Group raises alarm over alleged denial of visas to Nigerian students - VANGUARD
By Peter Okutu, Abakaliki
A group known as Da’wah and Guidance Bureau of Nigeria, DGBN, Monday called on the Federal Government to immediately intervene over the alleged denial of Visas to Nigerian Students, who want to pursue their academic careers in Turkey.
Disclosing this in a statement, the Secretary-General of DGBN, Hon. Alhaji Aliyu Enya Okoche alleged that Nigerian Students were being denied visas, despite the financial commitment they had made towards their studies and travel overseas.
According to the statement titled “Re: The need for Nigeria to review bilateral relations with Turkey” the group described the situation being faced by Nigerian Students as humiliating, embarrassing and unwarranted.
The Statement read in part: “Our research findings further revealed that students are made to pay full or sometimes half admission fees to the Turkish Universities and yet are denied a visa, which we suspect is in connivance with the Turkish Ambassador in Nigeria, thereby extorting Nigerians who are genuinely seeking admission to study in Turkey.
“The Nigeria Minister of Foreign Affairs Chief Geoffrey Onyema and indeed the Nigeria Foreign Affairs Ministry are hereby called upon to quickly and fully intervene, to investigate the cause of these denials and humiliation of Nigerian students seeking visa after fulfilling all conditions attached and as well the payments and demands of the schools for admissions given to them.
“The investigation could warrant an independent human-rights, crime and violations committed by the Turkish Ambassador against Nigerians.
“There have been collective decade-long failures to uphold the rule of law in an adequate manner befitting the diplomatic status of Nigeria by the Turkish Ambassador’s violations of our freedom of study visa without compunction.
“On behalf of the good people of Nigeria, we call on the Federal Government of Nigeria to intervene and call the Turkish Government under President Recep Tayyib Erdogan to order, for the need to respect Nigeria and Nigerians and also reciprocate the goodwill of the Government of Nigeria towards the Turkish citizens in our mutual diplomatic relations.
“If Nigerians are maltreated this way by the Turkish Embassy and Ambassador in Nigeria without adequate response(s), it is because our Nigeria Foreign Policy administration and administrators are not capable to face the Turkish Ambassador’s threats.
“There is an urgent need to act otherwise and stop the Turkey Embassy from being inconsistent with our Nigeria foreign policy and national interests in accordance with the extant bilateral relations agreements.”
Nigeria Air: FG, airlines meet in court today - PUNCH
As the legal suit on the controversial national carrier-Nigeria Air-continues, lawyers representing the Federal Government and the domestic airlines are expected to meet at the Federal High Court in Lagos, on Monday (today).
The case had been adjourned to January 16, 2023, sometime in December, 2022.
Meanwhile, lawyers representing Nigeria Air, Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, and the Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, on Friday filed a motion of notice, asking the Federal High Court, Lagos to transfer the case to the Federal High Court in Abuja.
The lawyers cited jurisdiction issues as a major reason.
However, officials of domestic airlines under the aegis of the Airline Operators of Nigeria said the plaintiffs were set to file a counter affidavit to challenge the motion.
“We will oppose the transfer of the case to Abuja. All the parties involved in this case are based in Lagos and AON’s office is also in Lagos,” an AON leader said.
The PUNCH had on Friday obtained the motion which was filed January 13, 2023.
The motion, with the suit number FHC/L/CS/2159/22/283 claimed that defendants reside and carry on substantial part of their business.
The document read in part, “That after carefully studying the originating process and other processes filed by the Plaintiffs, the cause of action alleged by the plaintiffs occurred in the Federal Capital Territory outside the judicial division where this suit is instituted.
“That the 1st, 3rd and 4th defendants who are not residents within The Judicial Division of this Honourable Court will be subjected to serious hardship in the event this suit proceeds to hearing and prosecuted within the judicial division of this Honourable Court wherein this suit is commenced.
