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Air Peace Commences Abuja-Gombe Flights - THISDAY

APRIL 23, 2021

Air Peace has announced plan to launch scheduled commercial flights into Gombe from Abuja. Similarly, the airline has also revealed plans to resume its Yola flight services.

The Chief Operating Officer of the airline, Oluwatoyin Olajide, disclosed this in a statement. Olajide stated that the decision to commence the Abuja-Gombe-Abuja route was a reflection of Air Peace’s resolve to open up the North East as the region is currently underserved.

“As part of our strategic route expansion drive and the determination to provide key connections addressing the air travel needs of Nigerians while fostering economic development and unity, we are set to kick off Gombe operations and resume our Yola flight services very soon”, she said.

According to Olajide, the airline has already set up the Gombe station and is calling on residents of the state to apply to the airline, as there are roles to be filled in the station. Commenting on aircraft maintenance, she said, “We have 17 aircraft undergoing varying levels of maintenance overseas and once they start returning, we shall launch more routes and resume others that we

United Nigeria Begins Scheduled Flights - THISDAY

APRIL 23, 2021

United Nigeria Airlines yesterday commenced regular scheduled flight operations to the Domestic Wing of Port Harcourt International Airport.

The inaugural flight to Port Harcourt, according to Head, Corporate Communications for the airline, Achilleus-Chud Uchegbu, was expected to depart the Murtala Mohammed Airport terminal two (MM2) in Ikeja, Lagos at 1.30pm.

Regular flights from Port Harcourt to the Nnamdi Azikiwe Airport in Abuja was also expected to depart at 3:00pm daily while flights from Abuja to Port Harcourt would depart at 4:30pm every day.

United Nigeria would also operate regular flights from Port Harcourt to Lagos every day at 6:00pm.

“The above will remain a regular schedule of United Nigeria Airlines on the Port Harcourt route”, he said. The Chief Operating officer (COO) of the airline, Osita Okonkwo said its operations, customer service and destinations have been organised to ensure excellence.

“We are also trying to cope with them and being open with our passengers, our customers, our suppliers, our vendors for them to know where we are coming from and how we intend to cope,” he added.

Local airlines rebound with traffic surge, new routes - THE GUARDIAN

APRIL 23, 2021

By Wole Oyebade

•Air Peace, Arik, Dana expand operations

Despite the operational hiccups facing the sector, local airlines have recorded a marginal rebound in business, recording improved passenger patronage across networks.

And in response to the uptake, some of the carriers are opening new routes and reactivating old ones to increase nationwide connectivity.

The Guardian recently reported that the liquidity crisis in the economy was eating deeper into the daily operations of the local airlines, causing airlines’ capacity to dwindle and airfares hitting the rooftop.

The situation has not improved, but business appears to be looking upon the traffic end of the industry.

The Lagos hub of the local aviation sector, for instance, recorded over a million passenger traffic in the last four months. Estimates by the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) showed that the Murtala Muhammed Airport (MMA), Lagos, in the first quarter of 2021 alone recorded a total of 739,560.

A breakdown of the figure showed that the international terminal recorded 323,751 while local terminals had 402,519 passengers.

A total of 17,286 aircraft were recorded at the airport. Domestic aircraft movement was 12,744 while international wing recorded 4,542.

The Manager of the Lagos Airport, Victoria Shin-Aba, said there was no significant drop in the traffic, as Lagos remains the business nerve centre of the country with most flights terminating at the airport.

Shin-Aba noted that passengers were gradually recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic slur, with more people getting emboldened to fly.

“It is like a gradual reawakening; a gradual restart away from the COVID-19. Then came the second wave but that did not discourage people from travelling. So, business is growing gradually.”

Operators said they were responding to the improvement by deepening route operations to serve customers better.

West and Central Africa’s largest carrier, Air Peace, said it would be launching scheduled commercial flights into Gombe from Abuja, and also resume Yola flight services soon.

Chief Operating Officer of the airline, Oluwatoyin Olajide, said the decision to commence the Abuja-Gombe-Abuja route was a reflection of Air Peace’s resolve to open up the North East as the region is currently underserved.

