Travel News

Nigerian students in UK turn to charity home amid weakened naira - THE CABLE

JUNE 03, 2024

Nigerian students hit by a depreciating currency back home are flocking to a food charity in the UK for succour.

Debbie Fixter, manager of Thornaby’s Sprouts Community Food Charity (SCFC) told the BBC over the weekend that the majority of the organisation’s clients are Nigerians struggling to afford tuition fees.

SCFC organises a range of activities and offers food for free or at a low cost, along with clothes and household items.

Some of the students at Teesside University have been disengaged from their studies and ordered to return home.

Inflation in Nigeria has galloped out of control, amid a depreciating currency and reduced purchasing power for the average citizen.

Boluwatife Elusakin said he has had to “dive deep” to afford the cost of living and studying in the UK.

“Things are no longer the same,” he told BBC.

“I’ve had to cut costs because of the currency crash, it hit my savings as I’d already budgeted funds to come here.

“It makes me feel sad, but I hope I can endure just one year and all will be well.”

Another student, who did not want to be named, said the university’s new payment plans — from seven installments to three — has worsened the situation.

He said students who juggled several jobs to pay for their tuition, are now limited by the amount of hours they are legally allowed to work.

“When I was applying, the exchange rate was around 600 naira per pound, but by the time I arrived, it was 1,400,” he said.

Fixter said the university has so far been proactive and offered a welcome £500 donation of Sainsbury’s vouchers after being informed of the situation.

However, she called the amount a “drop in the ocean” in terms of what was needed to support the influx of students to the charity.

Last week, the Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (NiDCOM) said the federal government had picked a delegation to visit the management of Teesside University.

NiDCOM said the visit would help intervene on allegations of unfair and unjust deportation.

Qatar Airways, Hajj operators clash over N296m ticket refund - PUNCH

JUNE 03, 2024

BY  Olasunkanmi Akinlotan

Thirteen travel agencies and their clients are ready for a showdown with Qatar Airways for allegedly refusing to implement N296m ticket refund since 2022.

According to a document obtained by The PUNCH, 13 Hajj agents have paid varying sums to the Qatar flag carrier for air tickets for the 2022 Hajj exercise but the clients could not fly as planned because the Saudi Arabian Embassy did not issue visas to the intending pilgrims.

Our correspondent gathered that the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria was intimated with the situation through a letter dated June 21, 2022.

The National Association of Nigerian Travel Agencies and the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority had also waded into the matter on several occasions but their efforts had yet to yield any fruit as the airline remained reportedly adamant over the refund.

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While 12 travel agents paid the airline N252,408,123 for the botched trip, another agent, Al-Yusuf Travels, also paid N43,874,024 to the airline, bringing the total ticket cost to N296,282,147.

The other affected travel agents included: Meeqat Travels and Tours N19,028,269; Fatimoh Olabisi Travels,  N15,018,014; Amami Global Links, N15,650,000; Light Upon Light Travels, N22,200,000; Albaratullahi Travels, N43,447,580; Olagunju Travels, N21,632,203;  Bolade Travels, N31,804,720;  Ashabul Yameen Travels, 15,990,727; Koki Travels, N20,664,000; New Crescent Travels, N27,740,070; Al Hidayah Travels, 11,520,000 and Niyyat Travels also paid N7,712,540.

Meanwhile, findings by our correspondent showed that the top echelons of the airline in Nigeria claimed that the refund approval was subject to the willingness of higher-ranking officers at the headquarters of the airline in Qatar.

Also in a demand letter written to the carrier by the solicitor to the travel agencies sighted by our correspondent, the law firm demanded an immediate refund of the tickets money at the instance of the clients.

The legal document read in part, “Our clients have informed us that on 24 January 2024, a resolution meeting was convened between the management of Qatar Airways and National Association of Nigeria Traveling Agencies, executives and our clients at the board room of Qatar Airways whereof requests were made and same responded to by Qatar Airways management.

“With a total amount being N252,408,123 (two hundred and fifty-two million four hundred and eight thousand one hundred and twenty-three naira only). This amount excludes the amount of air ticket paid to your organisation by another operator Al-YusufTravels, which is N43,874,024 and which is currently been litigated over at the Federal High Court in suit number FCH/L/CS/2483/23.”

It added, “It is worthy to mention that despite the intervention of the National Haji Commission of Nigeria and The President of the National Association of Nigeria Travelling Agencies for a swift resolution of this matter since 2022 your organisation has been foot-dragging and playing all forms of delay tactics that would warrant refusal of refund to the unused air ticket payments.

