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Air Peace Crew Bags Awards for Aborting Theft Onboard Flight - THISDAY

JULY 30, 2021

Air Peace crew have been recognised with five Awards of Excellence for thwarting an alleged attempt by one Mr. Eze Kelvin to steal a considerable amount of money belonging to Adedeji Adeniyi, the managing director of Toptech Engineering Limited.

Spokesperson of the airline, Stanley Olisa said the incident occurred on about 7:40am on Accra-Lagos flight on July 17, 2021.

The crew who operated the flight have been conferred with awards by the management of Toptech Engineering Limited, in recognition of their outstanding customer service and extra-vigilance in ensuring protection of items on-board as well as customer safety.

The award recipients were Captain Otobo Ogheneochuko(Pilot-in-Command); First Officer Phina Uzama-Okpalaeke; Olufemi Basanya, Lead Crew; and Amira Nwagui(Cabin Executive). A separate Award of Excellence was also bestowed on Air Peace.

According to Olisa, “Our crew noticed Kelvin taking an envelope of money from Adeniyi’s laptop bag in the overhead cabin. Aware of the former’s theft antecedents, our crew subtly questioned him about the ownership of the bag, which he claimed was his. But when Adeniyi returned from the lavatory, it was confirmed that the bag belongs to Adeniyi. He later disclosed that the envelope had a significant sum, which was still intact when Kelvin returned the envelope.”

Olisa stated that the incident was immediately reported to the Airport Security Officials who were still handling it adding that the alleged culprit has been blacklisted from flying with Air Peace.

“Also in June this year, Air Peace crew demonstrated commendable security alertness and vigilance as they prevented the trafficking of two babies by a couple, “he said.

Dimming Expectation over National Carrier - THISDAY

JULY 30, 2021

About three years ago the federal government unveiled the logo and livery of national carrier in London and still assures that the project would be realised next year. The federal government also plans to concession the major airport facilities before the end of next year. Chinedu Eze examines the prospects of the national airline operating under concessioned major airport terminals.

There is something nostalgic about national carrier in Nigeria. This is because the Nigeria Airways Limited, which was established on 23 August, 1958 and was liquidated in 2004 remains the most successful airline in Nigeria. Under the defunct airline, Nigeria developed enviable manpower in aviation, attained the height of conducting C-check on certain aircraft types and developed the aviation infrastructure that is being rehabilitated and expanded after its demise.

So most aviators who are seasoned professionals benefitted directly and indirectly from the airline and the crops of professionals who are still manning the sector today are inexorably linked to the national carrier.

This is one of the reasons why the industry was aroused when the Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika in 2016 declared that one of the programmes of President Muhammadu Buhari administration was the berthing of a new national carrier. Not a few were expectant. Today, that expectation is beginning to fade, considering the responses of industry observers who spoke to THISDAY. The Minister also said that before the end of the current administration, the four major airports terminals in Lagos, Abuja, Kano and Port Harcourt would be given out in concession to private investors in a public, private partnership arrangement. These are the two key programmes of the Buhari administration. Others are the establishment of a leasing company and the establishment of Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul (MRO) hangar. These projects are aimed to support the national carrier that was supposed to have taken off, at least by end of this year, if not for the economic devastation of the Coronavirus pandemic.

National Carriers According to the International Air Transport Association (IATA), a national of flag carrier is an airline, which is subsidised or owned by the country in which they are registered. The airline often seeks preferential rights or privileges by the government for international operations. In the past, the term national airline or national carrier was known to be airlines, which were owned by the government, and therefore associated with the national identity of the country. However, these days, it can refer to any airline with a strong connection to its home country, regardless of if it is government-owned. Therefore, not all flag carriers are owned by the government, as many have become private companies. Examples are British Airways, Air France, KLM, Lufthansa; but it has to be noted, however, that due to the devastating impact of Covid-19, some countries are injecting funds into the hitherto national airlines through equity holding in order to give then a lifeline. One example is Lufthansa.

IATA also noted that flag carriers hold a certain amount of significance in the aviation industry, in terms of both financially and symbolically. Previously, the airlines that were owned by the government were considered great for international trade and national defence. The global body rightly observed that some passengers would still opt to fly with their national flag carrier for the sense of pride that it gives them when they see the familiar tail of the aircraft on the runway. Also, some passengers will sometimes choose to fly with flag carriers over other airlines, due to the image that they are safer and less likely to encounter financial difficulties. This is one of the reasons why many Nigerians still long for a national carrier and why they expect that the federal government fulfill its promise of establishing a nation carrier.