“That the engagement of counsel to handle the instant case in the judicial division of this Honourable Court which is outside all the Defendants’ place of residence will attract huge amount of expenses on the part of the Defendants and that may likely affect the Defendants’ proficiencies to properly prosecute the suit to a logical and expeditious conclusion, and by extension, affects the course of fair hearing in the course of the trial.”
Supporting the motion, another defence counsel, Usman Suleiman Shehu, esq and Maimuna L Shiru (Mrs) contended that the defendants/applicant were entitled to an order of the court transferring the suit to the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja judicial division.
Deadly Plane Crash Adds to Nepal’s Notoriously Bad Safety Record - BLOOMBEERG
(Bloomberg) -- The fatal air crash in Nepal on Sunday adds to the Himalayan country’s reputation as the most dangerous place to fly on the planet.
All 68 passengers and four crew on Yeti Airlines Flight 691 were killed in the disaster in Pokhara, Nepal’s second-largest city and a gateway for tourists exploring the Annapurna mountain range.
According to Aviation Safety Network data, the fatal crash was the 11th in Nepal in as many years. Only last May, 22 people died when a Tara Air flight came down en route from Pokhara to the trekking base of Jomsom. The latest tragedy, the deadliest since 1992, has led to a spate of tourist cancelations, according to travel-industry executives, costing the country vital revenue.
Nepal’s topography and weather patterns make flying harder than in many other places. In 2015, the United Nations-backed International Civil Aviation Organization prioritized the country for technical assistance, later saying its “beautiful but rugged terrain makes the safety of air operations more challenging than in other areas of the world.”
Black Boxes From Crashed Yeti Airlines Plane Located in Nepal
Nepal also has some of the world’s most dangerous roads, adding to the risk that citizens and visitors face when traveling around the vertiginous nation. Tourism is a key industry, contributing almost 7% of gross domestic product, according to the World Bank.
About 150,000 foreign tourists traveled to Nepal in 2021, almost all arriving by air, according to the latest data available on Nepal’s tourism ministry website. The busy capital Kathmandu is the main entrance point for larger aircraft, with travelers typically taking smaller planes to more remote areas featuring eight of the world’s 10 highest peaks, including Mount Everest
Subhash Goyal, founder and chairman of STIC Travel and Air Charter Group, one of India’s biggest tourism groups, said Sunday’s crash has already had an adverse impact on demand, with 60% of Nepal bookings canceled, mostly by foreign visitors, especially Europeans.
The doomed Yeti Airlines flight — using a twin-engine ATR 72 turboprop — took off from Kathmandu at 10:32 a.m. local time and crashed at about 11 a.m. ATR is a joint venture between planemaking powerhouse Airbus SE and Italy’s Leonardo SpA.
There were 53 Nepalese on board, as well as five Indians, four Russians, two Koreans, and one person from each of Australia, Argentina, Ireland and France, the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal said in a statement.
Yeti also operated a plane that crashed in 2008 at Lukla’s Tenzing-Hillary Airport, which has a runway that angles dramatically down toward a valley. Eighteen passengers and crew died.
Other recent disasters include the loss of a US-Bangla Airways flight from Dhaka, Bangladesh, in Kathmandu in 2018, which killed 51 people.
According to its website, Yeti has six ATR 72-500s in its fleet powered by PW127 engines from the Pratt & Whitney unit of Raytheon Technologies Corp.
Pilots may have lost control of the plane in Sunday’s disaster, Neil Hansford, chairman of consultancy Strategic Aviation Solutions, told the Australia Broadcasting Corp. Mountains, rough terrain and mists that descend in Nepal are hostile to flying, he said.
A video purportedly taken shortly before the crash appears to show the plane entering into a steep banking maneuver as it approaches Pokhara airport, a new facility inaugurated by Nepal’s prime minister only this month.
All airlines certified by Nepal’s aviation authorities are prohibited from flying to Europe, according to the latest banned list published in November. That includes 20 named carriers, Yeti among them.
