Travel News

Nigerian students abroad groan over naira free fall - PUNCH

FEBRUARY 02, 2024

BY  Gbenga Oloniniran, Uthman Salami, Temitope Aina and Johnson Idowu

Parents and many Nigerian students studying abroad have groaned over the rising tuition fees following the free fall of naira against foreign currencies, including dollar and pounds.

For potential students trying to travel abroad for their studies, the exchange rates of naira to dollar and naira to pounds are taking a toll on them and their guardians who have to pay for ticketing and school fees.

In June 2023, the Nigerian government removed the rate cap in its official foreign exchange market, allowing market forces to determine the actual value of the naira.

This led to the devaluation of the naira. In July 2023 (about a month after the move), the national currency fell from 471/dollar to 750/dollar and 589.4/pound to 957.2/pound. As of January 24, the currency had further plunged to 887/dollar and 1133/pound.

At the parallel market, where most people meet their forex needs, the local currency exchanged 1,420/dollar on Friday.

As of Wednesday, the value stood at N1,455/$ on the Investor and Exporter Window.

The price of everything associated with relocation, including school fees, visa fees, and more has surged due to the significant depreciation of the naira.

Some students who spoke with our correspondents lamented their ordeals following the falling naira against foreign currencies.

A Nigerian student in the UK, Moyosore Salami, said he knew several persons who had returned to Nigeria over the exchange rate.

Salami said, “I have a lot of people that have gone back home due to the dollar rate. It’s really crazy. My first week in the UK, pounds was around N680 as today the pound is around N1,970.”

A Nigerian student in Canada, Seth Akande, while lamenting, said, “Well, the devaluation of naira and how it’s affecting me simply means whatever amount I need from Nigeria, it’s never enough. Every day the rates keep going up. Now you can’t plan for how much you will be converting or you are likely to pay with the steady increase in rate.

“Just months ago, I still changed the Canadian dollar to about N780 and as of this morning, 1 CAD is N1,169. Now, I can’t budget for how much I will be needing from Nigeria to pay fees, as it is only when you have the money available then you can say this is how much I am paying.

“As an international student, this even makes it worse because you pay 1.5 or two twice of what the citizens of the country pay, but that’s not the problem, the main problem is that the rate continues to increase.”

A Sokoto State indigene studying in Malaysia, Aisha Umar, who spoke with one of our correspondents, said when the naira got devalued, “our money becomes worthless compared to other currencies. So things like tuition fees and school expenses have become more expensive for us studying in Malaysia.”

A Nigerian student who was processing admission into a Canadian university noted that his admission was halted over the exchange rate debacle.

The student, Confidence Chujor, said, “The devaluation of naira has really affected me in the sense that the money I kept for my schooling is no longer enough for me. The price of everything has gone higher than the way it used to be. I now sleep in fear, praying and hoping that the rate goes down.”

“I have never in my life experienced this level of naira devaluation,” he said, adding “I can’t pay my tuition fee, I can’t afford to pay for flight. Medical (fee) which used to be N46,000 has got to N73,000. It would really be nice if I wake up one morning to hear that the rate of the dollar has gone down. I’m hoping for a miracle.”

A parent, Mrs. Nwachukwu Mary, said the exchange rate “is finishing us”

Speaking on Thursday with one of our correspondents, Nwachukwu said, “This exchange rate is finishing us, paying for this semester’s fee was mentally draining. No form A, we had to buy from ‘Abokis’.  The banks are hoarding dollars. Sending money to my kid is taxing because when they change it, it amounts to nothing, it’s even affecting us in Nigeria, everything is so hard, the cost of living is increasing crazily and the standard of living is decreasing, this economy is making things very hard.”

Another parent, who gave his name simply as Mr Smith, said he was aware that his son was to pay $17,000 for tuition in the US.

“But now when the dollar is around N1,500, where will we get over N25m? It is even better to invest the money in something else than to do this under pressure.”

A travel agent, who works at Adopas Dedicated Services, David Adamu, said some Nigerians were selling properties to “japa” while some students abroad had also dropped out.

“When the economy is bad just like the current trend of naira devaluation, Nigerians would want to do everything possible to leave the country and escape. That is what we are currently experiencing. Some sell their properties all in the bid to escape. More people have become desperate to leave the country,” he said.

