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US Embassy extends visa fee validity to 2023 - THE NATION

JANUARY 28, 2022

 

The United States (US) Mission in Nigeria has extended visa fee validity to September 2023 to accommodate applicants facing difficulty in booking appointment for non-immigrant visa.

Thousands of applicants have been facing serious difficulty getting appointment date.

The earliest appointment date that many applicants are getting is nine months from the date of booking, a situation that unsettles them based on their reasons for visiting the US.

Visa fee is only valid for one year from the date of payment.

But the mission said on its website that it has extended validity to September 2023 to enable all applicants get appointment date.

It indicated that it was working diligently to restore routine consular services that were suspended in the last two years.

The statement reads: “The United States Embassy and Consulate in Nigeria understand that many visa applicants have paid the visa application processing fee and are still waiting to schedule a visa appointment.

“We are working diligently to restore all routine visa operations as quickly and safely as possible. In the meantime, rest assured that the US Mission will extend the validity of your payment (known as MRV fee) until September 30, 2023, to allow all applicants who were unable to schedule a visa appointment as a result of the suspension of routine consular operations an opportunity to schedule and/attend a visa appointment with the already paid fee.”

Thieves raid Eznis Airways B737 at Lagos, Nigeria - CH-AVIATION

JANUARY 28, 2022

A breach in security at Lagos Airport has resulted in thieves breaking into the cockpit of an Arik Air (W3, Lagos) aircraft, B737-700 EI-ULN (msn 32426), leased from Mongolia’s Eznis Airways (MG, Ulaanbaatar), and stealing its flight management system (FMS) computer, local media reported.

According to the ch-aviation fleets advanced module, Eznis Airways operates a fleet of two B737-700s, both of which currently have the Nigerian carrier as an ACMI customer. The owner and manager of EI-ULN, a 17.89-year-old Boeing twinjet, is Carlyle Aviation Partners.

Sources at the airport and at Arik Air said that the incident happened overnight between January 19 and 20 at Terminal Two. The thieves also reportedly tampered with the pitot tube cover and other sensitive parts of the aircraft.

The incident resulted in a number of the carrier’s flights being cancelled. However, according to Flightradar24 and RadarBox ADS-B data, the aircraft has since returned to service on routes between Lagos and JosPort Harcourt Omagwa, and Owerri.

An aviation expert told the news agency SaharaReporters that the break-in could only have been performed by individuals with specialist aircraft technical skills.

A source at Arik Air told The Daily Sun newspaper: “The aircraft was parked on the tarmac at MM2 and someone got access to the electronic base where we have all the systems. There is a door underneath the aircraft which they opened and got access to remove the FMC. It is expected that the CCTV should be on and capture whoever did it, but we haven’t heard anything to that effect.”

The source added: “To repair [such a computer] costs about USD15,000 and a brand new one costs about USD300,000. Every item in an aircraft has serial numbers and can be tracked anywhere in the world, so I don’t know how the thief intends to sell it unless the person has a vendor. That’s why we believe it is internal sabotage.”

Eznis Airways did not immediately respond to ch-aviation’s request for comment.

Lagos has experienced a series of security issues lately. According to Nigerian newspaper The Guardian, parked cars have been broken into and vandalised, and last month Arik Air filed an occurrence report with the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) after a group of men tried to open the cargo compartment of one of its four B737-800s while it was taxiing to the terminal. It was the second such attempt the airline had seen in two weeks, but no one has been arrested.

John Ojikutu, a former head of security at the airport, now retired, told the newspaper that some houses in a neighbouring suburb are so close to the perimeter fences that their occupants “are either using the fences as part of their building or a

Travel Ban: Nigeria Yet To Get Official Communication From UAE – NCAA DG - LEADERSHIP

JANUARY 29, 2022

The Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) yesterday said the federal government is yet to be officially informed about the United Arab Emirates (UAE) lifting travel ban placed on Nigeria.

Speaking to journalists, the director general, NCAA, Capt. Musa Nuhu, said the Emirates Airline cannot operate in the country until it officially communicate to Nigeria.

