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Nigerian Passport moves up three places in global ranking - BUSINESSDAY

JULY 21, 2022

Nigeria has moved up three places as its passport is ranked 100th out of 116 countries, but it is still among the least powerful in Africa, the latest 2022 Henley Passport Index shows.

Ghana, Togo, South Africa and 41 other African countries have more powerful passports than Nigeria’s, according to a BusinessDay analysis of the report.

The index published by Henley & Partners, a London-based global citizenship and residence advisory firm, ranked 199 passports based on the number of destinations their holders can access without a prior visa.

A passport is an official travel document issued by a government to its citizens who intend to travel outside the country.

According to the index, Nigeria’s passport only guarantees visa-free access to 46 countries of the world.

Seychelles’ passport is the most powerful in Africa and the 28th in the world. Its passport holders have access to 153 countries without visa payment.

Mauritius’s passport is ranked second in Africa and 33rd globally with access to 146 countries. South Africa is third in Africa and ranked 55th in the world with access to travel to 105 countries. Botswana is ranked fourth in Africa and 65th all over the world with access to 87 countries without paying for a visa.

Read also: Lagos ranked 171 out of 172 liveable cities in the world- EIU

Namibia is ranked 76th in the global ranking and fifth in Africa. Its passport carriers have access to 79 countries. Among the top 10 in Africa are Lesotho, Eswatini, Malawi, Kenya and Tanzania.

The other African countries with better passports than Nigeria include Zambia, Tunisia, The Gambia, Uganda, Zimbabwe, Ghana, Morocco, Sierra Leone, Mozambique, Benin, Rwanda, Sao Tome and Principe, Mauritania, Burkina Faso and Gabon.

Others are Cote d’Ivoire, Senegal, Equatorial, Guinea, Guinea, Mali, Togo, Chad, Niger, Algeria, Central African Republic, Egypt, Guinea-Bissau, Angola, Burundi, Cameroon, Liberia, Congo (Rep.), Djibouti and Ethiopia.

Globally, Japan’s passport is ranked as the most powerful in the world as it allows a holder to enter 193 countries around the world.

The African countries with the least powerful passports are Somalia, Libya, Sudan, Democratic Republic of the Congo and South Sudan.

Report: UK clearly overwhelmed by surge in migrant crossings - AP

JULY 21, 2022

LONDON (AP) — Britain's response to the increase in migrants crossing the English Channel on small boats is poor and officials are clearly overwhelmed on some days, an independent inspection found in a report published Thursday.

The review by David Neal, the chief inspector of borders and immigration, was among critical reports published this week on the British government's handling of migration.

Authorities have been struggling to cope with increasing numbers of people fleeing countries such as Afghanistan, Somalia and Iraq to seek asylum and better opportunities in the U.K. Since the start of the year, around 15,100 people have reached British shores after crossing the English Channel — one of the world's busiest shipping lanes — from France in unseaworthy vessels like rubber dinghies. The figure is almost double the 7,735 recorded last summer.

On April 13, 651 people made the crossing in 18 boats — the highest daily total so far this year.

“The volume is unprecedented, and on some days the system is clearly overwhelmed," Neal said.

“Systems, processes and resourcing pathways, which months into the crisis should be routine, codified, auditable and familiar, have been delivered at 'best effort.’ This is not good enough," he added.

Neal described the department's data as “inexcusably awful” and said its security check equipment was "often first generation and unreliable."

The inspector said his report was submitted to Home Secretary Priti Patel in February, and should have been published in April. He said he was “frustrated” by the way the Home Office sat on his findings for months before publishing them on Thursday.

The Home Office said it has accepted all of Neal’s recommendations and it has already changed the way it managed migrants arriving in small boats.

A separate independent report, also published Thursday, said U.K. border officials have been “ineffective” and “possibly counter-productive” in preventing migrants from making small boat journeys to British shores.

That review, by former Australian immigration minister Alexander Downer, said the U.K. Border Force's boats aren't designed for conducting search and rescue operations.

British authorities have been criticized for their increasingly tough measures to try to stop the small boat crossings. In April, the government agreed a controversial deal with Rwanda to deport some migrants who entered the U.K. illegally to the east African country.

The first such deportation flight was scheduled to take off last month, but the plane was grounded after a last-minute intervention from the European Court of Human Rights.

Opponents, including Church of England leaders and the U.N. refugee agency, have condemned the move as immoral and inhumane.

Nigeria’s Dana Air grounded over financial and safety concerns - FLIGHT GLOBAL

JULY 21, 2022

Nigeria’s civil aviation regulator has suspended the operations of Dana Air with immediate effect, citing safety concerns and its financial position.