He noted there had not been much increase in processing fees at their company, saying, “It is just N10,000 increase. And ours is one of the cheapest. Some students have dropped out of school because of the inability to pay tuition fees due to the naira issues. We have been hearing rumours that the Form A which is the CBN payment portal is beginning to come back alive. Some students have dropped out over time because of the access to funds. While others are grinding on and ensuring that they stay the course.”

A travel consultant, Otun Sidally, who works at SIMSID Nigeria Enterprise, said the situation was funny, “and seriously, we are in a sorry state.”

Speaking on the cost of schooling, Otun said, “Definitely, the cost of processing will go up because the means of transaction too (dollars) keeps going up. Take for instance if the cost of a flight ticket to the UK two years ago is $300 at N500 to $1 and today the same dollar is exchanged for N1,500 to the same $1, that will be three times the actual cost two years ago.”

A source at the Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria who works closely with international airlines, said the fees for travellers varied from airline to airline.

She said as of June, 2023, the cost of a flight to the UK was around £850. She could not give an actual rate but she noted the price had been fluctuating and at the moment due to the exchange rates adding “it’s not looking any good.”

The President of the National Association of Nigerian Travel Agencies, Susan Akporiaye, believed that there was still a huge demand for international travel from Nigerians despite the rising cost due to falling naira.

 Akporiaye earlier told The PUNCH, “If you compare the school fees of $10,000 from early last year to what you will pay now, there is a 300 per cent increase, and yet the demand for education abroad has not reduced; it keeps increasing despite the high costs.”

 The PUNCH however gatheted that aside from the cost of fees, airfares have skyrocketed. Flight costs to London from Lagos are now hovering above N1m.

One travel agent, Tolu Omolade, told The PUNCH, “Depending on the airline, it is from N1m and above. You could travel with less than N1m before.”

Another agent, who gave his name simply as Chimaobi, in an earlier interview with The PUNCH, noted that the reliance on the black market for currency exchange because of the scarcity of FX in the official market had further exacerbated the costs of the various aspects of international travel, from visa fees to hotel bookings and airfares.

He said, “It has been quite tumultuous lately, given the fact that people are opting for the black market.”

Nigerian traditional monarch shot dead and wife kidnapped from palace - THE GUARDIAN UK

FEBRUARY 03, 2024

Police launch investigation after attack on home of Oba Aremu Olusegun Cole in south-western Kwara state

Gunmen killed a Nigerian traditional monarch and kidnapped his wife after raiding his palace, police said, as outrage grows over a spate of abductions across the country.

Attackers stormed the palace of Oba Aremu Olusegun Cole in south-western Kwara state, shot him dead and abducted his wife and another person on Thursday.

State police said they had launched an investigation and stepped up security.

Similar attacks regularly take place in Nigeria, which is struggling with a security crisis on several fronts. Two traditional rulers were shot dead by unknown gunmen in neighbouring Ekiti state on Monday.

Last year the president, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, came to power promising to address insecurity – including jihadists in the north-east, criminal militias in the north-west and growing intercommunal violence in the centre of the country – but critics say violence is spinning out of control.

The Nigerian risk consultancy SBM Intelligence said it had recorded that 3,964 people were abducted since Tinubu took office in May.

At the start of the year, criminals abducted five young sisters near the capital, Abuja, and killed one when a ransom deadline passed, prompting a national outcry.

Burkina Faso, Mali, Niger May Close Airspace against Nigerian Flights, Aviation Stakeholders Warn - THISDAY

FEBRUARY 03, 2024

by Chinedu Eze

Following the official resignation of Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger from the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), after alleging marginalisation from Nigeria’s President who is the Chairman of ECOWAS Bloc, stakeholders in the aviation industry have warned that the three countries may close their airspace against flights emanating from Nigeria.

The stakeholders are of the view that should the three African countries make do their threats to withdraw their membership from ECOWAS, they will likely close their airspace against Nigeria, a development that will cause adverse effect on the Nigerian economy, since the three countries occupy about 50 per cent of ECOWAS airspace.

According to them, if Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger should close their airspace against Nigeria, flights from Nigeria will have to spend extra two hours to circumvent these countries, which will be at huge cost for both scheduled, cargo and private flights going in and out of Nigeria.

