Flight Bookings to Hong Kong Surge 249% After Quarantine Cut - BLOOMBERG
(Bloomberg) -- Hong Kong’s decision to reduce the number of days arrivals must spend in hotel quarantine triggered an immediate surge in flight bookings to the city, said China’s largest travel online agency.
The number of bookings for flights to the financial hub increased 249% on Monday, the day the decision was announced, from a day earlier, according to data from Trip.com. Outbound flight orders rose 176% from the previous day, the data showed. Inbound bookings are mainly from places including Bangkok, London, Taipei, Singapore and Manchester, while those from Hong Kong mainly plan to fly to similar destinations, according to Trip.com.
The surge on China’s largest online travel agency likely reflects increased demand from mainland residents looking to use Hong Kong as their stopover as its Covid rules are less stringent. From Friday, the city requires arrivals to spend three nights in a hotel -- down from seven currently -- followed by four days in which they’re restricted from entering high-risk places like bars and hospitals.
Although traveling to the mainland from Hong Kong still requires seven days in a hotel, then three days of health monitoring, many mainland residents come through the city as it’s the easiest way to reach China because international flights to the country are rare and costly. Returning mainland students during the summer holiday have been blamed for a shortage of hotel rooms in recent months.
Read more: Hong Kong Quarantine Reduction Met With Calls to Go Further
Still, travelers to Hong Kong need to contend with a number of hurdles, including securing a hotel room, which are both costly and in short supply. People will also have to delay their plans if they test positive in the days before their flight, and risk being sent to a central quarantine facility if they’re found to have Covid once they arrive in the city.
While the reduction of quarantine time is a welcome change for many people, who have previously had to spend as many as 21 days in a hotel, business groups say Hong Kong needs to scrap the policy entirely in order to rescue its global standing. Several of Wall Street’s biggest banks have made quarantine-free travel a precondition for senior executives to attend a November conference designed to trumpet the financial hub’s revival.
(Updates to add top origins and destinations in the second paragraph.)
Diesel hike: NRC reduces Lagos-Ibadan trips by 67% - PUNCH
The hike in diesel price has forced the Nigeria Railway Corporation to reduce the number of trips on the Lagos-Ibadan Train Service by about 66.67 per cent, it was gathered on Tuesday.
It was also learnt that the corporation had sent recommendations to the Federal Ministry of Transportation for an adjustment in the transport fare on the train service.
The Managing Director, NRC, Fidet Okhiria, told our correspondent that though the service was still running, its trips had been reduced due to the persistent hike in diesel price.
Diesel prices have risen by over 300 per cent in a few months, forcing transporters of petrol, who power their trucks with diesel, to threaten strike before the prompt intervention of the Federal Government.
The spike in diesel price also warranted some level of petrol scarcity in Abuja and neighbouring states, as many truck owners could not afford the high cost, a development that made the Federal Government to raise the bridging claims being paid to petrol transporters.
Speaking on the impact of the high cost of diesel in the rail sector, Okhiria told our correspondent that the NRC had to cut down its trips, particularly on the Lagos-Ibadan route.
“The Lagos-Ibadan train service is running but we have reduced the number of trips on that route because of the diesel problem. We reduced the number of trips we are running because of the hike in diesel price,” he stated.
Asked whether the NRC would raise its transport fare as a result of the increase in diesel price, the corporation’s boss stated that it was outside the powers of the corporation to hike fares.
He explained that it was the responsibility of the Federal Government to make such decision, but noted that the NRC had made recommendations for adjustments.
Okhiria said, “We just can’t increase it by ourselves. The government has to do that. We have made some recommendations. But even the recommendations we made, the new price of diesel has overshot our workings as contained in the recommendations.
“However, we don’t want to price ourselves out of market too, because the price of petrol is not increasing as such, rather the increase is little when compared to diesel price. And you know we are competing with transporters on roads.”
Asked the number trips currently being done on the route, the NRC boss replied, “We are now doing two return trips as against six, which by now should have gone to 10. So we run just two trips now due diesel problem.”
Analysts at Financial Derivatives Company in their latest economic bulletin in August 2022 stated that headline inflation in Nigeria was set to surge again to 19.7 per cent due to the spike in diesel price, among other factors.
“The official headline inflation for July will be released on August 15. Our Lagos market survey and econometric model are indicating that there will be another surge of 1.1 per cent in headline inflation to 19.7 per cent,” they stated.
