Travel News

Airfares crash on local routes as more airlines compete - BUSINESSDAY

FEBRUARY 26, 2021

…terminals upgrade infrastructure on anticipated surge in passenger traffic

BY  Ifeoma Okeke

Nigerian airlines are beginning to reduce airfares on local routes as new airlines spring up, passenger traffic gradually improves and more aircraft are being deployed on local destinations, intensifying competition on these routes.

Few weeks after the resumption of local flight operations across Nigeria, BusinessDay had reported a 100 percent fare increment by domestic airlines as a result of increased operational cost, but the situation is changing as more airlines deploy more aircraft on local routes.

For instance, a one-way ticket from Lagos to Enugu, which cost between N40,000 and N45,000 after the re-opening of the airports, now costs between N23,000 and N28,000, indicating a 40 percent decrease in fares over a period of three weeks.

Also, a one-way ticket from Lagos to Abuja, Port Harcourt or Owerri on United Nigeria, Air Peace, Dana or Arik, which cost about N47,000 to N52,000 after the reopening of the airports, now goes for about N26,000 to N35,000, indicating a 38 percent decrease.

United Nigeria, a new entrant, two weeks ago commenced operations in Nigeria, making Enugu airport its operational hub. The airline, which commenced operations with four aircraft, is operating to Lagos, Abuja, Asaba, Owerri and Port Harcourt, while it plans to expand to other destinations soon.

Green Africa, another prospective domestic carrier, which is at the final lap of obtaining its Air Operators Certificate (AOC), has restated its commitment to providing low-cost carriers.

Air Peace, Ibom Air and Dana Air have deployed more aircraft in recent times to feed the local routes.

Air Peace deployed eight Embraer ERJ145 hopper jets with 50-passenger capacity, with one newly delivered Embraer 195-E2 aircraft.

Ibom Air deployed one Bombardier CRJ900 aircraft in addition to the two it had to operate local destinations.

Olumide Ohunayo, an aviation analyst, told BusinessDay that before now, capacity was not enough and the exchange rate impacted operational cost, which pushed ticket prices up.

Ohanayo said although operational costs still persist with the introduction of train services and new airlines had helped to bring down ticket fares.

“As new airlines come in, those existing are becoming jittery and reducing fares to retain customers. The days of having few airlines control the travel market is no more,” he said.

Tayo Ojuri, managing partner, Aglow Aviation Support Services Limited, told BusinessDay that although passenger traffic was gradually coming back, more aircraft indicates increased supply which could crash airfares.

According to Ojuri, a lot of airplanes are back from maintenance and there are new entrances, which signifies available seats for passengers.

“The number of COVID-19 cases is reducing in Nigeria and vaccines will be delivered to us soon. These successes would boost passenger traffic, and we would begin to see a significant increase in passenger traffic in the next quarter of 2021,” he explained.

John Ojikutu, an aviation security consultant and secretary-general of the Aviation Safety Round Table Initiative (ASRTI), said the presence of more airlines on local routes would help reduce airfares.

Ojikutu advised airlines to consolidate on local operations before reeling out plans to commence regional operations.

Obiora Okonkwo, chairman of United Nigeria, said Nigeria’s air travel market was huge and there was a need to have more aircraft on local destinations, saying there was nothing wrong in having a healthy competition on local routes and passengers should have options, as this would help grow the sector.

Seyi Adewale, CEO, Mainstream Cargo Limited, told BusinessDay that as new airlines come in, airlines must strengthen their sales and marketing initiatives and campaign aggressively.

“It is at this time that the Strategic Business Unit (SBU) can pull their weight and prove to the operations and engineering SBU of their positive impact on the overall business. It is more like a challenge!

“I expect this SBU to develop special products, promos among others in support of capital and cash flow. For example, banks, telecoms do a lot of promos to generate needed cash flow during low seasons. Even Multichoice develops Big Brother as a special purpose product during off-peak season,” Adewale said.

He also advised airlines in Nigeria to partner hotels more whereby their flight schedules are placed at their reception desk with seamless connectivity to the airline for a ticket purchase, hotel pickup, and flight change and this could be easily done through ICT capability enhancement.