“It is equally within our brief that our clients logged a complaint of your ineptitude and utmost neglect of their plight in September 2023 at the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority Ikeja Lagos, while in October 2023 a meeting was called at the office of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority, Director General Dr Chris Najomo in which the Representatives of Qatar Airways (led by Mr Henry and others) were in attendance and our clients.”

One of the affected travel agents, who pleaded anonymity because he wasn’t officially empowered to speak on behalf of the concerned agents, noted that it was clear that the airline was not interested in refunding the money.

“By the actions and reactions of their representatives in Nigeria, they are not willing to pay us back except if something drastic, such as picketing is effected on them,” he stated.

Another agent, Fatai Tijani, who claimed to be at the forefront of the recovery fight, said that they were frustrated about the development.

Tijani, however, added that the airline was employing all forms of delay tactics to avoid the ticket refund.

He further said, “Through a meeting where we engaged with them on Friday, it was very glaring that they want to eat the money at all cost and trying to create the propaganda that it was because the tickets were not cancelled and that made them lose money when, in actual reality, all the flights were fully booked on the days concerned and the letter from the President of the National Hajj Commission stated that clearly.

“We are specifically instructing and pleading with them to refund our money to us for God’s sake!”

The coordinator of the affected agents, Kaseem Taoreed, expressed disappointment in the airline, describing the scenario as a clear disregard for the sovereignty and laws of Nigeria.

While speaking with our correspondent over the phone, Taoreed stated that the same scenario played out in Ghana but the airline immediately paid the concerned agents.

Taoreed added that some agents had been in and out of the police stations because the airline refused to make the refund.

UK Sets New Date for Rwanda Flights Deporting Asylum Seekers - BLOOMBERG

JUNE 03, 2024

(Bloomberg) -- The UK government is planning to send the first asylum seekers to Rwanda in late July — should the Conservative Party succeed at next month’s general election.

Lawyers for the Home Office said in a London court that no flights would leave before July 24 at a hearing challenging the government’s flagship immigration policy. Claimants will argue that the plan would breach international human rights laws.

“This is all going to be subject to the outcome of the general election but we cannot make any predictions,” Judge Martin Chamberlain said in court on Monday. 

The controversial Rwanda policy to deport asylum seekers to the African nation is key to Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s hard line stance on migration as he seeks another term as premier at the July 4 poll.

The UK’s highest court had ruled the plan unlawful last year prompting legislation cleared earlier this year that declared Rwanda a safe country to send migrants, stripping the courts of much of the power it has to decide on the issue. 

“If I’m elected, we will get the flights off,” Sunak told LBC Radio last month. 

Royal Air Maroc In Talks For 200 Boeing, Airbus, Embraer Jets - BLOOMBERG

JUNE 03, 2024

Leen Al-Rashdan and Siddharth PhilipBloomberg News

(Bloomberg) -- Royal Air Maroc is evaluating bids from Airbus SE, Boeing Co. and Embraer as it looks to place an order for almost 200 jets by September.

About two thirds of the 188 planes that the airline aims to order will be narrowbody jets, with the remainder long-haul widebodies offering no more than 350 seats, Chief Executive Officer Abdelhamid Addou said in an interview in Dubai. The carrier is also looking for 30 regional jets as part of the larger narrowbody purchase, he said.

The airline has already ordered 12 aircraft and is now looking to add more to expand its fleet. Morroco’s national carrier is studying offers that it received from planemakers last month, and will see next “what will be the schedules of deliveries and what conditions we can get,” Addou said. 

Whatever the order, not all aircraft will arrive in time to meet surging demand, and the airline will bridge the gap with leased planes, Addou said. 

The North African carrier now runs a mixed fleet of regional, short-haul and long-distance aircraft, including Embraer 190s, the Boeing 737-800 and the bigger 787 Dreamliner. There are no Airbus SE jets in its current fleet, according to the carrier’s website. 

IATA: Airline Blocked Funds 28% Lower As Nigeria Clears Over $800 Million In A Year - SIMPLY FLYING

JUNE 04, 2024

For many years, the issue of blocked funds affected airlines serving Nigeria.


  •  Airline funds trapped globally have been reduced by 28% to stand at $1.8 billion in April 2024.
  •  Nigeria cleared 98% of funds previously blocked, showing significant progress.
  •  Emirates will finally resume flights to Nigeria after services were suspended due to blocked funds.