The analysts added, “If our projections are correct, it will be the 6th consecutive monthly increase and the highest inflation rate since 2006. Apart from the annual inflation rate, month-on-month inflation, which is a more current measure of price movements, is also expected to follow a similar trend, rising to 1.84 per cent (24.52 per cent annualised).
“The most potent causative factors for price inflation in Nigeria today are exchange rate pass through (N667/$), the knock-on effect of the sharp increase in the price of diesel (N780/litre) and to a limited extent the impact of money supply growth and saturation (N48.8trn).”
They, however, noted that the exchange rate weakness at this time appeared to be more potent than other causative factors.
“It has had a 76 per cent impact on the price level compared to diesel (11.6 per cent),” the FDC analysts stated.
London hotels ‘coming back fast’ despite fewer business travellers - EVENING STANDARD
Revenue per room in London was 10% behind 2019 levels in the first six months of the year, IHG reported, while revenue from the regions was 1% ahead.
IHG chief finance officer Paul Edgecliffe-Johnson said: “We’ve seen around the world that the markets that recovered first were outside urban markets [but] London is coming back fast.
“There are fewer business travellers now, and that’s what’s resulting in that discrepancy.”
The company reported revenues of $1.8 billion (£1.5 billion) in the first half 2022, up 52% on the previous year. Profits more than doubled to $361 million.
Revenues from the group’s budget hotel chains such as Holiday Inn and Holiday Inn Express recovered faster from the pandemic than more premium brands such as Crown Plaza, Edgecliffe-Johnson said.
The company plans to build almost eight times as many Holiday Inn and Express hotels as it does Crowne Plazas in the years ahead, signalling a drive to expand its offering of affordable stays as holidaymakers tighen their belts.
Edgecliffe-Johnson was confident the hotel group would be in a good position to withstand an economic downturn, adding it was making supplies at scale to deliver better value for hotel owners.
“What we’ve seen over the last few years is people really want to experience the world - they want to be together with people,” he said.
“There’s a slowdown in people buying big ticket electrical items, but not a slowdown in travel spending.”
Shock, Mixed Feelings As UAE Tightens Visa Rules For Nigerians - DAILY TRUST
The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has released stiffer visa regulations for Nigerians. The new regulations which came after a public disturbance purportedly by some...
The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has released stiffer visa regulations for Nigerians. The new regulations which came after a public disturbance purportedly by some Nigerians have generated concerns among Nigerian travellers while it has created uneasy calm in the travel industry. This report sheds light on the new visa regime and its implications for Nigerians.
When a video emerged last week of some Africans causing a public disturbance in Dubai, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), it was clear the government of the Middle East country would react appropriately in a bid to protect the country and its citizens from any form of harm.
In the video, youths were seen fighting in a Dubai community and destroying public property. An unconfirmed report claimed that a Dubai Police officer was killed by the hoodlums.
The Nigerian Community in Dubai under the umbrella of the Nigerians in Diaspora Organisation (NIDO), United Arab Emirates (UAE) chapter, swiftly condemned the development while particularly commending the swift intervention of the Dubai Police who got the hoodlums, about seven of them, arrested.
After arresting them, the police said a criminal case has been registered against the suspects and they will be referred to the public prosecution for further action.
The Dubai Police warned against such unacceptable behaviour and urged the community members to report such behaviour through ‘Police Eye Service’ on Dubai Police app or by calling the emergency hotline 999. The Force also warned the public of publishing or forwarding clips to avoid legal accountability according to article 52 of the UAE Federal Law No. 34 of 2021 on countering Rumours and Cybercrimes.
The law stated that whoever uses the information network to announce, disseminate, re-disseminate, circulate, or recirculate news or data, or broadcasts any provocative news that would incite or provoke public opinion, disturb the public peace, spread terror among people, or cause harm to the public interest, the national economy, the public order, or the public health shall be punished with at least one year of imprisonment and a fine of not less than Dh100,000.
For the Nigerian community in Dubai, that singular incident was a signal to what would happen in days to come. The incident sent jitters down the spine of Nigerian immigrants in the Arab country and this was coming at a time Nigerians have issues securing jobs in the country.
In a statement, the NIDO UAE Group, while commending the Dubai authorities for swiftly bringing the matter under control, clarified that the illicit act does not represent what the country stands for.
“We the Nigerians In Diaspora Organization (NIDO) United Arab Emirates group which represents the interest of law abiding Nigerians in the UAE wish to express our profound gratitude and appreciation to the Dubai Police for their swift action in clamping down on the perpetrators of the disturbing video in the last 96 hours.
