‘Low Charges for Airlines Handling Services May Compromise Safety’ - THISDAY
BY Chinedu Eze
Stakeholders in Nigeria’s aviation industry have drawn attention to the comparatively low charges by ground handling services, saying it could compromise safety and operational standards.
Industry insiders said the massive drop of ground handling charges from $1,139 to only $400 on a Boeing 737 aircraft (narrow body airplane) or its equivalent on both local and domestic services would drastically affect the companies’ revenue and operational standards.
They noted that the ground handling service rates are the lowest in Africa. THISDAY learnt that the three ground handling companies; Skyway Aviation Handling Company (SAHCO) Plc, Nigerian Aviation Handling Company (NAHCO) Plc and AHS Aviation Handling Services charge the lowest on the continent, despite having better Ground Support Equipment (GSE) than most of their counterparts in Africa.
THISDAY also learnt that ground handling charges in Guinea, Senegal, Cameroon, Sierra Leone and Ghana for narrow body and wide body aircraft are way ahead of Nigeria.
The narrow body aircraft include B737, Airbus A320, ER 135 and ATR aircraft, while the wide body aircraft are categorised as B767, A330, B777, B747 and A380 aircraft. For instance, investigation revealed that in Guinea, foreign airlines are charged $1,673 (narrow body); $4,715 (wide body), Senegal; $2,250 and $5,259, Cameroon; $1,400 and $4,500, Sierra Leone; $2,250 and $5,250 and Ghana with $1,500 and $4,150 for passenger flight.
Cargo flight attracts $2,300, $1,750, $2,300, and $2,500 in Senegal, Cameroon, Sierra Leone, Ghana, respectively for narrow body aircraft, while for wide body aircraft, the ground handling in those countries charge between $4,450 and $5,250 per flight.
A source told THISDAY that while the above named countries charge the airlines appropriate rates, a narrow body aircraft attracts about $1,000 ground handling charges in Nigeria, while a wide body aircraft goes as low as $3,000 for passenger flight. At times, it was gathered that the $1,000 ground handling rates could be as low as $400, depending on the negotiating power by such a foreign airline.
For cargo flight, airlines pay as low as $1,300 and $3,850 for narrow and wide body aircraft, respectively. It was further learnt that the current rates by the ground handling companies in Nigeria had been stagnant since 1986, despite the drop of the value of naira against major currencies and the skyrocketed rates of acquisition of state-of-the-art equipment and training of personnel by the handlers.
Chairman, Board of Trustees, Aviation Ground Handlers Association of Nigeria (AGHAN), Sam Oluwole, regretted that the ground handling companies in 2021, currently charge far less what they were charging airlines in 1986, 35 years later.
According to him, in 1986, ground handlers were charging $1,139 for handling of a B737 aircraft, but lamented that despite the free fall of naira and increase in the price of acquisition of GSE, the handlers go as low as $300 for the same service in 2021. “There are three aspects that concern us at the moment; economic, safety and security of the industry. As far back as 1986, grand handlers were charging about $1,139 to handle a narrow body aircraft for instance, but regrettably today, despite the crash of naira against the dollars and other currencies, some of the handlers charge as low as $300. “Then a dollar was equal to 90,000, but today, the same dollar is about N500, yet we are charging low,” he said.
NAHCON Warns of Fake Hajj Fare - PR NEWS
NAHCON Warns of Fake Hajj Fare Intending pilgrims are advised to take this caution alert seriously. It has come to the attention of the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON) that some travel agencies are collecting Hajj fares from intending pilgrims with the assurance of securing Hajj slots for them under the entry visa category. It is alleged that such agents attribute their claims to NAHCON’s permission.
In a warning first issued on Friday, May 28th 2021 (28/05/2021), NAHCON had dissociated itself from any agent claiming to transport pilgrims to 2021 Hajj without Saudi Arabia’s clearance. Thereafter the Kingdom had categorically stated that only the 60,000 selected to perform Hajj from within Saudi Arabia shall be allowed access into the holy sites where the Hajj rites take place.
Anyone caught at the vicinity without legal permit shall be fined 10,000 Saudi Riyals equivalent to over a million Naira. Saudi Press Agency has already informed of arrests due to violation of this restriction. NAHCON is reiterating the warning to general public to be cautious of falling victims to fraudsters in the name of Hajj travel agents.
Such persons are preying on the desperation of some intending pilgrims to perform Hajj at all costs which in itself violates the Islamic principle of pilgrimage for the sake of Allah. Of course with entry visa, an individual can travel only as far as into Saudi Arabia but not near the holy sites without the Hajj permit whose issuance has long been closed.