--With assistance from Anurag Kotoky, Ragini Saxena, Debjit Chakraborty and Eltaf Najafizada.
(Updates death toll and adds more information and background throughout.)
Lufthansa bids for ITA stake to revive Italy's loss-making airline - REUTERS
ROME/FRANKFURT, Jan 18 (Reuters) - German carrier Lufthansa (LHAG.DE) said on Wednesday it had offered to buy an minority stake in ITA Airways, betting on reviving the loss-making successor to Italy's Alitalia and expanding its footprint in Europe.
Lufthansa said Italy is the most important market outside of its existing home markets and the United States, noting its prominence as both a business and tourism destination.
It did not disclose the size of the stake or the price.
The offer was for a 40% stake in the company, two sources close to the matter said. One of the sources said it was valued at 200-300 million euros ($540 million). They declined to be identified because the matter is confidential.
The move comes as Europe's airlines have struggled to recover their balance sheets after the years-long COVID-19 pandemic and as legacy carriers have looked to consolidation to help them compete with low-cost airlines.
The cost-of-living crisis in Europe has stirred concerns about softening demand at a time when carriers are also struggling with higher costs of wages, fuel and other inputs.
Italy's Economy Ministry said later on Wednesday Lufthansa was the only bidder. It will now review the offer and decide whether to approve it.
Under the terms of the bidding process, Lufthansa has to ensure it will develop Italy's main hubs and guarantee ITA has access to strategic markets as well as increases its long-haul routes.
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The new right-wing administration in Rome passed a decree in December to initially sell a minority stake through capital increases, in order to speed up a full divestment in ITA.
Beside its domestic German business, Lufthansa already operates the brands Swiss, Austrian Airlines and Brussels Airlines.
"The plan is to agree on the initial acquisition of a minority stake as well as on options to purchase the remaining shares at a later date," Lufthansa said in a statement, adding it hoped to sign a Memorandum of Understanding with the Italian Economy Ministry and move on to exclusive talks.
Two sources said previously that ITA's shareholders will convene to give a green light to the capital increase once the Italian Treasury signs off on the memorandum with Lufthansa, a process Italy aims to finalise quickly.
ITA in 2021 posted an operating loss of 170 million euros and analysts believed a merger with a stronger rival was the only option left for the airline, seen as unable to survive national and international competition as a standalone company.
Air France confirmed earlier on Wednesday that it would not bid for ITA.
Alitalia was considered a national icon in Italy, and successive governments spent an estimated 10 billion euros to keep it afloat in its last 14 years of life, despite heavy losses and bad management.
Rome has already pledged more than 1 billion euros for ITA and under a deal with the European Union, it could provide another 250 million this year.
Analysts say it could take a long time before Lufthansa can turn ITA around.
"Acquiring ITA is one of the most challenging propositions in European aviation: the airline has been persistently loss-making," said Bernstein analyst Alex Irving.
"If anything, the backdrop is becoming even more challenging, especially on short-haul, as Ryanair and Wizz Air have added as much capacity to Italy as they realistically can."
($1 = 0.9248 euros)
Reporting by Kirsti Knolle, Giuseppe Fonte, Angelo Amante and Ilona Wissenbach Writing by Keith Weir and Joanna Plucinska Editing by Jane Merriman, Kirsten Donovan, Josephine Mason
ITA-Lufthansa deal sparks further airline merger talk - REUTERS
DUBLIN (Reuters) - German airline Lufthansa’s bid for a minority stake in Italy’s ITA Airways has ignited talk of further potential sector consolidation as the industry seeks to plot a more profitable post-pandemic recovery.
Many of Europe’s legacy flag-carrying airlines are struggling to compete effectively with budget carriers, hampered by weak balance sheets that could be made more robust by merging with rivals, analysts said.
Lufthansa has offered to buy an initial minority stake in ITA, Italy’s state-owned successor to Alitalia, it said on Wednesday.