Former Acting Managing Director, Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA), Mr. Matthew Pwajok, told THISDAY that one of the ECOWAS sanctions against Niger Republic was that no flight emanating from Nigeria would land in Niger, except in special cases and it must have the approval of the National Security Adviser and the sanction was conveyed to the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA).

According to him, if these three countries withdraw from ECOWAS, Niger will want to revenge against Nigeria by closing its airspace to flights to and from Nigeria, which will cost the airlines huge amount of money and also the aviation agencies, especially NAMA, which will lose over-fliers revenue, paid in foreign currency and which is the base of the agency’s income.

“The challenge we will have is, if they decide to close their airspace against flights from and to Nigeria it will adversely affect our Europe-bound flights, which usually fly through Niger and this will be a serious challenge both for the airlines and for aviation agencies, especially NAMA. Flights from southern Africa fly though Nigeria and we generate revenue from over flier charges, but if they close their airspace, these flights won’t be flying through our own airspace to connect to theirs and to Europe.

“So, NAMA’s revenue will drop. ECOWAS decision is that no flight from Niger will be allowed in Nigeria and no flight in Nigeria will be allowed in Niger, except technical stops like small planes and helicopters can stop there and refuel but there must be approval from the National Security Adviser,” Pwajok said.

“Currently West African nationals travel across the states without visa, they move goods and services by road, sea and air as members of ECOWAS community but if the aforementioned countries withdraw, they can block free passage of flights destined to Nigeria.

“Also, Nigerians will not be able to visit the countries without visa and goods from Nigeria may be barred from being sold in these countries. Most goods produced in Nigeria, including beverages, foot-wears, clothes, electric cables and others are sold across the nations that made up the ECOWAS states, but the withdrawal of Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger will disorganise the ECOWAS protocol on trade, transport and diplomatic corporation, “Pwajok further said.

On his part, the Managing Director of Flights and Logistics Solutions Limited, Amos Akpan, told THISDAY that the protocols in ECOWAS affect multilateral agreements binding member states and these include agreements and co-operations entered for regional interests like free movement of citizens from member states without visas and unlimited access to trade and movement of goods amongst member states.

According to Akpan, Bilateral Air Services Agreements (BASA), existed and was operated between Nigeria, Mali, Niger, and Bourkina Faso before ECOWAS. Therefore, all the designations of airlines to fly between these countries had been based on BASA, not on ECOWAS protocols.

“These countries have announced withdrawal of membership from ECOWAS, not severance of diplomatic relationship with Nigeria. BASA is affected if diplomatic relations is cut off. That means airlinks between the two countries’ airlines is cut off too. This scenario often occurs if the two countries are at war. How then does this affect Nigerian Aviation?” he queried.

Akpan explained that the withdrawal of ECOWAS members would affect Nigeria’s international flight services including over-flight.

“This makes it difficult to fly into or out of Nigeria to Europe, Asia, and the Gulf states without crossing their airspace. If the three countries treat flights crossing into and out of Nigeria with suspicion, it will be difficult to obtain overflight permits. The alternative route will add at least two hours to cost of operations into and out of Nigeria. This will affect ticket prices and cargo prices. Fares and freight fees will spike to highest levels,” he said.

Akpan disclosed that these countries can constitute new entry requirements that would no more be by ECOWAS treaty.

“Nigerian businesses in the three countries will suffer setbacks. Trade and travels will now be subjected to each country’s diplomatic policy (gauge) with Nigeria. Nigerians have plenty of businesses operational in the three states. Though not captured in official records by Nigerian institutions, these countries import about forty percent of their household utensils and disposable consumables from Nigeria. Inquire from the cargo agents in the airports and you will be informed of the stuff they freight to these countries including: nylon bags, electronics, pharmaceuticals, toiletries, creams, soaps, detergents, toothpaste, apparels, shoes, bags, clothes e.t.c, produced in Nigeria – Aba, Kano, Nnewi, Agbara.

“Mostly goods imported from China in containers then break bulked and shipped to these countries. These are not captured in banks’ Form “M”. In the 90s, my company, used to load 34tons to 40tons of these items every 14 days to Mali or Guinea or Kinshasa. Currently the tonnage is lower and frequencies have slowed down because of the general economic down turn. Check what goods and tonnage DHL and Ethiopian cargo flights are lifting to these countries from Nigeria monthly even when declared as transit cargo,” he said.