Dana operates a mixed fleet of Boeing MD-83s and 737s.

But the Nigerian civil aviation authority states that it is suspending the carrier’s air transport licnce and air operator’s certificate with effect from 20 July.

The regulator says it has conducted a recent financial and economic health audit on the airline, the results of which have generated concern.

It says the findings reveal that Dana is “no longer in a position to meet its financial obligations and to conduct safe flight operations”.

Lagos-based Dana had undergone a financial and economic health audit

While the authority acknowledges the “negative effect” on passengers’ travel plans, it states that safety “takes priority over all other considerations”.

The airline states that all its flights have been cancelled owing to an “ongoing operational audit”.

Dana had experienced an incident just a day earlier, on 19 July, when a 737-300 conducted an emergency landing at Abuja after an engine indication.

It says all 100 passengers disembarked safely and the aircraft (5N-DNA) was grounded for inspection.

Deportation Flight Lands In Lagos As U.K. Announces Migration Agreement With Nigeria - FORBES

JULY 21, 2022

A flight chartered by the U.K. government, carrying at least 21 people from Nigeria and Ghana, has landed in Lagos, Nigeria. The U.K. has at the same time announced a "major new agreement" with Nigeria to collaborate on migration issues, following similar arrangements with Ghana and Rwanda.

Thirteen Nigerians were removed to Lagos on the June 30 flight, according to the U.K. Home Office, which is responsible for migration issues in the country. The flight then carried on to Ghana, where eight Ghanaians disembarked. The flight is believed to have been operated by Portuguese charter carrier Hi Fly, but the company did not respond to a request to confirm. The Home Office declined to comment.

It is unclear why exactly the people on the plane were deported, though the Home Office described 11 of those removed as "foreign national offenders" and a further 10 as "immigration offenders."

Typically, a deportation order is made when a foreign national is convicted of an offense and sentenced to at least 12 months. These can range from serious crimes, to something as minor as shoplifting or drink driving. The Home Office stated the combined prison sentences for the 11 foreign national offenders was over 64 years, which is around six years on average.

According to a U.K. government minister, over 10,000 people had been deported from the U.K. between January 2019 and May 2022.

Earlier, protestors gathered outside the female-only Derwentside Immigration Removal Centre in northern England, which is run by facilities company Mitie. The protestors demonstrated and shouted pro-refugee slogans as a bus, believed to have been carrying some of the deportees, left the center. Several protestors were arrested, according to a BBC reporter.

It has been reported that among those slated for deportation on the flight were mothers and grandmothers, many of whom had been in the country for decades, as well as members of the LGBTQ+ community who had been seeking asylum in the U.K. One gay Nigerian man believed (though not confirmed) to have been on the flight had previously told the Guardian he feared for his life if returned to Nigeria.

The government has repeatedly come under fire for allegedly deporting people to situations where they face grave danger, as well as taking steps to speed up the removal process, which critics say pose "grave human rights violations."

A Home Office spokesperson said: “The U.K. only ever returns individuals to their country of origin when the Home Office and, where applicable, the courts deem it is safe to do so. All asylum and human rights claims are carefully considered in accordance with our international obligations. Each individual assessment is made against the background of relevant caselaw and the latest country information."

Deportations from the U.K. have been increasingly in the spotlight this year since the Home Office announced plans to send asylum seekers to Rwanda (though this is separate from the partnerships with Nigeria and Ghana). Initially the plan was believed to be an "offshore processing" system, wherein people would have their asylum claims for the U.K. processed in Rwanda. But it is now understood people will be made to claim asylum in Rwanda itself, with no option to return to the U.K.

The plan has met fierce criticism from human rights organizations including the UNHCR, as well as from British politicians and sectors of British society. In June, the first scheduled flight was cancelled after a last-minute intervention by the European Court of Human Rights, though Home Secretary Priti Patel, said the government would not be deterred in their plan and were arranging future flights.

Local airlines seek 40% fuel surcharge, waivers as Jet A1 hits N822/litr - THE GUARDIAN

JULY 21, 2022

By Wole Oyebade


Urge apex regulator to scrap 5% fuel tax • Flay FAAN over Lagos runway closure

Local airlines, yesterday, sought approval to impose a new fuel surcharge of between 25 and 40 per cent on consumers as part of measures to cope with an upswing in the price of aviation fuel.

The operators, apparently hard-hit by the surging cost of fuel and operations, said their survival is dependent on the new surcharge, though with imminent effects on the already high cost of airfares.

