega vaccination camp would be held on December 26 (Sunday), targeting 93 lakh people who are eligible to receive the second dose of vaccination.

Earlier in the day, Subramanian declared open 'digital display boards' at the Government Kilpauk Medical College premises, following the announcement made in the state assembly.

In the first phase, 25 government medical college hospitals would be equipped with such digital display boards, totally costing Rs 1.25 crore, which would inform patients about the services offered in the respective hospitals, he said.

The information displayed on the boards would be in Tamil and English, he said.

(This story has not been edited by Devdiscourse staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

FG declares public holidays for Christmas, New Year celebrations - THE CABLE

DECEMBER 22, 2021

The federal government has declared December 27, 28 and January 3, 2022 as public holidays to mark Christmas, Boxing Day and New Year Day.

Rauf Aregbesola, minister of interior, made the announcement in a statement issued on Wednesday in Abuja.

The statement was signed by Shuaib Belgore, permanent secretary of the interior ministry.

Aregbesola felicitated with Christians and Nigerians at home and in the diaspora, adding that Christians should adhere to the practice of Christ’s doctrines, which include faith, hope and love.

The statement reads: “We must emulate the life of Jesus Christ in His practice and teachings on humility, service, compassion, patience, Peace and Righteousness that His birth signifies.

“This will be the best way to portray Christ and celebrate his birth.”

Aregbesola urged Nigerians to observe all the non-pharmaceutical protocols and guidelines, such as the wearing of facemasks, for protection against COVID-19.

He said Nigerians should frequently wash their hands with soap and water, use hand sanitisers, and avoid large gatherings.

The minister urged Nigerians to be conscious of the dangerous and harmful dimension of the Omicron variant.

“This calls for deliberate responsibility and discipline on the part of all,” he said.

Aregbesola called on Nigerians to quickly report any respiratory illness observed in themselves and others to medical authorities.

“Moderately celebrate the festival without large groupings and observe all the protocols stipulated by medical authorities,” he said.

“Take it as a point of personal responsibility to prevent the spread of the virus.”

The minister also assured that the federal government had put in place effective measures for the security of lives and property.

Rowdiness At Lagos Airport Over Holiday Travels - DAILY TRUST

DECEMBER 23, 2021

There was rowdiness and chaos at the Murtala Muhammad Airport (MMA), Lagos yesterday as more passengers stormed the domestic terminal for their holiday travels.

Findings by Daily Trust on Wednesday indicated that the passenger rush triggered the collapse of the baggage system at the MMA2 terminal.

It was learnt that both the MMA two private terminals operated by Bi-Courtney Aviation Services Limited (BASL) and the General Aviation Terminal (GAT) operated by the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) witnessed increased passengers. 

There were also delays in passenger facilitation at the airport while other passengers were stranded at other airports.

Apart from the baggage systems challenges, space for parking aircraft and getting it out is also an issue at the terminal, it was learnt.

At the General Aviation Terminal One managed by FAAN, only one screening machine is said to be functional and in use as officials manning the machines are said to be exhausted.

The GAT is where most of the Air Peace flights take off while Arik Air, Green Africa and Overland also operate from the terminal.

Both the FAAN and the MMA2 management had earlier in the week expressed readiness to accommodate the passenger surge during the yuletide festivities.

But findings by Daily Trust yesterday indicated that many passengers spent hours, especially in the morning queuing to get their boarding passes.

One of the travellers, who identified himself simply as Ikechukwu in a chat with our correspondent, called for an upgrade of infrastructure at the domestic airports to cope with the passenger surge.

An official at the MMA2 said what happened was a mere passenger surge usually experienced during the yuletide season even as many airlines were overbooked. 

“Yes, there was a minor issue with the conveyor belt at the MMA2 which was immediately fixed and as of 2pm, the terminal has processed over 50 flights. 

“What we are witnessing is the surge in passengers and many more people are flying now because of the insecurity on the road.”

Spokesman of FAAN, Mrs Henrietta Yakubu said the operation at the domestic terminal has been smooth all through, insisting that all the screening machines are serviceable. 

“Operations at GAT remain cool and calm, no breakdown in any of the operational equipment here in GAT,” she said.

Daily Trust reports that some stakeholders have advocated for the introduction of a slot system to reduce the rowdiness not only at the airport terminals but the airside. 

An aviation analyst, Group Capt. John Ojikutu commenting on the development said, “The terminals are taking or pressurised more than they can ordinarily accommodate.”

Meanwhile, some passengers have called on airlines to bring down the cost of tickets. They spoke amidst skyrocketing airfares with a 45-minute flight costing over N60,000.