“We commend the Authority and we wish to state categorically that such illicit acts do not in any way define or represent us. We are good ambassadors, law abiding citizens and therefore, we distance ourselves from those miscreants. We assure the security agencies of our full support and cooperation if the need arises.”
Not satisfied with the clarification of the Nigerian community and as a further belt tightening measure to screen those coming into the country, Dubai has updated its visa requirements by including three new conditions.
There was an initial rumour about the suspension of visa application to Nigerians which was denied by the Nigerian community. It was gathered that the visa was showing pending on the visa status portal which indicates it was neither approved, nor rejected.
But the fear of the Nigerian community was confirmed when the Dubai authorities imposed fresh visa requirements for applicants.
As seen from the updated visa portal, there are three new Nigerian requirements mandatory for all visa applicants to provide.
These requirements are to be scanned and uploaded in the visa portal as provided to enable the applicant complete and submit visa application online.
The three updated requirements are Hotel reservation/place of stay in UAE, six-month Bank Statement and return flight ticket. While the UAE did not state any reason for the new requirement, it is believed the decision was taken to control the influx of individuals with criminal intent into the country.
Daily Trust on Sunday gathered that the development is already causing uneasy calm in the travel industry as many travellers scramble to meet the new requirements. This may ultimately reduce visitors to the country for those who are unable to meet the new requirements.
The new requirements have been greeted with mixed feelings from stakeholders with the majority saying the development was a lesson to Nigerians to imbibe the habit of doing the right thing in accordance with the laws of their host countries.
Our correspondent reports that Dubai is one of the most frequently visited countries for business and tourism by Nigerians. About 200,000 Nigerians averagely visit the country annually either for business or tourism.
Before now, many Nigerians enjoyed the privilege of travelling to Dubai with very relaxed requirements until some Nigerians began to abuse the near free entry status granted to them, according to analysts.
This, they noted, would further hurt some Nigerians with legitimate reasons for going to Dubai. Among those to be affected are Nigerians in search of jobs in the Arab country.
“This development is good and also will prevent some fraudulent people coming in. But the point now is, they should allow us that have a visa inside the country work before it expires, please, so that we can pay our taxes and live peacefully. Please beg on our behalf,” said a Nigerian in search of jobs in Dubai.
According to the Director of Research and Strategy, Zenith Travels, Mr Olumide Ohunayo, the UAE as a country can impose any requirement it deems necessary in the interest of her country and the citizens.
He said, “Every country has the right to introduce some consular requirements to protect their country and ensure that eligible tourists, visitors or business men are those who come into their country.
“The UAE has been very relaxed with their visa. It is the most relaxed of the Middle East countries. Unfortunately, we have not behaved well. We have abused it. At a time, they stopped single ladies from coming except you are 40 and above.
“I have no objection to it. It is their country. They need to do what they need to do to safeguard other tourists apart from Nigerians and ensure that their country is protected.”
Our hands are tied – Travel agents
Speaking with our correspondent, the President of NANTA, Mrs Susan Akporiaye, also blamed Nigerians for the new requirements imposed by Dubai, saying the UAE authorities must have changed its entry rules due to abuse of the visa process.
She said while the travel agents are not happy with the development, everybody must learn to live by it.
She said, “They must have their reason. It’s a diplomatic thing. There is nothing anybody can do about it. We don’t know why they did that. Maybe they are not comfortable with what many Nigerians are doing. Maybe they did it due to an increase in crimes by Nigerians.
“Before then, we learnt that there was a situation where a policeman was killed. I don’t think it’s just that one incident. Maybe it is a compilation of different incidents that have been going on and probably from their investigation (I have not confirmed that), it seems to always be the Nigerian community perpetrating it, according to them. We have not confirmed this though. Everything is according to them. They have not officially released any report to the Nigeria Police to say that this is the percentage of Nigerians committing crimes.
“But then again, it is a diplomatic thing. Every country has a right to do whatever they want to do and we cannot question them. Are we happy about it? No. We are not but there is nothing we can do about it. It is their country; they determine how people come into their country.
“Sad enough. It is a lesson to us too that when people give us easy access, we should not abuse it. If you abuse the easy access, it will be taken away from you and you cannot fault them. You cannot go to another man’s house and determine how the man should operate in his own house.