Similarly, the airlines, under the aegis of Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON), urged the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) to sacrifice the five per cent it receives as fuel surcharge and adopt the new 25 to 45 per cent regime on aviation fuel consumption.

This came as the operators also flayed the Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) for the alleged abrupt closure of Runway 18L at Murtala Muhammed Airport Lagos, without due notice.

The airlines, last month, raised the alarm that a number of the risk collapse without affordable aviation fuel to sustain commercial operations. They said besides the fuel scarcity disrupting scheduled operations, the prevailing market rate of N690 to N714/litre is unsustainable.

Aero Contractors has indefinitely shut down its operations, just as aviation fuel now sells for N822/litre in Lagos and much more in the North, The Guardian learnt.

Chairman of AON, Abdulmunaf Sarina, in a memo to NCAA, lamented that in addition to the crippling effect of intermittent shortages of Jet A1, the price rose from N420 per litre in February 2022 to over N780 last week.

This has greatly increased the operational cost of airlines by well over 130 per cent. Yet, airlines are unable to increase fares and suffer the unavailability of foreign exchange to conduct operations.

“To forestall a backlash and total shutdown of the system, airlines are hoping to resort to introduction of a fuel surcharge of between 25 and 40 per cent of Neutral Unit of Construction (NUC) as a way of offsetting the additional burden brought about by increased fuel cost, bearing in mind that jet fuel accounts for about 40 per cent of total operational expenses.”

AON also sought immediate review of an extant rule that airlines are required to obtain approval for an initial three months before implementation of a fuel surcharge and waiver of the demand that airlines pay an additional five per cent on the fuel surcharge.

“Unless this is done, it will mean, in effect, that whatever is collected by the airlines as fuel surcharge, to cushion the effect of the high fuel price, will be taken away once again by NCAA. This will amount to double jeopardy as airlines will be unable to offset the additional cost, which the fuel surcharge is meant to address in the first place,” Sarina said.

The operators added that those waivers would help airlines weather the tough operating environment, being a standard cushioning practice in countries, like Britain, the United States and Singapore.

IN another development, the airlines faulted FAAN’s closure of the local runway for airfield lighting repairs, but without any work done on the critical facility in the last week.

In a letter to FAAN, the group flayed the 90-day period stipulated for the installation of the lighting.

It said due to the ever-rising cost of Jet A1, the closure of the main domestic runway of MMA, automatically, adds an additional 10 to 15 per cent more fuel costs, based on additional flight and taxing time incurred.

The operators urged the Managing Director of FAAN, Captain Rabiu Yadudu, to convene an urgent stakeholders’ consultation meeting, to review the closure of Runway 18L and enter into discussion with users towards ameliorating impacts.

The letter reads: “AON contends that in line with international best practices, runways of airports are only closed when there is no other option. For infrastructure projects, such as this one on 18L, to limit the impact on flight operations, FAAN ought to have ensured that the contractor does the work at night when the runway is not in use. If there is an absolute need for work to be done during daylight hours, then an agreement should have been reached with runway users on what time window would allow this.

“For the major airport in Nigeria, AON notes with disappointment that Runway 18L has been closed for a week now, with no evidence of any work going on. Yet the airlines have been burdened with huge but unnecessary additional costs and flight delays. Surely, this situation is not in the best interests of the industry.”

‘Why flights are not coming to Bayelsa airport’ - PUNCH

JULY 22, 2022

The Bayelsa State Government has said its airport is not operational because the airlines flying its route have sent their planes for a D-Check.

The state stated that the airport will be open to normal flight operations before the end of the month. According to the state, the absence of flights at the Bayelsa International Airport for some weeks was not its fault.

It also dismissed speculation in some quarters that the airport had been downgraded, saying the lull at the aviation facility had to do with technical issues involving two airline operators.

The State Deputy Governor, Lawrence Ewhrudjakpo, said this on Wednesday when the leadership of the Federated Correspondents’ Chapel of the Nigeria Union of Journalists, Bayelsa State Council, visited him at the Government House, Yenagoa.

He said Ibom Air and United Nigeria Airlines were carrying out a D-Check on their aircrafts and this has affected their flight operations from their primary routes.

According to him, the D-Check is a major maintenance check to determine the airworthiness of an aircraft after 10 years of commercial flights. He said the state government was in touch with the management teams of both airlines.

Ewhrudjakpo stated, “I can assure you that the Governor Diri-led administration is very much on course. I know that you are going to ask us what is happening at the Bayelsa International Airport.