No foreign pilgrim was allowed to access the application website talk little of registering. It is also alleged that the so called Hajj agents connive with some Saudi legal residents through whose residential licenses (igama) they would secure the Hajj permit for their clients. The warning here is that the system is biometrical with the original owners’ data fully computed.
Therefore the mismatch would be automatically detected once subjected to screening. No one should fall victim of detention and embarrassment for the sake of performing Hajj 2021. NAHCON urges all intending pilgrims to bear the Hajj restriction with patience until the situation is reversed. This patience will itself earn one handsome reward. Anyone who does contrary does so at his own peril. The general public is kindly invited to report to the Commission, any person collecting money and giving assurance of securing 2021 Hajj slot under the entry visa. Fatima Sanda Usara, Head, Public Affairs, NAHCON
Read more at: https://prnigeria.com/2021/07/...
Heathrow passenger numbers remain almost 90% down on pre-pandemic levels - P.A.MEDIA
BY Simon Neville, PA City Editor
Heathrow passenger numbers remain almost 90% down on pre-pandemic levels and significantly lower than EU rival airports, new figures show.
Airport bosses revealed just 957,000 passengers passed through its terminals in June compared with 7,246,157 who used the west London airport in June 2019.
The number of passengers travelling through the airport covers the month where Portugal was moved from the green list of countries to amber and led to widespread fury in the travel sector over the speed of rule changes for travellers.
Following the latest data, Heathrow bosses urged the Government to do more to support the sector.
They pointed out that Schiphol and Frankfurt airports in the Netherlands and Germany respectively have surpassed their 2019 cargo volumes, growing by 14% and 9% respectively compared to 2019.
Meanwhile, cargo tonnage at Heathrow, the UK’s biggest port, is still down 16%.
Bosses added that the continued closure of the transatlantic links between the UK and US is costing the country’s economy at least £23 million a day.
Passenger traffic from Heathrow to the US is down by around 80%, whereas the EU, which has reopened unilaterally with the US, has seen traffic recover to only around 40% down.
Heathrow chief executive John Holland-Kaye said: “While it’s fantastic news that some double-vaccinated passengers will no longer need to quarantine from amber countries, ministers need to extend this policy to US and EU nationals if they want to kickstart the economy.
“These changes will be critical for exporters who are losing out to EU rivals and families who have been separated from loved ones.”
The airport announced last week it has resumed using both its runways and plans to reopen Terminal 3 this week.
The decision comes as the Government is expected to ease travel rules for people who have had two doses of a coronavirus vaccine.
The airport began only using one of its two runways for standard operations to cut costs when demand for travel collapsed in May last year.
Terminals 3 and 4 were also closed to regular passengers at around that time.
A facility to process arrivals from red list countries was opened in Terminal 3 last month, but that has been switched to Terminal 4, which is not expected to reopen this year.
Air France-KLM starts process for major medium-haul jet purchase - REUTERS
PARIS/AMSTERDAM (Reuters) - Air France-KLM has launched a tender to "renew and extend" the medium-haul fleets of Dutch unit KLM and the French and Dutch arms of low-cost subsidiary Transavia, a spokesperson for the Franco-Dutch airlines group said on Monday.
The company confirmed the tender after Chief Executive Officer Ben Smith was quoted as saying Air France-KLM had approached Airbus and Boeing about 160 jets.
"We've done a little bit in this area, it's been on the agenda since 2004, but it's never been put in place as it is now. I am very pleased to be able to put together this order, the largest in the group's history," he told the daily Het Financieele Dagblad in an interview.
A competition for medium-haul jets would typically pit the Airbus A321neo family against the Boeing 737 MAX, although Air France has also ordered the smaller Canadian-designed A220 jet for its French operation.
Smith said in the interview that the Air France-KLM combination had slipped behind competitors Lufthansa of Germany and Anglo-Spanish IAG, which owns British Airways, Iberia and Aer Lingus.
Air France-KLM should strengthen cooperation to be able to respond more quickly to market developments, he said, without specifying which business segments.
"In 2004, Air France-KLM was the largest group in Europe, now we are number three. They have worked more effectively. Obviously we can do that too, but we need to move forward a little faster."
(Reporting by Tim Hepher, Anthony Deutsch; Editing by Louise Heavens and Mark Potter)
Canada's lost year for immigration seen adding to BoC inflation headaches - REUTERS
By Fergal Smith
4 MIN READ
TORONTO, July 12 (Reuters) - Plunging Canadian immigration during the pandemic threatens to feed more persistent inflation pressures than the Bank of Canada is expecting, with data already showing signs of rising worker shortages that could push wages higher as the economy reopens.