“It’s a lesson for all of us. And enough of even going to another man’s country. Why don’t we all sit down here and see how to make things better for ourselves? Running away to other people’s country and doing business or for holidays are two different things. I am not saying people should not travel to do business neither am I saying people should not travel for holidays. Because if it’s just business and holiday, we won’t be where we are now. Because if it’s business, you will come back. If it is a holiday, you will come back and there’s absolutely no reason why UAE would change their rules.”
Mrs Akporiaye advised Nigerians visiting Dubai to do the right thing to avoid a situation where the UAE would further tighten the requirements, saying for those with legitimate businesses to carry out in Dubai, submitting their six-month bank statement shouldn’t be a problem.
She said, “The problem is those that go in the name of business and holiday and they don’t come back. It is not only UAE but every other country.
“So, there’s really nothing much to say than to just respect their decision. It’s not going to be easy; everybody has to adjust. And for those that have legitimate things to go and do, it shouldn’t be a problem.”
South African Airways Adjusts Ticket Sales From Naira To Dollars - NIGERIAN TRIBUNE
By Shola Adekola - Lagos
Rather than going through the obvious and difficult process of repatriating its funds out of Nigeria, South African Airways (SAA) has just announced that from Wednesday, August 10, 2022, it will start adjusting its tickets from naira to dollars with the aim of making it seamless for its funds to be repatriated to its home country rather than getting them trapped in Nigeria.
The development is coming while the $450 million funds belonging to the foreign carriers operating in Nigeria have been trapped in the country.
In a statement issued and addressed to its trade partners on Tuesday evening, the Southern African carrier declared that from Wednesday, August 10, 2022, passengers can only issue Sold Inside Ticketed Inside (SITI), that is, trips emanating from Lagos-Johannesburg-Lagos tickets in naira.
In other words, all tickets issued in Nigeria will be paid for in naira in line with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) policy that tickets issued in the country should be paid for in naira.
The airline, however, added that all other tickets, such as Sold Outside Ticket Inside (SOTI) and Sold Outside Ticketed Outside (SOTO), that is, tickets issued outside, would be paid for in dollars.
Under the latest arrangements, tickets sold outside and tickets issued outside the country would be issued in dollars.
In the notice issued to its trade partners, the airline stated: “Please be informed that effective from Wednesday 10th August 2022, you can ONLY issue SITI (i.e. LOS-JNB-LOS) tickets in Naira. ALL other tickets, i.e. SOTI and SOTO, have to be issued in USD.
“Note only tickets with travel originating from Nigeria can be issued in naira”.
The latest announcement by South African Airways may have been triggered by the inability of the over 27 foreign carriers operating in Nigeria to repatriate their accumulated $450 million funds trapped in the CBN without any hope of getting the funds back to their home countries.
Many of the foreign carriers, out of frustration, have introduced other tough policies that will help cushion the impact of the trapped funds on their operations.
Such policies, which include an increase in fares on the different international routes and the suspension of the sale of cheaper tickets, have subjected Nigerian travellers to serious hardships with the fares on the Nigerian route becoming the most expensive in the sub-region.
IMF study sees changing fertility patterns amid concern over Nigeria’s rising population - THE GUARDIAN
By Geoff Iyatse
Coming on the heels of a growing concern about Nigeria’s rising population, a new study by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) highlights “new fertility facts” that are challenging old theories on the relationship between childbearing, years of education and income level.
It points out low-income countries, such as Nigeria and other African countries, as the only places where the negative relationship between income and fertility rate still holds sway.
The Population Division of the United Nations Department of Economics and Social Affairs said Nigeria would become the world’s fourth most populous country in the next 28 years with a population of 375 million.
The projection comes with a foreboding of escalation of the social ills of overpopulation including unemployment, food crisis and crime rates.
Nigeria’s growth had buckled under a fast-growing population in recent times until last year when the gross domestic product (GDP) got an upper hand at 3.6 per cent compared with the average population growth of 2.6 per cent in the past decade. Except the country acts fast, experts are worried about the dire consequence of overpopulation even as the country is estimated to have hit 216 million.
While Nigeria is worried about bloated size, the IMF study entitled, ‘The New Economics of Fertility’ raises concern about emerging ultralow fertility in high-income countries like Germany, Italy, Japan and Spain where the fertility rate is about 1.5 in the past two decades.
The rate, the researchers are worried, is below the average of “just over two children per woman needed to maintain a stable population size.”
The study published as an analytical series, yesterday, reviews established labour economics theories such as the quantity-quality trade-off, which suggests that as parents get richer, they incur costly investments in their children.