“Special products can be generated for targeted state or public service sectors to encourage them to travel. Similar incentives can be issued to their premium customers and performing sales agents that make them go the extra mile on their behalf

“If well crafted, the airline load factor will surely improve during this off-peak period and could evoke customer loyalty during peak season,” he said.

As airlines deploy aircraft on domestic routes, domestic terminals are also being upgraded with infrastructure to attract more airlines.

For instance, Bi-Courtney Aviation Services (BASL), operator of Murtala Muhammed Airport 2 (MMA2), has received more X-ray machines and air conditioners in order to ensure its passengers’ safety, security and comfort.

Asaba International Airport in Delta State on Tuesday concessioned the facilities to a consortium of private investors under a public-private partnership (PPP) model.

This is as the government notes the consortium of investors is expected to expend at least N28 billion on various developmental projects on the airport over the 30-year concession period.

First travellers to be released from hotel quarantine - PA MEDIA

FEBRUARY 26, 2021

By Thomas Hornall, PA  5 hrs ago

Some of the first people to check into quarantine hotels are to be released on Friday morning.

a group of people carrying luggage down a street: People arrive at the Renaissance London Heathrow Hotel for quarantine (Yui Mok/PA)© Yui Mok People arrive at the Renaissance London Heathrow Hotel for quarantine (Yui Mok/PA)

From last Monday, UK and Irish nationals returning to England from a “red list” country deemed at high risk for Covid-19 have had to self-isolate in hotels for 11 nights.

Hotel “guests” have complained about the £1,750 fee for the stay, which is punishable by a fine of up to £10,000 or 10 years in prison if breached, according to the Government.

The rule applies to people returning to Scotland from any destination.

a sign above a door: A man in quarantine at the Renaissance London Heathrow Hotel (Yui Mok/PA)© Provided by PA Media A man in quarantine at the Renaissance London Heathrow Hotel (Yui Mok/PA)

If travellers return a negative test on day two and day eight of their stay they are allowed to leave, the Department of Health and Social Care said.

Delivery driver Roger Goncalves, 23, who was among the first travellers to be medically impounded at the Radisson Blu Edwardian hotel near Heathrow Airport after arriving from Brazil, should be one of the first to taste freedom.

Another, businessman Wayne Kelly, 37, of Birmingham, said he feels “like I have been through a prison sentence” and said he could not wait to see his wife and children.

He told MailOnline: “I was thinking of having a poster on the wall where I could just cross one day off each day.

“I just want to go back to Birmingham to my home and my family and put this all behind me. I should never have been here in the first place. I had a negative test when I left Dubai.

“I’m really glad that my release day is nearly here.”

Another traveller, Zari Tadayon, 66, from north London, told the PA news agency on Wednesday she was “relieved” her quarantine was almost completed after arriving from Dubai last Monday.

She previously said she was unprepared for her stay and had not packed any books, adding: “How I’m going to cope I don’t know. It’s going to be tough.”

Travellers arriving in England must quarantine in a hotel if they have been in one of the Government’s 33 “red list” countries – which covers Portugal, the United Arab Emirates, South America and southern Africa – in the past 10 days.

The UK has banned direct flights from those locations, so passengers must take connecting flights, mixing with passengers from countries not on the list.

The Prime Minister said last week he expects those in quarantine to be able to “cover their costs” when asked what happens if a person has to extend their stay after a positive test.

Boris Johnson said: “It is currently illegal to travel abroad for holidays anyway.

“We would expect people who are coming in from one of these red list countries to be able to cover their costs.”

Analyst Predicts Weak Growth for Airlines - THISDAY

FEBRUARY 27, 2021

BY  Chinedu Eze 

Industry consultant and CEO of Aglo Limited, Tayo Ojuri has predicted that Nigerian airlines would record weak profit in 2021, due to the weakness of the marco-economy.

Ojuri said this in a telephone interview with THISDAY. He identified three factors that would hinder the ability of the airlines to post healthy profit.

One of the factors he said was low government spending, which he said could reduce cash in circulation, predicting that less number of people would travel by air. With low passenger traffic, the airlines would not enjoy high load factor so they won’t break even in most of their routes, he forecasted.