A gulf between the workers needed as economic activity picks up and the willingness of people to take jobs at the offered wage is already a hot topic in the United States, which is further along than Canada in reopening its economy.
But in recent years, Canada has relied much more than the United States on immigration to boost its workforce. With borders closed, the number of new permanent residents fell last year to 185,000, from 341,000 in 2019.
The pace has picked up this year, with 70,000 new permanent residents added in the first quarter, compared with 41,000 in the final quarter of 2020, but some of that increase comes amid a push to transition more foreign students and workers already in the country to resident status, rather than actual new arrivals.
Low immigration at the same time as the economy is reopening could put upward pressure on wages, said Stephen Brown, senior Canada economist at Capital Economics.
“It could lead to a bit more sustained upward pressure on inflation than the Bank (of Canada) currently expects,” Brown added.
A survey by the central bank released last week showed that firms’ expectations of faster wage growth were at a record high in the second quarter..
Canada’s annual inflation rate has accelerated to a decade-high of 3.6%, which the BoC has put down to temporary factors, such as higher gasoline prices and the statistical comparison to tanking prices last year.
The central bank is due to update its economic forecasts at a policy announcement on Wednesday.
If firms need to raise wages to attract workers, they could pass on those cost increases to customers, charging higher prices for their goods, which could further fuel inflation.
And June data from the Canadian Confederation of Independent Business shows that a shortage of both skilled and unskilled labor is a concern for a rising share of small businesses, with the unskilled measure at its highest level since October 2018.
“Labor shortages are a key risk to the inflation outlook,” said Sal Guatieri, a senior economist at BMO Capital Markets. “This is the main reason we expect more inflation persistence than the consensus or central bank views.”
The BoC could welcome wage increases that lure more people into the labor market, making the recovery more sustainable. The potential reopening of schools in the fall and winding down of government support could also add to the availability of workers.
But data on Friday showed that employment in Canada has recovered to within 1.8% of pre-pandemic levels, much less than the U.S. gap of 4.5%, in a sign that labor market slack is easing.
“The hiring intentions of Canadian businesses suggest we’ll probably close off this slack this year as the economy reopens, which will set the stage for more wage competition into 2022,” said Derek Holt, vice president of capital markets economics at Scotiabank. (Reporting by Fergal Smith Editing by Denny Thomas and Steve Orlofsky)
Passengers face long queues at Heathrow due to staff self-isolating - THE INDEPENDENT UK
Images posted on social media show long lines of travellers inside Terminal 5.
Kathryn Wylie, 26, from Glasgow described her experience as “chaos”.
“Both security points in T5 were queued back the full way of the terminal,” she told the PA news agency.
We apologise to our passengers
“People easily waiting an hour to get through, flights delayed after boarding to wait for passengers to get on who were caught up at security.”
Ms Wylie said there were “easily over two thousand” people in Terminal 5 while she was there.
She added: “One lady came round with water thankfully.”
A spokeswoman for the airport said: “Earlier today we experienced some passenger congestion in Terminal 5 departures, due to colleagues being instructed to self-isolate by NHS Test and Trace.
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“We have activated additional team members to assist passengers with their journeys and the operation has now returned to normal.
“We apologise to our passengers for any inconvenience caused.”
Many passengers arriving at Heathrow in recent months have suffered long delays due to extra coronavirus checks at the border.
NAHCON alerts intending pilgrims on fake entry visa for hajj - VANGUARD
Intending pilgrims have been warned against patronizing some fake Tour agencies in a bid to cut corners to go to Saudi Arabia for hajj, urging the general public to report to the Commission, any person collecting money and giving assurance of securing 2021 Hajj slot under the entry visa.
The National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON) said some agencies are collecting money from intending pilgrims, assuring them of entry visa as well as hajj permit in Saudi Arabia, warning that such arrangement does not emanate from the commission nor from the Saudi authorities.
In a statement signed by the Head, Public Affairs division of the commission, Hajia Fatima Sanda Usara, it warned intending pilgrims not to fall victims to fraudsters in the name Hajj travels.
The statement reads: “It has come to the attention of the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON) that some travel agencies are collecting Hajj fares from intending pilgrims with the assurance of securing Hajj slots for them under the entry visa category. It is alleged that such agents attribute their claims to NAHCON’s permission.
“In a warning first issued on Friday, May 28th 2021 (28/05/2021), NAHCON had dissociated itself from any agent claiming to transport pilgrims to 2021 Hajj without Saudi Arabia’s clearance. Thereafter the Kingdom had categorically stated that only the 60,000 selected to perform Hajj from within Saudi Arabia shall be allowed access into the holy sites where the Hajj rites take place.