“This investment is costly, so parents choose to have fewer children as incomes rise. Historically, fertility and GDP per capita are strongly negatively related, both across countries and over time,” it observes.
It also recalls another theoretical explanation for low fertility among high-income individuals, saying: “As wages increase, devoting time to childcare – time that could otherwise be spent working – becomes more costly for parents, and especially for mothers. The result is a decline in fertility and greater female labour force participation. There is historically a strong negative association between female labour force participation and fertility over time and across countries.”
The report, however, argues that new data have proved that the theories are losing universal appeal. It contends, notwithstanding, that the negative income-fertility relationship is still predominantly true in low-income countries such as sub-Saharan Africa (SSA).
“It has largely disappeared both within and across high-income countries. The same is true for the relationship between fertility and female labor force participation. In a recent survey, we outline these new empirical regularities and discuss the key factors that explain fertility outcomes in recent decades.
“For a long time, high per capita income in a country reliably indicated low fertility. In 1980, fertility was still well above two children per woman in poorer countries, such as Portugal and Spain, but just 20 years later, fertility in the same set of countries had changed substantially. In fact, in 2000 the United States, the second-richest country in the sample, exhibited the highest fertility rate,” the research discloses.
It also reports changing fertility patterns across families in high-income countries (such as France, Germany and the United States). In those countries, it states, the negative relationship between female education and fertility, which is consistent with higher wages increasing the opportunity cost of raising children, is becoming weaker.
“This negative relationship is weaker for US women of recent birth cohorts. Although highly educated women with more than 16 years of schooling had the lowest fertility rate in 1980, this no longer holds true in 2019,” it reveals.
No Passport Booklet Shortage Again In Nigeria – FG - THE NEWS
*Deploys 10,000 Booklets To New P/Harcourt Passport Production Centre
There is no shortage of booklets again for the production of passport in Nigeria, the Federal Government has revealed.
This was made known by the Minister of Interior, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, at the commissioning of the Enhanced Passport Production Centre in Port Harcourt, the Rivers State Capital on Tuesday, 9 August, 2022. The newly commissioned passport centre will now be responsible for the production of passport demands from Rivers, Cross Rivers, Akwa Ibom and Bayelsa States.
“We have left no stone unturned in our quest to make passports available to Nigerians. Last year alone, we provided 1.3 million passports to Nigerians. As of today, there is no booklets shortage in Nigeria.
“As at the second quarter of this year (in June), the NIS have provided 645,000 passports out of the 750,000 applications received. To address the challenge of the backlog, we have sent 11,000 booklets to Ikoyi, 11,000 to Alausa and 8,000 to FESTAC centres in Lagos.
“We have also sent sufficient booklets to all the centres nationwide to address this challenge. There is therefore no excuse again for delay and non-issuance within a reasonable period,” Minister told the cheering public.
The Minister also urged the listening public to make sure they apply by themselves online to avoid being shortchanged by unscrupulous elements.
“I will urge applicants for the Nigerian passport to apply early enough before their travel date to avoid cutting corners and falling into the hands of scammers and other opportunists. It is important also that they apply by themselves at the Nigeria Immigration Service portal and not through touts and unscrupulous officials, which often bring heartaches.
“We have provided a window of six weeks and three weeks for fresh application and renewal respectively, after biometric data capture, by which time, other things being equal, the passport will be ready for collection. This timeline is to enable NIS investigate and validate the claims of applicants and confer integrity on the passport issued. It is a reasonable provision in passport administration by global standard. There is no wait-and-get passport service anywhere in the world. The only wait-and-get passport is passport-sized photograph from Polaroid camera,” the Minister stated.
The Minister further stated that the Passport Production Centre launched today will serve applicants from Rivers, Cross Rivers, Akwa Ibom and Bayelsa States, but was quick to add that it doesn’t confer any advantage or disadvantage on any of the centres, noting that a deployment of 10,000 booklets has been deployed to serve the fours states with immediate effect. He also stated that there are currently no backlogs in any of the four states.
“The production centre we are launching today will serve Rivers, Cross Rivers, Akwa Ibom and Bayelsa States for production purpose only. It doesn’t confer any advantage or disadvantage on the applicants in any of the four states. It’s simply a production centre.
“We have also delivered 10,000 passports to this centre. This is in addition to the fact that there are no backlogs to be cleared. In some advanced countries we often like to cite, it takes months to procure their passports. But in addition to the standardized timeline, we have also introduced tracking mechanism in the application process, to enable applicants monitor the progress of their application.