“This may be the next step in European airline consolidation,” said Bernstein analyst Alex Irving, citing Portugal’s national airline, TAP, as a prime target.
The Portuguese government, which owns TAP, has said it is considering an outright or partial sale of the business. Lufthansa, Air-France KLM and British Airways owner IAG are potential buyers, analysts said.
“We clearly focus on ITA,” a Lufthansa spokesperson said. “At the same time, however, we closely monitor consolidation in the European airline market.”
Air-France KLM and IAG declined to comment.
Sweden’s SAS, which has been under Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in the United States since last summer, is also a potential candidate, Kepler Cheuvreux airlines analyst Ruxandra Haradau-Doeser and Bernstein’s Irving said.
An SAS spokesperson said it’s “too early in the process to comment on any potential future investors”.
British budget carrier easyJet is another possible target, said Haradau-Doeser.
“For Lufthansa, the logic of taking over easyJet would be great - it could strengthen its market position in Great Britain, Paris-Orly and Geneva,” she said.
Michael O’Leary, the outspoken CEO of fellow low-cost airline Ryanair, also weighed in with his predictions this week.
“TAP will finish up in BA-IAG, then I think easyJet is going to finish up being bought by either BA or Air France or both jointly and then Lufthansa will buy Wizz,” he said.
CAUTION AND PATIENCE
Some aviation executives, however, said airlines would be wary of taking on risk in what is still a tough operating environment.
EasyJet downplayed talk of consolidation.
“It’s very difficult to really make it work well in Europe. These type of deals are very complicated and distracting,” easyJet Strategy Director Shane Lord said at the Air Finance Journal conference in Dublin.
While some analysts have been quick to speculate on potential mergers, there are other ways airlines could strengthen their finances.
“For healthier yields and margins, European airlines need to find capacity discipline: this is something that has been lacking in the past,” Bernstein’s Irving said.
And the big buyers, including Lufthansa and Air France-KLM, have not demonstrated any real appetite for acquisitions.
“Right now our priority is to fully recover from the COVID crisis and to complete our transformation,” an Air-France KLM spokesperson said in an emailed response to a request for comment.
German business daily Handelsblatt has reported that Lufthansa CEO Carsten Spohr mentioned at an internal company event that TAP could be an option for more long-haul business with South America.
However, it could take months before the ITA Airways-Lufthansa deal is finalised, making it unlikely that Lufthansa will move ahead with further deals any time soon, a company source said.
Reporting by Joanna Plucinska and Ilona Wissenbach; Additional reporting by Catarina Demony in Lisbon, Marie Mannes in Gdansk, Conor Humphries in Dublin, Sarah Young in London and Angelo Amante and Giuseppe Fonte in Rome; Editing by Matt Scuffham and David Goodman
MMIA Passengers Pay Customs N20.8bn Duty In 2022 - DAILY TRUST
The Murtala Muhammed International Airport (MMIA) Command of the Nigeria Customs Service said yesterday that it collected N20.8bn duty from January to December 2022. This…
- By Abdullateef Aliyu
The Murtala Muhammed International Airport (MMIA) Command of the Nigeria Customs Service said yesterday that it collected N20.8bn duty from January to December 2022.
This showed an increase of N1,849,747,265.85 from the N19,048,810,614.26) collected within the same period in 2021.
The command operates at the international terminal of the MMIA, the busiest airport in Nigeria, handling over six million passengers annually.
The Customs Area Controller, Comptroller Mohammed Malami Gidado, also stated that during the December 2022 review, the command collected N1.7bn as against N1.6bn collected within the same period in 2021.
“This simply implies that the command had an increased sum of N393,303,360.75 only in 2022,” Gidado said in a performance report released by the command’s PRO, Superintendent Juliana Destiny Tomo.
