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Will Nigeria’s Aviation Fall apart? - AIRWAYS MAGAZINE

AUGUST 22, 2022

*DALLAS* – In recent weeks, many foreign carriers seem to be planning a

pull out of Nigeria given the situation over trapped funds. Emirates (EK) was the first to act by shutting down Lagos operations, and could the scenario turn into one where several airlines blacklist Nigeria?

The airline states, “Emirates has tried every avenue to address our ongoing challenges in repatriating funds from Nigeria and has made considerable efforts to initiate dialogue with the relevant authorities for their urgent intervention to help find a viable solution. Regrettably, there has been no progress.”

Emirates says it has, therefore, “taken the difficult decision to suspend all flights to and from Nigeria, effective September 1, 2022, to limit further losses and impact on our operational costs that continue to accumulate in the market.”

“Should there be any positive developments in the coming days regarding Emirates’ blocked funds in Nigeria, we will, of course, reevaluate our decision. We remain keen to serve Nigeria, and our operations provide much-needed connectivity for Nigerian travelers, providing access to trade and tourism opportunities to Dubai and to our broader network of over 130 destinations”.

     Comments from Nigeria’s Aviation Minister

Via /CNN/, aviation minister Hadi Sirika said, “In the past, Nigeria has demonstrated the capacity and the willingness and fairness to resolve this type of issue. It happened when we took over power in 2015: There were lots of blocked funds, about $600 million at that time. It was at a time when the country was in a recession and there were dwindling revenues coming into the country, yet we honored our obligation to pay out all those blocked funds.”

“Unfortunately, due to many factors and reasons, the money piled back up. The government is working hard to ensure that these funds are released, not only for Emirates but for all airlines affected,” Sirika added.

British Airways (BA) has already reduced its flight frequencies to Nigeria, as the airline informed its passengers on Thursday of an imminent hike in the cost of its flight tickets.

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) had expressed concerns over the decision by the Nigerian government to block foreign airlines from repatriating ticket sales revenue amounting to US$450m (N188.6bn) into their respective countries.

British Airways (BA) has already reduced their flight frequencies to Nigeria. BA G-XLEB Airbus A380-841. Photo: Brandon Farris/Airways

  So What’s the Deal?

Nearly 90% of Nigeria’s US dollars come in through the sale of crude oil, and it seems like the country is falling short of its promised production rate, apparently due to oil being stolen. This seems to have scarred the country’s forex income; hence, the holding of several million funds of various airlines that fly to Nigeria — US$464m for July.

Kingsley Nwokeoma, President of the Association of Foreign Airlines and Representatives in Nigeria, stated that more international carriers would join EK soon if nothing was done to address their concerns regarding the trapped forex. “This is just the beginning. It is over US$1bn that is being held and they (foreign airlines) cannot repatriate it.”


Nigeria working with UAE government to assist stranded Nigerians in Dubai – FG - PREMIUM TIMES

AUGUST 22, 2022

She described the allegation against the mission as "completely untrue and misleading".

By Chiamaka Okafor

The Nigerian government on Sunday said it is working with authorities in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to assist Nigerians stranded in Dubai.

A viral video emerged on social media recently with women who claimed to be Nigerians calling on the government to assist them and also accusing the Nigerian mission in Dubai of being uninterested in their plight.

Following the emergence of the video, Francisca Omayuli speaking for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in a press release, said the Nigerian Mission has been working hard to collate the details of the stranded Nigerians with a view to issuing Emergency Travel Certificates (ETC) to those with no means of identification.

She described the allegation against the mission as “completely untrue and misleading” adding that the Nigerian mission has been working to assist over 300 Nigerians in custody at the holding centre of Al Aweer Immigration Office. This is pending the consideration of their cases and conclusion of the legal processes by the relevant authorities before repatriation.

They are being held for various reasons including overstay, lost passports, lack of documentation especially in the case of infants, pending cases with the Emirati Police, among others.

According to Mrs Omayuli, the UAE authorities will process immigration papers for those who have overstayed and are required by law to pay fines. Some of the affected Nigerians have fines of over $10,000 per person.

However, the UAE government is willing to waive the fines for those who are unable to pay, but with the attendant penalty of 10 years ban from the UAE.

“Those in police custody for other alleged offenses must be cleared, while those without documentation or means of identification, especially infants will go through legal procedures for rectification,” she said.