Another factor identified by Ojuri was exchange rate, saying airlines would find it difficult to fund their operations, acquire spares, carry out training, which require dollars payment because they are done overseas.

The aviation consultant also expected that the devastating effect of the coronavirus pandemic would still drastically affect airline operations globally.

He noted that as long as air travel is still low in other parts of the world, domestic operations would correspondingly be low because international flight operations feed domestic service, as about 70 per cent of the passenger traffic on domestic destinations come from international traffic. “COVID-19 is still not gone. The only people who are travelling now are people who travel for business. People don’t travel for leisure and tourism, which means that passenger traffic is low.

“International travel feed domestic operations. In the next two quarters travel won’t pick up. England, for example, is opening up in May. “About 70 per cent of domestic passenger traffic comes from outside and these are businessmen who come to the country and use domestic airlines to travel to places. So if they are not able to come it will affect domestic passenger traffic,”Ojuri said.

Ojuri’s prediction was in tandem with projections made by the International Air Transport Association (IATA), which stated that globally that the airlines would remain cash negative in 2021.

The latest new analysis released by IATA estimated that the airline industry was expected to remain cash negative throughout 2021, but previous analysis (November 2020) had indicated that airlines would turn cash positive in the fourth quarter of 2021.

The global body identified some factors as responsible for the new development and it includes weak start for 2021, noting that it is already clear that the first half of 2021 would be worse than earlier anticipated.

“This is because governments have tightened travel restrictions in response to new COVID-19 variants. Forward bookings for summer (July-August) are currently 78 per cent below levels in February 2019 (comparisons to 2020 are distorted owing to COVID-19 impacts),” IATA said. However, IATA expressed optimism that from this lower starting point for the year, an optimistic scenario would see travel restrictions gradually lifted once the vulnerable populations in developed economies have been vaccinated, but only in time to facilitate tepid demand over the peak summer travel season in the northern hemisphere.

“In this case 2021 demand would be 38 per cent of 2019 levels. Airlines would burn through $75 billion of cash over the year. But cash burn of $7 billion in the fourth quarter would be significantly improved from an anticipated $33 billion cash burn in the first quarter,” the body said.

“With governments having tightening border restrictions, 2021 is shaping up to be a much tougher year than previously expected. “Our best-case scenario sees airlines burning through $75 billion in cash this year. And it could be as bad as $95 billion. “More emergency relief from governments will be needed. A functioning airline industry can eventually energize the economic recovery from COVID-19. But that won’t happen if there are massive failures before the crisis ends. “If governments are unable to open their borders, we will need them to open their wallets with financial relief to keep airlines viable,” said IATA’s Director General and CEO, Alexandre de Juniac.

FG reopens Third Mainland Bridge - DAILY POST

FEBRUARY 27, 2021

By Seun Opejobi

The Federal Government has announced the reopening of the Third Mainland Bridge in Lagos State.

Babatunde Fashola, Minister of Works and Housing announced the reopening on Saturday.

In a tweet, Fashola said the bridge reopened from midday of Saturday.

He wrote: “Third mainland bridge rehab completed. Fully opens to traffic at 12noon today. Thank you all for your patience. Drive safely.”

Recall that Fashola, who is a former governor of the State had during the week, said the bridge will reopen for traffic ‘’this weekend’’. 

He had said the lane markings and finishing touches would be done within the next 48 to 72 hours.

The Lagos State Government had shut down the Third Mainland Bridge on the 26th February.

The Commissioner for Transportation, Dr. Frederic Oladeinde said the total closure of the bridge will help contractors move equipment off the bridge.

'Border closed' to irregular migration, Blinken says in Mexico meeting - REUTERS

FEBRUARY 27, 2021

By Sharay Angulo, Humeyra Pamuk

EU urged to adopt 'vaccine passports' - BBC

FEBRUARY 27, 2021

Greece and Austria are urging other EU states to adopt coronavirus vaccination "passports" which could help revive Europe's stricken tourist industry.

The idea of such a document, likely to be a certificate, would be to permit those who have been vaccinated to travel freely within the EU.

The proposal was put forward during a virtual discussion between EU leaders.

But a vaccine passport faces opposition from some of the bloc's 27 member states.