“We are also introducing data capture centres all over the country before the end of this year, to eliminate physical contacts with NIS officials. We shall continue to introduce necessary and available innovations to passport administration in order to best serve applicants in our quest for establishing citizenship integrity,” the Minister stated.
While speaking, Governor Nyesom Wike, who was represented by his Deputy, Dr. Ipalibo Gogo Banigo, promised to continue to support the Nigeria Immigration Service in the state, as it was the policy of his administration.
“We would continue to support the Nigeria Immigration Service, just as we provided the building now housing the production centre.
“Just as we provide support to all security agencies in the state and in particular, the agencies under the ministry of Interior, we would continue to prioritize the welfare of the citizens of the state,” Gov. Wike stated.
During his opening address, Acting Comptroller General of the Nigerian Immigration Service, Idris Isah Jere, revealed that the service will no longer condone any act of indiscipline by officer, noting that they must be professional in carrying out their assigned duties.
Also at the event were: the General Officer Commanding, 6 Division, Nigerian Army, represented by Brig. General EC Echebuwe; Commander, 115 Special Operations Group, Group Captain AA Opaleye; Commissioner of Police, Rivers State Command, Mr. Friday, Eboka; Controller of Customs, Rivers State Command, Dappa Williams; Rivers State Director, Department of State Services, Mr. Mohammed Shittu; Sector Commander, Federal Road Safety Corps, Umar Salisu Galadunchi; Rivers State Commander, National Drug Law Enforcement Agency, Mark Balm; amongst other dignitaries.
Heathrow Says Its Passenger Cap is Working: The London Rush - BLOOMBERG
BY Bloomberg News,
(Bloomberg) -- Here’s the key business news from London-listed companies this morning.
Entain Plc: The sports betting company is starting a new joint venture in Central and Eastern Europe with Czech investment company EMMA Capital.
- The new venture will buy 75% of Croatian sportsbook operator SuperSport from EMMA, valuing it at 920 million euros
Heathrow Airport: Britain’s largest airport says the cap it has placed on passenger numbers is working, leading to fewer surprise cancellations and more on-time flights.
- Although the travel hub will have to increases ground hander capacity and resilience before it lifts the cap
Savills Plc: The estate agents warned that rising interest rates could lead to a slow down in the property market as it adjusts to high debt costs, also indicating a slower growth in UK residential prices.
- The effects of the war in Ukraine, inflation and rising rates in the second quarter included smaller transactions as well as more significant spreads between bidding and asking prices
Outside The City
Liz Truss’s thoughts about how to manage the Bank of England are adding to a mounting list of threats to the value of the pound and UK government bonds.
Meanwhile, the UK housing market came under further pressure from the cost-of-living crisis in July as sales and buyer demand fell, and agents turned increasingly gloomy on the outlook, the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors said.
In Case You Missed It
Retailers including Tesco Plc and J Sainsbury Plc are calling on police to focus on retail crime as the cost of living weighs heavily on shoppers and leads to theft.
And one of the UK’s most high-profile investment bankers, Citigroup Inc. dealmaker Jan Skarbek, has resigned from the firm amid an ongoing probe into allegations of misconduct, people familiar with the matter told Bloomberg.
Gambling companies Flutter Entertainment Plc and 888 Holdings Plc report tomorrow. The focus will be on the health of Flutter’s US operations, which are expected to achieve positive adjusted Ebitda next year. 888 investors, meanwhile, will want to know more about the impact of the recently completed acquisition of William Hill’s international operations.
Also on Friday, quarterly GDP data is expected to show a slight decline since the start of the year, following the Bank of England’s dire growth forecast last week.
The Readout with Allegra Stratton will be back from its summer break on Aug. 30. In the meantime, here’s what Bloomberg journalists are reading this summer.
FG silent on identities of Nigeria Air investors - PUNCH
FUNMILAYO FABUNMI reports developments in the aviation sector as the Federal Government moves to realise national career before the end of 2022
Stakeholders in the aviation sector have called on the Federal Government to disclose the identities of the strategic foreign investors showing interest in the Nigeria Air project.
This came on the heels of the recent Federal Executive Council’s approval of three aircraft to kick-start operations of the national carrier.
The role of the Federal Government in setting up the airline is to assist the carrier by providing the initial capital of between $150m and $300m.