Affected NIgerians cannot be repatriated until the processes are concluded by the UAE authorities, Mrs Omayuli noted.

In the same vein, the chairperson, Nigerians in Diaspora Commission, Abike Dabiri-Erewa, said the Nigerian Consulate in Dubai has started to profile some of the stranded Nigerians.

According to her, once the profiling process is done the consulate and Embassy will brief the Minister of Foreign Affairs and necessary actions will be taken on the next steps.

Mrs Dabiri-Erewa encouraged Nigerians to be law-abiding citizens wherever they find themselves and avoid irregular migration, adding that if they must travel they should use the right channels.

Nigerians in Dubai have been in the news for many reasons, most of which are for bad conduct including cyber crime, cult clashes, drug peddling, among others.

Chiamaka Okafor is a reporter at Premium Times in partnership with Report for the World, which matches local newsrooms with talented emerging journalists to report on under-covered issues around the globe.

Gunmen in Nigeria kidnap four Catholic nuns on highway - REUTERS

AUGUST 22, 2022

LAGOS, Aug 22 (Reuters) - Gunmen abducted four Catholic nuns on a highway in Nigeria's oil-producing Imo state in the southeast, a local convent said on Monday, in the latest sign of widespread insecurity making road travel unsafe.

Armed gangs have been kidnapping people, including priests, for ransom from villages and on highways mainly in the northwest and the practice has spread to other parts of the country, increasing insecurity in Africa's most populous nation.

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Zita Ihedoro, secretary general of Sisters of Jesus, the Saviour Generalate, said the four were abducted while travelling from Rivers state to Imo for a thanksgiving mass on Sunday.

"We implore for intense prayer for their quick and safe release," Ihedoro said in a statement.

In the northwest, Nigeria's military has started an air offensive to eliminate the armed groups responsible for kidnapping citizens from villages and towns in the region.

Felixstowe strike: Walkout at UK's biggest port set to heighten supply chain woes - YAHOO FINANCE

AUGUST 22, 2022

Strikes at the UK's largest container port, Felixstowe, could see Britain lose out on nearly £700m ($824m) in trade and "severely disrupt" the supply chain.

Dockers at Felixstowe started an eight-day walkout on Sunday, causing heavy disruption at the onset of the "peak season" leading up to the Christmas period. The action is expected to last until Sunday 28 August.

The Suffolk port handles about 4 million containers a year from 2,000 ships, accounting for around a third of the UK's incoming shipping freight.

It has an even higher share of trade from Asia, which has already been heavily disrupted in recent months.

The action has forced shipping firms to adapt. Maersk (MAERSK-B.CO), the world’s second-largest container shipping firm, said it would avoid the port and instead deliver UK-bound goods to other ports including to Antwerp, Le Havre and London Gateway on the Thames.

Meanwhile, Flexport, a freight platform, estimated that it could take 24 days to catch up after the strike.

Analysts have warned that the strike could "interrupt supplies for supermarkets as well as exports", as consumers face fresh shortages of some goods and even higher prices, on top of 40-year high inflation.

Several companies including food retailers such as Asda, Tesco (TSCO.L) and Marks & Spencer (MKS.L) could be affected, as well as industrial firms bringing in parts and exporting items, such as Rolls Royce (RR.L), Diageo (DGE.L), and GSK (GSK.L).

Sophie Lund-Yates, lead equity analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown, said: "The Port of Felixstowe is an essential lynchpin in the UK’s trade operations, and an eight-day strike is likely to result in interrupted supplies for supermarkets as well as exports.

"This is the latest unwanted twist in our weekly food shops, with high prices already making the experience more difficult for many shoppers. From an economic standpoint, a disruption to trade is the last thing the UK needs right now.

"There are already far-reaching productivity problems which keep a lid on economic growth, with an avoidable blip such as port strikes adding insult to an existing injury."

 

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The strike is the latest in a bout of walkouts across several sectors including transport and aviation amid disputes over pay as the cost of living surges.

Around 1,900 workers, who are members of trade union Unite, including crane drivers, machine operators and stevedores, are taking part in the first strike to disrupt the port since 1989.

Unite is asking for a pay rise in line with inflation, which currently stands at 10.1%. Staff had previously been offered a 7% increase, as well as a £500 lump sum payment by the port.