Nuhu said Nigeria is yet to be informed of the UAE’s decision because it had to be government to government communication saying until they are informed through diplomatic channel lifting ban on Nigeria still remain unofficial.

He said: “the country manager of Emirates Airlines came to my office yesterday (Thursday) and he submitted a letter showing us a letter of release by Dubai Airport lifting the ban on Nigeria and 11 other African countries. Of course, we still have some protocols that have to be complied with. I think it is acceptable.

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“But, what I told him is that the issue of flight operations between Nigeria and UAE is based on Bilateral Air Service Agreement (BASA). Nigeria as a government, we don’t deal with an airline, we deal with the authorities of UAE. So, what I told him is that the Civil Aviation Authority of UAE should write to us officially through diplomatic channels. When we have that, it means the Nigerian Government is in official communication with UAE. As soon as that letter comes in, I’m sure it is going to come may be today or tomorrow, we will act on it.”

“Officially, we are not aware because I need the UAE CAA to officially inform me through government to government channels. So, when we get that it becomes official,” he stressed.

Nuhu, however, said Emirates Airlines cannot resume service to Nigeria until the country receive letter to that effect from their Civil Aviation Authority.

He also disclosed that Air Peace is to decide whether it wanted to fly into Dubai or Sharjah Airport but, the authority will support the airlines.

“When we receive their letter, then, the federal government will have to take a decision on that (when to begin flight into Nigeria). We have the Ministry of Aviation, which deals with matters of policies and also, we have the Presidential Steering Committee (PSC) on Covid-19. However, we don’t think it will take time to take a decision once we receive the letter officially.”

“We cannot choose for Air Peace whether it’s Dubai or Sharjah it wants to fly into. It depends on the airline to choose the airport it wants to fly into and the approval given by the UAE government based on our BASA arrangement with them. We will support Air Peace and if Air Peace is having some issues there, we will see how we can help with the authorities there too so that they won’t have any problem and the airline can resume flight services to the airport.

“Air Peace is a Nigerian carrier and it is our responsibility to ensure that they get any support we can give them like any other Nigerian carrier,” he pointed out.

The NCAA boss, however, revealed that Nigeria restricted Emirate airlines to Abuja airport because of their unfair treatment meted out to Air Peace in their country.

Lai: FG to seek review of $35k business registration fee for Nigerians in Egypt - THE CABLE

JANUARY 31, 2022

Lai Mohammed, minister of information and culture, says the federal government will look into the possibility of seeking a review of the $35,000 fee requested by Egypt from foreigners to operate a business enterprise in the country.

According to NAN, the minister said this during a recent meeting with the Nigerian community in Cairo, Egypt’s capital.

There are different fees for registering various categories of businesses in Egypt, including a limited liability company (LLC) nominee option said to cost $34,350.

The LLC alternative is said to be the most common in Egypt and “can be 100% foreign owned”.

The meeting was held on the sidelines of a bilateral discussion with the Africa Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank) on how Nigeria can access funding to support its growing creative industry.

Speaking at the meeting organised by Nura Rimi, Nigerian ambassador to Egypt, the minister described the deposit as unacceptable, saying it negates the unity that binds African countries.

He, therefore, promised to take the matter up with Geoffrey Onyeama, minister of foreign affairs, and other relevant bodies, upon his return to Nigeria.

The minister also expressed concern about the high number of Nigerian children out of school in Egypt owing to the language barrier and non-availability of registered Nigerian schools in Cairo.

The Nigerian community had told the minister that the official language for teaching in Egypt is Arabic and the few private schools being run by the British and Americans in the country had exorbitant fees.

They said no fewer than 7,000 Nigerian children in Egypt were out of school, and appealed for the construction of a Nigerian school in Cairo.

They also told the minister that because many of them could not afford the mandatory $35,000 deposit, their businesses had been labelled illegal, and claimed that they were subjected to regular harassment and arrest by Egyptian security officials.

Mohammed further appealed to the Nigerian community in Egypt to disregard most of the negative news about Nigeria, especially on social media.

