Is Nigeria's Domestic Aviation Industry At Risk? - SIMPLY FLYING
Nigerian airlines are facing huge problems and receiving little support from the government.
Nigerian airlines have warned that their survival may be at risk if the Nigerian government fails to aid them. Airlines in Nigeria are contending with multiple problems, including high fuel prices and exchange rate fluctuations, forcing them to raise airfares to offset increased operating costs.
Nigerian domestic aviation in trouble
The Nigerian domestic aviation industry could be in serious jeopardy should current trends continue. Industry insiders have warned that rising fuel prices and a lack of responsible government oversight could lead to many Nigerian carriers going defunct.
Dr. Obiora Okonkwo, Chairman of United Nigeria Airlines, said,
"The aviation industry will collapse. The airline business is the live wire of the entire aviation value chain. If airlines don’t fly or the airlines are in comatose, NAMA (Nigerian Airspace Management Agency), NCAA (Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority) and FAAN (Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria) will not get the required revenue to run their operations."
Nigerian airlines are struggling to cope with high operational costs. Photo: Anna Zvereva via Wikimedia Commons
On top of dealing with COVID-related problems, Nigerian carriers have witnessed a steep rise in the price of aviation fuel. Prices have more than doubled in the space of a year, shooting up from N180 ($0.43) per liter in February 2021 to N400 ($0.96) today.
Fluctuating exchange rates
Volatile exchange rates have hit the aviation industry hard as airlines and aviation authorities rely heavily on the US Dollar. The Nigerian Naira hit record-lows at the turn of the year and has progressively weakened every year since 2012.
Captain Shehu Usman Iyal, former Special Adviser to the President on Aviation, said,
"There is not a single bolt that you put in an airplane that you manufacture in Nigeria; you will have to buy abroad in dollars. Even the charges being paid to the government have to be a bit high because the government also buys airport equipment using the dollar."
The Nigerian Naira hit record lows at the beginning of 2022. Photo: Anna Zvereva via Wikimedia Commons
Industry professionals have called upon the government to assist the aviation industry, which contributes around 4% of Nigeria's GDP.
Airfares on the rise
Domestic fares have been rising as Nigerian airlines clamber to make up for their high operating costs. In November 2021, fares were up by 20-40 % compared to the previous month on many major domestic routes. Airlines fear that raising their fares even more will discourage customers from flying.
Dr. Okonkwo added,
"From the ticket, salaries paid to staff have increased, costs have increased but tickets have not increased that much compared to the cost of operations. Operators are looking for solutions to many of these things. We can’t talk about safety without looking at rising costs."
Nigerian startups haven't had the desired effect on airfares. Photo: Airbus
Steeper prices are a reality despite several new entrants, such as Ibom Air and Green Africa Airline, to the domestic aviation scene in recent years. Fares were expected to drop with more competition but this hasn't happened.What are your thoughts on the future of the Nigerian domestic aviation industry? Let us know your insights in the comments.
Four Hurt in Drone Attack on Saudi Airport, Al Arabiya Reports - BLOOMBERG
(Bloomberg) -- Four people were wounded in a drone attack targeting an airport in Saudi Arabia’s southern city of Abha, television channel Al Arabiya reported.
Authorities destroyed the drone, however the people sustained light injuries from shrapnel, according to Al Arabiya, which cited a Saudi-led military coalition. Yemen’s Houthi fighters have repeatedly used drones to attack Saudi Arabia in the past, including Abha International Airport.
Tensions have been rising in Yemen’s war recently, where a the coalition is spearheading a bombing campaign against the Iranian-backed Houthis. U.S. President Joe Biden called Saudi King Salman on Wednesday to discuss the Yemen war, among other topics.
Manhattan Apartment Rents Creep Closer to the Highest on Record - BLOOMBERG
(Bloomberg) -- Manhattan apartment rents skyrocketed in January, coming close to an all-time high for the month.
The median rent jumped 23% from a year earlier to $3,467, according to a report Thursday by appraiser Miller Samuel Inc. and brokerage Douglas Elliman Real Estate. That’s just shy of the record for January of $3,472, reached in 2020 before the pandemic exodus sent rates sliding.
Now, New Yorkers are flooding back to the city and grabbing whatever deals are left before costs rise even further. January’s median rent was just 2.1% below the record for any month in more than a decade of data-keeping by the firms: $3,540, in April 2020.