As of the time of filing this report, the Lagos-Owerri flight on Arik Air for Thursday and Friday is N66,310. The same route goes for 27,642 or N33,514 on a normal day.

Lagos to Port Harcourt on Ibom Air for Thursday (today) is about N71,000 compared to N27,000 and N31,000 without the rush.

NIS warns of foreign terror attacks, FG heightens security - PUNCH

DECEMBER 24, 2021

BY Solomon Odeniyi and Deborah Tolu-Kolawole

• Nigerien, Algerian terrorists on the way from Mali to invade Abuja

The military and other security agencies including the Nigeria Immigration Service have intensified security within Abuja following a warning from the Presidency over a planned attack by some terrorists during the Christmas holiday.

The information is contained in a letter dated December 23, 2021, and titled, ‘Terrorists Plan Attacks In Abuja’, the immigration authorities informed its officers that the information on the impending attack was from the Presidency.

The letter which was signed by the Land Border Patrol Commander, Edirin Okoto, on behalf of the Acting Comptroller General of Immigration Service, Idris Jere, stated that the terrorists were coming from Mali, one of whom possessed a diplomatic passport

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The letter was addressed to all sector commanders and border patrol corps all over the country. They include those at the Seme, Idi Iroko, Jibia, Illela land borders, as well as immigration officers at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, the Mallam Aminu Kano International Airport, amongst others.

It read, “The Office of the Ag CGI is in receipt of a Security Report (URGENT) from the Presidency. The import is about a looming attack on Nigeria’s Capital City, Abuja, between 17th and 31st December, 2021. The planned attack is purportedly being led by one Drahmane Ould Ali aka Mohammed Ould Sidat, an Algerian national to be assisted by one Zahid Aminon, a Nigerien national.

“The report indicates the duo is en route Nigeria from Mali through Gan and Niger Republic, riding a white Toyota Hilux van with Reg. No- AG157EKY; that these two had four Nigerian accomplices who are already embedded in the country.

“It is further reported that Ali holds an Algerian diplomatic passport with the name Najim Ould Ibrahim. Consequently, I am directed to request you to intensify alert levels, emplace necessary countermeasures at all our entry/exit points- air, land, sea/marine, including, but not limited to, surveillance, rigorous search on persons and vehicles, transhumance, to effectuate the immediate arrest of these terrorists/countervail this and any terrorist attacks in Abuja.”

Strategies in place to avert attacks, no cause for alarm – Immigration

When contacted, the spokesperson for the NIS, Amos Okpo, confirmed the letter emanated from the service.

He added that the service had put in place measures to prevent the proposed attack.

Okpo said, “The letter is a normal intelligence we do issue across our formations. This just happened to be in the public. There is no cause for alarm. The residents should not panic. I can assure you that the needful is being done to avert the planned attack.”

Plan can never work, FCT security network intact, says Guard Brigade

Also in a chat with The PUNCH, the Assistant Director, Army Public Relations Guards Brigade, Captain Godfrey Abakpa, said the planned attack would not succeed, adding that the security structures in the FCT were intact.

He said, “The brigade has recently been conducting several operations in the FCT to ensure it is adequately secured. The brigade is always on top of the security situations. Residents should not panic. The security situation in the FCT is under control.

“The aim of every terrorist group is to instill fear in the populace. That may be what they are trying to do. Their plans can never work, the whole security structures in the FCT is intact. “

However, some residents have expressed fear over the planned attack on the nation’s capital.

The President, Mab Global Estate in Karsana, Ahmed Thedicha, said the security operatives should not treat the threat with kid gloves.

He said, “An attack at this point in time would not be good in the nation’s capital. The security operatives should act fast and take the threat seriously.”

Also, the Public Relations Officer of Pegi Landlord Association, Oyedeji Oyetunji said, “We have experience terrorist attacks before in the FCT during the height of Boko Haram, that experience was devastating.

“We do not hope for another.  This must not be allowed to happen. The president should give the marching order to the head of security operatives in the FCT and ensure that our security is guaranteed.”

Abuja has in recent times witnessed a spike in violent attacks including abductions especially on the outskirts.

Two officials of the Department of State Services were abducted by armed men on Saturday and are still in captivity.

The assailants had attacked the DSS outpost in Abaji, Abaji Area Council of Abuja, killing a vigilante

The DSS had in November 2021 informed the Nigeria Customs Service over planned attacks by insurgents at border communities across the country anytime from now.

The Niger State Government said earlier in the year that Boko Haram had hoisted its flags in Kaure and Shiroro local government areas of the state.

Shiroro which had become a hotbed of crime, is approximately 140km from the Abuja metropolis and barely two and a half hours by road.