Sirika assured the realisation of the project while addressing state house correspondents after the weekly federal executive council meeting in Abuja recently and reiterated that the national carrier would be realised with huge stakes of the company owned by the private investors. In 2018, the Minister had unveiled the name and logo of the new national carrier, Nigeria Air, at the Farnborough International Airshow in London. The project was later suspended indefinitely “I regret to announce that the Federal Executive Council has taken the tough decision to suspend the National Carrier Project in the interim. All commitments due will be honoured. We thank the public for the support as always,” he had tweeted.

But recently Sirika said the new national carrier was long overdue and the private sector-run airline would be in operation by early 2022, noting that the new national carrier was expected to be a viable airline and is potentially poised to cater to millions of travellers in Nigeria and Africa. Sirika said the COVID-19 pandemic forced the postponement of the planned date for the establishment of the national carrier initially planned for the end of 2021.

Conflict But many industry pundits are of the view that for a national carrier to be successful it ought to have the control of the major airport terminals in that country. In fact, successful airlines in Africa own or control the major airport terminals where they operate. Industry experts are of the view that if the terminals of major airports are given out in concession, the national carrier might not be given a head start. Besides, if a national carrier owns and earns revenue from the terminal of its operational hub, it would help the airline’s sustainability. This is because airports largely earn more revenues than airlines. So airline revenue would support an airline that owns it and helps it to become profitable.

Airlines generate revenues through aeronautical and non-aeronautical and the later is elastic because airports could be home to a range of revenue sources including special product areas (Duty-Free, Souvenir shops, bookstores and banks), food and beverage areas (restaurants, cafeterias), travel services (car rental, insurance services), personal service areas (showers, hairdressers, beauty centres but airlines generate revenue mainly from ticket sales and charter services.

Travel expert and organiser of Akwaaba African Travel Market, Ambassador Ikechi Uko told THISDAY that it might be difficult for the planned national carrier to be profitable if it does not have control of the terminals at its operational base. He cited examples with airlines that have control of the airport facilities, which revenues are at their behest and others that their airport facilities are managed by a different entity, which also control their revenues. “Personally, I support the establishment of a national carrier, but I listened to a presentation from an official of African Airlines Association (AFRAA), which indicated that airports make more money than airlines and that airlines that make profits are those that control their airport facilities.

“Now, I wonder why Nigeria wants to have a national carrier and at the same time wants to concession major airport terminals. Kenya is at the verge of merging the Jomo Kenyata International Airport and Kenya Airways. Ethiopia Airlines, which is the most profitable airline in Africa, merged the airport facilities to the airline.

“So in that paper delivered by Aaron Monetsi of AFRAA, who was a guest speaker at Akwaaba African Travel Market, he noted that African airlines that do not have control and the revenues of their operations hub may not be able to be profitable. Emirates is in charge of its operational hub in Dubai, South Africa Airways (SAA) is floundering largely because its major airport facilities are managed independently. So the question is, which model is the Nigeria copying? How does it want to concession its airports and at the same time have a national carrier? This is where I have misgivings about the planned national carrier.

“Our model is different. I don’t know where it has survived in Africa. Airlines that survived in Africa worked with their airports. SAA failed because their airports are independent. Kenya Airways is merging with the airport because Kenya Airways generate about 60 per cent of the traffic and 83 per cent of the revenue of the Jomo Kenyata International Airport,” he said. He also noted that in the last 10 years many airlines have collapsed in Africa, but no airport has collapsed during the given period. The national carrier must have to partner with the airport because that has been the most successful model so far,” he said.

Airport Terminals The Chief Operating Officer of Ibom Air who is also former Managing Director of the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), George Uriesi, told THISDAY that airlines could manage their operational terminals but not the airports. He noted that US mega carriers, Delta Air Lines, United Airlines have their terminals, adding that each airline can design its own terminals to suit its vision.

“But airport is expensive infrastructure, so no airline can go into it; if they do they will be stretched. Ethiopian Airlines has to design what it wants. But if the national carrier operates in airport terminals that are managed by concessionaire it may not affect its profitability. This is because the concessionaire will not charge itself out of the market. If the concessionaire introduces outrageous charges the airline can leave the airport and move over to others. There must be a balance in the pricing. Any airline that will have a terminal dedicated to it must have to be a big airline,” he said.