The leasing frenzy has whittled down a mountain of listings. In January, the supply of available apartments tumbled 83% from a year earlier to 4,316. Landlord concessions, essential to luring tenants during the height of the pandemic, were offered in just 25% of new leases last month -- a near-normal rate for the market.
While rents overall are roughly back to where they were two years ago, the lower and higher ends of the market remain polarized, according to Jonathan Miller, president of Miller Samuel. The median rent at doorman buildings is up 6.9% from January 2020, but costs at non-doorman properties, which tend to be cheaper, are still 5% below where they were two years earlier.
That suggests there’s “a lot of additional room to rise at the lower half since it hasn’t reached parity with pre-pandemic levels,” Miller said. “But most of the upside potential for the high end has probably already occurred.”
Crypto M&A Soared Almost 5,000% in 2021, PwC Report Says - BLOOMBERG
(Bloomberg) -- The value of mergers and acquisitions in the cryptocurrency industry jumped 4,846% in 2021, PwC said in a report.
The average deal size reached $179.7 million from $52.7 million, driven partly by special-purpose acquisition company -- or SPAC -- deals. Crypto fundraising deal value rose 645%. The top five investors by deal count were AU21, Genesis Block Ventures, Genblock Capital, Coinbase Ventures and Moonwhale.
There’s no sign of crypto fundraising slowing anytime soon, Henri Arslanian, PwC crypto leader, said in emailed comments Thursday, while adding some valuations have hit levels “that are often difficult to justify.”
NDLEA Intercepts N2bn Worth Of Codeine At Lagos Port - CHANNEL TV
The National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) has seized about two billion naira worth of codeine weighing about 40,250 kilograms imported in two 40 feet containers from India.
This comes barely a week after operatives of the agency seized 14,080kg of Codeine-based syrup and 4,352.43kg cold caps used to conceal it in a 40 feet container also imported from India, on Wednesday, February 2, 2022.
A statement issued on Thursday by the Director, Media & Advocacy, Femi Babafemi says the latest consignments intercepted on Tuesday 8th February were brought into the country in two containers marked HLBU 2239792 with 1,125 cartons of the drug and HLBU 1067338 with 1,751 cartons, with a market value of N2, 012, 500, 000 (Two Billion, Twelve Million and Five Hundred Thousand Naira).
Mr. Babafemi said that the consignments were seized at the Port Express Bonded Terminal, Berger-Apapa after they were discovered concealed behind cartons of hypergra 200mg and deluxe chilly cutters, after which the Agency’s sniffer dogs were brought in to identify the illegal substance.
Reacting to the latest seizure, Chairman/Chief Executive of NDLEA, Brig. Gen. Mohamed Buba Marwa (Retd) said the Agency remains poised to deal decisive blows to drug cartels this year by ensuring that no gram of illicit drug is allowed to come into or pass through Nigeria to other countries.
While commending the officers and men of the Apapa Port Special Area Command of the Agency for their vigilance, he expressed gratitude to foreign partners for sharing timely intelligence and other port stakeholders for their cooperation.
Air Peace Resumes Direct Flights To Niamey, Dubai - DAILY TRUST
Air Peace has concluded plans to resume direct scheduled flights to Dubai in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) on March 1, 2022.
The announcement is coming a few days after the federal government and the UAE reopened flights between the two countries after resolving a diplomatic spat over a Bilateral Air Service Agreement (BASA).
In a statement Tuesday, the airline said the Lagos-Dubai-Lagos flights would operate three days weekly from any of its domestic routes through its Lagos hub.
“We are happy to inform the flying public that in tandem with our commitment to providing more flight connectivity and meeting the air travel needs of Nigerians, we are restarting our UAE operations, but with Dubai as the destination and not Sharjah.
“We abundantly appreciate the vital role played by the Nigerian government in making this possible,” Air Peace stated.
Air Peace, which has been operating scheduled commercial flights into the UAE since July, 2019, added that it would continue to scale up its service delivery to surpass the expectations of air travellers, especially with the activation of its ambitious fleet modernisation scheme and a renewed commitment to unequalled customer experience.