Akpan who had managed three airlines, including cargo freighter said that airline business plan in Nigeria include operations such as charter, scheduled, cargo, passengers between West African countries; so, if the three countries cut diplomatic ties, it will limit the business coverage for Nigerian airlines.

On how Nigeria should react to end the possible impasse that may lead to the challenges, he said that the Federal Government should review Nigeria’s posture as allies of France.

“The entire citizenry of these countries support their present leaders against France. They perceive anything France as their enemy. Nigeria should take on one-on-one diplomatic meetings with each country to secure interest of that country with Nigeria. Whether we are in ECOWAS or still talking with France or America, we have to assure them that the interest of each of these countries with Nigeria is protected and secured. In diplomatic relationships what you see outside is often cosmetic as cover to what truly goes on inside.

“It will be costly to lose bilateral relations with neighbors of geopolitical strategic relevance. Take a lesson from America. They have retained their relationship with Niger and that’s why they still have their drones’ operational base in Niger in spite of the change from civil to military leadership. Besides ECOWAS, as neighbours, Nigeria and Niger have very close relationship, which was thawed by the sanctions, but many believe that the central African nations may not take retaliatory stance against Nigeria, “he said.

The Nigerian State Of Lagos Wants To Launch Its Own Airline - SIMPLY FLYING

FEBRUARY 03, 2024


Only one Nigerian state currently owns an airline.


  •  Lagos state is proposing to establish its own state-owned carrier, becoming the second state in Nigeria to do so.
  •  Plans to build a new airport in Lekki, Lagos, are moving forward, with completion expected by 2025.
  •  Other West and Central African countries are also considering the establishment of state-owned airlines to increase connectivity in their regions.

The state government of Lagos is proposing the establishment of a state-owned carrier to operate passenger flights within Nigeria. This would make it the second state to own and operate a scheduled airline. Furthermore, it is moving forward with plans to build its own airport in Lekki, south-east of Lagos city.

A state-owned carrier for Lagos

Nigeria has one of Africa's largest domestic aviation sectors, with over 11 active scheduled carriers. The West African country sees at least one startup nearly every year. The Federal Government has been trying to set up Nigeria Air, the proposed national carrier, for over five years without success. Now, Lagos, the second-largest state by population, wants to establish its own airline.

This was disclosed by the state governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, last week during a town hall meeting with various stakeholders. Responding to a query about establishing a state-owned airline, the governor said the plan has been in progress for months. As reported by ch-aviation, Sanwo-Olu said,

"Over the last five months, the Deputy Governor and I have been working to put a concise plan together for the establishment of an airline, but we did not make the plan open because of the need to get adequate knowledge about the operational procedures of airlines."
"The business plan is viable, and there is no issue about financing. The conversation has gone to an advanced stage, but we need to get the proper information on operations before we go ahead to implement the plan."

The state is now looking to receive approval from the federal government and set up operational contingencies for the airline. Currently, Akwa Ibom, in southern Nigeria, is the only state with a state-owned carrier. It owns Ibom Air, which it established in 2019. It has grown to become a trusted airline in Nigeria's domestic aviation sector. Last year, Ibom received the first Airbus A220 owned by a Nigerian airline.

Is State Ownership Good For Airlines?

Some counties have state-owned airlines, while others have airlines in which the government is a shareholder.

Building another airport in Lagos

Lagos' state government is also moving forward with plans to construct a new airport. Lekki-Epe International Airport in the Lagos city of Lekki is expected to have a capacity of up to five million passengers. Last month, the Lagos State Commissioner for Information and Strategy told The Punch that the state government will "focus on completing ongoing projects across the state in the new year," including constructing the new airport.

While the plans have been discussed for several years, state officials believe the airport could be complete by 2025. The project has also met resistance from local landowners and various other stakeholders. Currently, Lagos Murtala Muhammed Airport (LOS) is the state and country's main international airport. Before the pandemic, it welcomed an average of 7 million passengers annually.

More West African startups in 2023?