Olajide said the airline had already set up the Gombe station, calling on residents of the state to apply to the airline as there are roles to be filled in the station.

On aircraft maintenance, she said: “We have 17 aircraft undergoing varying levels of maintenance overseas and once they start returning, we shall launch more routes and resume others that we temporarily suspend.”

She added that the two brand new 124-seat capacity E195-E2 jets, recently received from Embraer, would soon be deployed to boost domestic and regional flight connectivity.

New entrant, United Nigeria Airlines is adding to its network, with the commencement of regularly scheduled flight operations to the domestic wing of Port Harcourt International Airport. The inaugural flight from Lagos is scheduled for Thursday, April 22, 2021.

Similarly, Arik Air is resuming direct flights from Lagos to Kano effective Tuesday, April 27, 2021. The three weekly flights will operate on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays.

Arik said the decision to reintroduce direct flights between Lagos and Kano was informed by the importance of both cities as centres of commerce.

Head, Corporate Communications, Achilleus-Chud Uchegbu, said regular flights from Port Harcourt to the Nnamdi Azikiwe Airport in Abuja would depart at 3 pm daily while flights from Abuja to Port Harcourt will depart at 4:30 pm every day.

Dana Air is investing more in human capacity development, decorating new captains on its Boeing 737 aircraft among others.

Decorating Captain Shina Agbelese and Captain Ademola Akinyemi in Lagos, the Chief Operating Officer of Dana Air, Obi Mbanuzuo, said it was exciting to see young Nigerian Pilots performing excellently, and doing amazingly well.

Mbanuzuo said: “It takes a lot to train pilots and with over 80 per cent of our pilots trained by Dana Air, we would continue to be a trailblazer in building capacity for homegrown pilots. We are glad to be making a huge impact in this regard and contributing our quota to the growth and stability of the industry.”

Why Kano, PH, Enugu are Yet to Resume International Flights - THISDAY

APRIL 23, 2021

BY  Chinedu Eze

The federal government’s delay in issuing notice to airmen (NOTAM) and low passenger turnout are key factors delaying the resumption of international flights from the Mallam Aminu Kano International Airport, Kano; Port Harcourt International Airport, Omagwa; and the Akanu Ibiam International Airport, Enugu.

This is just as THISDAY learnt on Wednesday that the alleged insistence by the United Arab Emirates (UAE) that only Emirates Airlines would be allowed to operate to Dubai from Nigeria has prompted the Minister of Aviation to deny the Middle East airline the approval to resume flights to Abuja and Lagos.

THISDAY investigations revealed that after the special flights operated by Ethiopia Airlines and Egypt Air on April 6, 2021, from Kano to Addis Ababa and Cairo respectively, international flight service was expected to have officially opened from the Kano airport, but airlines are yet to complete their documentations to kick-off operations from there.

THISDAY also learnt that the delay in issuing NOTAM announcing that flights have resumed at the Enugu and Port Harcourt airports was also the reason why flights were yet to start from the two airports, just as Lufthansa, which operates to Port Harcourt airport was yet to express readiness to fly to that destination due to feared low turnout of passengers.

A senior official of the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) who disclosed these to THISDAY said Kano airport was officially opened after the special flights by the two African airlines on April 6, but while Port Harcourt Airport has been certified as meeting all the health and other protocols for international service, Enugu, which has met the health protocols is yet to be certified because other protocols, which include markings are yet to be completed.

“Kano airport has been opened officially for international flight service, but the airlines designated to the airport have not completed their documentation. We have agreed that airlines should start operations to Port Harcourt airport because work has been completed there and the international wing of the airport has been marked, but Lufthansa, which is the only international carrier that goes to the airport, has not indicated interest to resume due to possible low traffic.

“Kano, Enugu and Port Harcourt have received Airport Council International (Africa) health accreditation, but as we are opening our airports, Europe is closing theirs. Lufthansa is doing only Abuja and Lagos for now. Ethiopia Airlines will go to Enugu.