France and Germany say such documents could be premature because data on the efficacy of vaccines in preventing a person from carrying or passing on the virus is incomplete.

There are also concerns that enabling a vaccinated minority to enjoy foreign travel while others, such as young people who are not seen as a priority for inoculation, continue to face restrictions would be discriminatory.

A further complication is the rapid spread of more contagious Covid variants - the English, South African and Brazilian forms - and the possibility of future mutations. So it is more likely that people will need booster jabs to remain protected.

Greece - as well as Israel - already has digital vaccination certificates, and others such as Denmark and Sweden have talked about developing them.

Greek Deputy Prime Minister Akis Skertsos told the BBC that a common digital certificate "is not discriminatory at all". He argued that non-vaccinated tourists could also visit Greece this summer, but the procedure for them would be slower - they would have to be tested and might have to self-isolate on arrival.

Greece and Cyprus have agreed to admit Covid-negative Israeli tourists this summer - those who can prove their status with the Israeli "green" digital certificate.

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Greek Tourism Minister Harry Theocharis said a similar deal could be reached with the UK. However, the UK government has not yet approved any vaccination certificate, nor has it given the go-ahead for foreign holidays.

Greek tourism slumped disastrously last year because of the pandemic. Its revenues fell to €4bn (£3.5bn; $5bn), from €18bn in 2019, Reuters news agency reports. Tourism makes up about a fifth of the Greek economy, employing one in five workers.

Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz tweeted that "we're advocating a digital Green Pass, like Israel's".

"That should allow you to prove, on your mobile phone, that you've been tested, inoculated or have recovered [from Covid]. Our goal: to avoid a lengthy lockdown and finally enable freedom to travel again in the EU, and freedom to enjoy events and cuisine."

media captionGreece: Covid vaccine certificate is 'not discriminatory'

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said it would take three months to set up a data system for use at the borders and in national healthcare systems, but that most countries agreed that "a digital vaccination certificate" could be necessary in the future.

As some EU countries now struggle with a third wave of the virus there are tensions over unilateral border restrictions. Germany is the latest to have received a complaint from the European Commission, since it imposed new police checks on the Czech and Austrian borders.

During the virtual meeting on Thursday, EU leaders also discussed how to address concerns over the slow vaccine rollout that has been widely criticised.

The Commission - the EU executive - has been under fire over its vaccine procurement strategy. It got into a row with AstraZeneca, because the Anglo-Swedish drug firm fell far short of the first-quarter delivery target.

Some member states have also implied that the AstraZeneca vaccine is somehow inferior to others - French President Emmanuel Macron said at one point that it might be "quasi-ineffective" in the over 65s, without offering any evidence.

This has reportedly led to issues of authorities in some countries, such as Italy, reluctant to use supplies of the drug.

The Commission still aims to get at least 70% of adults vaccinated in the bloc by mid-September. But so far, the total vaccinated is below 10%.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said she felt assured that the target would be met. "These are 255 million people in the European Union, and if we look at the planned figures, this is a goal we are confident we'll reach," she said.

The EU is desperately seeking ways to increase vaccine supplies and improve its ability to track new variants, BBC Europe correspondent Kevin Connolly reports. But it is pursuing policies that might pay off in months or years, when voters want answers in days or weeks, he says.

FG finally reopens Third Mainland Bridge to regular traffic - THE NATION

FEBRUARY 28, 2021

By Alao Abiodun and Okwy Iroegbu-Chikezie

The Third Mainland Bridge in Lagos reopened fully for traffic yesterday after 19 months of its rehabilitation by the Federal Government.

Workmen began early in the morning to clear the bridge of debris and removed crash barriers from the site and put finishing touches to asphalt laying on some sections before the main opening with spectators watching.


The Director, Highway Bridges and Design , Mr. Emmanuel Adeoye who supervised the reopening said that work on the surface of the bridge had been completed but additional work would continue underneath.

Adeoye said several expansion joints, bearings were fixed.

“We have done a lot of rehabilitation works on the super structure and the bridge is fit for use now and we are set to open it, that is why we are here.

“For now the superstructure is the main one that is being worked on now we are going to work on the substructure and the foundations much later, but that does not affect the flow of traffic.