The last airline to join Nigeria's domestic market was NG Eagle, which commenced operation in December 2023 with two wet-leased Airbus A320s. On the other hand, the proposed national carrier was supposed to be launched in 2023, before the previous administration's term ended. Meanwhile, the Nigeria Air project remains suspended by the new aviation minister.

There are also a number of West and Central African countries looking to move forward with plans for state-owned airlines this year. On December 31, 2023, during his last national address, Gabon's head of state announced plans to create a new airline. "The takeoff that we want for our country requires the creation of a new national airline," said the President.

Similarly, West African trio Burkina Faso, Mali, and Niger are considering launching a joint airline. This was disclosed during a meeting between the economy and trade ministers of the three countries in November 2023. This is part of the initiative to increase connectivity between the three states by developing air, road, and rail networks.

Forex Crisis Pushes Hajj Fare To N4.9m - DAILY TRUST

FEBRUARY 04, 2024

The volatility in the exchange rate of the Nigerian currency, the Naira, has raised the fare for the 2024 intending Muslim pilgrims from the initial N4.5 million pegged by the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON) to N4.9 million.

This sudden development, coming barely three days after the January 31, 2024 dateline initially set by the national Muslim pilgrims’ agency has general mixed feelings in the Muslim community across the country.

This has equally raised concern among intending pilgrims, majority of whom have yet to fully pay the N4.5 million earlier announced as the fare.

The pegging of the new fare, according to NAHCON, is due to “the volatile currency situation.”

This development is coming just as tour operators, under the aegis of the Association of Hajj and Umrah Operators of Nigeria (AHUON), have called for subsidy for intending pilgrims.

The naira plunged to a record low on Tuesday selling for 1,413 against dollar at the official foreign exchange window.

The drop of the exchange rate of the currency against the US dollar followed an adjustment in the methodology for setting the rate.

Daily Trust on Sunday reports that the new hajj fare, which is about N1.6 million higher than that of last year, had earlier been pegged at N4.5 million.

The NAHCON, in a statement yesterday by its spokesperson, Fatima Sanda Usara, said intending pilgrims for the 2024 hajj from southern states were required to pay N4,899,000; those from northern states, N4,699,000 and those from Yola and Maiduguri, N4,679,000.

The commission said if it had not taken a drastic decision to consolidate the gains achieved in lowering the cost of services for hajj, the 2024 pilgrimage might have cost about N6 million.

The commission gave intending pilgrims till February 12 to make final payments, to enable it transfer the money to the service providers before the February 25 deadline set by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

The statement by the commission said: “It would be recalled that the chairman of National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON), Malam Jalal Ahmad Arabi, had initially aimed to maintain the 2024 Hajj fare at N4.5 million that was charged as initial deposit.

“The prospects had remained high until the well-known Naira crash that occurred mid-week. Regrettably, the recent instability in the Dollar exchange rate compelled a necessary adjustment despite commendable efforts by NAHCON Chairman, Jalal Ahmad Arabi to maintain cost of the year’s Hajj at the said rate.

“Chairman Arabi had actively negotiated substantial discounts with service providers in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in late January, striving to alleviate costs for intending pilgrims.

“However, the volatile currency situation within the week necessitated the commission to take a drastic decision to consolidate the gains achieved in lowering the cost of services for the Hajj, without which the price of 2024 Muslim pilgrimage might have shot to about N6,000,000 (six million Naira).

“Consequently, intending pilgrims from Nigeria’s Southern centre are required to pay N4,899,000 as Hajj fare; those from the Northern centre will pay N4,699,000, for the Hajj and pilgrims from Yola and Maiduguri centre will pay a fee of N4,679,000 for the 2024 Hajj.

“While expressing his regret, Chairman Arabi stated that this is the will of Allah, because the Commission, facing a tight deadline of 25th February, has limited time to explore further options to remain within the range of N4.5 million which he assiduously worked for. Consequently, NAHCON announces the feasible cost of Hajj to meet the impending remittance deadline.

“Intending pilgrims are therefore advised to balance their Hajj fare by Monday, 12th of February accordingly, to enable the commission transfer the funds before the imminent deadline.