Governor Abubakar Bello said the terrorists had displaced over 3,000 residents of the affected communities.

“I am confirming that there are Boko Haram elements here in Niger state, here in Kaure, I am confirming that they have hoisted their flags here. Their wives (of the villagers) have been seized from them and forcefully attached to Boko Haram members. I just heard that they have placed their flags at Kaure, meaning they have taken over the territory,” he had said.

Bello further said he had earlier alerted the Federal Government but action had been slow.

“This is what I have been engaging the Federal Government on. Unfortunately, it has now got to this level. If care is not taken, even Abuja is not safe. We have been saying this for long. All our efforts have been in vain,” the governor had said

Londoners Set for Night Train Disruption as Union Calls Strike - BLOOMBERG

DECEMBER 24, 2021

(Bloomberg) -- Londoners hoping to catch the underground train home from a weekend night out may have to look for alternative means of travel next year, after a union called for strike action.

RMT is encouraging workers on London’s Night Tube to walk out every weekend from the start of January through to June, according to a statement on Thursday. 

“If London Underground and the Mayor thought this fight for progressive and family-friendly working practices was going away they need to think again,” General Secretary Mick Lynch says in the statement.

RMT members on the Central and Victoria Lines will be participating, though the action may extend to other lines if concessions are not made, the labor group said. “We remain available for further talks,” RMT said.

London’s underground train network, the oldest in the world, has long been heavily unionized and strikes that disrupt services have been commonplace over the years.

Flight Bans Leave Hong Kong Stranded as New Rules Freeze Routes - BLOOMBERG

DECEMBER 24, 2021

BY  Anurag KotokyBloomberg News

Empty Cathay Pacific Airways Ltd. check-in counters at Hong Kong International Airport in Hong Kong, China, on Monday, Nov. 29, 2021. Airlines face a return to the uncertainty of shifting rules and public-health developments that threw customer plans into chaos and undermined demand earlier in the pandemic.

Empty Cathay Pacific Airways Ltd. check-in counters at Hong Kong International Airport in Hong Kong, China, on Monday, Nov. 29, 2021. Airlines face a return to the uncertainty of shifting rules and public-health developments that threw customer plans into chaos and undermined demand earlier in the pandemic. , Bloomberg

(Bloomberg) -- New travel rules to curb the spread of omicron in Hong Kong look set to isolate the Asian financial hub even further, with at least four international carriers banned from operating certain routes in the month since the more transmissible variant emerged.

Although Hong Kong was already hewing to the Covid-zero policy being pursued by China, authorities tightened rules again this week, mandating that if four or more passengers are confirmed to have Covid-19 on arrival from the same place within seven days, that route will be suspended for 14 days.

Qatar Airways and Cathay Pacific Airways Ltd. have had routes from Doha and New York, respectively, put on hold until early January, while Nepal Airlines Corp. and Air India Ltd. flights between Hong Kong and Kathmandu and Delhi have also been impacted.

Hong Kong found its first omicron cases on Nov. 25. The highly-contagious variant is now the most dominant strain in several major cities around the world, making the chance of identifying more cases upon arrival at airports significantly higher.

A cleaner at the airport was Friday suspected to have been infected with omicron, in what could be the city’s first case in someone who hasn’t recently traveled. Hong Kong has confirmed 34 omicron cases to date, all people with a prior travel history and most were detected upon arrival or in quarantine.

Cathay warned of several more flight cancellations on Wednesday, just days after its services from New York were suspended until Jan. 2 after three passengers on that route were found to have Covid. The chief executive officer of Qatar Airways said recently Hong Kong’s Covid policy was “killing” the airline.

Even before Covid, Cathay was battered by the political fallout from 2019’s anti-government protests. Now, China’s strict Covid-Zero policy ensures most international travel remains suspended. The airline flew just 70,047 passengers in November, down 97% from the same month in 2019.

Apart from flight suspensions due to Covid cases on board, Hong Kong’s strict quarantine rules for crew are deterring carriers. 

Last week, British Airways put flights to Hong Kong on hold until March, after airline crews were forced to isolate in a government facility with no Wi-Fi. Deutsche Lufthansa AG unit Swiss International Air Lines AG is among other carriers that have likewise adjusted their schedules due to Hong Kong’s tough Covid stance.

South Africa to Stop Quarantines as 80% Have Past Infection - BLOOMBERG

DECEMBER 24, 2021

(Bloomberg) -- South Africa will stop contract tracing and won’t quarantine people as it shifts focus on Covid-19 mitigation strategies.