Robert Morton, Unite's national officer, suggested a figure "between 7% and 12.3%" would be acceptable, warning that there "will be more strikes" if members’ pay demands are not met.

He told Sky News: "We’ve been asking for a minimum of the rate of inflation. The RPI [retail price inflation] at the moment is at 12.3%.

"However, if we can sit down and thrash this out, there will be a figure between 7% and 12.3% that’s acceptable to my membership."

Concerns as Foreign Airlines Rip off Nigerians with Outrageous Fares - THISDAY

AUGUST 22, 2022

*Stakeholders urge FG to enforce BASA 

*Aviation professionals seek settlement of $464m airlines’ funds 

BY  Chinedu Eze

With the advertised fares on foreign airlines’ websites, Nigerians now pay three times more than other travellers for the same destinations amid a threat by the international operators to suspend flights, THISDAY’s investigation has revealed.

Stakeholders in the aviation industry have therefore urged the federal government to enforce the full implementation of the Bilateral Air Service Agreement (BASA), which stipulates that foreign airlines should pay royalties to the government, especially when the Nigerian carriers cannot reciprocate the same service to the host countries of their foreign counterparts.

This is coming as more pressure has been mounted on the federal government to settle the $464million trapped funds belonging to foreign airlines flying the Nigerian routes.

Aviation industry stakeholders have however described the exorbitant fares as a rip-off. THISDAY’s investigation further showed that travellers from other countries where airlines are also yet to repatriate their revenues do not pay such outrageous fares.

Other countries in Africa that hold on to the huge amount of airlines’ revenues as of June 2022 include Zimbabwe – $100 million; Algeria – $96 million; Eritrea – $79 million, Ethiopia, $75 million and Ghana, which was not listed by IATA in June but had not allowed airlines to repatriate their earnings due to paucity of foreign exchange.

THISDAY gathered that the Nigerian travellers pay over N1.2 million for a one-way economy ticket for about six to eight hours flight and over N4 million for a business class ticket, while round-trip tickets are going for N3 million for the economy and N7 million for business class tickets, respectively. Investigations further revealed that foreign airlines have not charged similar outrageous fares in other countries where airlines are yet to repatriate their earnings.

Regional Vice-President, Africa and the Middle East, International Air Transport Association (IATA), Kamil Alawadhi stated at a recent IATA conference in Doha, Qatar, that the airfares charged by international carriers are three times higher than what they charge in other countries that do not retain airlines’ revenues. He expressed fear that the fares might continue to rise until Nigerians would not be able to afford international travel, stressing that such development could eventually weaken the nation’s economy.

Alawadhi explained that airlines were charging higher fares to Nigeria so that they could make a profit from one leg of the trip, as most trips are charged on return-ticket.

Industry expert and the Secretary-General of Aviation Round Table (ART), Group Captain John Ojikutu (rtd) said that before anyone should blame the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), the aviation industry should first account for over $1 billion it earned from passenger service charge (PSC). He lamented that Nigeria is not keeping to the tenets of the Bilateral Air Service Agreement (BASA), which stipulates that foreign airlines should pay royalties for their operations in Nigeria, especially when Nigerian carriers do not reciprocate the same service to the host countries of those airlines.

“First, why do we find ourselves among the countries that are not keeping to the articles of the BASAs? Second, what happens to our forex earnings on commercial aviation, particularly those that are earned by the aviation services providers like the PSC of $100/pax and those earned on landing and parking? What about the forex earnings by others like the ground handling services companies such as NAHCO (Nigeria Aviation Handling Company Plc), SAHCOL (Skyway Aviation Handling Company Plc) and the fuel marketers?” he queried.

“My last calculations on all these is over $1 billion, but where are they before we start blaming the CBN that cannot account for the earnings and deposits from others’ earnings forex like NNPC (the Nigerian National Petroleum Company), NPA (the Nigerian Ports Authority), NIMASA (Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency) etc? (Chief Olusegun) Obasanjo said at the first public hearing on aviation ever held by any president in Aso Rock in around 2006 that forex earnings by aviation operators, including the NCAA (Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority) be domiciled in the CBN, Naira equivalent given to the operators but can be returned to the CBN when the needs arise; what happened to that presidential directive?