The money is expected to be released in tranches from the start of operations through to the first few years after operations’ kickoff.
The airline, Nigeria Air, is expected to commence operations before the end of this year and preparations are in advance stage to birth the national carrier.
The government had made it clear that the national carrier would be private sector driven and run on a purely commercial basis, with zero interference from the government.
The proposed carrier has secured its Air Transport License and is in the process of obtaining its Air Operator Certificate from the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority.
The Minister of Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika, had stated that the Federal Government would hold not more than five per cent shares in the airline and Nigerians would have 46 per cent equity, while 49 per cent shares were reserved for strategic foreign investors.
The national carrier is expected to utilise a significant number of underused Bilateral Air Services Agreement and take advantage of the substantial opportunity presented by the Single African Air Transport Market, as there is currently no viable Nigerian carrier that operates long haul services.
The approval of three wet lease aircraft to commence operation by Nigeria Air has generated heated debate among stakeholders.
The Principal Managing Partner, Avaero Capital, Sindy Foster and a Jean Monnet professor of Strategy and Development, Prof. Anthony Kila, said certain issues were yet to be addressed to gain the trust of stakeholders to believe in the project.
“The issue we have at the moment is that we don’t know who the 95 per cent (investors) are right now. For an airline to be launching and we don’t know who are the majority owners of this airline is an issue, and that should be clarified before any aircraft takes flight anywhere,” said Prof. Anthony Kila, who is also an international director of studies at the European Centre of Advanced and Professional Studies, said.
The Director-General, NCAA, Musa Nuhu, explained that the agency had no hand in the choice of aircraft to be used as it was a government policy.
Former spokesman, Nigeria Airways, Mr. Chris Aligbe, saw nothing wrong with leasing of aircraft, but the President, Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association, Mr. Alex Nwuba, disagreed.
Nwuba said, “Most startups usually start with wet leasing, particularly when you are still new and all the investors have not come in. It is when the investors come in and you have all the funds that you need that you begin to look at if you are going to take wet lease or dry lease.
“How does that solve the problem of availability of funds through the Central Bank of Nigeria or will the national carrier get its money through the black market to fund its operations?
“It is absurd, it’s essentially an absurd proposal made to a group of people that have no knowledge of what’s going on and they are acting like judges receiving information on which they judge without basic facts.”
Speaking at the just concluded Conference of the League of Airport and Aviation Correspondents in Lagos State, a former President, National Association of Nigeria Travel Agencies, Mr. Bankole Bernard, listed the benefits of Nigeria Air to the country and its image.
He said in part, “If Nigeria Air is able to come into the market, it increases the fleet in the market, brings convenience to the people that are travelling and not only that, we now start to showcase to the rest of the world that yes we could float a national carrier.
“The impression it is going to create is a significant one and is going to change the narrative. What narrative? The negative impression they have about Nigeria that we can’t do anything right but they would see this come to fruition.”
Also, the President/CEO Top Brass Aviation, Captain Roland Iyayi, who is also a former Managing Director of the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency, expressed doubts that the government followed due process in its pursuit of a na¬tional carrier for the nation.
According to him, it would take almost a year to secure an ATL by an applicant, but he said in the course of securing one for the proposed National Carrier, this was done within a few months by the government.
Iyayi declared that the es¬sence of safety certifications like ATL and AOC were to en¬sure that an applicant could operate safely, stressing that each of that processes was meant to establish competency and credibility, which he alleged might have been circumvented because of the involvement of the government in the airline.
“The government is setting a bad precedent. It is saying that you can do anything and get away with it. If the world sees that you do not have stan¬dards, it will ultimately come back to you to bite.
“If you say you have a safe process to procure an AOC, why will you tell the public that you can get the national carrier to procure an AOC within a few weeks? So, they are giving us the impression that for this particular national carrier, the rules don’t apply,” Iyayi said.
On the other 95 percent in¬vestors, Iyayi challenged the government to put such infor-mation in the public domain in order to avoid speculations. He said, “Ultimately, they fly the name of Nigeria and not just the name of anyone. How do you know who these individ-uals are? These are factors we need to know. You just don’t wake up to say ‘we are setting up a national carrier; don’t bother how we did it. We need to know how you did it.’
“I think there are a lot of issues that need to be addressed by the government. Accountability is key. Trans¬parency is very important,” he said.
While addressing the choice of the government to use wet-leased air¬craft, Iyayi stated that an airline could com¬mence operating with leased options or wholly owned air¬craft, but said on the side of the government, this showed a contradiction, especially as the government had promised to create 70,000 jobs within three years of commencement of operations.