“We are waiting for them to go to Enugu, but I cannot confirm if we have finished other protocols for the international wing of Enugu airport, but I will go to Enugu next week for the Airport Performance Evaluation, but I understand that availability of passengers will determine the decision of airlines to resume operations in these three airports,” the source who pleaded to remain anonymous said.

THISDAY also learnt from airline sources that Ethiopia Airlines has concluded plans to operate from Enugu airport, but it is waiting for NOTAM from the federal government to resume flights. Meanwhile, Sirika may not allow Emirates to resume operation to Nigeria until the UAE carrier drops the condition that it should be only the carrier that would operate from Nigeria, thus allegedly demanding that Air Peace and other carriers such as Ethiopia Airlines, Egypt Air and RwandAir should stop airlifting passengers to Dubai from Nigeria.

The Regional Terminal Manager, South West, in charge of the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos, Mrs. Victoria Shin-Aba confirmed to THISDAY that Emirates was yet to resume flights in Nigeria.

On February 4 Emirates insisted that it must conduct Rapid Antigens Test (RDT) for Nigerian passengers travelling to Dubai four hours before they board their flights and in addition to the accepted PCR test made compulsory by the federal government.

Officials of travel agencies told THISDAY that they were fully in support of the decision of the federal government not to allow only Emirates to operate to Dubai from Nigeria, saying that travel agents would not make money and air fares would become outrageously high if Emirates was allowed to enjoy such monopoly and this would also shut the door against Nigeria’s indigenous carrier, Air Peace that operates to Sharjah in the United Arab Emirates.

Shin-Aba also told THISDAY that until PTF on COVID-19 provides the needed infrastructure for the rapid test, Emirates would not resume operations in Nigeria.

She also disclosed that other international airlines have started flight operations and things have normalized; however, the passenger traffic has not increased. Shhin-aba added that COVID-19 protocols of other countries are not discouraging factor to travellers because “air travel is derived demand; people have reason to travel and they are ready to do anything required for them to travel.”

FG Deploys Cameras to Passport Offices to Check Racketeering - THISDAY

APRIL 23, 2021

BY Michael Olugbode in Abuja

The federal government has deployed hidden and public cameras to all passport offices across the country to check passport racketeering and corruption.

Addressing journalists yesterday after a meeting with all passport control officers in 42 passport offices nationwide and immigration attaches in foreign missions who joined the meeting virtually, the Minister of Interior, Rauf Aregbesola, said efforts are on to embed security operatives both seen and unseen, in all passport offices.

He said: “They will wear body cameras. They will detect and report any form of solicitations, inflation, improper communications, extortion, diversion, hoarding and other corrupt practices,” warning that those caught will be dealt with according to the law.

The minister further disclosed that an Ombudsman would also be created for members of the public to receive complaints and reports on officers trying to deviate from prescribed guidelines and subvert process.

Aregbesola said: “Therefore, I am declaring a zero-tolerance stance to all forms of touting. No applicant will be made to pay any illegitimate fees.”

He said the entire passport application process by the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) would be witnessing an entire turnaround in six weeks, so as to ensure seamless, transparent, as well as accord human dignity to applicants and fulfill citizenship integrity in line with the mandate of the Ministry of Interior.

Aregbesola in his speech titled: ‘A New Dawn in Passport Application Processing’, said: “We have had several challenges in the past, including shortage of booklets, touting, racketeering, inflating the cost, passports being issued to ineligible persons, among others. It has become imperative therefore to review our operations and rejig our system in order to offer excellent services to our clients.”

Highlights of the meeting with the Comptroller-General of NIS, Mohammad Babandede; Passport Officers, as well as the attaches in Nigeria Missions abroad, According to Aregbesola, included the creation of special centres for expedited services.

“These special centres are to run on public-private partnership (PPP) basis. This has already taken off in Abuja and 10 more will be opened in coming weeks, as more of such centres will be opened all over the country. Our goal is to have one in each local government area, university campuses, institutions of higher learning and other places,” he stated.

He also said timeline would be fixed for every application, such as the collection date which will be six weeks, comparable to what is obtained in other countries, which will allow for enough time to investigate and validate personal information supplied by the applicants.

