Travel News

Nigeria, others to rake in $4.2 billion from open market treaty - THE GUARDIAN

APRIL 20, 2023

The African Civil Aviation Commission (AFCAC) said the implementation of the Single African Air Transport Market (SAATM) will contribute $4.2 billion to the continent’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP), create 600 million jobs and, grow air traffic by 51 per cent in three years with additional 16 million air travellers.

AFCAC further revealed that the implementation of SAATM in Nigeria will scale up the contribution of the aviation sector to GDP from the current 0.5 per cent to one per cent, and also increase air traffic by 54 per cent.

Secretary General of AFCAC, Funke Adeyemi, while speaking at the SAATM Pilot Implementation Project cluster one coalition roadshow, held in Abuja, said that the open market treaty will accelerate air connectivity across Africa.

She stated that the roadshow aimed to bring all stakeholders together in identifying challenges mitigating against air connectivity across the continent and come up with practical solutions to integrate and increase connectivity across Africa.

She mentioned that some of the challenges hindering the smooth take-off of SAATM by States include protectionism, and airline operators wherein the State and the operators unwillingto open up the market owing to competition, she added that competition and connectivity were necessary for the growth of the aviation industry.

Other challenges include restrictions by States, visa accessibility, and late approval for landing, among others.

Adeyemi disclosed that the commission would be going from country to country to address some of the challenges of SAATM, and see how to make a change.

She said the target was to increase fifth freedom penetration from the current 14.5 per cent to 30 per cent by 2025.

The Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, while declaring the roadshow open, assured that the Federal Government would continue to support policies and programmes that would support and project the full implementation of SAATM in Nigeria, saying the air transport market in sub-Saharan Africa presents a strong dichotomy.

He noted that African carriers are dominating international and domestic markets, which are becoming increasingly concentrated.

In contrast, the sector is stagnating in Central and Western Africa, with the vacuum created by the collapse of mostly State-owned airlines, and a few privately-owned airlines in the region.

He added that Nigeria was working towards launching its national carrier that would help in actualising the policies and principles of SAATM in Nigeria, and Africa at large.

Director General Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) Capt. Nuhu Musa, recalled that when SAATM was launched in Dakar last year, 16 countries committed to participating in SAATM, which has now increased to 20 countries.

He mentioned that the first-of-its-kind roadshow held in Nigeria was to explain to stakeholders to bring out challenges they have having with the implementation of SAATM so that AFCAC can see to mechanisms such as fair competition, dispute resolution, consumer protection mechanism, to resolve the issues.

He stressed the need for countries that have committed to the implementation of SAATM to start so that when other countries see the effect on the GDP and the employment generation they will also participate.

He added that the African Civil Aviation would work towards the designation and allocation of the fifth freedom right that is, moving passengers from country A to country B, and then picking passengers to country C.

FG grants Nigerian citizenship to 385 foreigners - VANGUARD

APRIL 20, 2023

The Federal Executive Council (FEC) approved the granting of Nigerian citizenship to 385 foreign nationals residing in the country.

The Minister of Interior, Rauf Aregbesola, announced the FEC granted the approval on Wednesday adding that 317 of the applicants bagged their citizenship by naturalisation; while 68 received theirs by registration.

Aregbesola said all the applicants met the requirements for such an honour.

“Federal Executive Council at its meeting today approved the granting of Nigeria’s citizenship by naturalization to 317 applicants and Nigeria’s citizenship by registration to 68 applicants.

“Those granted citizenship have met all the constitutional and administrative requirements for the grant of Nigerian citizenship,” Aregbesola said.

The minister also revealed that the council has equally approved a Public-Private Partnership deal for the provision of subscription-based fire safety for residential, institutional, and commercial buildings.

“This will be a public-private partnership arrangement with Hoist Life Safety System Limited. At completion, Nigerians, who so desire, would subscribe to an automatic fire alarm system that you can have in their house,” he said.

Nigeria’s oil reserve drops to 36.9bn barrels as gas rises - DAILY POST

APRIL 21, 2023

While declaring that Air Peace was solidly representing Nigeria in the international aviation community, the governor emphasised the socio-economic impact of the new route, especially in ‘religious tourism’

West and Central Africa’s largest carrier, Air Peace, has again made another history by becoming the first ever Nigerian airline to fly direct, nonstop to Tel Aviv in Israel.