Extortion Epidemic at Lagos Airport - THISDAY
About five months ago, the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria took firm decision to stamp out extortion and touting at the major airports in the country. Chinedu Eze writes that despite avowed determination to cleanse the airports of such ills, obnoxious acts still go on at the Lagos airport
When the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) said it was determined to end extortion at the airports in the country, especially the Murtala Muhammed International Airport (MMIA), Lagos, the major gateway of the nation, many industry observers expressed doubt because extortion has become entrenched phenomenon at the airport. But FAAN went ahead and arrested some airline officials who were extorting money from passengers. The first known culprit was a staff of Arik Air who was arrested at the General Aviation Terminal (GAT) of the Murtala Muhammed Airport, Lagos.
FAAN in a statement said it was determined to stamp out the illicit acts and had taken steps to address the situation, which had soiled the name of the country in the international community. Few weeks later the agency announced that it had stepped up efforts to clear aerodromes of touts with the arrest of 90 persons over alleged touting and other nefarious conducts at Lagos and Abuja airports.
Among those arrested, according to FAAN, were workers of Nigerian Aviation Handling Company (NAHCO) Plc, Patovilki Nigeria Limited, Lakewood Services, and other airport workers. FAAN said 89 out of the 90 culprits had been handed over to the police for prosecution and disclosed that the raid came after cases of car vandalisation; thefts and extortion were reported at the MurtalaMuhammed International Airport in Lagos.
The federal government lent its support to what FAAN was doing when it threatened to sanction security agencies including heads of military and paramilitary organisations at the Lagos airport over alleged extortion. This was in response to the report on December 8 last year; that no fewer than six officials of various security agencies were caught on camera extorting air travellers by CCTV installed by FAAN.
But on February 3, 2022, a Nigerian man resident in Canada, who identified himself only as Chris, revealed how Immigration and airline officials at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos, frustrated and tried to truncate his return to the North American country after visiting home in January 2022 with his four-month-old daughter. So the extortion and harassment of passengers has not stopped.
Immigration THISDAY Investigation revealed that although significant effort is being made by FAAN to sanitise the airports but the security agencies at the airport, especially the Nigeria Immigration Service, the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), the Nigeria Customs Service, Quaratine and sometimes Aviation Security (AVSEC) officials of FAAN still extort air travellers at the international terminal of the Lagos airport.
It was learnt that most Nigerians who are travelling for the first time are harassed and made to pay money to Immigration officials, an act they term to ‘dis-virgin’ their passports. A source told THISDAY that Immigration officials have hawkish eyes towards virgin passports, which are passports that were procured newly without visa or immigration stamps, indicating that the person has not travelled abroad before.
Some Immigration officials are alleged to take advantage of such passengers’ ignorance and are intimidated into paying money to these officially and the currency is always dollars.
“Once you have a virgin passport when you present it to them they will ask you to go and see their supervisor. They will motion you to the inner office. When you get there they tell you that you won’t travel unless you “sort them out.”
“I was once a victim. When they asked me to go and see their supervisor, I refused. He wanted to bypass me and attend to the person behind me; I stopped him and insisted he must attend to me first. We pushed it until I brought my other passports from my bag. They knew then that it was not my first time.
“There was this lady who was travelling to the US to meet her husband. She was travelling on Emirates. They stopped her and insisted that she settled them. Luckily she was able to get my number. I asked her to give the phone to Immigration officer attending to her. The officer refused to take the phone. I asked her to put it on Speaker. While it was on speaker I told the officer that if the lady missed her flight I would make sure he was removed from that airport. He said I would not do anything. After about 10 minutes, he left the lady.
“Many passengers have missed their flight because Immigration has refused to allow them to go. The Immigration officials are not afraid because they know that the places you will go and report them are aware of what they do at the airport. But the most annoying is the one they do to students. They stop students who are travelling alone and extort the money given to them by their parents. This is said,” the source who is a senior airline official and who has worked many years at the Lagos airport, told THISDAY.
But reacting to the allegation, a senior Immigration official told THISDAY that the allegation that Immigration officials extort passengers at the airport is not true. He went on to explain that there was a classified circular from the federal government that directed Immigration at the airport not to allow young Nigerians, especially the girls not to leave the country, except there is convincing evidence that there is concrete purpose for the trip. “Many of those girls destroy the image of Nigeria by what they do when they travel abroad. Many of them go into prostitution, including newly married women. They travel overseas, engage in prostitution, earn some money and use the money to buy things and return to the country.
“This was confirmed when there were undercover investigations by some Nigerian embassies abroad. Sometimes we have reasons why we should not allow some people to travel but they are usually very desperate and that is when they could do anything so that they should be allowed to go. That is when what they call extortion takes place,” the official said.