The minister said henceforth, applicants would have no basis for further communication with officers, other than to complete their application process and leave the venue, as the date for the collection of their passports or any challenge to the application, will be communicated to them.

Aregbesola, who expressed gratitude to President Muhammadu Buhari for his consistent support for the Ministry of Interior and all its agencies, also commended Babandede for his “tireless efforts and the unprecedented success the agency has recorded under his leadership.”

Michael Olugbode in Abuja

The federal government has deployed hidden and public cameras to all passport offices across the country to check passport racketeering and corruption.

Addressing journalists yesterday after a meeting with all passport control officers in 42 passport offices nationwide and immigration attaches in foreign missions who joined the meeting virtually, the Minister of Interior, Rauf Aregbesola, said efforts are on to embed security operatives both seen and unseen, in all passport offices.

He said: “They will wear body cameras. They will detect and report any form of solicitations, inflation, improper communications, extortion, diversion, hoarding and other corrupt practices,” warning that those caught will be dealt with according to the law.

The minister further disclosed that an Ombudsman would also be created for members of the public to receive complaints and reports on officers trying to deviate from prescribed guidelines and subvert process.

Aregbesola said: “Therefore, I am declaring a zero-tolerance stance to all forms of touting. No applicant will be made to pay any illegitimate fees.”

He said the entire passport application process by the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) would be witnessing an entire turnaround in six weeks, so as to ensure seamless, transparent, as well as accord human dignity to applicants and fulfill citizenship integrity in line with the mandate of the Ministry of Interior.

Aregbesola in his speech titled: ‘A New Dawn in Passport Application Processing’, said: “We have had several challenges in the past, including shortage of booklets, touting, racketeering, inflating the cost, passports being issued to ineligible persons, among others. It has become imperative therefore to review our operations and rejig our system in order to offer excellent services to our clients.”

Highlights of the meeting with the Comptroller-General of NIS, Mohammad Babandede; Passport Officers, as well as the attaches in Nigeria Missions abroad, According to Aregbesola, included the creation of special centres for expedited services.

“These special centres are to run on public-private partnership (PPP) basis. This has already taken off in Abuja and 10 more will be opened in coming weeks, as more of such centres will be opened all over the country. Our goal is to have one in each local government area, university campuses, institutions of higher learning and other places,” he stated.

He also said timeline would be fixed for every application, such as the collection date which will be six weeks, comparable to what is obtained in other countries, which will allow for enough time to investigate and validate personal information supplied by the applicants.

The minister said henceforth, applicants would have no basis for further communication with officers, other than to complete their application process and leave the venue, as the date for the collection of their passports or any challenge to the application, will be communicated to them.

Aregbesola, who expressed gratitude to President Muhammadu Buhari for his consistent support for the Ministry of Interior and all its agencies, also commended Babandede for his “tireless efforts and the unprecedented success the agency has recorded under his leadership.”

United Nigeria Airlines Begin Flights To Port Harcourt - DAILY TRUST

APRIL 24, 2021

United Nigeria Airlines will begin regularly scheduled flight operations to the Domestic Wing of Port Harcourt International Airport on April 22.

The inaugural flight to Port Harcourt will depart the Murtala Mohammed Airport (MM2) in Ikeja, Lagos State at 1.30 pm, the airline stated on Tuesday.

Regular flights from Port Harcourt to the Nnamdi Azikiwe Airport in Abuja will depart at 3:00 pm daily while flights from Abuja to Port Harcourt will depart at 4:30 pm every day.

Head Corporate Communications of the airline, Achilleus-Chud Uchegbu, in a statement disclosed that United Nigeria will also operate regular flights from Port Harcourt to Lagos every day at 6:00 pm.

This will remain a regular schedule of United Nigeria Airlines on the Port Harcourt route, he stated.

Insecurity - Reconsider Travelling to Nigeria, U.S. Warns American Citizens - PREMIUM TIMES

APRIL 24, 2021

By Alfred Olufemi

The US government travel advisory identifies some high-risk zones in Nigeria, where kidnapping for ransom, terrorism and other security threats are recurrent.

The United States government has issued a travel advisory, warning its citizens against travelling to Nigeria over the worsening security situation in the country.