The airline commenced scheduled operations in Tel Aviv on April 20, 2023, from Lagos and Abuja.

Speaking during the event, Israeli Ambassador to Nigeria, Michael Freeman expressed joy over the new connectivity, stressing that it would help deepen bilateral ties between both countries and promote mutually beneficial economic engagements.

The Governor of Ebonyi State, Mr David Umahi on occasion commended Onyema for his strides in aviation even as he added that the growth of Air Peace had shown that a Nigerian could make sustainable global inroads in aviation.

While declaring that Air Peace was solidly representing Nigeria in the international aviation community, the governor emphasised the socio-economic impact of the new route, especially in ‘religious tourism’.

At the well-attended inaugural flight ceremony held at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja, the Chairman of Air Peace, Mr Allen Onyema, said history has been made in the bilateral relations between Nigeria and Israel through the commencement of direct, nonstop flights from Lagos and Abuja to the city of Tel Aviv.

Related News Israeli military strikes Syrian targets in response to rocket attacks Israeli government clears Air Peace to commence flights into Israel April 20 NAHCO suspends officials involved in Air Peace incident

His words: “This is undoubtedly a big milestone as, for the first time, a Nigerian airline is connecting both countries directly through scheduled commercial flights”.

Onyema said the airline was delighted particularly because this new route will provide huge respite to Nigerian travellers who, henceforth, do not have to travel to Israel through other countries, spending over 20 hours in stopovers whereas a direct flight is less than 6 hours.

“Our entry into Israel today will open up more layers of opportunities and possibilities socially, and economically, and advance the implementation of the Bilateral Air Services Agreement between Nigeria and Israel. The connectivity will boost ‘religious tourism’, especially factoring the numerous Nigerians who embark on pilgrimage trips to Israel”, Onyema stated.

He stressed that the airline is familiar with Israeli airspace as it operated evacuation flights to the country in 2020, following the COVID-19 pandemic.

Onyema expressed gratitude to the Israeli government, the Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority, the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria and other stakeholders whose efforts he said made this launch possible.

The Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, represented by Mr Hassan Ejibunu, Director of Air Transport Management, Ministry of Aviation, reiterated the support of the government to indigenous airlines and promised the government’s continued assistance to Air Peace in its route expansion drive.

FG ready to evacuate stranded Nigerian students in Sudan, says Dabiri-Erewa - PUNCH

APRIL 24, 2023

By Damilola Olufemi

The Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of  Nigerians in Diaspora Commission, Abike Dabiri-Erewa, has disclosed the Federal Government’s readiness to evacuate Nigerians stranded in Sudan

She made this known on Monday while speaking on Channels Television’s Lunchtime Politics.

While noting that the FG  is making “tremendous progress”, she added that every Nigerian student in the North African country now has a point of contact.

She said, “Buses will take them to a location. We’re looking at places in Egypt: Luxor and some other place there. So, really there’s been tremendous progress.  Mr President has given his nod immediately this happened, so there’s a lot.”

She warned against mobilisation efforts of the National Association of Nigeria Students involving the generation of funds to facilitate the transportation of Nigerian students in the North African country away from their campuses.

The PUNCH reports Air Peace, a private airline in Nigeria had disclosed its readiness to evacuate stranded Nigerians in Sudan, North-East Africa for free if the Federal Government can get them to a safe and secure airport in any of the neighbouring countries bordering Sudan.

This was disclosed in a statement on Monday by the Chairman and Chief Executive Office of the airline, Allen Onyema.

She added, “NANS, which I understand came up with this thing of ‘pay $100, come somewhere,’ the thing is, move to where? So, there’s no point taking you from one danger to another danger.

“And there were some people that were leaving that actually had to turn back because they would have been killed. So, now, they’ve returned to their various campuses.”

Dabiri-Erewa decried the actions of Nigerian students in Sudan leaving their universities without authorisation.

She said, “The issue of those students that gathered together, took a bus somewhere, here’s the thing: they’ve all had to go back to their universities because it was very risky of them.

“Just imagine in a war situation, you just see 20 buses moving without any permission from the military authorities, we’ll endanger the lives. So, that is why they’ve had to return.”