However he admitted that many Immigration officials at the Lagos airport currently do not have the requisite experience and exposure because those who have the experience “have been transferred out of the airport and replaced with inexperienced and unexposed persons who will tell you point blank that they came to make money.” The Immigration official also alleged that those who act without tact are the officials of NDLEA and FAAN officials, adding, “The officials of FAAN scamper everywhere impersonating other security operatives and harass passengers.”
FAAN Officials THISDAY learnt from official of FAAN at the international terminal that FAAN officials don’t have interface with passengers, except aviation Security personnel (AVSEC), noting that FAAN has succeeded to a large extent in instilling discipline among officials who work at the airport but admitted that such corrupt acts have persisted because the agency does not have control of the other agency workers and that none of them had been caught by CCTV and FAAN had not received call from passengers to level accusation against such officials.
This has been confirmed by the General Manager, Public Affairs of the agency, Mrs. Henrietta Yakubu. “It is wrong to say that FAAN officials impersonate officials of security agencies at the airport. It is not possible because we don’t interface with passengers, except AVSEC. We have telephone numbers plastered everywhere at the airport, directing passengers to send message or call the numbers if they have anyone asking them for money or if there is any other kind of infraction. If we get such information we arrest the person involved.
“We have CCTV installed at strategic places. We have sniffer dogs and we have security operatives. Just call or send us messages to the advertised numbers. We work with ICPC (Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission). We have directed that the badges on officials are made bold so that a passenger can easily see the name of the officer you are dealing with. If you get us the name we investigate it. Even at the car parks we have CCTV. Most of the extortion happens at the screening area while going to the boarding area and FAAN officials are not there after the screening point,” Yakubu said.
Evaluation and Recommendation The CEO of Centurion Aviation Security and Safety Consult and also former Commandant of the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos, Group Captain John Ojikutu (retd) told THISDAY that he has doubts that FAAN would succeed in the effort to stamp out corrupt practices at the airport.
“I will commend FAAN if it succeeds or if its efforts are sustained; can the efforts be sustained? I doubt it; it can only be for a while. The National Civil Aviation Security Programme (NCASP) designates FAAN to coordinate the security agencies working at the airports. Before now, how effective has its coordination been on over six government security agencies working at the airports? The over six government security agencies have more personnel than all the FAAN AVSEC personnel in any of the airports and each has head of their operations at the airports. The question I ask always is, does FAAN still have airport security committees for each of the airports? How then would the Customs Federal Units come into the airport without the knowledge of the Committee or the Customs Airport Comptroller? If he were aware of the invasion, did he inform the committee and therefore the airport manager who is the chairman of the airport security committee?” he asked.
Ojikutu was referring to the recent incident where Nigeria Customs Service official breached airport security by forcefully opening security gate at the Cargo Terminal of the airport. He reinforces the fact that FAAN does not have full control of the activities of other security agencies, which is against the recommendation of the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO). THIDSAY learnt that at many occasions these security agencies had rebuffed FAAN’s directives and unilaterally taken actions that suit their whims and against international recommended practices Ojikutu also said that as long as there is a disconnect between the government security agencies working at the airports, FAAN’s efforts to sanitise the airport extortion and touting among government security agencies staff cannot work well without the serious intervention of the National Security Council that would consider the airport security as a function of the national security.
“Annex 17, 3.1.5 (ICAO recommendations) is very clear about what each member state must do to harness the airport security. We need to establish a national aviation security committee as against the established national civil aviation security committee and therefrom, an aviation security agency that should have a unified control and administration over all the government security agencies working at the airports,” Ojikutu said. He emphasised that “the situation where the government security agencies working at the airports carry guns and are under different command and control is a trend that can bring disaster one day to the airport and cause embarrassment to the nation.”
THISDAY learnt that sometimes FAAN expresses the hopelessness of the situation, knowing that some of the security agency officials extort money and harass passengers and lacking the power to intervene, “is frustrating and at the end of the day, it is the airport and FAAN that are called out by the travellers,” FAAN official lamented.
Fuel sells for N400/litre in Abuja, others, scarcity persists in Lagos - PUNCH
BY Okechukwu Nnodim and Tunde Oyekola
• Marketers still struggling to return adulterated petrol to NNPC
Residents of Abuja and neighbouring states of Niger and Nasarawa are still facing tough times sourcing for Premium Motor Spirit, popularly called petrol, with the commodity selling for as high as N400/litre by black marketers.