This was posted on Tuesday, via MyTravelGov, a travel advisory platform managed by the Department of State's Bureau of Consular Affairs.

The advisory also identified some high-risk zones in the country, where kidnapping for ransom, terrorism and other security threats are recurrent.

"Reconsider travel to Nigeria due to crime, terrorism, civil unrest, kidnapping, and maritime crime. Some areas have increased risk.

"Do Not Travel to: Borno, Yobe, and northern Adamawa states due to terrorism and kidnapping Bauchi, Gombe, Kaduna, Kano, Katsina, and Zamfara states due to kidnapping, Coastal areas of Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa, Cross River, Delta, and Rivers states (with the exception of Port Harcourt) due to crime, kidnapping, and maritime crime," the American government advised.

It further stated that violent crime - such as armed robbery, assault, carjacking, kidnapping, hostage-taking, banditry, and rape - is common throughout the country.

"Kidnappings for ransom occur frequently, often targeting dual national citizens who have returned to Nigeria for a visit, as well as U.S. citizens with perceived wealth. Kidnapping gangs have also stopped victims on interstate roads.

"Terrorists continue plotting and carrying out attacks in Nigeria, especially in the Northeast. Terrorists may attack with little or no warning, targeting shopping centers, malls, markets, hotels, places of worship, restaurants, bars, schools, government installations, transportation hubs, and other places where crowds gather. Terrorists are known to work with local gangs to expand their reach."

"There is civil unrest and low-level armed militancy in parts of Southern Nigeria, especially in the Niger Delta region. Armed criminality, including kidnapping and maritime crime, is also pervasive in this region."

"Violence can flare up between communities of farmers and herders in rural areas."

The advisory acknowledged the U.S. government's limited ability to provide emergency services to U.S. citizens in many areas of Nigeria due to security conditions.

Kidnapping for ransom has been on the rise in different parts of the country lately. In some cases, the victims are expatriates.

Despite several promises by security agencies and government officials to curb the menace, the situation has continued to worsen.

Passengers Protest Against Ibom Air at Lagos Airport - LEADERSHIP

APRIL 24, 2021

By Yusuf Babalola

Lagos — Passengers on Friday protested against Ibom Air over alleged delay of a scheduled flight to Enugu by the airline.

In a viral amateur video obtained by LEADERSHIP, the passengers were seen shouting and hurling abusive words at the members of staff of the airline at Murtala Muhammed Airport Terminal 2 (MM2) counter.

However, Police officers in the aviation terminal were seen mediating between the two parties.

Ibom Air, a local airline owned by Nigeria's largest oil-producing state Akwa Ibom, was launched in the second quarter of 2019.

When contacted, the chief operating officer of the airline, George Uriesi, said there wasn't a cancellation of the flight but the passengers arrived late for their flight.

"There was absolutely no cancellation of any flight by Ibom Air. Those passengers were late for their flight and arrived at the counter after check-in time to Enugu had closed.

"This is a common occurrence at our counters. The flight in question departed on time. The passengers were upset that check-in had closed when they arrived," Uriesi added.

Italy bans arrivals from virus-hit India - AFP

APRIL 25, 2021

Italy is to ban arrivals from coronavirus hotspot India, apart from Italian residents, Health Minister Roberto Speranza said Sunday.

“I have signed a new decree banning people from entering Italy who have been in India within the past 14 days,” Speranza wrote on Facebook.

“We can’t let our guard down” ahead of a limited reopening set to begin across Italy on Monday, he added.

“Residents of Italy can return but must take a (coronavirus) test before departure and on arrival and remain in quarantine” once on Italian soil, Speranza said.

Meanwhile anyone already in Italy who had been in India in the past 14 days should contact health authorities, he added.

With a new coronavirus variant spreading through its 1.3 billion people, India has become the world’s top coronavirus hotspot in recent days, reporting 349,691 new cases on Sunday alone.

In the past week, more than two million cases have been detected, a 58-percent increase on the previous seven days, according to figures compiled by AFP.

An Unforgettable Train Trip To Abeokuta - THE GUARDIAN

APRIL 25, 2021

Magic sometimes resides in a box.

