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Travel News

Ethiopian Tests IATA Travel Pass - THISDAY

APRIL 30, 2021

Ethiopian Airlines Group said it has conducted trial of IATA Travel Pass, a digital travel mobile app to enhance efficiency in testing or vaccine verifications, making it the first African airline to do so.

As travel restarts, travelers need accurate COVID-19-related information like testing and vaccine requirements, which vary among countries. The IATA Travel Pass initiative helps verify the authenticity of test information presented by travelers which is essential for ensuring the safety of passengers while complying with entry requirements of countries.

According to Ethiopian Airlines, the trial would be conducted on flights out of Addis Ababa to Washington DC and Toronto as well as on flights out of London and Toronto to Addis Ababa, effective April 25, 2021. The airline said it has gone digital in all of its operations to avoid physical contact and combat the spread of the pandemic and now embarks on this initiative which will allow passengers to relish unparalleled flight experience.

Group CEO of Ethiopian Airlines, Mr. Tewolde GebreMariam said, “Digital technology is vital to solve many of the problems that arise from the pandemic. We are glad that we are offering new digital opportunities to our passengers so as to fully and safely restart air travel.

“Our customers will enjoy efficient, contactless and safer travel experience with their travel pass digital passport. As a safety first airline, we have become the first African airline to trail IATA’s travel pass initiative to facilitate travel. The new initiative will increase travelers’ confidence in travel, encourages governments to reopen their borders and expedites industry restart.’’

France to Extend Covid Vaccination to All Adults From June 15 - BLOOMBERG

APRIL 30, 2021

(Bloomberg) -- France will allow all adults to get vaccinated against the coronavirus from June 15, President Emmanuel Macron says in a tweet on Friday.

Starting this weekend, all “vulnerable” adults, and from May 15, all those above 50, will be entitled to get vaccination.

The President has pledged that all willing adults would get vaccinated by the end of the summer. While the government has been criticized for a slow start in the vaccination campaign, it’s now picking up. Around 22% of the French have received at least one jab, and close to 10% have received two doses.

Macron Bets Vaccines Will Kick In Soon in Rush to Reopen France

On average, 393,672 doses are handed over each day, with a peak close to 550,000 shots on Thursday. At this pace, it will take another 6 months to cover 75% of the population, according to Bloomberg Covid Tracker.

Lufthansa to Resume PH Airport Flights - THISDAY

APRIL 30, 2021

Lufthansa has confirmed that it has concluded plan to resume flights from the Port Harcourt International Airport, Omagwa, as soon as the federal government reopen the airport. This was disclosed by the General Manager, Sales, Nigeria and Equatorial Guinea, Lufthansa Group, Mrs. Adenike Macaulay.

Macaulay said Lufthansa is interested in resuming flights from Port Harcourt and had indicated same to the concerned authorities in Nigeria.

“Lufthansa is waiting to resume its flight operations to Port Harcourt with high interest and have indicated same to the relevant authorities. We hope that the airport will soon open again for international flights.

“For our flights to Port Harcourt we expect good demand, as we are learning from our customers every day that they would like to get back our Lufthansa flights from Port Harcourt.

“The booking figures make us confident that we will run a profitable operation out of Port Harcourt. That is why we offer these flights in our booking systems since months and having to cancel them week-by-week due to the delayed reopening.

“However, teaming up with PHC airport management and with the support of the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) we are confident to reopen this destination hopefully soon, a key one also for the oil and energy business. Lufthansa already resumed its flights to Lagos and Abuja last December 2020 and has well reestablished two out of three Nigerian connections, awaiting finally Port Harcourt,” Macaulay said.

U.S. Cuts Visa Services in Moscow as Russia Squeezes Embassy - BLOOMBERG

APRIL 30, 2021

(Bloomberg) -- The U.S. Embassy in Moscow said it would slash visa and consular services following a Russian ban on hiring local staff in the latest fallout from tensions between the former Cold War rivals.

The Russian hiring restriction will force a 75% cut in the consular work force, the embassy said in a website statement, and services will be restricted to a minimum starting May 12.

Russia announced the new limits on April 16 as part of series of retaliatory moves against the U.S. decision to expel 10 Russian diplomats and impose new sanctions for Moscow’s alleged role in the SolarWinds cyberattack and meddling in the U.S. election last year. The Kremlin denies those charges.

The moves are the latest in a widening diplomatic battle between Russia and the West. Several east European nations expelled Russian envoys after the Czech Republic accused Moscow’s secret services of responsibility for a deadly 2014 blast. Russia responded by ousting diplomats from those countries.

The Kremlin is planning to expand the ban on local employees for embassies to a series of what it calls “unfriendly” countries, but hasn’t released that list yet. Russia doesn’t used local employees at its diplomatic posts, but many foreign embassies rely on them for visa issuance and other services.

Air Peace makes history, lands in Anambra Airport - NAN

APRIL 30, 2021

By Yunus Yusuf

Air Peace made history as the first airline to land its aircraft at the Anambra State International Passenger and Cargo Airport.