“What has been happening over the years in Nigerian commercial aviation policies, regulations and administration are nothing but what I call unilateral exploitation of the systems? We are going to be the loser if the foreign airlines withdraw their services because about 70 per cent to 80 per cent of our earnings in commercial aviation are from foreign airlines. What will happen further is that Nigerians will go to Accra, Cotonou, Lome, etc to connect the flights of these foreign airlines making them hubs over Nigeria. I saw these happening to us when a minister unilaterally cut off the commercial agreements between us and them and when we indirectly open the domestic routes and markets for some of them for multiple destinations. The consequences are staring at us all; now who will save us from ourselves?” Ojikutu further queried.

However, industry analyst and Director, Research, Zenith Travels, Mr Olumide Ohunayo explained that Nigerians are being charged higher rates because the country’s debt is the highest.

“Secondly, we cannot reciprocate of those routes; so, the dominant carriers determine the fares. Nigeria has a very strong travel population; so, we have a lot of supply, which outweighs the demands currently as airlines cut frequencies. Also, the Naira’s continuous spiral fall is affecting the overall costs of the tickets,” he added.

Meanwhile, pressure has been mounted on the federal government over the $464million trapped funds belonging to foreign airlines flying Nigerian routes. This comes on the heels of Emirates’ stoppage of flights with effect from September 1 even as more airlines are said to be exploring all options to mitigate the effect of blocked funds.

A group of aviation professionals and stakeholders under the aegis of Aviation Roundtable (ART) expressed dismay “by the appalling handling of the accumulated foreign airline funds trapped in our banks, due to the non-allocation of forex to these airlines.” The ARN in a statement by its Assistant Secretary, Mr Olumide Ohunayo, charged the CBN to do the needful by allocating dollars to the airlines to repatriate money made from the sale of tickets in line with the dictate of BASAs.

It said, “In all Bilateral Air Services Agreement an Article in the agreement — transfer of earnings, clearly states that “each designated airline shall have the right to convert and remit to its country on demand, local revenues over sums locally disbursed. Conversion and remittance shall be permitted without delay by the prevailing foreign exchange regulations”. According to ART, international trade is bonded by agreements, which are sacrosanct and respected. It said Nigeria cannot do otherwise if we crave the attention of investors in our industry.

The statement added: “It’s important to state that foreign airlines sold these tickets at the official IATA rate and cannot be expected to go the parallel market to source, convert and remit as opined in some quarters, the central bank should do the needful as enshrined in the BASA agreements. “These funds should have been remitted at the official rate on the date of Sale immediately the Airlines get clearance after paying all the local obligations including taxes.

“The damage that our action has done to the Nigerian image as an investment-friendly nation is far-reaching, while the citizenry is faced with high fares, reduced capacity and limited travelling options, which will worsen if we continue on this trajectory. “We found ourselves in this unenviable situation because we cannot compete, which would have reduced the remittance volume,” the statement added.

Nigerian travellers devise ways to buy cheaper tickets - PUNCH

AUGUST 23, 2022

Nigerians are beginning to devise strategies that will enable them to procure cheaper international flights, writes Funmilayo Fabunmi

Nigerians are beginning to take hard decisions in order to cut costs.

Some Nigerian travellers told The Punch that they were beginning to fly through neighbouring airports in order to cut costs.

A businessman, Mr Joe Anakwe, said he recently moved to Ghana and flew from there to Dubai.

“Yes, it is cheaper, but it is also meant to have fewer hassles,” he said. Those countries do not have a dollar crisis like we do, and their flight costs are cheaper when compared with buying in naira,” he said.

Another Nigerian traveller, Charles Sawoe, noted that the forex challenges sometimes made cost of flights higher by over 50 per cent in Nigeria.

“I have agents in Ghana and France. Those countries do not have issues with forex the way it is here. So, they buy tickets for me at cheaper rates. At times, I fly through Ghana, but sometimes I move through Lagos. But the most important thing for me is that I don’t normally buy tickets here the way I used to,” he said.

According to the president of the National Association of Nigeria Travel Agencies, Susan Akporiaye, Nigerians had started flying from Accra, Ghana, to London, Canada and other frequently visited destinations.

Speaking to The PUNCH in a telephone interview, Akporiaye said, “Nigerians are already flying from Ghana to other countries because the lower inventories of tickets are no longer available in Nigeria. People go to Accra because Accra still has the lowest inventory available.