“There are a few issues, but they are not really our issues as a government per se. We are aware some persons are pushing the news that the airport has been downgraded. That is not true. The Bayelsa airport has not been downgraded.

“What happened is that the two airlines working with us have gone for a D-Check. The D-Check means a plane going for a major maintenance check after it had been put to flight operations for 10 years to determine its airworthiness.

“If you watch very well, even flights in their regular or primary routes, like the Port Harcourt to Abuja route, have now been reduced to only one daily flight.”

Billionaire’s Airline Starts Ticket Sales in Crowded India - BLOOMBERG

JULY 22, 2022

(Bloomberg) -- Akasa Air, India’s newest carrier backed by billionaire Rakesh Jhunjhunwala, started ticket sales for its debut flights.

The low-cost airline will initially fly Boeing Co. 737 Max jets to four Indian cities, including Ahmedabad, Bengaluru, Mumbai, and Kochi, according to a statement Friday. The carrier will start operating 28 weekly flights between Mumbai and Ahmedabad on Aug. 7, followed by the same number of flights between Bengaluru and Kochi from Aug. 13. 

Akasa’s network strategy will be to connect metro cities with smaller towns across India, Praveen Iyer, co-founder and chief commercial officer, said. The network will expand in a phased manner and connect more cities as Akasa adds two aircraft each month in the first year, he said. The carrier expects to have a fleet of 72 737 jets within five years.

The carrier’s debut comes as most rival airlines in the cutthroat Indian market are tainted with repeated non-fatal incidents caused by mid-air technical malfunctions. The aviation regulator recently grounded two Airbus SE A320 aircraft of Go First, India’s second-biggest airline, and a Boeing Co. 787 jet of Air India Ltd., the former state-run carrier that’s now under Tata Group, after they reported incidents.

Akasa, which touts itself as the “most dependable airline in India,” is offering cheaper ticket prices than the nation’s biggest airline IndiGo. A flight from Mumbai to Ahmedabad on Akasa costs 3,948 rupees ($49) compared with 4,263 rupees ($53) on IndiGo, their websites show.

The carrier doesn’t have any flights to Delhi, India’s busiest airport, underscoring the challenges securing landing slots at metro airports during peak hours. To expand capacity, India is developing a second airport for the capital.

‘Over 90% Of Local Telecoms Operators Will Go Into Extinction Five Years’ Time’ - INDEPENDENT

JULY 22, 2022

LAGOS  – Former Special Assistant to the Former Chief Executive Officer, Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Engr. Ernest Ndukwe, Barr. Ayoola Oke has stated that over ninety percent of home grown telecoms operators may go bust within the next five years. 

The ICT Legal and Regulatory Expert, who spoke to newsmen on the issues affecting the local operators yesterday in Lagos, said the bigger telecoms operators are suffocating the local ones. 

Oke described the industry as subdivided into three tiers, with tier 1 for big network operators Mobile Network Operators (GSM); Starcomms, MTS 1st Wireless, Intercellular, Startech and the likes belonging to tier 2 and smaller operators such as Internet service providers, PNLs, International Data Access Service Providers, Swift Telephone networks, Rainbownet and the likes for Tier 3. 

He further stated that none of the local operators in Tier 3 have been able to grow to become Tier 2 operators because they are dying, adding that the country would be left with a tier 1 Oligopoly if the home grown operators eventually die out. 

The former Special Assistant cited the instance of bigger operators asking smaller operators to pay for termination rate in dollars rather than the country’s legal tender which is the naira and consequently leading to their disconnection. 

“It is not a prophesy; if certain regulatory steps are not taken and things not done the way it should, more than 90 percent of home grown local telecoms operators will probably all die out in the next 5 years like what happened to tier 1 operators in the past 14 years and that will be terrible for the country and consumers. 

“From the way the industry is structured now, the bigger operators are suffocating the industry. 

“The industry is divided into three (3)- Big Network operators (Tier 1), Tier 2 ( Operators like Starcomms, Multilinks and the likes) and Tier 3 ( small operators such as Internet service providers, Data access service providers, Swift telephone networks, rainbow net. 

“None of the ones in Tier 3 have been able to grow to become tier 2 because they are dying. 

“Once they all die out, we will be left with oligopoly, where the few big operators, mostly originally foreign owned and controlled companies will dominate the market to the detriment of the country. 

“Meanwhile, such is an illegality and a contravention of the provisions Section 15 and 20 of the Central Bank of Nigeria Act. Section 20 of the CBN Act expressly criminalising demand 

“Due to this, small operators are for flimsy reasons without the nobeing disconnected by big operators tice of the NCC,” he said. 