The development came almost one week after the import of millions of dirty PMS from Europe into Nigeria disrupted the fuel supply system of the country, leading to long queues nationwide.
The Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited has ordered the recall of the contaminated fuel but oil marketers have been battling various challenges, ranging from PMS supply shortage to complaints by consumers who claimed the bad product has damaged their vehicles.
However, finding show on Sunday that black marketers who sell petrol in jerry-cans are now the easily accessible suppliers of PMS in Abuja and neighbouring states.
A significant percentage of filling stations in Nigeria’s capital city do not currently have petrol to dispense.
Oil marketers told our correspondent that a few other outlets that had products were still trying to return the adulterated petrol supplied to them since last week.
This, they said, had prevented the affected stations from taking in uncontaminated products, as they currently lacked space to store new consignments.
Heavy queues greeted the limited number of filling stations that dispensed petrol on Sunday. Motorists spent several hours under the scorchy sun waiting to be served petrol.
The NNPC filling station on Arab Road in Kubwa, Abuja had hundreds of motorists who formed long queues that blocked the road and caused severe traffic in the area.
The Nipco filling station on the Kubwa end of the Abuja-Zuba Expressway also had a large number of PMS seekers. In Zuba, Niger State, it was observed that several outlets were closed.
Our correspondent also gathered that many filling stations in Nyanya, Mararaba in Nasarawa State were closed on Sunday.
This led to a worrisome level of scarcity in Abuja, Nasarawa and Niger, a situation that had kept dragging for weeks, even before the advent of the contaminated fuel imports.
The scarcity of petrol in filling stations created a business for black marketers, as they surfaced on major roads in Abuja displaying and selling their wares.
While some of them priced their petrol for as high as N6,000 for a 10-litre jerry-can, others sold theirs at N4,000 for 10 litres of PMS, translating to N400/litre.
The high cost of petrol by black marketers forced motorists to stay in lengthy queues, while those who could not wait in the queues had to part with the costly sum for petrol.
Providing an explanation as to why many filling stations were still not selling petrol, the National Public Relations Officer, Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria, Chief Ukadike Chinedu, said some retailers who purchased the adulterated products were still struggling to return them.
He explained that the contaminated products were still occupying spaces in the underground tanks of the affected filling stations, adding that this had prevented the outlets from accessing new stocks.
“Where will you discharge your new stock when your underground tanks still have contaminated products that have not been returned? Many of those who bought the contaminated products are still struggling to have them returned to NNPC,” the marketer stated.
He added, “I told you that a marketer currently has about 100,000 litres still in his tanks underground and as we speak, it will take him close to N700,000 to evacuate it. And not just that, the product is occupying space.”
Ukadike had earlier called on the government to provide a clear directive on how marketers would return the contaminated products, as this would create space for new uncontaminated stock.
“We also want the government to come out with clear cut directives and procedures on how products that are contaminated should be returned,” the IPMAN official had stated.
He added, “Some marketers are still having the contaminated products in their stations and are not selling because of this. The products have not been returned yet due to lack of clear cut directives on how it should be returned.
“Also, you need documents to enable you to move the tankers from your filling station back to the place where the product is to be returned because if the police get you without the necessary accompanying documents, they will say you are involved in bunkering.”
NNPC calls for patience, says normalcy’ll return soon
When contacted on Sunday on what the NNPC was doing as regards the severe scarcity, the spokesperson of the oil firm, Garba-Deen Muhammad, called for patience.
He said, “Every possible measure that is to be taken is being taken. Our top management and other staff are (working) round the clock to ensure the return to normalcy. Be patient. The queues will abate very soon.”
Muhammad had told our correspondent that a technical committee had been set up to look into the recall of the contaminated products and how it would be managed.
He said, “The first thing is to ensure that it is recalled and not in circulation. There are various ways of handling this kind of product, we will leave that to the technical committee that has been set up.
“This committee is drawn from MOMAN, DAPPMAN, downstream regulator, NNPC, and all stakeholders. They all have technical people and know the best way to handle this kind of product.”
The imports of adulterated petrol into Nigeria had triggered widespread concerns among government officials and players in the downstream oil sector, as it resulted in PMS scarcity across the country.