Its Media Executive Officer, Mr Stanley Olisa said in a statement in Lagos on Friday that Air Peace has added another first to its kitty.

Olisa said that the foremost airline deployed two of its aircraft- an Embraer 145 and a Boeing 737- for the demonstration flights to unveil the airport site in the Umuleri axis of the state.

Speaking at the event, the Chairman of Air Peace, Mr Allen Onyema expressed gratitude to the Federal Government for approving and enabling the project.

Onyema noted that the airport was one of the fastest airports to be approved even for a test flight.

“What we have here is the widest runway ever and could land a Boeing 777 and an Airbus 380.

“This is the first time an airport would be doing a test run with a Boeing 737. It used to be very small planes before,” he said.

The aviator said the airport would generate numerous jobs for Nigerians and significantly impact Nigeria’s economy.

The chairman said that the new Anambra Airport was an ambitious project initiated by Gov. Willie Obiano which has recorded impressive execution in 15 months.

NAN

Forex, demand for air travel cause increase in fares –Capt Nuhu, NCAA DG - THE SUN

APRIL 30, 2021

By Chinelo Obogo,

The astronomical rise in air fares for domestic travel has become a very serious cause for concern for passengers. Presently, all the domestic airlines have doubled their fares on most of the routes across the country. For instance, one-way trip to Abuja which used to cost a minimum of N25,000 for economy seats or even less, depending on the time the ticket is purchased, now costs as high as N50,000 and in some cases, N60,000 for the same class of tickets.

Captain Musa Nuhu, who is the Director General of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), the regulatory agency, says, in this interview, that the reason for the hike is that demand is higher than supply and also, the scarcity of foreign exchange (forex) has made it impossible for airlines to operate their fleet at full capacity.

Hike fares, forex scarcity

>span class="s2">For the fares, it has to do with the economics of demand and supply. Don’t forget because of this forex difficulties, airlines are not operating their fleet at full capacity. That also has impact. If one of the airlines is out of the system, you try to fill that gap. That will put extra demands on the other routes.

Earlier, you mentioned the issue of not using the right fleet. Yes, but the trend I see people going for Embraer, CRJ, ATR. So, there is a paradigm shift. People are beginning to realise you can’t use Boeing 737 aircraft for short flights. I can see Air Peace had got two E-195 and he said on the long term, he is going to replace all its B737. United Nigeria is using Embraer 145.Green Africa is using ATR 42, 72.

>span class="s2">Airlines springing up

How many passengers travelled domestically before COVID-19? What percentage of Nigeria is that? If it is six or five per cent of the Nigerian population, that tells you that Nigeria is under-travelled. There is a huge market there. Nigerian market is not mature enough. There is a huge opportunity there for the Nigerian market to grow. That is why you see that many airlines are coming up in the country. We have Green Africa Airways, NG Eagle and so many other airlines coming up. I am sure that Green Africa Airways, NG Eagle are the next to fly. The market is there. It is economics.

Unfortunately, because of the condition of the roads, a lot of people prefer flying by air. So, the demand is growing and that is why you see many airlines coming up. I can tell you that out of the nine million that are said to be travelling within Nigeria, only probably one million people are flying regularly. So, maybe only one or two million people travel in Nigeria, in a population of 200 million. It is still a virgin market. If we uphold our policies and strategies, we will make a friendly-environment in the industry and it will grow. That is why in the Ministry and with aviation roadmap, they want to do things like aircraft leasing company, MROs which are some of the things that make maintenance cost. You know airlines go to Europe for maintenance, but when we have am MRO, it creates employment and you just rolled in your aircraft and do your maintenance in there in Naira.

Azman Air

As a regulatory body, we take the issue of safety seriously.  However, before we take action, we must have concrete evidence. We see what is happening and we do a risk based analysis and we decide to take action. This is because grounding an airline has serious repercussions. Both on the availability of service to the public and also to the finances and reputation of the airline.  I don’t think we were slow.

When we reached a point that we were not happy, we called a Zoom meeting. I could have taken the decision on my own, but I am a human being and I know I have my shortcomings. So, I called my entire team. We had a Zoom meeting for about four to five hours before we came to that decision to suspend their operations. I want to say here clearly that it is not a punitive measure. It is our responsibility and duty to guide and work with the operators and assist them to ensure that they are in compliance with our regulations.

Our team met with Azman’s team and we told them what the issues were. We had written them before that and they responded.  We had a virtual meeting and they went through each of the issues one by one. I must tell you the response we had from Azman has been very encouraging and very positive. They are taking all what we have explained to them. Now they understand it is even better for them to improve their business model. I have seen a shift and I can guarantee you that by the time Azman complies with all what we want, the public will see a different airline.

We are not here to kill anybody or to ruin any airline, but to guide them to operate safely, efficiently and to provide the necessary services to the travelling public. I just received a very impressive response from them concerning what they have done. We are going to start serious training for their people next week.

Where we find gaps, they have already started employing people and they are really working and cooperating. Honestly, I am very happy and feel very relieved at their response to us.