“NAHCON assures the public of its commitment to ensuring a smooth and successful Hajj pilgrimage for all participants despite the challenges posed by foreign exchange factors. The Commission appreciates the understanding and cooperation of the Nigerian Muslim community during these times”, Ms Usara, who is Assistant Director, Public Affairs in the Commission said in the statement.

Intending pilgrims react

Some intending pilgrims from Kano State, who had paid the initial deposit of N4.5 million, said they would complete the payment to N4.7 million as announced by the hajj commission.

Hassan Abdullahi, who deposited N4.5 million for his mother to perform this year’s pilgrimage, said though he had hoped that the fare would remain unchanged he will pay the balance of N200,000.

“I am just hearing from you the (new) hajj fares you said NAHCON announced. Hajj is a pillar of Islam and I am determined that my mother, who is about 56 (years) now, will perform this important religious obligation. It is her first time unlike me,” he said.

Similarly, Sa’adu Na’abba said he will pay the balance before the deadline, but stressed that if the fare goes beyond N5 million, he might have a rethink.

Another intending pilgrim, Ahmadu Rufai, Abbas, said: “The hajj fare is expensive. But that is the economic reality in the country. We can only pray to God to bless us to afford this journey; but it is not easy”.

The spokesman of the Kano State Pilgrims’ Welfare Board, Suleiman Dederi, told our correspondent that the Executive Secretary of board, Laminu Rabiu Danbaffa, will chair a management meeting over the weekend to deliberate on the new hajj fares.

He said over 2,000 intending pilgrims had deposited N4.5 million. The NAHCON had allocated 5,993 seats to the state.


An intending pilgrim from Ilorin, Kwara State, who simply identified herself as Mrs Abimbola, said: “The last time I made an inquiry, my sponsor said everything would be taken care of. But with this new development, I don’t know what my sponsor will say.”

The chairman of the Kwara Muslim Pilgrims’ Welfare Board, Prof. Mahmud Moshood Jimba, said: “Intending pilgrims from Kwara will now pay about N4.7 million, which is about N200,000 extra.

“We think this will be the last increment because of the volatility and the free fall of the naira because nobody can predict the situation now. Before the time of hajj, only Allah knows what will happen.

“This pronouncement might even mean that the federal government is taking a risk because of the factor of time. For now, only God knows how this will further impact the exercise”, he said.

N4.8m too high–Taraba pilgrims

Intending pilgrims in Taraba State said the N4.8 million hajj fare is on the high side, even as only 525 of them had deposited N4.5 million. The state was allocated 1,600 seats.

Malam Kabiru Gambo, who deposited N4.5 million, said the new fare had put intending pilgrims under pressure.

He appealed to the federal and state governments to intervene in order to enable those who paid the minimum deposit to perform this year’s hajj.

The spokesman of the state Muslim Pilgrims’ Welfare Board, Umar Baba Muri, told Daily Trust that out of the 700 intending pilgrims that registered for this year’s hajj in the state, only 523 had paid the N4.5 million deposit; while 247 deposited less than N4.5 million.

Borno, Yobe to reach out to pilgrims

The acting Secretary of the Borno State Muslim Pilgrims’ Welfare Board, Mohammed Dawule Maino, said he will only comment on the new fares after reaching out to the intending pilgrims.

One of the intending pilgrims in Damaturu, Bulama Dauda, said: “With the way things are going, it’s like many depositors will not make it to hajj this year because the economic pressure is too much. People are battling to feed and now comes another pressure on hajj. We pray to Almighty Allah to ease everything for us.”

Hajj operators advocate subsidy

The president of AHUON, Yahaya Nasidi, in a chat with Daily Trust on Sunday, noted that the NAHCON only announced the minimum fares, saying those desiring premium services would pay more.

He said giving hajj pilgrims fare subsidy will be a welcome development.

“If the government wants to give subsidy, it should give it to the whole Hujjaj (pilgrims). No matter how small the subsidy is, it will go a long way to help,” he stated.

“How much was hajj before? It was less than N1 million. Last year, it was N3 million and people still went. The whole of 95,000 people went. Despite the economic crisis, people would still go,” he added.

The Chief Executive Officer of Al Barik Hajj and Umrah Services, Mansur Umar, said intending pilgrims might pay more than the fares announced if they do not pay on time.