“Traffic can be flowing and we can be doing our work under the water quietly. We are opening the bridge now because it is fit for use now.

“The repairs is very durable that is why we have taken pains and have been working on it since July to make sure it is good for use. We have gone round, we have checked, we have found out that it is ok,” he said.

He said that bridge maintenance unit of the Federal Ministry of Works would continue to carry out periodic maintenance subsequently and check components of the bridge.

He said that the work under the bridge would be completed between the next six months to one year.

The Federal Controller of Works Lagos, Mr Olukayode Popoola thanked Lagos residents for their understanding and patience during the rehabilitation works.

Popoola explained challenges which slowed down construction to include the COVID-19 and the EndSARS protests which made the contractor lose some time.

“Now that we have finally opened the bridge today as the Federal Controller of Works in Lagos, I am very happy that the promise that federal government made that this bridge will be rehabilitated and opened to traffic before the end of February has been actualised.

The  Third Mainland Bridge was  partially shut on July 24 for another round of rehabilitation works.

The repair expected to last six months was extended by one month due to the recent #EndSARS protests in Lagos extending the completion date from January 2021 to February.

The construction was initially divided into two phases of three months on each carriageway, starting with the Oworonsoki bound carriageway whose completion dragged to four months.

Traffic was partially diverted on a stretch of 3.5km where construction is ongoing between Adeniji Adeniji Ramp and Ebute Meta, while different time belts were allotted for traffic diversions on the bridge.

The 11.8km bridge is the longest of the three bridges connecting Lagos Island to the Mainland.

The bridge starts from Oworonshoki, which is linked to the Apapa-Oshodi Expressway and the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway and ends at the Adeniji Adele Interchange on Lagos Island.

Constructed in 1990, the bridge was adjudged as the longest in Africa until 1996 when the Oct. 6 Bridge in Cairo, Egypt was completed.

Amaechi inspects Apapa Port to ascertain Lagos-Ibadan rail completion - NAN

FEBRUARY 28, 2021

The Minister of Transportation, Mr Rotimi Amaechi, says the Federal Government has extended the Lagos-Ibadan Modernisation Project from its original destination at Ebutte Meta to Lagos Ports.

According to him, this is to allow for massive freight movement and free up Lagos roads.

Amaechi made the disclosure while briefing newsmen after inspecting the three mega stations and seven minor stations of the newly constructed standard gauge railway in Ibadan on Saturday.

The Minister of Transportation was accompanied by the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry, Dr Magdalene Ajani; Chairman, Governing Board of the Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC), Mallam Musa Al-Hassan and the Managing Director of NRC,  Fidet Okhiria.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that they commenced the inspection from the mega station at Ebutte Meta before proceeding to the Apapa Port station.

To ascertain the level of work at the Port, the minister and his entourage took a train ride to Apapa Port which had been significantly connected to the standard gauge track.

Inside the port, the Minister frowned at the indiscriminate parking of trucks on the old narrow gauge tracks along the corridor.

According to him, inspection of the Lagos-Ibadan standard gauge rail to all the stations is to put finishing touches to the 157km fast rail.

Amaechi said that the China Civil Engineering and Construction Corporation (CCECC), the contractor handling the project, had connected rail line with the country’s premier port in Lagos.

“It is not clear when the project is to be commission as the earlier commissioning date of January 2021 was shifted due to the second wave of COVID-19.

“Sometime in January, over 60 workers on the site contracted COVID-19 which stalled the completion of the project.

“At the moment, it is observed that most of the mini stations are still undergoing finishing touches while the cooling systems have been fixed.

“At the Wole Soyinka Station, Abeokuta, another mega station, the cooling system is yet to be fixed as well as other facilities in the interior parts of the station,” Amaechi said.

He, however, said that the Federal Government was committed to ensuring the completion of all train projects and to ensure that the contract bequeaths to Nigerians a train service that is comparable to anywhere in the world.

The Managing Director of Nigerian Railway Corporation, Fidet Okhiria said that the current frequency of the Lagos to Ibadan train service will be increased from once daily to twice daily in two weeks time.