More troubles, as court quashes Nigeria Air’s hope of flying - VANGUARD

APRIL 24, 2023

*Asks NCAA to halts issuance of AOC

By Prince Okafor

Hopes of Nigerians witnessing the take-off of a new national carrier, Nigeria Air, before the end of this administration, remains a far cry.

This came as a Federal High Court sitting in Lagos asked the Director General of Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority, NCAA, to halt the issuance of an Air Operator’s Certificate, AOC, to Nigeria Air.

It would be recalled that Air Peace, Azman, Max Air, United Nigeria Airlines, and Top Brass Aviation Limited had taken the Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, Attorney General of the Federation, Nigeria Air, and Ethiopian Airlines to court to stop the airline from flying.

According to a motion filed November 10, 2023, the plaintiffs prayed the court for an order of interim injunction restraining the defendants either by themselves, agents, privies, principals, or any other persons whatsoever from executing the proposed draft, “National Carrier’ establishment between the Federal Government of Nigeria and the strategic equity partner (second defendant) or giving effect to or suspending the sale and transfer of the share and operations of the first defendant by the second defendant pending the determination of the motion on notice.

Also, the minister of aviation, Hadi Sirika had also expressed optimism that the new national carrier will commence operations before May 29 when the present government will exit the stage.

But, in an orders of interim and interlocutory injunctions, Justice A.Lewis Allagoa restrained any step in relations to the Nigeria Air project.

This was contained in a letter dated 19th April, 2023, notifying the NCAA of the restraining order by the plaintiff’s lawyer Abubakar Nuhu Ahmed, Esq. of Nureini Jimoh (SAN) Chambers.

The letter reads: “You are therefore notified to desist from dealing with the Minister/the Ministry of Aviation and/ or their agents, privies or representatives, pertaining the Air Operator Certificate (AOC), subject matter of the suit, to avoid consequences of disobedience of court orders”.

“As a law-abiding Regulatory Agency, you are under the watchful eyes of the world and it is in your interest to desist from any further action on AOC process that will ridicule the integrity of the Agency before the local media as well as the Global Aviation Community.”

What Nigeria, US, UK, Canada, other nations are doing to extract citizens from Sudan - THE GUARDIAN

APRIL 25, 2023

Multiple nations have scrambled to evacuate embassy staff and citizens by road, air and sea from chaos-torn Sudan, where fighting between the army and paramilitaries has killed hundreds.

Rescue operations intensified Tuesday as a 72-hour ceasefire took effect, but gunfire still rang out in the capital Khartoum.

Some evacuees have been airlifted from Khartoum and taken to Djibouti, Jordan and Cyprus.

Others have driven to Port Sudan, 850 kilometres (530 miles) away, then boarded ships to Saudi Arabia, or headed by road to Egypt and Ethiopia.

Here is an overview of what nations around the world have done in recent days in efforts to take stranded citizens to safety.

– Mideast and Africa –
Saudi Arabia led the first large-scale evacuations Saturday by sea, and since then hundreds of Saudis and foreigners from more than 20 countries have been taken to the port city of Jeddah.

Jordan late Sunday airlifted nearly 350 people including Palestinians, Iraqis, Syrians and Germans to a military airport in the kingdom, and on Monday announced “20 Jordanians arrived” aboard a German plane.

More than 50 Lebanese and 105 Libyans have left on a Saudi vessel.

Egypt’s military last week evacuated 177 soldiers, and on Sunday said 436 citizens had left by land. More than 10,000 Egyptians are thought to live in Sudan.

Turkey began operations on Sunday, taking some of its estimated 600 nationals by road from Khartoum and elsewhere.

Over 200 Moroccans were taken to Port Sudan in convoys organised by their embassy, Rabat said Monday.

Algeria and Tunisia have also announced rescue operations, and Mauritania said 101 citizens had reached Port Sudan.

Chad said it was sending planes to collect 438 citizens from Port Sudan.

Kenya, with about 3,000 citizens in Sudan, evacuated 19 Kenyans, 19 Somalis and a Saudi national, who landed in Nairobi on Monday night.

Nigeria plans to get nearly 3,000 nationals, mostly students, out by convoy to Egypt this week, an official said Monday.