“The customs attributed the results to “an improved integrity of passengers in the declaration of goods and high level of compliance towards voluntary payment of (couriers parcels, passengers accompanied and unaccompanied baggage) duty.”
Beyonce Launches $100,000-a-Night Dubai Resort’s Luxury Bet - BLOOMBERG
In November 2008, Dubai’s first Atlantis hotel opened to much fanfare - a $5 million firework display, A-list guests from around the world and a performance by pop star Kylie Minogue. Twelve months later, the emirate declared it was on the brink of default after accumulating a mountain of debt to transform the city into a business and trading hub.
Fourteen years on, Atlantis The Royal — just a short stroll away from the original resort — is set to open this weekend along with much of the same extravagance. Beyonce will perform to a VIP audience for a reported $24 million and fireworks will light up the sky above the city’s famous artificial tree-shaped island of Palm Jumeirah.
Dubai and Kerzner International will be hoping that the landmark opening of the ultra-luxurious hotel, which cost about $1.5 billion to build, doesn’t signal the top for the emirate that’s been booming since it emerged as a safe haven during the pandemic, escaping much of the geopolitical and economic uncertainty elsewhere in the world.
“Dubai is in a significantly stronger position now that in 2009,” said Monica Malik, chief economist at Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank. “There is fundamental tightness in the real-estate market, the UAE has introduced regulations to reduce systemic risks and the tourism sector is broader, with more people globally discovering Dubai after its strong handling of the pandemic.”
If there were any concerns over the timing of the opening, the resort’s opulence doesn’t show them. The hotel, made up of what appear to be interlocking Lego blocks, includes 44 suites with their own infinity pools, as well as one on the 22nd floor, a fire-breathing fountain show, celebrity chef restaurants and the world’s largest jellyfish aquarium. The 231 ultra-luxury residences in the building have already been sold.
Guests will have to pay an average of $1,000 a night to stay in one of its rooms. The hotel also has more than 100 exclusive suites, with the top suite going for $100,000 a night.
“We are very optimistic on travel and extremely bullish on luxury,” Kerzner Chief Executive Officer Philippe Zuber said in an interview from the hotel lobby that’s dominated by a huge silver sculpture and lined with floor to ceiling fish tanks. “We believe in those areas, people will not compromise. We understand that the market may face some recessions and might have some challenges, but the appetite to travel, the appetite to be together and to have qualitative vacations — that will not stop.”
Atlantis The Royal is opening as Dubai cashes in on an influx of newcomers to the city including Russians looking to protect their wealth, Israeli investors, crypto millionaires, and hedge fund executives after the city eased social restrictions and liberalized laws to consolidate its position as the region’s pre-eminent business center. The result is one of the world’s biggest luxury housing booms and a record year for residential prices and number of deals.
“None of us got a crystal ball, but seeing how the market has changed since 2008, Dubai is a totally different place now. It’s not so transient,” said Helen Tatham, head of prime residential sales and leasing at property broker Savills Plc. “I don’t think we are totally resilient to recession. It could cause a few ripples in our market but there’s no way Dubai is as sensitive as it was in 2008.”
$20 Billion Bailout
The turnaround has been spectacular. Just over a decade ago, the city’s property market collapsed after an era of outlandish construction and soaring prices abruptly ended, leaving many individuals and money managers unable to recoup their money. The emirate went on to stave off bankruptcy largely due to a $20 billion bailout from oil-rich neighbor Abu Dhabi.
Since then, Dubai has introduced a raft of measures to ensure that there isn’t a repeat. Many government entities have restructured billions of dollars of debt with lenders — some a number of times. The emirate has also sold shares in state-owned firms to raise funds and is preparing to post its first budget surplus since 2019 when planned spending will increase less than projected revenue.
Authorities have sought to control the property market to limit speculative buyers and introduced measures to entice expatriates to set up home for longer. They’ve also eased many social restrictions such as allowing unmarried couples to live together and switching to a Monday to Friday working week.