 “By the time all airlines restrict sales to only the highest inventories like British Airways and Virgin Atlantic have done, then more people will move to Accra to fly,” she added.

Foreign airlines operating in Nigeria have since blocked all low ticket inventories on their websites, making it difficult for passengers to buy affordable tickets.

NANTA’s president said, “Yes it’s true because they get it cheaper that way, but you know even out of Nigeria, you get cheaper prices. It’s just that you have to issue the tickets out of Nigeria. For example, the restrictions on the lower fares happen just in Nigeria because of the forex crisis. It does not exist in Ghana, South Africa, London or the US. So, for instance, Virgin Atlantic is selling the highest economy at N1.7m for Lagos-London-Lagos flight. You don’t even have to go to Accra even though Virgin Atlantic doesn’t fly from Accra. I’m just using that as an example. You don’t even have to go there to fly. All you have to do is get a travel agent in London who will see a lower fare of N500,000 plus, but I won’t see it. That N550,000 naira flight has been taken off for agents in Nigeria to issue. For agents in Nigeria, you can only issue the high one. So, I don’t even need to tell my customer to go to Accra or go to South Africa and fly, no. All I need to do is contact a colleague in London and he will get a cheaper fare. Once he gets it, I pay the person, he issues the ticket and my passenger can still fly from Lagos to London.

“So, yes, people are doing it but they really don’t have to. But then again, they forget that they also have to issue Nigeria to Accra and back except people that live in Lagos and can go by road. But for us that live in Abuja and other parts of Nigeria, you have to issue tickets to Accra and back, so at the end of the day, what are you saving?

 “Rather than fly to other West African countries, Nigerians aiming to travel can log in to the airline’s websites. Lower fares are on their websites and since they’re not based in Nigeria, payment will be made in the currency of the country, so that’s another way we can get lower fares as their website is domiciled in their countries.


 “The only reason why they are not selling lower  fares here is that they don’t want it to be sold in naira because their money is trapped here. So, as much as they can, they make the ones that we can sell in naira higher and then through their websites you can get lower ones, but you will pay in the currency of the country. They’re trying to get back some of their forex that is stuck in Nigeria so that it doesn’t keep increasing exponentially.

“They are business people and a lot of the things they do is in dollars. They pay FAAN in dollars, buy fuel in dollars, service their aircrafts in dollars and meanwhile a lot of the money is trapped here in naira. Even though it is in their accounts and not in the hands of the government, it’s of no use to them in naira. The money will only be of use to them if it is in dollar and that is where the problem is. We don’t have forex, so because of the dollar shortage, the government can’t convert their money for them. So, they are looking for a way to make sure that they get some things back. So, the person that is willing to pay N1.7m will pay in naira, so they’ll go and buy from black market.  But for those lower ones now, they cannot carry their money and go and buy from the black market, which will be a huge loss.

 “The Nigerian government does not allow trade in any other currency except the naira but trade on the website on an airline is not considered illegitimate in Nigeria because that website is not domiciled here. So, you can’t say that they are selling dollars in Nigeria; it’s only when you go to their office physically or through a travel agency and you’re paying in dollars that they can have issues with the Nigerian government. On their websites, they can do anything they want to do.”

 The PUNCH, in the early hours of Thursday, reported that Emirates Airlines had announced the suspension of its flight operations in Nigeria from September 1, 2022. The airline said the suspension became necessary following its inability to repatriate its funds from Nigeria.

International carriers operating in Nigeria have repeatedly complained about their inability to repatriate funds to their home countries. They have raised this concern on many occasions with officials of the Federal Ministry of Aviation as well as those at the Ministry of Finance.

Blocked funds belonging to these airlines have risen to about $600m and this is due to the inability of the Central Bank of Nigeria to make the  dollar available for the carriers to repatriate, operators say.  In its statement on Thursday, Emirates Airlines said it “has tried every avenue to address our ongoing challenges in repatriating funds from Nigeria, and we have made considerable efforts to initiate dialogue with the relevant authorities for their urgent intervention to help find a viable solution.

 “Regrettably there has been no progress. Therefore, Emirates has taken the difficult decision to suspend all flights to and from Nigeria, effective September 1, 2022, to limit further losses and impact on our operational costs that continue to accumulate in the market.