Uganda has evacuated more than 200 nationals on buses via Ethiopia, its ambassador told AFP.

Ivory Coast said 47 citizens were headed by bus from Khartoum to Cairo.

South Africa has begun evacuating dozens of embassy staff and citizens “to a neighbouring country for safety”, foreign affairs spokesman Clayson Monyela told AFP.

– North America –
The US military sent three Chinook helicopters on Sunday to evacuate embassy staff from Khartoum, extracting just under 100 people.

Washington initially warned any wider effort to evacuate other Americans is unlikely in the coming days, but on Monday the Pentagon said officials were looking into potential land routes out of the country.

Canada has pulled its embassy staff out, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said.

– Europe –
Britain on Tuesday said it had launched “a large-scale evacuation” of its citizens, following an operation Sunday to take out embassy staff and their dependents.

Foreign Office minister Andrew Mitchell said some 4,000 Britons with dual nationality and 400 with UK-only passports were in Sudan.

EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said Monday that 1,000 EU citizens had been evacuated.

France has evacuated 538 people, President Emmanuel Macron said Tuesday, with French citizens just over one-third of them.

Germany said Monday three flights had left and a fourth was on its way to airlift a total of 400.

Ukraine said Tuesday it had evacuated 138 people, including 87 of its own citizens, to Egypt.

The Netherlands said “around 100 Dutch citizens have been evacuated, half of them on Dutch flights”, which also carried 70 others, according to the foreign ministry.

Italy evacuated around 200 people in a military operation Sunday, rescuing all Italian citizens who “had asked to leave” and others including Vatican representatives.

A Spanish military plane with 100 passengers, 30 of them Spanish, left Sunday for Djibouti, Madrid said.

A first group of 17 Greek nationals arrived Tuesday in Athens on an army transport plane via Djibouti, the defence ministry said, with several more Greeks evacuated to Jordan on board a Dutch plane.

Cyprus said it was exploring options to rescue some 20 citizens trapped in Sudan.

Austria, Bulgaria, Hungary and Romania said citizens had been evacuated with foreign help. As of Monday around 65 from those countries, nearly half of them Austrian, were still awaiting rescue.

– Asia –
China said Monday it had “safely evacuated” a first group of citizens, estimating about 1,500 “Chinese compatriots” were in Sudan.

New Delhi said on Monday “about 500 Indians have reached Port Sudan. More on their way.”

Pakistan said a convoy carrying 211 of its citizens arrived in Port Sudan on Tuesday, bringing the total number of Pakistanis evacuated to 700, with some 1,500 still remaining in Sudan.

Japan has evacuated 45 citizens aboard a military plane via Djibouti and temporarily closed its embassy.

A plane carrying 28 South Koreans including diplomats arrived in Jeddah on Monday, a Saudi official said.

Indonesia said it had moved 538 nationals to Port Sudan, with another 289 due to travel in a second phase.

Malaysia said 30 nationals had arrived in Port Sudan on Tuesday, as well as 26 other nationals including two US citizens.

The Philippines, with some 700 citizens in Sudan, said Tuesday 50 had been evacuated from Khartoum and were travelling overland to Egypt.

“We will do what we can,” said foreign affairs official Eduardo de Vega. “It’s very difficult.”

Russian airspace ban means pricier flights for Canadian travellers and airlines - BLOOMBERG

APRIL 25, 2023

Ross Aimer still recalls the snow-white Russian tundra unfurling on the horizon during flights he piloted between the U.S. and Asia.

“In summertime, it's all daytime flying. That's beautiful views,” said Aimer, CEO of California-based Aero Consulting Experts and a former United Airlines captain.

Those vistas are no longer available to flight crews from many Western countries. Russia barred Canadian, American, British and European Union operators from its airspace more than a year ago in response to airspace prohibitions against it by those states and others that support Ukraine, after Moscow invaded its neighbour in February 2022.

European airlines are among the most affected, having to reroute planes on hours-long detours to reach Asia and parts of the Middle East.

But Canadian carriers are impacted too, with planes en route to East Asia and South Asia forced to skirt around Russian airspace daily, and no sign of relief on the radar. The detours mean longer trips, greater fuel and labour costs and ultimately higher fares for passengers amid soaring inflation and already pricey international travel.