And while Dubai isn’t immune to higher interest rates and the prospects of a global recession, “drivers of growth are fairly broad-based,” according to Scott Livermore, chief economist at Oxford Economics Middle East.
“While there are questions over its debt levels, these are easier to manage against the backdrop of solid growth,” he said.
Lagos airport runway to shut down Sunday - BUSINESSDAY
BY Ifeoma Okeke-Korieocha
The international runway of the Murtala Muhammed Airport (18R/36L), Lagos, will be temporarily closed from 12am on Sunday, BusinessDay’s fundings show.
A source at Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA) on Saturday told BusinessDay that the runway 18R/36L will be shut down temporarily, midnight for repairs on the taxiway.
A taxiway is a path for aircraft at an airport connecting runways with aprons, hangars, terminals and other facilities.
This shutdown was also contained in a notice to airmen issued by the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency Aeronautical Information Services on Friday.
According to the NOTAM, runway 18R/36L will be closed between the hours of 0000 and 0500.
Nine Reported Dead in Mass Shooting Near Los Angeles - BLOOMBERG
BY Bloomberg News,
(Bloomberg) -- A gunman killed 10 people and wounded 10 others late Saturday at a ballroom dance club in Monterey Park, a city east of Los Angeles, following a popular Lunar New Year celebration.
The suspect, an Asian man aged between 30 and 50, fled the scene and has yet to be found, Los Angeles County Sheriff Robert Luna said at a press conference Sunday. At this point, police don’t believe the gunman used an assault rifle.
The LA County Sheriff’s Department is working with the Monterey Park Police Department, as well as the FBI field office in LA, among other agencies.
The injured, whose condition ranges from stable to critical, have been to taken to multiple hospitals in the vicinity. Ten people died at the scene — five women and five men, Luna said.
Monterey Park, about 10 miles (16 kilometers) east of Los Angeles, has a population of around 60,000 people — roughly 65% of whom are Asian, according to Census data. Saturday’s Lunar New Year celebration had drawn a large crowd. Videos posted on social media showed people being loaded onto stretchers and placed into ambulances.
“Even though the incident did not occur at the 2023 Lunar New Year Festival, an active investigation is currently underway and the area near and around the festival is affected,” a statement on Monterey Park’s government website said. “As a precaution and for the safety of everyone, the City regrets to announce the cancellation of the second day of the festival.”
While it’s unclear as of yet what the motives were for Saturday’s shooting, anti-Asian hate crimes have been on the rise in the US.
“Everything is on the table,” Luna said. “We don’t know if this is a hate crime as described by law.”
--With assistance from Sophie Alexander.
(Updates with latest information from press conference throughout)
France, Germany Plan High-Speed Train Between Paris and Berlin - BLOOMBERG
(Bloomberg) -- France and Germany announced a plan to strengthen their rail links as a way to offer greener travel between the two countries.
The nations “support the deployment of the high-speed train route between Paris and Berlin, as well as the night train service, both announced for 2024,” according to a joint declaration released after a meeting in Paris between Emmanuel Macron and Olaf Scholz.
They also plan to create by next summer a rail ticket for young people to travel cheaply across the two countries.
France’s SNCF and Germany’s Deutsche Bahn, both publicly owned, have previously said they were planning a direct high-speed service between the nations’ capitals at the end of this year. Environmentally-conscious travelers are increasingly hungry for rail options to avoid flying gas-guzzling planes, with connections such as Paris-Barcelona showing strong demand.
Macron’s government has sought to restore some of France’s night-train connections, such as between Paris and Nice, in the name of the green transition, after failing to invest in them for years. The French president also said he would ban domestic flights of more than two and a half hours when a rail alternative exists — with a notable exemption for flights requiring transfers — but the measure hasn’t entered into force.
Currently it takes at least 8 hours, and often much longer, to travel between Paris and Berlin by rail. Paris and Frankfurt are already connected by a high-speed train.