Authorities in Africa’s most-industrialized nation will conduct contract tracing only in case of a cluster outbreak, the nation’s Director General of Health said in a circular dated Thursday, which was confirmed by department spokesman, Foster Mohale. As many as 80% of the nation’s population as past infections providing some immunity, the department said.

“Quarantine has been costly to essential services and society as many people stay away from their work and thus lose their income and children miss on their schooling,” according to the circular. “We never identify most high risk patients.” 

South Africa’s recovery from its deepest economic contraction in almost three decades risks stalling due to the fallout from a fourth wave of coronavirus infections driven by the omicron variant. 

United Cancels 100+ Flights Due to Omicron-Linked Crew Shortage - BLOOMBERG

DECEMBER 24, 2021

(Bloomberg) -- United Airlines Holdings Inc. said it’s canceling more than 100 Friday flights, the day before Christmas, because of personnel shortages linked to the spike in omicron Covid-19 cases.

The jump in cases is affecting the availability of flight crews and ground personnel on the day before Christmas, the carrier said Thursday in an email.

The holidays are among the heaviest times for travel. The Transportation Security Administration was estimating Dec. 22 and 23 would be the busiest pre-Christmas travel dates nationally and locally, with Jan. 2 and 3 as the most-crowded for post-holiday travel.

“We’ve unfortunately had to cancel some flights and are notifying impacted customers in advance of them coming to the airport,” United said. “We’re sorry for the disruption and are working hard to rebook as many people as possible and get them on their way for the holidays.”

Why FG Inaugurated Trade Disputes Committee With Ghana - INDEPENDENT

DECEMBER 24, 2021

The Nigerian Government has stated that the inauguration of an inter-Ministerial Committee for the implementation of the signed joint statement between Nigeria and Ghana on trade Disputes to find a lasting solution to the recurring dispute between Nigerian traders and their Ghanaian counterparts’ 

Mr Adeniyi Adebayo, the Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, who made the disclosure after a high-level bilateral meeting between Nigeria and representatives of the Ghanaian government led by that country’s Minister of trade ,said the committee will be chaired by the Permanent Secretary in the ministry, Dr Evelyn Ngige. 

 “This is because President Muhammadu Buhari has approved the constitution of a delegation to Ghana to engage in and effectively find a lasting solution to the recurring dispute between Nigerian traders and their Ghanaian counterparts through a bilateral engagement. 

“The dispute between the two countries worsened with the eviction of Nigerian traders in 2007 and the closing of over 300 Nigerian traders’ shops in 2018. 

It would be recall that in 2018, the problem was aggravated by the country’s efforts to enforce the GIPC Trade Act which requires non- Ghanaian traders to have an investment portfolio of One Million Dollars to engage in any retail business in Ghana. 

“During the visit, the Nigerian delegation held consultations with all the stakeholders from Nigeria in Ghana including professional groups and traders. 

“The general concern especially from the traders was that the Ghanaian authorities have adopted discriminatory practices against Nigerians and other foreigners,” he said. 

According to the Minister, “Permanent Secretary of the Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment will chair the Nigeria-Ghana Inter-Ministerial Committee for the Nigerian side while the Trade Department will serve as the Secretariat while membership is from representatives of the following Ministries, Department and Agencies: Ministry of Foreign Affairs; Nigeria Customs Service (NCS); Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS); Standards Organization of Nigeria (SON); Federal Ministry of Justice; Ministry of Finance; National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC); Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (OSGF); National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP); Nigeria Investment Promotion Commission (NIPC); Nigeria Export Promotion Council (NEPC); Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN); Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (NiDCo); National Association of Nigerian Traders (NANTS) and Progressive Ambassadors of Nigeria (PAN).” 


He urged members of the committee to handle the assignment with the importance it requires in order to find lasting solutions to the lingering problem. 

The Minister added that the result of the meeting between both sides includes the signing of the joint statement that seeks to address the challenges, as the President approved the establishment of this Inter-Ministerial Committee to handle the implementation of the outcome of the Joint Statement, formalise trade and investment relations and address other critical issues between the two countries. 

Members of the committee also included representatives of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs; Nigeria Customs Service and the Nigeria Immigration Service; Standards Organization of Nigeria; Ministry of Justice; Ministry of Finance, National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control, Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation and the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons. 

Others are the Nigeria Investment Promotion Commission, Nigeria Export Promotion Council, Central Bank of Nigeria; Nigerians in Diaspora Commission, the National Association of Nigerian Traders and Progressive Ambassadors of Nigeria”. 

It would be recalled that Ghana’s Foreign Minister, Shirley Ayorkor Botchwey, said that Nigeria’s border closure in 2019 has hurt Ghanaians and nearly bankrupted many Ghanaian export businesses after their goods were stuck in the Seme Border for months. 


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