“There is no country without its challenges. We are facing our own just like Egypt did some years back and they are out of it now,” the minister was quoted as saying.

“In Nigeria, we have the challenge of banditry, Boko Haram, and militants but that does not mean that Nigeria is at war.

“Nigeria in the last six years has been making tremendous developmental progress in infrastructure development, agriculture, aviation and other fields of endeavour.

“Unfortunately, the noise of the mischief makers have drowned the laudable success of the administration.

“I want to assure everyone of you here that whatever problem we have in Nigeria has nothing to do with religion or ethnicity.”

Passport Backlogs Will End By March - Immigration Boss - NIGERIAN TRIBUNE

JANUARY 31, 2022

By Oluwatoyin Malik 

The Assistant Controller General of Immigration Service in charge of passport and other travel directorates, Modupe Anyalechi, has promised Nigerians that all efforts are being made to ensure that the March deadline is set for clearing of backlogs of passports for Nigerian applicants is met.

Stating this in Oyo Command of the Nigeria Immigration Service in Ibadan, Anyalechi, who spoke on behalf of the acting Controller General of Immigration, Isah Jere Idris, said that she and officers from Abuja came with about 30,000 passport booklets to clear the backlog, with a view of meeting the target set by the acting CGIS.

“By the end of March, the issues of backlog would have been a thing of the past,” she stated.

According to the Assistant Controller, “I’m here on the directive of the Minister of Interior, Mr Rauf Aregbesola through the acting CGIS, to see what is happening on the ground after the launch of the enhanced e-passport on December 20, 2021, and to come and clear the backlog.

“Before the launch, we knew that a lot of Nigerians had enrolled on the previous platform so on January 1, this year, the acting CGIS had an interactive session with journalists during which he promised that by the end of March, it is expected that the issue of backlog would have been a thing of the past.”

She encouraged Nigerians whose passports had not been produced that all hands were on deck “and we are working towards achieving the set target. The backlog is not in Ibadan only, but other parts of South West and North Central.”

  On the issue of enhanced passport, Anyalechi said that the introduction of the online payment and appointment system had been working well and the applicants she met on the ground had commended the move.

“All you need to do is to go to any of our platforms, log in on http://www.immigration.gov.ng Assistant Controller or http://www.passport.immigration.gov.ng, General fill the form and give proper information. After filling the form, click on payment. After payment, you are at liberty to choose any passport office where you want to be attended to at your own convenience by booking the appointment date and the time.

“On your appointment day, with your documents, the officers are waiting to receive you. They go through your documents. Once they are okay, you are good to go. You’ll be enrolled and go back home. When the passport is ready, you will be contacted to come and pick up your passport.

Anyalechi said that the enhanced passport was aimed at making the process of application and issuance of these documents seamless. “All you need is that when you log into our website or any of our platforms, you don’t need to sit on your PC to do it. You can use any of your devices. “When you start filling the application form, you can stop, save it and come back to it later and continue. More importantly, make sure that every information you are passing is correct, because that is where we always have one or two issues. People just put fictitious numbers and addresses, so when they have any issue and we try to reach them to resolve It, it becomes almost impossible.

She enjoined those who help in filling the application forms for the applicants to ask for their contacts so that the proper thing is done.

“On the website, we have a chat room. It is to make Nigerians get closer to us and we get closer to them. You go there, click on It, make enquiries, lay your complaints and make suggestions. It is on 24/7 and officers are there online. As you asking, they are responding,” said.

On the issue of NIN, the Assistant Controller said that since all were in pursuit of a single identity, “when you are going to any passport office, we expect everyone to have one identity. Make sure that the information you have is the same as your name and that of your passport, or if you are obtaining a fresh one. “For example, if you have shortened the form of your names on documents that you possess, you can’t come to the passport office and give the full name. People are arguing, for example, that Bayo and Adebayo are the same, but when it comes to documentation, they are not the same. If my initials are M.O., I can’t write O.M. They are not the same. Arrangement of names is very key. We are here to serve you.”