Oke proposed asymmetric regulations whereby the Commission controls the big operators more so that their weights won’t crush smaller operators. 

Ayoola, who hailed the Commission’s dominance and significant market power, asked that they should be more proactive conducting timely investigations on big operators whenever they disconnect smaller operators. 

“Federal Government should come up with policy restrictions and regulatory steps. 

“NCC did well when it did dominance and significant market power which purpose was to subject those companies to asymmetric regulations. 

“NCC should do more asymmetric regulations whereby they would impose more regulatory controls and obligations on the big operators so that their weights won’t crush small operators,” he said. 

Passengers Commend Air Peace As Carrier Operates Second China Flight - INDEPENDENT

JULY 22, 2022

Some passengers on Air Peace’s second flight to its recently launched Guangzhou destination from Lagos have applauded the airline on its commencement of flight operations to the Asian country.

The passengers, in an interview shortly before their Guangzhou flight, departed on Wednesday, from the new international terminal in Lagos, expressed delight that a Nigerian airline could now operate a scheduled flight to China, a development that has taken off the connectivity burden, which the flying public faced on the route.

Air Peace commenced a weekly direct flight service from its base in Lagos on July 20, 2022 with plans to increase it in the future.

A statement by Mr. Stanley Olisa, the spokesman of the airline said that Mr. Clark Wang, one of the Chinese nationals on the flight, stressed that the Chinese community was excited over the launch.

According to him, the operations signalled a great stride in strengthening the commercial ties between Nigeria and China.

He noted that the flight connectivity between both nations would foster development and boost both economies.

Wang also applauded the Air Peace management for the strategic decision to make a foray into the route.

Another passenger, Mr. Emmanuel Okereke, expressed happiness over the China launch and felicitated with Air Peace.

POLL

He implored the airline to sustain the feat and be consistent in providing best-in-class services.

He called on Allen Onyema, the Chairman of Air Peace, to ensure sustenance of this new route and extend the wings of the airline to more cities.

Similarly, Timothy Ose, another passenger on board the service, said he flies Air Peace to Dubai and when he learnt of the new China route, he was delighted.

He said the expansion into Asia was a huge respite to Nigerians, especially those who frequent the China destination, while also congratulating Onyema,

Air Peace launched its China destination, which is its third international route, on July 13, 2022, with a load factor of 240 passengers.

The airline disclosed that it had India and Israel in the works and reiterated its commitment to continually ease the burden of air travel for Nigerians and, by extension, Africans.

According to Oluwatoyin Olajide, the Chief Operating Officer, Air Peace, the airline would continue to grow its route network as well as modernise the fleet strategically.

Flights Suspension: Passengers Besiege Dana Air Counters, Seek Tickets Refund - NAN

JULY 22, 2022

Scores of Dana Air passengers on Thursday besieged the Airline’s counters at the Murtala Muhammed Airport private terminal two, otherwise known as MM2, to...

Scores of Dana Air passengers on Thursday besieged the Airline’s counters at the Murtala Muhammed Airport private terminal two, otherwise known as MM2, to demand refunds of fair following their inability to travel after ticket purchases.

The confusion was caused by the indefinite suspension slammed on the airline by the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) for alleged financial incapacity and other issues.

On July 20, NCAA, in a statement, announced that the suspension of the airline would become effective from Wednesday midnight.

Many of the passengers who were billed to travel on the airline tickets were caught up in the action leaving them with the option of buying fresh tickets from other available airlines in operation.

The passengers, numbering over 70, expressed reservations about the absence of personnel of the suspended carrier at the departure hall.

The passengers had expected the Airline to brief them on the next line of action over a possible transfer to other partner airlines or refund of their ticket fares.

One of the passengers who identified him as Franklin Johnson told NAN, “we came this morning in anticipation of flying to our various destinations but we are told Dana airline had been suspended.

“The management should have reached out to all passengers or arranged with other airlines to take its passengers.

The security officials of the terminal manager, Bi- Courtney Aviation Services Limited, made frantic efforts to calm some of the passengers.

All efforts made by the airline representatives to appeal to the passengers to remain calm were rebuffed as they insisted on collecting their money back.

Speaking to NAN, the image maker of Dana Air, Mr Kingsley Ezenwa, cited how the airline had reached out to the passengers on the matter.

He said the message was on the need for them to send their account details to enable the airline to commence the refund of their money.

“While you are making refunds the passengers should realize the fact that there are rules guiding such action as the process for the refund and for the passengers to get their money back may take two or three days and not immediately.

“We have been engaging the passengers through all social platforms.” (NAN)

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