“We sincerely regret the inconvenience caused to our customers, however, the circumstances are beyond our control at this stage. We will be working to help impacted customers make alternative travel arrangements wherever possible.”

 “We remain keen to serve Nigeria, and our operations provide much-needed connectivity for Nigerian travellers, providing access to trade and tourism opportunities to Dubai, and to our broader network of over 130 destinations,” the global carrier stated.

Also, the British Airways has already reduced its flight frequencies to Nigeria, as the airline informed its passengers last Thursday of an imminent hike in the cost of its flight tickets.

Reacting to this, the President, Association of Foreign Airlines and Representatives in Nigeria, Kingsley Nwokeoma, said more international carriers would join Emirates Airlines soon if nothing was done to address their concerns.

He said, “This is just the beginning. It is over $1 billion that is being held and they (foreign airlines) cannot repatriate it. If other countries are like Nigeria, there will not be any industry because this money is used for maintenance. Even the money used to pay their staff in Nigeria is coming from other climes.

“Aviation industry is all about 100 per cent safety. If there is no money, safety will not be 100 per cent guaranteed. So, it is going to continue. Emirates has kick-started it and I’m sure that you are aware that British Airways has cut flights into Nigeria and that is how it is going to start.


“Just like Emirates did, they will first of all cut their flights into Nigeria and they will look at it holistically again and if it is not working out, then it’s not working out. This did not start today. It started over the years and the government is not doing anything.”

In the same vein, the body of aviation profes-sionals, Aviation Safety Round Table Initiative, expressed displeasure at the Federal Government of Nigeria while also stating that the Central Bank of Nigeria’s continued withhold¬ing of ticket sales of foreign airlines was having a negative effect on the image of the country.

ART advised the Federal Government to, as a matter of urgency, ensure the payment of the airlines in a bid to return normalcy to the aviation sector.

In a statement signed by the ART’s Assistant General Secretary, Mr. Olumide Ohunayo, the body described as appalling the handling of the ac¬cumulated foreign airline funds trapped in Nigerian banks due to the non-allocation of forex to these airlines.

The statement read in part, “‘The Aviation Safety Round Table Initiative is dismayed by the appalling handling of the accumulated foreign airline funds trapped in our banks, due to the non-allocation of forex to these airlines.

“‘In all Bilateral Air Services Agreement, an Article in the agreement – transfer of earnings – clearly states that ‘each designated airline shall have the right to convert and remit to its country on demand, local revenues in excess of sums locally disbursed. Conversion and remittance shall be permitted without delay in accordance with the prevailing foreign exchange regulations.’

 “International trade is bound by agreements which are sacrosanct and respected. Nigeria cannot do otherwise if we crave the attention of investors in our industry.

“It’s important to state that foreign airlines sold these tickets at the official IATA rate and cannot be expected to go to the parallel market to source, convert and remit as opined in some quarters, the central bank should do the needful as enshrined in the BASA agreements.

“These funds should have been remitted at the official rate on date of sale immediately the Airlines get clearance  after paying all the local obligations including taxes.

“The damage that our action has done to the Nigerian image as an investment-friendly nation is far reaching, while the citizenry is faced with high fares, reduced capacity and limited travelling options, which will worsen if we continue on this trajectory.

 “We found ourselves in this unenviable situation because we lack capacity to compete, which would have reduced the remittance volume.”

Gatwick Airport Ends Caps as Heathrow Disrupted Through Winter - BLOOMBERG

AUGUST 23, 2022

(Bloomberg) --

London Gatwick airport said it will end capacity caps this month, bringing some relief to travelers as schedule reductions at the UK capital’s larger Heathrow hub continue through the winter season.

Gatwick, controlled by French builder Vinci SA, has hired 400 security staff to help resolve a labor crunch while delegating other workers to address shortages at airport firms including airline baggage handlers, it said Tuesday.

“With additional resources across the Gatwick operation in place no further moderation of flying programs is necessary,” the airport said in a statement, while upgrading its full-year passenger estimate to 32.8 million. The end to curbs provides a boost for low-cost giant EasyJet Plc, the hub’s biggest airline.

The normalization of operations at Gatwick comes after Heathrow extended limits on departing passengers through October, the end of the summer season, citing a prolonged hiring crisis at ground-handling firms. On Monday, British Airways, Heathrow’s No. 1 carrier, removed 10,000 flights there this winter to cope with the staffing situation and insufficient demand on some flights to destinations with multiple frequencies.