“It's definitely a negative for U.S. airlines and for Canadian airlines. It is definitely an issue,” said Helane Becker, an aviation analyst with TD Cowen.

Flight paths to Asia don’t cut straight across the Pacific Ocean, but rather run the shortest possible distance by tracing an arc through the Arctic — and, before the airspace bans, through eastern Russia.

“The optimal flight route between Canada and Southeast Asia and everything in between would have you pass through parts of Russian airspace, from the point basically north of the Korean Peninsula and then down,” said former Air Canada chief operating officer Duncan Dee.

The adjusted routes, marked on flight-tracking apps that show a steady stream of jetliners skirting Russian airspace over the Bering Sea, can be 10 per cent longer in distance than before the war. That applies for flights from Vancouver to Hong Kong or from Toronto to Delhi, said Robert Kokonis, president of consulting firm AirTrav Inc. Other non-stop routes, such as Vancouver to Bangkok or Seoul, would also need a course correction.

The extra fuel burned as a result is no rounding error. Though down from its peak last June, jet fuel’s price of US$2.68 per gallon in March still marks a 41 per cent jump from four years earlier.

“That adds to the ticket price for the consumer,” Becker said.

One-way Air Canada fares from Vancouver to Hong Kong rose 41 per cent between January 2019 and January 2023, according to flight data firm Cirium. The airline’s flights from Toronto to Delhi cost 47 per cent more over the same time period.

In contrast, the average fare for all flights — not just Air Canada’s — between Vancouver and Hong Kong actually dropped by 22 per cent between January 2019 and January 2023. Trips between Toronto and Delhi saw prices rise just 25 per cent. Those corridors are used by carriers that include China Airlines, Cathay Pacific, Korean Air and Air India — all of which are exempt from Russia’s airspace ban and enjoying a lower cost per trip.

That puts Air Canada and other barred airlines at a competitive disadvantage, said Aimer, who last piloted a plane over Russia some two decades ago.

“Every minute you add, the cost goes up,” he said. “If you could go over the (North) Pole, you save up to one or two hours. Now you have to go a more southerly route.

“Western airlines that do not go over Russian territory … are at a financial disadvantage,” he said. “Most of the northern part of the world is Russian airspace.”

Asia isn't Air Canada’s biggest market, but it is a substantial slice. Flights to Pacific countries accounted for more than 14 per cent of its $17.23-billion revenue in 2019. Moreover, travel between China and North America has been ramping up since the former began to reopen after prolonged COVID-19 travel restrictions — meaning western airlines may contend with thinner margins on a crowded field.

"Many of Air Canada’s routes to Asia, India and the Middle East have had some rerouting due to the prohibition on Russian airspace," said spokesman Peter Fitzpatrick in an email. Some, such as Vancouver-Delhi, have been suspended.

"Longer routes increase costs and fuel consumption and reduce passenger capacity and cargo loads, making certain routes uncompetitive and/or uneconomically viable."

Industry group Airlines for America has pegged the lost annual market share of U.S. carriers at about US$2 billion per year, noting that some planned routes have been put on hold thanks to the ban.

The group has pressed the White House and Congress to bar airlines that still fly over Russia from landing or departing at U.S. airports – effectively subjecting those carriers to the same restrictions facing U.S. airlines.

Air Canada said governments should "ensure there is a level playing field that provides for fair competition and equitable opportunities for all carriers," but did not specify how that might translate to policy.

Canada’s biggest carrier might take comfort in its profit-sharing deal with Air China, part of a code-share agreement that sees each airline market flights operated by the other under its own banner.

But Air Canada runs its own flights to some of Asia’s biggest air hubs, meaning the trips remain subject to Moscow’s prohibition.

“Code-shares are obviously advantageous, but not to a point that you give up that route — surrender it to a code-share partner. You’d make a little bit of money, but not as much as you would if you flew it to yourself,” Aimer said.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 23, 2023.

Airfares hit new high as foreign airlines settle for N582/$1 - THE GUARDIAN

APRIL 26, 2023

By Wole Oyebade

• Six-hour economy return-trip between N1.1m and N2.97m • Qatar, European carriers repatriate from I&E window, reopen naira inventories • Air travel goes elitist, exclusive to the rich, needs local capacity – experts say

For the third time in less than a month, the rate of exchange (RoE) applicable to foreign airlines has ballooned, hitting N582/$1 with attendant spike in the cost of international air travel.