She admonished all intending applicants to cooperate with Immigration Service so that it would serve them better.

On applicants complaining about being asked to pay various amounts after going online to apply, the ACG said that this was the reason Nigerians had been encouraged to adopt online payment to eliminate the third parties. “When you have seen the amount for the booklets and you have paid with your card, it is a way to reduce corruption to the barest minimum.

“When you pay and come on your appointment date with your forms filled out and your documents correct, who will ask you to pay? But if you meet an agent, they may ask you to bring N60,000, N70,000, because you have not made out time to know what is happening.”

She described the online payment and appointment system as user friendly, saying “it is just one form that contains all the needed information. The only thing that can delay us from issuing your passport is when we are processing and find out you have supplied us with wrong information.” https://tribuneonlineng.com/pa...


‘Why Nigeria witnesses more flight cancellations, delays’ - THE NATION

JANUARY 31, 2022

Dr. Obiora Okonkwo is the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Enugu-based United Nigeria Airline. He spoke with select journalists on the sideline of the retreat organised for senior management staff of the company on the development of the aviation industry in Nigeria. Damian Duruiheoma was there.

February 12, 2022 will one year United Nigeria Airline commenced operations. Looking back, what is the experience like?

It has been some exciting experience. One year in the life of a human being, probably, the person is still a toddler. But looking back in our one year of operations in aviation industry for United Nigeria Airline, it looks like we’ve been there for 20 years. It has been a year that has seen whole lot of challenges, no doubt. But beyond all those, we have seen great achievement in our strategic plan, our expansion plan, our growth plan. We had opened new locations. We have also increased our fleets. We had also worked as close as possible with the regulatory agencies: Ministry of Aviation, the NCAA which has been working so hard. We’re very happy and proud of their efforts to strengthen and improve things in the aviation industry.

We have also enjoyed very productive year of client relationship. We’ve seen a whole lot of other operators in the industry coming into the picture. In all, it has been quite an exciting experience.

Where do you hope to see the airline in the next 10 years in the aviation industry in relation to the security and economic challenges in the country?

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Ten years of projection is a little bit too far that I can see for now. But we like to take out things one step at a time. Our plan here is to grow at our own pace. So we think that we rather talk about the next one year and the next two years. The margin we can project now is three years. Maybe in our second year, we will be talking about where we will be in the next five years from now.

But within the next 12 months, we see ourselves doubling the number of our fleets with larger passenger capacity. This is because it was our strategic plan to start with smaller body aircrafts with 50 passenger capacity to develop and strengthen our routes. Now we have had control over and strengthened certain routes, and then we’re coming in with bigger body aircrafts as add-ons. Hopefully, we add two aircrafts every quarter till the end of the year. That will give us an opportunity to expand our locations.

We have a mantra: Flying to unite.  So until we are able to find ourselves in all the commercial airports in Nigeria, we will not stop. Today, we are covering efficiently all the commercial airports in the Southeast. In the next one month, if we start stopping over in Benin, we would have covered all the airports in Southsouth. As it is today, we’re the only commercial airline that flies to Bayelsa. We started Warri, we’re in Asaba. We’ll be going to Benin soon and Akwa Ibom. With that, we’re going to face the Northeast. We’re going to face the Northwest. We’re already in an agreement and understanding to start a shuttle service within the entire six states in the Northeast.

So, we think within this last one year, expansion of our routes, expansion of our fleets and then extension into the West Coast and then obviously strengthening our staff strength and our capacity in the area of human power. These are the things we’re going to do because we need a strong human capacity to be able to deliver decent services within this expansion arrangement.

NCAA came up with the staggering statistics 44, 780 flights were cancelled in 2021. What would you do differently tackle this given the fact that there are no compensations given to passengers?

We have an impressive greater percentage of on time departure. One thing I would like the public to know is that there’s no operator, who for just careless reason, want to put his aircraft on ground when it is time to fly.