Over the last six months, the amount of airline funds blocked globally has been reduced by 28%. The progress was mainly driven by the clearing of funds in Nigeria, which was the most notorious for blocking airline funds for many years.

Repatriation of blocked funds

In its latest update, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) reported that airline funds trapped by governments worldwide stood at approximately $1.8 billion at the end of April 2024, a 28% reduction from December 2023. Governments have managed to clear about $708 million over the past six months, representing a positive development for the industry.

Photo: motive56 | Shutterstock

Nigeria has made significant progress since June 2023, clearing about 98% of blocked funds. This has been one of the biggest challenges and a significant threat to connectivity in the West African country. While progress has been made globally, the remaining $1.8 billion is a substantial amount that still needs to be addressed. IATA Director General Willie Walsh said,

"The reduction in blocked funds is a positive development. The remaining $1.8 billion, however, is significant and must be urgently addressed. The efficient repatriation of airline revenues is guaranteed in bilateral agreements. Even more importantly, it is a pre-requisite for airlines—who operate on thin margins—to be able to provide economically critical connectivity. No business can operate long-term without access to rightfully earned revenues."

The association continues to call for governments to remove all barriers to airlines repatriating their revenues from ticket sales and other activities in accordance with international agreements and treaties. In addition to Nigeria, Egypt also cleared a significant amount of blocked funds. However, in both countries, airlines were affected by the devaluation of the Nigerian Naira and the Egyptian Pound.

Nigeria clears 98% of blocked funds

Nigeria topped the list of countries with the most blocked funds for several months. The amount peaked at $850 million in June 2023, significantly affecting airline operations and finances in the country. However, IATA reports that 98% of these funds have been cleared as of April 2024. Only about $19 million remains uncleared due to the Central Bank's ongoing verification of outstanding forward claims filed by the commercial banks.

Airlines operating flights in the West African country faced difficulties in repatriating revenues in US dollars, leading some to reduce services or suspend operations. In October 2022, Emirates, one of the leading international carriers in Nigeria, suspended all operations after failing to find solutions to repatriate trapped funds.

However, the country's new government has made significant progress in resolving the issue. Last year, the president's special advisor announced that Emirates would resume flights to Nigeria, while the UAE lifted the Visa ban on Nigerian nationals. While the situation remained unchanged for the following months, Emirates finally announced the resumption of flights from Dubai to Lagos in May 2024. Speaking about the development in Nigeria, Willie Walsh said,

"We commend the new Nigerian government and the Central Bank of Nigeria for their efforts to resolve this issue. Individual Nigerians and the economy will all benefit from reliable air connectivity for which access to revenues is critical. We are on the right path and urge the government to clear the residual $19 million and continue prioritizing aviation."

The progress in Nigeria is also a positive development for the African continent, which had 75% of the world's blocked funds in October 2023. According to IATA, eight countries are currently responsible for 87% of the total blocked funds, amounting to $1.6 billion. These include:

>th >




Month Held



$411 million




$320 million




$286 million



XAF Zone

$151 million




$149 million




$129 million




$75 million




$69 million


Nigeria & Ethiopia Have Swapped $100 Million Of Blocked Airline Funds

Ethiopian Airlines can receive a significant amount of trapped funds through the swap deal.

African airlines profitability

On June 3, IATA announced strengthened profitability projections for airlines in 2024 compared to its June and December 2023 forecasts. Net profits are expected to reach $30.5 billion (3.1% net profit margin) this year, an improvement on 2023 net profits (3.0% net profit margin), estimated to be $27.4 billion. It has also improved from the $25.7 billion (2.7% net profit margin) forecasted for 2024 in December 2023.

In Africa, airlines are expected to post a combined net profit of $0.1 billion, with a 0.6% profit margin and a $0.9 profit margin per passenger carried in 2024. African airlines continue to face high operational costs, while the continent has a low propensity to spend on air travel. Furthermore, the lack of connectivity and several other challenges stifle the industry's expansion. Despite the challenges, demand for air travel has grown by 8.5%, allowing for a second year of profitability.

International flights undisrupted as unions again shut down local airports - BUSINESSDAY

JUNE 04, 2024

International flights operations on Tuesday morning continued as local airports remain shut down following the indefinite strike action declared by the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC) over the Federal Government’s refusal to raise the proposed minimum wage from N60,000.