At the new RoE, registered by the Global Distribution System (GDS), a six-hour Lagos-London economy class ticket now fluctuates between N1.1 million and N2.97 million – subject to airline of choice, place and time of booking. Its business class variant sells for an average of N3.36 million to N4.8 million.

While stakeholders regretted that the development has further pushed international air travel beyond the reach of average Nigerians, they acknowledged the inherent respite on foreign airlines that are patronising the Investors’ and Exporters’ (I&E) FX window for fund repatriation, and reopening of naira inventories to travel agencies in the countries.

It will be recalled that the international segment of the aviation sector has been in a stuck fund crisis in the last one year, with knock-on effects on inventories, asking price, and near-collapse of local travel agencies.

Earlier intervention by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) did pledge $265 million in August 2022, leaving a balance of $200 million of the fund. But the stranded funds kept piling by daily sales of tickets, to warrant Emirates Airlines quitting the Nigerian route late October 2022. As at the last check, industry sources said the accumulated was well over $800 million.

The Guardian learnt that following a negotiation to end the logjam, the authorities recently conceded a shift from the official CBN window to the volatile I&E window for the repatriation of foreign airlines’ funds in Nigeria.

The push-pull effect has been evident in the applicable rate of exchange, and attendant cost of travel. At this time last month, the RoE was pegged at N462 to a dollar. About a week later, the rate climbed to N500/$1. Some days afterwards, it reached N551. Last week, the high vicissitude window hit a new high of N582/$1, with airfares tagging along.

Inquiries by The Guardian showed a varying price range across international carriers on the Nigerian route. For instance, Qatar and Ethiopian Airways have some of the cheapest airfares en route London destination – being one of the most popular for Nigerian air travellers.

A Lagos-London-Lagos economy class ticket seat on Qatar (with stopover in Doha), at the weekend, cost an average of N1.2 million. Its business class was sold for N4.8 million. The flagship African carrier, Ethiopia (via Addis Ababa), offered the two cabins for N1.1 million and N3.36 million, respectively.

Legacy carriers like British Airways (BA) and Virgin Atlantic (VA) are on the higher side. Direct Lagos-London-Lagos flight ticket on BA costs an average of N1.8 million in economy cabin and N4.41 million for business class travellers. VA offered the economy class for an average of N2.2 million.

American carrier on the Lagos-Atlanta-Lagos route, Delta Air, charged an average of N4.64 million for economy, and N8.36 million per seat in the business cabin. Similar route on Qatar (via Doha) averages N3.24 million for economy and N4.53 for Business Class travellers.

Travel operators and experts alike were unanimous that the new rates were inevitable and partly a good omen in the current market realities.

Notwithstanding the extra push in the cost of travel that is passed to consumers, President of the National Association of Nigerian Travel Agencies (NANTA), Susan Akporiaye, said the new dispensation in fare pricing is partly solving the problem of stuck funds, and accessibility of tickets to Nigerians.

Akporiaye told reporters that foreign airlines were beginning to repatriate funds from tickets sold in local currency, with a chain reaction in reopening inventories to travel agencies.

Chairman of the Airlines and Passengers Joint Committee (APJC) of the International Air Transport Association (IATA), Bankole Bernard, said foreign airlines accessing the I&E window might be the permanent solution to the perennial problem of stuck funds, and unleashing the commercial viability of the international segment.

Bernard reiterated that the stuck fund crisis had regrettably dragged on for too long because the government was indecisive on what to do with the FX liquidity crisis, and its effects on the foreign airlines.

“The government has been neither here nor there. If you are telling the airlines not to sell at NAFEX rate, but in Naira, and they are not getting their equivalence for repatriation, then the government is the creator of the problem.

“But the airline has started getting their money because they are not waiting for the CBN anymore. They are doing I&E window, though it is higher, but it is good for the airlines, and even the government. The only people that are suffering in all of this are the masses.

“But when you do not subsidise airfares, the airlines will become commercially lucrative because they can sell at the RoE and repatriate their monies easily. Instead of doing one flight, they can do three trips, and make more money. In transport, the real income comes from volume and not yield,” Bernard said.