“It may not necessarily be the best way to go, but it’s a way of setting up its own structure,” he said.
Chief Executive Officer, Centurion Aviation Security and Safety Consult, John Ojikutu, in his submission, queried the currency of the licenses of the crew and like others, ques¬tioned the identities of the oth¬er 95 per cent investors.
He said, “The only one we have been hearing is the one with only five per cent. Will the airline start off with five per cent holding capacity? Then we are not ready for a national carrier but a govern¬ment carrier that will not have a long span like those before it.
“Get the foreign techni¬cal investors to come in and there are many in the US, Canada, and Australia. There are many Nigerian corporate investors too that can give us contemporary global airlines with those from the developed countries and away from the homegrown somersaults air¬lines.”
The PUNCH had reported a few days ago that the Federal Government approved the leasing of three aircraft for the commencement of operations of the country’s national carrier.
Sirika had disclosed this to State House correspondents at the close of the Federal Executive Council meeting chaired by the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), at the Council Chambers of the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
Speaking, Sirika said the airline would begin with three aircraft manufactured by Airbus and Boeing and that the carrier would operate domestic flights with plans to expand into regional and intercontinental routes.
The minister, however, declined stating the kick-off date saying, “We will announce commencement soon.”
Since it was unveiled at the Farnborough Air Show in England in July 2018, Nigeria Air has been mired in controversies that led to its suspension in September 2018, barely two months after its proposal.
Many investors, including Emirates, are showing interest in the Nigeria Air project. Apart from Emirates Airlines, many other investors have shown interest in the project, especially foreign businesses.
The Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, a few months ago, speaking through his Special Assistant, Public Affairs, James Odaudu, had stated that Emirates’ offer was an expression of confidence of the international aviation community in the commitment of the Federal Government to the national carrier project.
Asked whether other investors were showing interest in the proposed airline, Odaudu said, “For that, I can tell you that a lot of investors are interested.” He, however, did not disclose the names of the other investors, stressing that their proposals had been coming in and that this would be handled by the stipulated body before the announcement of a preferred bidder.
“In fact, that is why we issued the statement reacting to the offer by Emirates and that offer alone shows that there is a lot of interest in the project,” Odaudu stated.
He added, “And then it (Emirates offer) is an encouragement to those who are bidding to be part of it.”
But many are wondering why the minister is failing to disclose the identities of the investors, wondering if he is hiding anything from the public.
Nigeria's Air Peace suspends S. Africa ops over visa delays - CH-AVIATION
Air Peace (P4, Lagos) has announced it is suspending its flights to Johannesburg O.R. Tambo from August 22 until October 8, 2022, citing as reasons delays in South Africa granting visas to Nigerian visitors, a worsening foreign exchange crunch, and the scarcity/price hike of aviation fuel.
"However, having informed the South African High Commission in Lagos of the effects of the difficulty in getting SA visas by Nigerians, which consequence is the abysmally low passenger loads on our flights to and from Johannesburg, we believe that the situation will have improved within the next 60 days. Hence, our willingness to resume operations on October 8, 2022," airline management announced in a statement posted on social media.
South Africa's Department of Home Affairs was not immediately available for comment.
The Department, at the end of June 2022, acknowledged a backlog in the granting of visas. It extended until September 30, 2022, a blanket temporary extension of the current visa status of all foreign nationals already in South Africa who are awaiting the outcome of their visa extension applications.
The backlog in visa processing is being caused by the introduction of a new immigration system in South Africa announced by Home Affairs Minister Aaron Motsoaledi at the start of June, according to South African legal firm Webber Wentzel. Visa applications previously went through outsourced facilitation centres or through South African missions abroad. Now these visa applications are processed through a centralised system to achieve consistency and uniformity in the visa adjudication process.
Air Peace, along with other member airlines of the Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON) association, last month issued a warning to passengers of Nigeria's worsening aviation fuel scarcity, saying it was "taking a toll on its flight operations, causing some delays and cancellations".
Meanwhile, the airline said passengers affected by the cancelled Johannesburg flights could reschedule to fly before August 22 or from October 9, 2022, or request a refund.
Air Peace operates 3x weekly between Johannesburg, Lagos and Abuja, using E190-E2, A320-200 (wet-leased from SmartLynx Airlines Malta), and B777-300 equipment, according to the ch-aviation schedules module.