I don’t know what happened. I wasn’t there when the airline was approved. I came and met them, but I think it is my responsibility as the DG, when I see there is a mistake, I have to rectify it, which is exactly what we are working at, and trying to rectify whatever might have been done wrong in the past.

Also, NCAA is an organisation too in transition. Honestly, this Azman incident told us a lot about ourselves, areas that we might have found some deficiencies and we are trying to fill it and make some changes to make the organisation much more effective and efficient. We have had issues with some airlines, they came and we sat down them. We discussed with them and we resolved it.

Unfortunately, in this particular case when somebody goes to the public and impugns the credibility of an organisation, we needed to defend our actions. What I want you to understand is that it is not we as a person and not even the DG, it’s not NCAA, but Nigeria’s reputation that is being damaged internationally. If NCAA is somehow perceived as a corrupt organisation, believe me that all the operators and aviation businesses in Nigeria will find it difficult going to charter or lease aircraft. It makes the whole business much more difficult for us. It damages the industry, which is why we had to come out and explain to the world what happened.

We haven’t had any airline accident in the last five years and there will not be any during my tenure. We want to bring it out to make the system much safer. When you have these incidents, you use your equipment much more, instead of grounding the airlines because they have incidents, they do more flights and system becomes more efficient, effective to the benefits of the travelling public.

Air Peace incident

We work hand in hand with the Accident Investigation Bureau (AIB). When there is an incident, AIB-N goes to investigate. If it is a serious incident or accident, they deal with it. If it is not a serious incident, they hand it over to NCAA to inspect it, but when they do their investigation and they are okay, they hand it over to NCAA to work with the airline to ensure that the aircraft is put back to an airworthy condition before it can fly. AIB doesn’t do that. That is our responsibility. They were happy. They were working with it and they handed it over to us.

Legacy

As regards the promotion of general aviation policy, we have the Civil Aviation Act before the National Assembly. Hopefully, it will be passed into law. So, once that is done and we know what the new NCAA mandate is, we will do a stakeholders’ meeting for review of our regulations. I think we need to de-clutter and unbundle our regulations so that the requirements from general aviation is different from the requirements of the airlines. They are not the same risk. General Aviation could be chartered flights, agric spraying, small tourism aircraft, ambulance and others.

There are so many areas of general aviation, but right now, regulations are bundled. Somebody flying corporate and small plane carrying 10 people and you are asking for the same requirements from a Boeing 777 going to Dubai. It doesn’t make sense. So, when we unbundle those regulations, we believe it is going to stimulate the general aviation part of the industry.

Test flights commence at Anambra State International Airport - VANGUARD

APRIL 30, 2021

…as Air Peace makes first flight to airport 

By Lawani Mikairu 

Test flights commenced Friday at Anambra State International Cargo Airport, Umueri . The newly built airport received three demonstration flights as Anambra indigenes, guests and aviation community who were present at the airport cheered. The airport, which was constructed in record time of 15 months is expecting both cargo and passenger traffic in the next couple of months. 

The facility, awaiting commercial services, already has the runway, apron, control tower, fire infrastructure, among other critical infrastructure in place, except for the terminal that is near completion. Speaking at the ceremony to welcome the flights, Anambra State Governor, Chief Willie Obiano, said the multi-billion naira project was strategic for the economy of Anambra, the South East region, and of Nigeria at large.

He said the airport project is the most audacious and “revolutionary” project ever embarked on by his administration and nearly completed in a 15-month record time. Governor Obiano said :   “We have rose above the global gloom and doom (of coronavirus pandemic)to bring this dream to reality. Anambra did not borrow a kobo to build this airport. We began this administration with the plan to become the first choice in investment destination and trade hub”.

“This airport fulfills that dream today, because it is difficult to create an international economic corridor without an airport. Very soon, our cargo and passenger services, both local and international, will make us one of the busiest airports in the country.” 

Meanwhile, Air Peace  has become the first airline to make flight to the new Anambra State airport.  At about 2:40p.m. yesterday, an Air Peace Boeing 737 aircraft made the inaugural landing, throwing the waiting audience into a frenzy. About 15 minutes later, another Air Peace Embraer 145 aircraft touched down, to a traditional water salute reception. 

As the audience were departing, a private jet also landed at the airport. In his remarks, Chairman of Air Peace airline, Allen Onyema, said the landmark facility has the longest runway in the country, spanning 3.7km, with the capacity to receive the biggest air planes in the world. He also thanked the Federal Government for the airport’s approvals, describing it as one of the fastest airports to get a test-flight approval. 

Onyema said: “What we have here is the widest runway ever and could land a Boeing 777 and an Airbus 380. This is the first time an airport would be doing a test-run with a Boeing 737. It used to be very small planes before. I decided to bring in two planes to show the quality of airport here. I can tell you that it is a game-changer,” he added. 

Anambra State Commissioner for Works and Head of the project delivery team, Marcel Ifejiofor while speaking at the occasion said all the outstanding facilities had been paid for, including the Instrument Landing System (ILS)

Read more at: https://www.vanguardngr.com/20...

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