He added that with the development, a lot of airlines are beginning to warm up to the travel agencies again, and “we are certainly going to sell more tickets this year than last year”.

Travel expert, Sunday Olumegbon, however, said that the approach would further disenfranchise average Nigerians from the aviation industry.

Olumegbon noted that the recent surge in both local and international air traffic would be eroded by cut-throat pricing mechanisms.

Indeed, a summary of 2022 industry performance by the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), on the overall, showed a market rebound of over 16.17 million passengers recorded on both the domestic (12.7 million) and international (3.5 million) market segments.

The 2022 total traffic figure showed a 13 per cent increase when compared with 2021 figures (14.2 million), and the highest passenger traffic since the COVID-19 post-pandemic era.

Olumegbon said: “In a country of over 200 million, that less than seven per cent of the population travels by air is nothing to be proud of in modern aviation. It used to be eight per cent; so we are retrogressing in our numbers. With the new pricing, how many Nigeria residents will be able to afford international travel? That is the issue.

“Technically, we have solved a problem by creating another one. Aviation globally is the business of freedom. Here, we have further made it elitist, and only for the rich that can afford routine trips,” he said.

Apparently in agreement with Olumegbon, travel analyst, and member of the Aviation Safety Round Table Initiative (ASRTI), Olumide Ohunayo, said the solution to the high pricing regime is to build local capacity for fair competition.

Ohunayo explained that the upward adjustment in RoE is not the exclusive preserve of foreign airlines, rather, based on agreement with the CBN, and notification of the Civil Aviation Authority.

“Even before now, and due to accumulation of funds, the airlines have been selling only premiums to cushion the effect of the trapped funds. Now that they have increased the RoE through I&E window, I think we are gradually getting to the solution. What we need to do is to unify all these different rates like IMF, and the likes have advised. People are making so much money from the different windows, and breaking down the economy.

“Really, the fare going up is inevitable, and that is the situation we have found ourselves in. We only need to compete, and throw more capacities into the international segment. It is either you encourage Nigerian airlines to participate or increase frequencies of foreign airlines.

“I want to see Nigerian airlines participating in the foreign segment. I am seeing local airlines (Air Peace) going to India, Israel, but what is happening to the core routes like London, Ireland, U.S.? We must throw in the capacity to bring down prices,” Ohunayo said.

Stowaways put Nigeria aviation security on the global spot - PUNCH

APRIL 26, 2023

The recent discovery of a deceased stowaway in KLM flight from Lagos to Amsterdam highlights the need for improved security in Nigerian airports, writes FUNMI FABUNMI

The discovery of a deceased stowaway in the wheel well of a KLM flight from Lagos to Amsterdam last week has again brought to the fore the need for managers of the country’s airports to improve security measures and ensure thorough inspections of aircraft before departure. The recent incident highlights the loose ends in airports’ security that airlines and aviation authorities to review and tighten. It was also a pointer that airport security protocols need to be updated regularly to ensure the safety of passengers and crew onboard. Aviation authorities should tie every loose end and ensure that stowaways find it extremely difficult to beat security guards and airport officials.

A stowaway is a person who hides aboard a ship, aeroplane, or other vehicle in order to make a journey secretly or without paying.

Stowaways in wheel wells of aircraft face extreme temperatures that can drop to as low as minus 50 degrees during longer flights, leading to unconsciousness and hypothermia. Despite the risks of death, some stowaways still attempt to use this method to travel without proper documentation, seeking a better life or escaping difficult situations in their home countries.

The Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority disclosed that it has commenced a probe into the recent dead stowaway found in the wheel well of a KLM Royal Dutch Airlines Boeing 777 (registered PH-BQM) on April 17. The probe is to determine the circumstances surrounding the incident. It is hoped that the findings of the probe would help the aviation authority forestall a future occurrence.

The discovery of the yet-to-be-identified stowaway has raised questions about how and when the man was able to climb into the aircraft, which originated from Lagos undiscovered.

The General Manager of the Public Relations Department, NCAA, Sam Adurogboye, when asked about the incident said, “On our part, we will continue to strengthen our oversight over the service providers with a view to put an end to issues like these. All incidences are investigated. The outcome will determine the next line of action.”