Speaking in the same vein, the industry consultant and CEO of Belujane Konsult, Chris Aligbe said the national carrier that would be floated by the federal government would be private sector driven and therefore should be given a level playing field with other airlines. In that case, no airport terminal will be dedicated to it but would utilise the same facilities as other carriers.

“As people talk about level playing field, the planned national carrier will not be publicly owned. It will be private sector driven. If the major airport terminals are concessioned, the operators should be willing to give the national carrier a position in the terminals. Except if such agreement are excluded, the national carrier can be given its own space. The airline and the concessionaire can agree on terms. But if you assign a terminal to the national carrier, there wont be equal playing field anymore.so the airlines should be given equal opportunities and should be left at the mercy of the concessionaires,” Aligbe said. Many Nigerians are waiting and hoping that a national carrier will come before the end of this administration. But that hope is ebbing.

U.K. Raises Hopes Quarantine Rules for France May Be Lifted - BLOOMBERG

JULY 30, 2021

(Bloomberg) -- Transport Secretary Grant Shapps raised hopes that rules requiring travelers from France to self-isolate on arrival in the U.K. may be lifted as soon as next week.

The U.K. put France in a newly created “amber plus” category of its traffic-light quarantine system two weeks ago, meaning arriving passengers must isolate at home for up to 10 days and take two tests -- even if they’re vaccinated. Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s government said it was taking action due to the spread of the beta Covid-19 variant in France.

That sparked anger from airlines and tourism bodies because quarantine rules were being eased for most of Europe. This week ministers went further and said all fully vaccinated travelers from the United States and European Union can avoid isolation on return from Aug. 2 -- except for France.

U.K. Tightens Quarantine Rules for Travelers From France

Shapps said Friday the beta variant, which first emerged in South Africa, “looks like it might be trending downwards” in France. Government scientists will look at the latest data, with a decision to be announced at a regular three-week review of quarantine rules, he said. That is expected to be on Aug. 5.

“These things do move over a period of time,” Shapps told BBC Radio 4 when asked whether France’s status. “By this time next week we’ll know.”

France hit out at the U.K.’s position, with Europe minister Clement Beaune telling the broadcaster LCI on Thursday: “It is a decision which is not scientifically founded and which is discriminatory.”

The row was inflamed by apparent confusion within the British government over its rationale for isolating travelers from France.

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab told the BBC this week the decision was based on the prevalence of the beta variant “in particular in the Reunion bit of France” -- despite that island being located in the Indian Ocean, more than 9,000 kilometers (5,600 miles) from mainland France.

But Shapps told Sky News the government’s assessment was not solely based on cases of the variant on Reunion, but also in northern France.

Air France-KLM Sees Return to Profitability as Travel Picks Up - BLOOMBERG

JULY 30, 2021

(Bloomberg) -- Air France-KLM is offering more seats for sale and predicting a return to profitability this quarter as vaccination and an easing of travel restrictions improves bookings.

The carrier has stopped bleeding cash and plans to offer 60% to 70% of 2019 network capacity this quarter, according to an earnings statement Friday. That’s higher than the 48% achieved in the previous three-month period and more than it predicted in May.

While the airline declined to provide an outlook for the fourth quarter, citing uncertainty about further transatlantic reopening that would allow Europeans to travel to the U.S., it said the first signs of recovery have been visible since June.

As a result, Air France-KLM is forecasting third quarter earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization will be positive for the first time since the pandemic began.

Free cash generation at both the French and Dutch arms stemmed from “fantastic ticket sales in the second quarter,” Chief Financial Officer Steven Zaat said on a call. “Where people can travel, they will travel.”

The relative optimism comes after a rough year for the carrier that has survived the coronavirus health crisis only through massive state aid from France and the Netherlands, which together now own about 38% of the company. Air France-KLM is party to talks between the Dutch state and the European Commission for a further financial package to help ease its debt load.

The ongoing discussions are “very positive,” Zaat said, declining to provide details on when a deal could be reached.

Adding Seats

Air France-KLM said it operated more seat capacity than its main European competitors in the second quarter and pointed to the Antilles, Greece and French domestic routes as the best performing. Its prior forecast for third-quarter capacity ranged from 55% to 65% of 2019 levels.