The reasons for either flight or departure cancellation, more often than not, are things beyond the airline and for safety reasons. For instance, just this morning, we saw an indication from our central portal that there’s a bad weather in Anambra Airport. The issue of weather is very serious. There are certain regulatory requirements that you do not land at certain airports within certain visibility of weather. Most of the airports are not equipped for aircrafts to land in all weather.

So , the other reason could be the issue of safety. Aircraft is an engine. If there are indications that come at any point of departure, the requirement is that it must have been checked up, signed off and cleared before departure. Timely arrival is important. But I think that safety is more important. So, a combination of all these things could be reasons for flight cancellations or delay.

Cancellation do also come from the records towards evening and the reason being that most of the aircrafts are on sunset restrictions. That means they cannot land at certain times of the day especially between 6pm to 6.3pm which is that sunset. If for instance you have a bad weather in a particular landing airport, it pushes the schedule of take off to two or three hours. That schedule of take off should have been what would take you to that sunset period. More often than not, the aircraft is prepared and ready to fly.

For whatever is the compensation to the client, if it is reasonable and of it is the fault of the airline, obviously, I support it. But a great understanding is required and being solicited that they should know that some times it’s safety reasons beyond the control of the operator. This is because the joy in the business is that your aircraft is flying and passengers are on it. That’s when you make money.

Your seems to be the only airline that has its base in Southeast. What’s the attraction?

We are United Nigeria. We find here suitable and we’re happy to be here. We’re aware that in the past, another airline, Sosliso Airline, had domesticated its operations in the Southeast. From our records and research, their reason for being here was justified. They were happy about it. We decided to take a cue and we’re happy that we did.

NCAA to hike airlines’ operating licence fee, plans major review - PUNCH

JANUARY 31, 2022

BY  Oyetunji Abioye and Eddidiong Ikpoto


Aviation industry regulator-the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority-is considering a major review  of domestic airlines’ operating licence fees and other charges, in order to ensure its bills are in tandem with current realities and what obtains in other countries.

The Director-General, NCAA, Captain Nuhu Musa, made the disclosure during an interview in Lagos on Friday.

He said the regulator was subsidising the industry considering how low its charges had remained over the years, pointing out that it was imperative to embark on a major upward review of the charges.

According to him, the agency does not benefit from allocations and it is not out place to ensure proper charges are given.

This, he said, would enhance the regulatory agency’s capacity to meet its needs especially the training of its personnel.

He said, “Basically, we are subsidising the industry. Some organisations are buying planes worth tens of millions (of dollars) but are only paying N200,000 to get a certificate that will make them commercially operational. Don’t you think that there is something wrong somewhere there? That N200,000 cannot even do the reviews of their manuals. I’m not even talking about how much it is going to take me to train an inspector, pay him his salaries; to provide those services to the airlines. So, some of the things will have to be reviewed, going forward because N200,000, that’s less than $300, we have countries in Africa that charge $200,000 for it.”

Musa also spoke on whether the new Civil Aviation Act reflected the sharing formula for ticket sales charge proceeds among aviation agencies.

He argued on why the regulatory agency deserves to get a relatively significant share, considering the fact that it does not get a share of the federal allocation/budget.

The NCAA DG said, “I think it is a little bit of small adjustments of the agencies. That 58 per cent (NCAA’s share of the TSC proceeds) is 95 per cent of our source of income. For other agencies, it may be 20 per cent of their income because they get from other charges. Don’t forget, the NCAA does not get anything from Federal Government budget, all the other agencies get from Federal Government budget. So, there is a big difference. People just look at the TSC, they don’t look at the big picture. All other agencies get money from the Federal Government budget in addition to their share of the ticket sales, passenger service charge, ticket service charge. And in addition, they have other services; landing and parking, overflight, So many other sources of revenue. Basically, our main source of revenue is the TSC, but they have other revenue; so all these things were taken into consideration.”

The regulatory agency boss also threatened to sanction private jet owners who go into illegal charter operations.

He said, “If we catch anybody who is misusing his licence, we will sanction them, and the sanction could be up to the suspension or revocation of your operating license.”

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