“Anyone caught at the vicinity without legal permit shall be fined 10,000 Saudi Riyals equivalent to over a million Naira. Saudi Press Agency has already informed of arrests due to violation of this restriction.
“NAHCON is reiterating the warning to general public to be cautious of falling victims to fraudsters in the name of Hajj travel agents. Such persons are preying on the desperation of some intending pilgrims to perform Hajj at all costs which in itself violates the Islamic principle of pilgrimage for the sake of Allah. Of course with entry visa, an individual can travel only as far as into Saudi Arabia but not near the holy sites without the Hajj permit whose issuance has long been closed.
“No foreign pilgrim was allowed to access the application website talk little of registering.
“It is also alleged that the so called Hajj agents connive with some Saudi legal residents through whose residential licenses (igama) they would secure the Hajj permit for their clients. The warning here is that the system is bio-metrical with the original owners’ data fully computed. Therefore the mismatch would be automatically detected once subjected to screening. No one should fall victim of detention and embarrassment for the sake of performing Hajj 2021.
“NAHCON urges all intending pilgrims to bear the Hajj restriction with patience until the situation is reversed. This patience will itself earn one handsome reward. Anyone who does contrary does so at his own peril.
“The general public is kindly invited to report to the Commission, any person collecting money and giving assurance of securing 2021 Hajj slot under the entry visa.
NAMA Organises Aircraft Accident Search, Rescue Operation Simulation - THISDAY
Ahead of the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) audit coming up next year, the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA) recently joined forces with critical stakeholders in aviation emergency rescue operations to conduct a live aeronautic simulation of an air crash.
This took place at the Mafoluku area of Oshodi in Lagos, a few meters from Runway 18 Left and the local airport, Ikeja.
Code named “SAREXNAMA 2021,” the search and rescue exercise focused on a disaster that could result from an air crash and create mass casualty incident which requires a coordinated response from critical stakeholders saddled with the responsibility of managing aviation emergencies.
The mock air crash search and rescue exercise involved an aircraft with registration No. ZYMMM from Abuja to Accra. The aircraft diverted to Lagos due to electrical problem, and on board were 38 souls including 4 crew. In all, 15 survivors were rescued while 23 others were unaccounted for.
Addressing participants at the end of the exercise, the convener of the exercise and Managing Director of NAMA, Capt. Fola Akinkuotu, expressed delight over the huge turnout by different agencies and stakeholders.
The NAMA boss however noted that several gaps were observed during the exercise especially in the areas of coordination and response to alert, even as he assured that the agency would work assiduously with relevant stakeholders in order to close the said gaps.
Participants included all the aviation agencies, the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), Nigeria Air Force, Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC), Nigeria Police, Nigerian Security and Civil Defense Corps (NSCDC), Lagos State Emergency Management Agency (LASEMA), Federal Fire Service, Lagos State Fire Service, Lagos State University Teaching Hospital (LASUTH), the Nigerian Red Cross, as well as Caverton Helicopters, among others.
As specified by the Standards and Recommended Practices (SARPs) of ICAO Annex 12, Nigerian Civil Aviation Regulation Pt. 14 of 2005, NAMA Search and Rescue Manual and the National Disaster Response Plan by NEMA, in accordance with Act 12 of 1999 constitution, the mock search and rescue operation is being coordinated by NAMA annually in order to test the procedures and communication between NAMA and other agencies involved in search and rescue and their collaboration; ascertain the prompt response of NAMA facilities and personnel to an incident, ascertain the preparedness of other agencies involved in the exercise and their response to alert as well as verify the operability of the joint rescue coordination centre.
Worst violence in years spreads in South Africa as grievances boil over - CNBC
BY Alexander Winning and Wendell Roelf
- Jailing of ex-president Zuma triggered initial protests
- Violence has broadened into protest over social injustice
- More than 40 killed so far in unrest
- Troops move in to flashpoints to help outnumbered police
- Shops, government buildings shut amid widespread looting
JOHANNESBURG, July 13 (Reuters) – Crowds clashed with police and ransacked or burned shopping malls in South Africa on Tuesday, with dozens reported killed as grievances unleashed by the jailing of former president Jacob Zuma boiled over into the worst violence in years.
Protests that followed Zuma’s arrest last week have widened into looting and an outpouring of generalised anger over inequality that persists 27 years after the fall of apartheid. Poverty has been exacerbated by severe social and economic restrictions aimed at blocking the spread of COVID-19.