Gatwick was one of the first airports to limit capacity in spring as travel rebounded from the Covid pandemic, with hours-long queues for security and numerous last-minute cancellations. In June, the airport announced caps on departing flights during the peak summer travel season that were about 20% below usual levels to ensure “a more reliable and better standard of service.”

While airlines across Europe have struggled for staff, British Airways has been among the hardest hit after dismissing 10,000 workers at the peak of coronavirus lockdowns. The unit of IAG SA was forced to offer some employees an effective 13% raise to head off a threatened strike.

Shares of EasyJet traded 1.4% higher as of 8:46 a.m. in London. IAG was priced up 0.6% after closing 4.5% lower Monday following initial reports of its schedule cuts.

(Updates with background on Gatwick, BA curbs from fifth paragraph, shares in seventh)

New maintenance hangar to save sector $1b capital flight yearly - THE GUARDIAN

AUGUST 23, 2022

By Wole Oyebade


•Experts seek conducive environment, special FX window
General aviation services in the country recently got a boost with the addition of a new hangar to offer aircraft repairs that have erstwhile been done overseas.

The new facility, owned and operated by Badus Aviation in Lagos, will service private jets in Nigeria and the West African region, saving the country an average of $1billion yearly.

Currently, there are a couple of Aircraft Maintenance Organisations (AMOs) locally. The addition of Badus is a massive boost to local capacity, especially for Cessna, Challenger and Hawker aircraft families in the region.

Aviation experts, however, urged the Federal Government to complement new investments with a conducive operating environment, especially by finding both temporary and permanent solutions to the foreign exchange liquidity crisis.

The Guardian earlier reported that overseas maintenance of local commercial airplanes costs Nigeria at least $2.5 billion in capital flight yearly. The mandatory maintenance programme, ranging from minor to complex checks per session on an aircraft, costs about $2 million, and a cumulative burden on the industry and the economy at large.

Similar ‘giveaway’ in the general aviation sector, where there is an average of 100 airplanes (45 active), ranges between $1b to $5b in maintenance cost yearly.

Accountable Manager of Badus Aviation, Kolade Olawale, said the cumulative estimate of overseas maintenance cost yearly is huge, “yet at least 20 to 30 per cent of the cost could be saved from conducting basic services locally.”

Olawale, an ex-official of the Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), said the low-hanging opportunities motivated the investment in Badus Aviation and its application for certification.

The Guardian learnt that the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) recently certificated Badus Aviation as an Aircraft Maintenance Organisation (AMO), with registration number AMO/5N/BGA.

The AMO is certified to conduct A to F Line Maintenance on Cessna, Challenger and Hawker airplanes.

Olawale noted that more than 50 per cent of aircraft in the AMO’s competency areas are in the country, therefore, a huge cost saving benefit to have the service locally.

“There are also over a hundred (of such aircraft) in West Africa. So, with Badus Aviation’s emergence in the country, 20 to 30 per cent of funds spent by operators to maintain their aircraft outside the country would be saved.

“There are a lot of opportunities in the aviation industry, which we are yet to harness. I discovered overtime that a lot of our big men have aircraft of various types and usually take their aircraft out of Nigeria for maintenance. Yet, we have a lot of indigenous engineers that are capable and well-trained but they don’t have the opportunities of doing the job in Nigeria. In view of this, I decided to invest in the industry so as to create jobs, enable our indigenous engineers to perform and to reduce the rate of moving jets out of Nigeria for maintenance.

“We only need a better working environment and availability of foreign exchange to purchase the spares. Aviation is too important to be ignored by the government. The operators need foreign exchange to operate and I believe the government should pay attention to that critical demand. That way, it is surely going to be a win-win for all of us, especially the Nigerian economy,” he said.

Base Line Maintenance Manager, Don-Felix Alegbeleye, noted that the AMO, besides the Concord Hangar, also has a partnership with the Air Force Hangar in Lagos to conduct maintenance services.

Alegbeleye added that they went through the rigorous five phases of the certification process, lasting 16 months.

“With our aim achieved, we would be able to fulfill the mission, vision and work at being among the best AMOs not only in Nigeria, but in the African region as well.”

British Airways to cancel another 10,000 flights this winter as Heathrow passenger cap is extended - EURONEWS

AUGUST 23, 2022

British Airways (BA) has cancelled more than 10,000 flights to and from Heathrow in the coming months.