“Things are not easy at all. There are many challenges in the economy. It may shoot up;

“Those who are willing will pay. It’s a religious rite. I know a lot will be able to afford it. Many people like to go to Hajj no matter the price; even if it’s going to be their last penny,” he said.

From Abdullateef Aliyu, Lagos; Faruk Shuaib; Ahmed Datti, Kano; Mumini Abdulkareem, Ilorin; Magaji lsa Hunkuyi, Jalingo; Hamisu Kabir Matazu, Maiduguri

London Southend Airport Seeks Fresh Funds After Carlyle Calls Default Event - BLOOMBERG

FEBRUARY 05, 2024

BY  Giulia MorpurgoBloomberg News

, Bloomberg

(Bloomberg) -- The aviation group that controls London Southend Airport said it’s seeking fresh funds because its turnaround plan has been delayed by a dispute with stakeholder Carlyle Group.

Esken Ltd. “is monitoring the impact of such delays and assessing appropriate contingency planning, including exploring access to alternative funding to cover these delays,” it said in a statement Monday.

Carlyle’s infrastructure unit is demanding early repayment on a £194 million ($244 million) convertible loan it extended to Southend in 2021, claiming the airport had breached the financing terms. London Southend Airport “concluded that there is no default or event of default,” according to the Esken statement. 

The standoff is thwarting a plan to stabilize the airport’s finances before it can be sold, Esken said. That includes the disposal of non-core assets, a potential outlay of £20 million from Esken’s largest shareholders and the amendment and extension of an exchangeable bond due in May.

“Following repeated and continuing defaults under our loan agreement since 2022, Carlyle can no longer wait patiently, putting the position of its investors and the ongoing success of London Southend Airport at risk,” a spokesperson for Carlyle said in an emailed statement to Bloomberg News, echoing comments made in January.  

The airport has struggled to bounce back following the pandemic. The broader Esken group reported negative Ebitda in the six months through to August 2023 and had £27 million in available cash at the end of the period. 

“Esken is financially distressed and is not in a position to support the airport’s full recovery and growth nor execute an orderly sale of the airport,” according to the Caryle representative.

Esken said it will be submitting a proposal to settle with Carlyle to avoid expensive litigation or damage the value of the company.

The group faces a “material adverse impact” if it is unable to move forward with either the original turnaround plan or secure alternative arrangements in coming months, Esken warned. Esken’s stock slumped 21% as of 3:54 p.m. in London, extending its 2024 slide to 58%.

(Updates share move in last paragraph. A previous version corrected company description in first paragraph.)

Nigeria renews suspension of flights to Niger Republic - PUNCH

FEBRUARY 06, 2024

By Princess Etuk

The Federal Government has renewed the suspension of commercial flights from Niger Republic to Nigeria and from Nigeria to the nation’s northern neighbouring country by the Economic Community of West African States resolution.

This resolution was put forth by ECOWAS in response to the events in Niger Republic on July 26, 2023, when the democratically elected President, Mohamed Bazoum, was ousted in a coup and replaced by the military junta led by General Abdourrahamane Tchiani.

This directive (Notice to Airmen (NOTAM) was contained in a letter titled: ECOWAS Restriction on the Republic of Nigeria, from the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA) Aeronautical Information Services dated February 2, 2024 and signed by the Director of Air Traffic Services, Tayo John, on behalf of the agency’s Managing Director and Chief Executive.

The directive stated, “By ECOWAS resolutions, all commercial flights from Niger to Nigeria, or from Nigeria to Niger, or from Niger overflying Nigeria, or any state overflying Nigeria to Niger are suspended.”

It  added that “These restrictions do not affect: overflight aircraft through Niger airspace; aircraft in a state of emergency and special flights.”

It disclosed further that “special flights are to obtain authorisation from the permanent secretary, Ministry of Aviation and Aerospace.”

Princess Etuk

Princess, has three years journalism experience covering entertainment, including radio and TV and recently aviation and transport with Punch Newspapers

Singapore Sees Changi Airport Traffic Hitting Pre-Covid Levels This Year - BLOOMBERG

FEBRUARY 06, 2024

BY  Nurin SofiaBloomberg News

(Bloomberg) -- Singapore Changi Airport’s passenger volumes are expected to reach pre-pandemic levels in 2024, the country’s transport ministry said in a written response to parliamentary questions. 