NSCDC boss warns petrol stations against hoarding
As the scarcity of fuel bites harder in parts of the country, the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps has warned oil marketers not to exploit the situation to cause artificial scarcity of fuel in the country.
The Kwara State Commandant, NSCDC, Makinde Iskil, who gave the warning during an assessment of petrol stations in Ilorin, the state capital, on Sunday, also warned dealers not to use the opportunity to hike the price.
Makinde said the corps would not hesitate to seal any erring filling station and prosecute the owners if found to be involved in any of the criminal activities.
Represented by the Head, Kwara State NSCDC Anti Vandal Unit, Yusuf Ayinde, the commandant read the riot act to stations who reportedly refuse to sell PMS or were selling the product above the recommended pump price of N165.
“Based on intelligence reports made available to us, some filling stations have been alleged of selling PMS as high as N175 and N250 per litre which is above the recommended pump price of N165 per litre and that is why the commandant ordered the on the spot assessment of the situation at some stations.
The spokesman for NSCDC in the state, Babawale Afolabi, disclosed in a statement that “some petrol stations were caught selling fuel over the approved price; they were ordered to revert to normal price.”
Afolabi said some of the filling stations visited by the team included the NNPC filling station at Surulere area, Topland and Demo filling stations at Amilegbe, Total Comfort Oilfield at Ita Amon, among others in the Ilorin metropolis. He said that the exercise would continue on Monday.
NNPC yet to withdraw dirty fuel as petrol queues linger - THE GUARDIAN
…Black market soars to N400/litre in Abuja, N200 in Lagos
Petroleum marketers, yesterday, said the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) Limited is yet to evacuate adulterated petroleum from fuel stations as motorists jostle to purchase premium motor spirit. It is feared the situation may take a bad turn if it lingers.
The Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria (IPMAN), whose members retail over 90 per cent of the products used in the country, told The Guardian that petrol marketers are running at a loss, while consultants are working to determine the volume of the dirty fuels still in tanks.
For filling stations dispensing products, there are deliberate attempts to frustrate consumers by creating artificial scarcity through long queues and, in many cases, products are only sold in the evening, creating brisk business for the black market.
Already, in many parts of Lagos, the product is being dispensed at N200 a litre and N400 in Abuja. Vice President of IPMAN, Abubakar Shettima, told The Guardian yesterday that most tankers have now diverted to Nipco depot to load the right speculation of premium products, adding that the current scarcity would abate before mid-week.
NNPC Limited had admitted that four PMS cargoes imported by four consortia of its direct sale, direct purchase (DSDP) had imported adulterated fuel into the country, leading to petrol scarcity across the country. The importers are MRS, who imported through vessel MT Bow Pioneer and loaded at Litasco Terminal, Antwerp -Belgium, Emadeb/Hyde/AY Maikifi/Brittania-U Consortium, which used vessel MT Tom Hilde and loaded from the same terminal, Oando loaded through MT Elka Apollon from the same terminal as well as NNPC’s subsidiary, Duke Oil used MT Nord Gainer and also loaded the vessel from the same terminal.
Shettima noted that the marketers, who have dirty fuel in their tanks, are stuck because the products have not been removed for them to run their operations.
According to him, the government may need to consider bearing the burden of their losses.
“There are slight challenges already. We are expecting more products by Tuesday. There was a gap in supply so it will take time for supply to normalise. The products have to be delivered via road and you know the associated challenges.
“Our consultants are working on the dirty fuel. The products have not been returned to NNPC. We need to know the quantity.”
Although more petrol stations opened late yesterday in Abuja, the development led to long queues as motorists struggled to make a purchase.
On the busy Kubwa expressway, Nipco, which was shut in the early hours of the day was dispensing at about 5pm. Mega stations like A.A. Rano and A.Y. Shafa and NNPC were also dispensing, while others like Shema, MRS, Oando were shut.
On the airport road, most stations were shut but Dan Oil, one of the mega stations on the route, was dispensing with a long queue of motorists.
At the black market, a litre, which was selling for about N250 per litre, has now moved to N400 per litre as a-10 litre gallon now sells for N4,000.
How Federal Airports Authority, NAMA Rip Off Airlines at Sunset Airports - THISDAY
BY Chinedu Eze
With the cost of operation hitting the roof and many domestic airlines facing liquidation, it has emerged the airlines are being ripped off by regulators via landing charges.
Local operators who spoke to THISDAY said the development has further heightened their fears of not being able to continue in business calling on the federal government to urgently intervene.