Heathrow cut staff numbers during the pandemic and has struggled to cope with rising passenger numbers after most COVID-19 restrictions were removed. It has also had issues with its baggage handling system leading to long delays on luggage.

The airport, which is BA’s main hub, announced last week that it will be extending its daily cap of 100,000 passengers until 29 October. This was introduced to try and cope with staff shortages and reduce the number of flights being cancelled at the last minute.

Heathrow Airport introduced a cap on passenger numbers this summer as the aviation sector struggles to cope with demand for travel. AP Photo/Alberto Pezzali, FileHeathrow Airport introduced a cap on passenger numbers this summer as the aviation sector struggles to cope with demand for travel. AP Photo/Alberto Pezzali, File© Provided by Euronews

A dozen round trips a day - a total of 1,258 flights - are being pulled before 29 October to comply with the extension of the cap.

An additional 10,000 flights have been axed between the end of October and March next year. The majority of the trips are to European tourist hotspots that are less popular with passengers during the winter.

A spokesperson for the airline said it was “protecting key holiday destinations over half term” and that a vast majority of passengers will travel as planned.

BA added that it was giving customers travelling this winter advanced notice of changes to its flight schedule. Short haul locations with multiple services a day are seeing some of them combined, resulting in an 8 per cent reduction to the airline’s schedule.

“We'll be offering customers affected by any of these changes an alternative flight with British Airways or another airline, or the option of a refund,” the airline said, adding that passengers were being given several months' notice of the changes.

Gatwick removes its cap on capacity

In contrast, Gatwick - the UK’s second largest airport - has just announced that it will not be continuing its summer capacity cap beyond the end of this month.

Chief executive officer of the airport Stewart Wingate said that unprecedented growth in traffic had led to operational issues in June. “Decisive early action” to introduce a capacity limit, however, has ensured passengers have experienced reliable flight timetables this summer.

We are now very much operating business as usual and do not see any reason to extend the capacity declaration.

Stewart Wingate Chief Executive Officer, Gatwick

“We are now very much operating business as usual and do not see any reason to extend the capacity declaration,” he added.

Passengers arrive at Gatwick Airport, in London. AP Photo/Alberto Pezzali, FilePassengers arrive at Gatwick Airport, in London. AP Photo/Alberto Pezzali, File© Provided by Euronews

The airport revealed that strong demand from passengers has helped to accelerate its recovery from the effects of the pandemic. More than 400 new security staff have been recruited to help deal with delays. Gatwick has also loaned staff including baggage handlers to other airport operators struggling to cope with an influx of passengers.

With 40 new long haul routes to destinations including New York, Hanoi and Boston, the airport is reporting “cautious optimism” for the rest of the year.

Dublin Airport Opens New Runway After Decades of Waiting - BLOOMBERG

AUGUST 24, 2022

(Bloomberg) -- Dublin Airport will finally open its new runway in a move that is hoped will reduce delays following a summer of long queues and travel disruption across Europe.

The first flight from the north runway is planned to take off Wednesday between 11.30am and 12.30pm, with an introductory morning schedule starting Aug. 25. 

Airports and airlines have struggled to cope with post-pandemic demand this year, leading to months of delays and canceled flights. The 320-million-euro ($318 million) north runway will cut congestion, add new routes and boost Ireland’s connectivity by 31% by 2034, according to the airport. It’s expected to add 2.2 billion euros to the nation’s economy by 2043.

Even so, the development has not been without opposition. Concerns have been raised about the impact of an expanded airport on climate change and measures have been taken to mitigate the noise impact on local residents.

Dublin Airport, which is home to IAG SA’s Aer Lingus and one of the main operational bases for Ryanair Holdings Plc, has committed to achieving net zero carbon emissions by 2050.

“We are firmly committed to reducing our carbon emissions as part of the wider aviation ecosystems in the months and years ahead,” Dublin Airport Authority’s communications head Kevin Cullinane told broadcaster RTE. “Expansion will go on but in a more sustainable way with technological improvements due to come.”

An extra runway has been in the airport’s long-term plans since the 1960s. Planning permission was granted in 2007, though progress was curtailed by the global financial crisis. A decision to move forward was taken in 2016 amid rising passenger numbers

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