Load factors are high on medium-haul European links and rainy weather in northern countries is encouraging people “to go on holiday,” Zaat said.

The carrier’s 9.4 billion euros ($11.2 billion) of available liquidity and credit lines “can be considered comfortable,” the company said in the statement.

British Airways owner IAG SA is set to report results Friday while Deutsche Lufthansa AG’s earnings are scheduled to come next week.

Earnings Highlights

  • Second-quarter revenue rose 133% to 2.75 billion euros
  • Loss before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization narrowed to 248 million euros
  • Net debt was 8.3 billion euros at June 30 vs 11 billion euros at end of 2020
  • Net quarterly loss narrowed to 1.5 billion euros, including impact of KLM pension changes
  • Adj. operating free cash flow reached 210 million euros

Flight Delays: Bear With Us, Operators Beg Passengers - DAILY TRUST

JULY 30, 2021

By  Abdullateef Aliyu

Following persistent delays and cancellations of flights in the Nigerian airspace, operators have appealed to passengers to bear with them.

They blamed recent flight delays on inclement weather, saying the safety of passengers is the first consideration in airline operation.

Vice-President of the Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON), Mr. Allen Onyema who spoke on the sidelines of the League of Airports and Aviation Correspondents (LAAC) annual conference said no airline worth its salt would deliberately inconvenience its passengers by delaying or cancelling flights.

Onyema said, “Every aircraft every day is planned to go to certain routes. Once anything happens on one of those planned routes, it would affect the others. It is like that all over the world.”

The Managing Director, Nigeria Meteorological Agency (NIMeT), Prof. Mansur Matazu, stressed the need for airlines to work more with the airlines in the area of getting accurate weather information.

“The accuracy of our forecast is more than 90 percent and it is to provide this forecast at the airport level. The beginning of the rainy season in the South is associated with thunderstorms and stormy weather which we have passed. What we are now, in the South-West, like Lagos and other states; we are experiencing anomalous August weather. We have been seeing this since last week in July. So there is a lot of window of less rainfall activity but it will remain cloudy.

NASS urges FG to put new MMIA terminal to use - VANGUARD

JULY 30, 2021

The National Assembly has urged the Federal Government to put the new Murtala Muhammed International Airport (MMIA), Lagos terminal to use to boost the image of the country.

Senator Smart Adeyemi, Chairman, Senate Committee on Aviation, and Rep. Nnolim Nnaji, Chairman, House of Representatives Committee on Aviation made the call during an inspection visit to the facility in Lagos on Friday.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the new terminal is one of the four facilities built under the Nigeria-Chinese 500 million dollars loan deal signed in 2013.

The MMIA is built by the China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation (CCECC); the terminals in Abuja and Port Harcourt have since been completed.

Adeyemi said that if the facility was put to use, it would further improve the image of the country whenever travellers visited.

According to him, what the travellers will first see is the building which will create lasting impression of the nation on them.

He said: “For me, I think the edifice is 99 per cent completed and it is something that should be commended.

“However, it is also depressing that it seems to have been abandoned. It is not explicable for a project like this not to have been put to use since last year it was nearly completed.

“We think there is need for the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) and the Federal Government to ensure that all obstacles disrupting the takeoff of the terminal building are removed.

“So that Nigerians can benefit from the multi-billion Naira expended here. I do not think that anyone will be able to defend this since the project has been completed. It must not be allowed to be abandoned.

“This is because we have had projects of similar types abandoned in this country. If care is not taken, we will see some of the premises becoming bushy,’’ he said.

The senator further said he confirmed that the Federal Government still owed the Chinese company, which could be the reason for delay of the project being put to use.

He appealed to the Federal Government to rescue FAAN so that it could take over the building.

He noted that it would be regrettable for the committee to revisit the terminal and still found it in the same form.

Commenting, Nnaji, said that the essence of constructing the new terminal was to support the old one and since it was not put to use, it had been affecting the former.

“It is also important that the Federal Government intervene in the Chinese loan so this can facilitate the opening of the terminal.

“More so, there is need for this terminal to be open so that you can use it to service the outstanding debts,’’ he said.

Nnaji, however, added that it was still the responsibility of FAAN to pay the money whether the government was supporting in repaying the loan or not.

Efforts by NAN to speak with the FAAN General Manager Corporate Affairs, Mrs Harrietta Yakubu, proved abortive.

(NAN)

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