Nigerian airlines are charged by the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) and the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA) to be allowed to land at airports that have airfield lighting but are not designated for night services.
Beyond the charges by these agencies, airlines lose huge resources when they are forced to cancel flights or made to return to the airport of departure because these airports refuse to receive the airlines’ flight, which insiders say happen often.
Called daylight airports, these refer to airports that do not have landing facilities so airlines can only operate there in the night, but there are some of them, including the Akanu Ibiam International Airport, Enugu, the Margret Ekpo International Airport, Calabar and Benin Airport, where night facilities were installed, including airfield lighting but FAAN has not allowed flights to operate there in the night.
So whenever airlines scheduled to land at such airports after 6:30 pm FAAN and NAMA insist they pay charges for it. THISDAY learnt that there have been many occasions flights were forced to return to airport of departure because the airlines operating the flights did not pay the charges or there is disagreement between the airline and the personnel in charge of the airport.
Addressing aviation correspondents on Wednesday at the MurtalaMuhammed International Airport (MMIA), Lagos, the Chairman of United Nigeria Airlines, Dr. Obiora Okonkwo, lamented that one of the major challenges of the daylight airport is that it forces airlines to limit their operations to those airports to 6:30 pm.
He said that in the struggle to meet the 6:30 timeline, sometimes it leads to flight cancellation if flights scheduled to those airports encounter any delay on ground or in the air in the course of the flight service.
He said that airlines lose huge resources besides the charges they pay to the agencies, adding that even the domestic runway at MMIA is for daylight operation so when flights are coming into Lagos after 6:30 pmthey land at the international runway, but they could encounter delays because it is the period when many international flights arrive the country.
Okonkwo also explained that when the aircraft lands at the international runway it would taxi for 15 minutes to the domestic terminal, MMA2 or the General Aviation Terminal (GAT) burning many gallons of aviation fuel. He therefore called on the government to step up action to provide night landing facilities at these runways and also to designate the airports that have night landing facilities so that flights can land after 6:30 pm.
Commenting, the General Manager, Corporate Affairs, FAAN, told THISDAY that the agency charges flat rate of N100, 000 per flight, which NAMA charges N50, 000 per hour after 6:30 pm. Which means if the aircraft would arrive by 9:30 pm, the airline would be made to pay NAMA N150, 000 and pay FAAN, N100, 000.
But THISDAY learnt that sometimes the officers in charge could up the charges and threaten to close the airports and most often they would say they don’t have diesel in the generator.
Flights have been forced to make air return after they have made initial approach to land and when they do they reschedule the flight at huge cost to the airlines and inconvenience to the passengers. Recently the Managing Director of FAAN, Captain Rabiu Yadudu explained that litigation forestalled the installation of airfield lighting at the domestic runway of Lagos airport, known as Runway 18L.
“The airfield lighting contract was not given by FAAN. Remember, there was a time the lighting at airports were taken away from FAAN, but later returned to FAAN. We have spent the last few years trying to resolve the contract. There are issues with the contractor, but we are making efforts to address the challenge on the domestic runway. We are working with the ministry to ensure things are done rightly,” he said.
On why the airports that even have night landing facilities are closed by 6:30, the former Managing Director of NAMA, Captain Fola Akinkuotu explained that the major reasons include the fact that many of the airports use generators as source of electricity and there is inadequate manpower.
Akinkuotu noted that if the airlines come together and decide that they would maintain traffic on those routes late in the night, it could be arranged and the airports would adjust their operating schedule.
“A lot of these airports are run by generators. It would be a huge loss of resources if you keep operating them when there is no traffic and airlines are not coming in. So we have power and manpower issues. But if there is justified demand, adjustments can be made to accommodate that demand. The airline operators, NAMA and FAAN can meet and agree that flight time can be extended to the airports. This will have to involve all the airlines; not for one airline; so if there is a guarantee for traffic in those late hours for the airlines, the agencies can bring in the needed manpower,” he said.
Closing about 90 per cent of Nigerian airports by 6:30 pm in the night has led to the underutilisation of aircraft and loss of revenues that would have been earned from operating to some of these airports after dusk. Secretary of Aviation Round Table (ART) and aviation security expert, Group Captain John Ojikutu had warned that during emergencies an aircraft might not have alternative airport to land in Nigeria in the night because most of the airports are closed. “That will be very tragic for the country,” he had said.