A train ride is a beautiful experience. Outside, you get to see the beautiful landscape transverse behind you and inside; you meet new people on your journey. Since the new ultra-modern train begun in December, routing Lagos-Abeokuta-Ibadan, traveling, and having a good time on a weekend out of Lagos has been made easier.

Abeokuta is a historic town and a city in Nigeria that has produced two states. It is also home to many significant figures in Nigerian history- Fela Anikulapo-Kuti’s family, Prof Wole Soyinka, and former President Obasanjo.

A trip to Abeokuta will make you experience the entire culture of the Egba people. During weekends, the train from Lagos leaves at 8:30 am from the old terminal at Alagomeji in Yaba; the new mega terminal is at the final stages of construction.


train-P.C-Lara Randle

Lagos-Abeokuta Start – Ebutte Meta, Lagos; End – Wole Soyinka terminal, Abeokuta; Departs daily; Distance – 2438 miles (3924km); Duration – 1hrs 40mins.

Trip essentials: Sun hat/cap, medium backpack, sandals or hiking trainers, sunglasses, cash (withdraw enough money for the trip), water bottle/drink & snacks, power bank, camera (if you have one), and a good mood

A standard ticket to Abeokuta cost around N2000, business class and First class cost more, N4000 and N6000. The trains leave at exactly 8:30 am; it is crucial to get there early enough to purchase your ticket. Payment for a ticket at the train station in Alagomeji is only by cash. It takes around 1 hour 30 minutes to get to Abeokuta station- Prof. Soyinka Terminus stop.

Once you get to the stop, you will find that taxis are unavailable, and have to hail a taxi. To explore Abeokuta in one day, here is a guide and itinerary: On getting to the terminal in Abeokuta by 10:30 am, take a taxi to the first destination, Alake’s palace. By 11:00 am, you should arrive at your destination. The Alake of Egbaland is the traditional ruler of the Egba clan in the city of Abeokuta. The beautiful palace serves as the home to the king, who is also the custodian of the Egba people’s culture and tradition.

Central Mosque | P.C_Cassie Daves

In the Alake’s palace are different figurines of deities that protected the old Egba kingdom during the numerous wars. Opposite the palace is the centenary hall built by the Egba people to commemorate their one hundred years of peaceful existence in Abeokuta after the numerous inter-tribal wars they’ve experienced. In the building, you will find pictures of notable Egba people. From here, you can begin your walk towards the historical Abeokuta mosque, which stands out in its red-coloured beautiful architecture. The walk from the centenary to the Abeokuta mosque takes about 27 minutes (13km).

The next destination is the most popular place in Abeokuta- Olumo! A visit to Abeokuta is never complete without visiting the famous Olumo rock. This rock provides sanctuary to the people and a vantage point for meetings to map out a strategy to conquer wars. The first dwellers of Abeokuta settled here on the rocks and in caves and gradually spread out from this location. The rock still serves as the home for a few old Egba women who are the spiritual heads of Abeokuta.

By now, the time is already 13:00, and it is time to take a break. There are restaurants 1.3-mile radius of Olumo.

Have your lunch and rest.

A cave -P.C-Bola John

Now it is time to head towards President Olusegun Obasanjo’s library and museum. It is a private museum built by the former president, and it sits directly on a hill overlooking the waters. The library is a place to be as it sends you on a time journey to everything about the former president’s life; a mock-up of his presidential office then, items he owned, among many others. The library also houses a wildlife zoo.

To round up this trip, a visit to the adire market for souvenirs and watch the old traditional methods of making tie and dye. Abeokuta’s adire is known to be the best in the world.

By now, the day is heading towards the evening, and the time is about half-past 5 – time to get a taxi and head back to the terminal. The train arrives by 6:50 and leaves by 7:00. In one thirty minutes, you should be back in Lagos.

Tour of Abeokuta Start – 1.Alake Palace 2. The Centenary Hall. 3.Central Mosque 4.Olumo Rock 5.President Obasanjo’s Library; End – Adire Market; Duration – 6 hrs 40mins



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