Also, the Acting General Manager, Corporate Affairs of the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria, Faithful Hope-Ivbaze, who spoke with our correspondent in a telephone interview said, “I cannot speak on this subject now because the investigation is ongoing.”


Past incidences

In April 2021, the body of a man was found underneath a plane which left Lagos and landed at Amsterdam Airport. The man, thought to be a stowaway, was discovered inside a wheel arch at Schiphol airport.

Dutch authorities stated that they had launched an investigation into the man’s identity and the cause of death.

A spokesperson for the Royal Netherlands Marechaussee said, “The man had holed up in the wheel arch of the plane. The low temperatures have presumably been fatal to him during the flight. If they survive the extremely dangerous journey they can then try and claim asylum.”

In similar cases, a boy, 16, from Kenya hid in the landing gear of a plane flying to Maastricht Aachen airport from London, in February 2021. He survived but was hospitalised with severe hypothermia.

Also, a mystery man fell from the sky in south London and his dead body was found in Clapham Garden. He had been hiding in the landing gear of a Kenya Airways flight to Heathrow.

In October 2020, four people stowed away on the rudder of an oil tanker from Lagos, hiding for 10 days before they were discovered by police as the vessel came into Las Palmas.

In 2019, the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria officials identified a man found climbing an Azman aircraft, who was arrested and handed over to the police for interrogation.

According to the UN Refugee Agency guidelines, “Stowaway asylum-seekers must be protected against forcible return to their country of origin” as they are in a “particularly vulnerable situation in need of international protection and durable solutions.”

Despite the risks, stowaways still attempt to use this method to travel without proper documentation or authorization.


Experts’ comments

Speaking with The PUNCH, the MD of Selective Securities International Limited, Mr Ayo Obilana, raised questions that would help aviation authorities to get to the root of stowaways gaining access to airplanes.

He said, “There is a need for thorough investigation regarding the incident, particularly on one, how the ‘extra passenger’ managed to sneak into his death.”

According to him, the age, gender and other vital information about the deceased passenger must be dug out.

He also said investigators should find out who discovered the body of the dead stowaway.

“A video clip of CCTV of the area on the night/day of departure would help. Forestalling a future occurrence would be very important,” he stated.

Also speaking, the Chief Executive Officer of Centurion Aviation Ltd., John Ojikutu, asked if the dead body was that of a passenger or a stowaway.

He said, “If it was a passenger, the airline be held responsible. If it was a stowaway, then the airport security operatives or authority at the operating/security-restricted area must be held responsible. If it was a stowaway, he must have been an airport/airline staff or former staff who had worked closely with aircraft or must have been a mole ‘working’ in the airport, or could have been aided by someone (insiders threat), working in the airport restricted area.

EFCC receives list of 600 vehicles smuggled into Nigeria from FBI - BUSINESSDAY

APRIL 28, 2023

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has said that it received a list of 600 smuggled vehicles into Nigeria from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).

Moses Oguzi, assistant commander, EFCC, made this known at BusinessDay’s annual Future of Payment and Fraud Conference 2023.

“Most of them use the money to procure expensive vehicles. Many of the cars you see on Lagos car lots do not belong to car dealers. They buy expensive vehicles and ship them down. The money is stolen in Canada, USA and UK,” Oguzi said.

According to him, most times a cyber criminal who is part of an interborder crime syndicate defraud people in other countries and we get Intel from the FBI. FBI has been able to do a preliminary investigation traced to Nigeria.

Oguzi further said that in February 2022, the president signed into law the Proceeds of Crime Act (POCA) 2022. It helps in recovery of looted funds used to procure properties.

With the establishment of this Act, the EFCC will be able to recover the looted funds used in procurring vehicles.

“Once that fund is placed in an account. We approach that court for an interim forfeiture order and the court will oblige because we have been able to establish a link,” he said.

Oguzi noted that wire transfer fraud is the most common cyber fraud in Nigeria.

Meanwhile, Ade Bajomo, president Fintech NGR said that to address incessant cybercrime in Nigeria, there is need for more ethical law enforcement agents.

“The world is fast becoming intangible, criminals move ahead of law enforcement agencies, so there’s need to have more ethical law enforcement agents to catch up with them,” he said


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