According to him, when it commences operation, the passenger train will stop at Agege railway station and Abeokuta enroute Ibadan and back, instead of the present trend of stopping only at Abeokuta after takeoff from Lagos.


Eastern Railway Corridor: FG Extends Route To Abakaliki, Awka - NIGERIA TRIBUNE

FEBRUARY 28, 2021

•To flag off project on 9th March 2021 •Charges NPA on trucks clearance compliance

By Tyavzua Saanyol - Abuja 

The Federal government has revealed that the Eastern railway corridor, Port Harcourt to Maiduguri will now have a branch route to Abakaliki, Ebonyi  and Awka in Anambra State.

Disclosing this at the weekend in Lagos, the Minister of Transportation, Hon. Amaechi Rotimi stated that the extension of the rail route is part of government efforts to connect the entire country by rail.

“The Eastern railway corridor will now have a branch route to Abakaliki and Awka,” he stated.

Amaechi also said the President Muhammadu Buhari will perform the groundbreaking ceremony for the Eastern rail corridor on 9th March, 2021.

While inspecting Lagos-Ibadan railway project, the Minister commended the level of work done, “as you can see, the laying of the track has been successfully done into Apapa port.

“The stations are completed too, what is left at most of the stations is the fixing of bulbs and little things like that. If we tell CCECC to get this place ready for commission in the next two weeks, this place will be ready,” he stated.

Amaechi, however, charged the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) and other Agencies at the port to ensure that the train is highly utilized in lifting cargo when the rail project is fully commissioned.

He tasked the management of NPA to ensure that trucks are cleared at the port, adding that only registered trucks moving goods imported or to be exported be allowed into the ports.

Bill Gates on masks: By late spring and summer ‘you can look at changing your behavior in a significant way’ - CNBC

FEBRUARY 28, 2021

BY  Cory Stieg

Bill Gates, co-chair of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, speaks during the Bloomberg New Economy Forum in Beijing, China, on Thursday, Nov. 21, 2019.

Bill Gates, co-chair of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, speaks during the Bloomberg New Economy Forum in Beijing, China, on Thursday, Nov. 21, 2019.
Takaaki Iwabu | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Billionaire philanthropist Bill Gates, 65, received his second dose of the Covid vaccine a week ago, he said during an interview on social media app Clubhouse Wednesday. But even though the Microsoft co-founder is fully vaccinated, he’s still following safety precautions like wearing a mask.

“I want to set a good example,” Gates told Andrew Ross Sorkin on Clubhouse. “If you’re vaccinated, you can still transmit.”

The Centers for Disease Control says that even people who are fully vaccinated for Covid need to continue to follow public health safety measures. While the vaccines in use from Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech have been shown to be very effective at preventing severe illness and death from Covid, it’s not clear at this stage whether they prevent transmission.


“I’m not going to stop wearing masks or being careful, particularly around older people who haven’t been vaccinated,” Gates told Sorkin, who is also co-anchor of CNBC’s “Squawk Box.”

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Many people have been wondering at what point we’ll be able to return to normal, or at least cut back on prevention measures like social distancing and masking.

“It’s only by late spring or summer that we’re going to get to numbers where you can look at changing your behavior in a significant way,” Gates said.

Gates said he plans to wear masks throughout the fall until infection rates drop significantly, adding that the practice “isn’t some huge disastrous thing.”

Dr. Anthony Fauci, White House Chief Medical Advisor, said that it’s possible Americans will need to continue wearing masks through 2022, during an interview with CNN’s “State of the Union” Sunday. The necessity of masks is dependent upon the level of virus circulating in a community.

“If you see the level coming down really, really very low, I want it to keep coming down to a baseline that’s so low that...there’s a minimal, minimal threat you’ll be exposed to someone who’s infected,” Fauci said.

While people who’ve been vaccinated should wear masks in public and around people from outside their household who haven’t received the vaccine, it is safe for fully vaccined people to get together sans masks.

By May or June, all priority groups will be vaccinated so that young people with no underlying conditions will be eligible to get vaccinated, Fauci said during and interview with “Pod Save America” on Feb. 18.

There should be enough doses of vaccine to inoculate 300 million people by July. Then, according to Fauci, it could take through the summer to get vaccines into everyone’s arms.


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