Monthly passenger traffic recovered to around 90% of pre-Covid levels in December. For the full year of 2023, the airport handled 58.9 million passenger movements, or 86% of traffic recorded in 2019, the ministry said.

To meet longer term demand for air travel, the financial hub plans to start construction of a fifth airport terminal next year and expects it to be operational in mid-2030s, it added. 

Gridlock as fuel queues resurface in Lagos - PUNCH

FEBRUARY 06, 2024

There was heavy traffic gridlock in some parts of Lagos on Monday as motorists formed long queues outside the forecourts of filling stations on what appeared may herald a fresh scarcity of Premium Motor Spirit.

One of our correspondents observed along the Ikorodu Road axis how motorists endured an unusually heavy gridlock due to a long queue of motorists waiting to buy petrol at filling stations. Also, the Total Filling station at the Mobolaji Bank Anthony Way had queues which led to heavy tariff around the Ikeja axis.

Our correspondent also noticed that many of the filling stations along the Ikeja axis, through Obafemi Awolowo Road in Ikeja were shut.

Meanwhile, some motorists had begun to hike the prices of their fares due to the development.

A commercial transport operator plying the Unilag-Jibowu axis in Yaba one of told our correspondents that he was forced to hike his fees after waiting for hours to buy fuel.

The commercial transport operator, who refused to disclose his name said, “Do you know how long it took me to buy fuel today? Anybody who doesn’t want to enter should stay out.”

Our correspondent also observed that all the filling stations along Ogunnusi Road inbound Berger did not also sell petrol to customers.

It is not immediately clear why fuel queues have resurfaced in Lagos.

Meanwhile, our correspondents gathered that the queues were noticeable in major filling stations considered to be selling at lower rates.

It was gathered that a number of filling stations owned by the Nigerian National Petroleum Company along the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway did not dispense fuel too.

The National Vice Chairman of the Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria, Hammed Fashola, said he was aware of the queues in some filling stations in Lagos.

However, Fashola said the queues might be due to panic-buying on the part of customers.

“I am not in Lagos as we speak. But I heard about it too that there are queues in Lagos. It may just be panic buying. I am not sure there is fuel scarcity. People are just panicking. However, I will find out what the problem is,” Fashola said.

Japa: We issued over 2m passports to Nigerians in 2023 – Immigration - VANGUARD

FEBRUARY 06, 2024

The Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) has said that it issued more than 2 million passports to Nigerians in 2023. 

Comptroller-General Immigration, Caroline Wura-Ola Adepoju, disclosed this on Tuesday during a Diaspora virtual lecture series.

The lecture was tagged ‘New Passport Policy/Processes for Nigerians in the Diaspora Confirmation’ organised by the Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (NIDCOM).

According to Adepoju, the mass relocation of Nigerians to developed countries also known as ‘Japa’ has spurred an unprecedented rise in the number of passport applications.

The CGI said 2021 recorded the issuance of 1.3 million passports while 1.5 million passports were issued in the following year 2022 representing about a 50 per cent surge in the applications.

In 2023, there was over 100 per cent increase in applications with 2,141,300 passports issued last year.

She also lauded the automation of the passport process to reduce human interface with the immigration officers, as a great initiative for passport applicants.

The CGI stated that since the automation went live last month, over 100,000 applications were received online, and over 80 per cent of them were processed without challenges.

She added that the reform of the passport process would reduce pressure on the strained facilities of NIS nationwide.

The Interior Minister, Hon Olubunmi Tunji-Ojo, had promised that Nigerians in the Diaspora would no longer go experience the pains of endless wait to obtain their passports.

Chairman/CEO of NIDCOM, Hon. Abike Dabiri-Erewa, commended the Minister and the CGI for the milestone achievements recorded within a short period, culminating in easing the pains of Nigerians.

Meanwhile, the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Dr Yemi Cardoso, lamented that the school and medical tourism have increased the increase in the exchange rate between the naira and dollar.

Cardoso stated this during the sectoral debate put together by the House of Representatives on Tuesday in Abuja. 

According to him, the high cost of living remains a concern adding that the CBN is working to bring lasting solutions and to bring down the inflation to 21.4 percent through improved agricultural productivity.


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