Security officials said the government was working to halt the spread of the violence and looting, which has so far spread from Zuma’s home in KwaZulu-Natal province to Gauteng province surrounding the country’s biggest city Johanesburg. They deployed soldiers onto the streets to try to contain it, but stopped short of declaring a state of emergency.
“No amount of unhappiness or personal circumstances from our people gives the right to anyone to loot, vandalise and do as they please and break the law,” Police Minister Bheki Cele told a news conference, echoing sentiments expressed by President Cyril Ramaphosa overnight.
The bodies of 10 people were found on Monday evening after a stampede at a Soweto shopping mall, premier David Makhura said.
Hundreds of looters raided warehouses and supermarkets in Durban, one of the busiest shipping terminals on the African continent and a major import-export hub.
Outside a Durban warehouse of retailer Game, Reuters filmed looters stuffing cars with electronic goods and clothes. Inside, the floor was a wreckage of discarded packaging as the crowd systematically emptied the shelves.
Aerial footage from local channel eNCA showed black smoke rising from several warehouses, while debris lay strewn.
Troops were moving into flashpoints on Tuesday as outnumbered police seemed helpless to stop the unrest. Columns of armoured personnel carriers rolled down highways.
The rand, which had been one of the best performing emerging market currencies during the pandemic, dropped to a three-month low on Tuesday, and local and hard currency bonds suffered.
At least 45 people have so far been killed during the unrest, 19 in Gauteng and 26 in KwaZulu-Natal, according to state and provincial authorities. Police Minister Cele put the official death toll at 10.
On the streets, protesters hurled stones and police who responded with rubber bullets, Reuters journalists said.
In Soweto, police and military were patrolling as shop owners assessed the damage.
Cele said 757 people had been arrested so far. He said the government would act to prevent it from spreading further and warned that people would not be allowed “to make a mockery of our democratic state”.
Defence Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, speaking at the same news conference, said she did not think a state of emergency should be imposed yet.
Zuma, 79, was sentenced last month for defying a constitutional court order to give evidence at an inquiry investigating high-level corruption during his nine years in office until 2018.
The legal proceedings have been seen as a test of post-apartheid South Africa’s ability to enforce the rule of law.
But any confrontation with soldiers risks fuelling charges by Zuma and his supporters that they are victims of a politically motivated crackdown by his successor, Ramaphosa.
The violence worsened as Zuma challenged his 15-month jail term in South Africa’s top court on Monday. Judgement was reserved until an unspecified date.
The deteriorating situation pointed to wider problems and unfulfilled expectations that followed the end of white minority rule in 1994. The economy is struggling to emerge from the damage wrought by Africa’s worst COVID-19 epidemic, with authorities repeatedly imposing restrictions on businesses.
Growing joblessness has left people ever more desperate. Unemployment stood at a new record high of 32.6% in the first three months of 2021.
(Additional reporting by Siyabonga Sishi in Durban and Tim Cocks, Siphiwe Sibeko and Tanisha Heiberg in Johannesburg Writing by Angus MacSwan and Tim Cocks Editing by Peter Graff)
Travel agents lament naira devaluation amid COVID-19 - PUNCH
BY Juliana Ajayi
Some travel agents have bewailed the recent increase in the naira-dollar exchange rate, saying the travel industry is yet to recover from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Central Bank of Nigeria had in May devalued the naira as it adopted the NAFEX exchange rate of N410.25 per dollar as its official exchange rate, days after removing the N379/$ rate from its website.
Our correspondent gathered that travel agencies in the country had adjusted the exchange rate being used for foreign air tickets to N460/$1 from N440/$1.
The adjustment is expected to raise the cost of tickets for international flights.
The travel agents, who spoke to our correspondent, said the increase in the exchange rate would definitely affect air tickets.
The Chief Executive Officer, Nola Travels & Tours Limited, Olubiyi Oluwajoba, said travel agents saw the increase in exchange rate coming, adding that it was taking a toll on their businesses.
He noted that COVID-19 had hit the travel business hard and travel agencies were yet to recover from it.
One of the travel agencies visited by our correspondent in Ikeja, Lagos described the impact of COVID-19 on the travel industry as huge.
An official of the company said what was keeping the agency afloat was referrals from previous travellers.
The President, National Association of Nigeria Travel Agency, Susan Akporiaye, said the increase in the exchange rate was an issue that had been ongoing for a while.
She said, “The recent increase would not make any difference as it had been ongoing for a long time. The exchange rate has been above N400/$1 for a while.”
Akporiaye said for air travellers who were yet to book their tickets, it would have an impact on the tickets to be booked.