Passengers who had planned to board flights to different local destinations are still barred from boarding their flights as aviation unions locked the entrance gates to the domestic terminal of the 

 Lagos airport.

Airlines scheduled to take off from 

 Lagos and Abuja airports were denied access to the terminals, thereby crippling flight operations.

In a letter sent on Sunday by the Association of Nigeria Aviation Professionals, (ANAP) signed by Abudul Rasaq Saidu, secretary general of the association, he stated that they are aware of the complaints and hardship being faced by all working class people “but in spite of the masses outcry the federal government did not reason to do the needful to pay acceptable wages.”

Saidu further stated that “the non-challant attitude of the national assembly on the face-off between the organised labour and the federal government is ridiculous and very unacceptable.

The letter stated that “in light of the aforementioned, all ANAP members and indeed all aviation workers are hereby directed to stay away from work at midnight of Sunday, 2nd June 2024 as directed by both the NLC and TUC till further notice.”

Unions carrying placards and banners were stationed around the domestic terminals in large numbers to press home their demand.

BusinessDay’s findings show that the situation at the Abuja airport mirrors that of 

 Lagos, as unions also barricaded the terminal entrances. Travellers were advised to return home, awaiting resolution between organised labour and the Federal Government.

    In a statement by the United Nigeria Airline on Monday, it disclosed that none of its scheduled flights have been permitted to depart the airport significantly affecting its services and operations.

    “We sincerely apologise for any inconvenience this may cause to your travel plans. Please be rest assured that we are actively monitoring the situation to evaluate its impact on our operations and will provide updates accordingly,” the airline stated.

    Ibom Air also said it was unable to dispatch any of our scheduled flights to your various destinations because of the strike action.

    “Ibom Air regrets to inform our esteemed passengers that, due to the ongoing nationwide labor strike, we are unable to dispatch any of our scheduled flights to your various destinations.

    Air Peace through its X handle stated that it was only able to operate its regional and international flights and all local flights were grounded as a result of the strike action.

    BusinessDay learnt that the aviation unions would be joining the National Executive Council meeting by 9pm on Tuesday to reach an agreement on the minimum wage issue.

    Sources say the strike may be called off today if the federal government, the TIC and NLC reach a favourable conclusion.

    Phone, laptops allegedly go missing on Air Peace Lagos-Abuja flight - PUNCH

    JUNE 06, 2024

    By Princess Etuk

    A smartphone, three laptops, and other valuable items belonging to three air passengers allegedly went missing on an Abuja-bound Air Peace flight on Friday.

    An affected passenger, who was on the flight, confirmed the incident to our correspondent on Saturday, adding that items belonging to a Briton and an Indian also got stolen.

    The incident, occurring on the last flight around 7:00 pm, reportedly left the passengers stranded upon arrival with no concrete explanation from the airline.

    One of the affected passengers, Lere Adams, said the theft was discovered upon arrival at the Nnamdi Azikwe Airport, Abuja, prompting immediate complaints to the airline.

    In a telephone chat with The PUNCH, he expressed dismay, stating that it occurred on the airline’s last flight for the day.

    He accused the airline of mishandling their personal belongings and displaying a lack of concern, despite promptly reporting the theft of valuable items from their luggage upon arrival.

    He recounted, “I had my luggage with me; it was light hand luggage. As soon as I boarded, I put the luggage in the overhead cabinet. My phone battery was low, so I plugged it into a power bank in my bag and switched off the phone. When we landed in Abuja, I realised I could not locate my phone.”

    He explained that he was not the only affected passenger; adding that an Indian and an American passenger were also affected, as they discovered when retrieving their bags from the overhead lockers.

    “Then, I saw an Indian that was complaining about the same thing: that he could not find his wallet and his laptop that was in his bag, and suddenly there was also a White man who had a backpack that was on top of him with two laptops and as soon as he got to Abuja, he looked for laptops but could not find them.

    “While we were talking about the incident, one of the officers came and asked who owned a bag. Lo and behold, it was his bag, but it was without his laptops. He was asking how he got the bag. The officer replied that the air hostess said they found it in the cabin and the foreigner said it was impossible and asked where the laptops that were inside were.”

    Lere listed the items stolen from him, including, “My phone plugged into a diary that has a power bank, three laptops, and a wallet”.

      He added, “The American had two laptops, one official and one private laptop, while the Indian had an official laptop and a wallet. We informed the airline staff and statements were taken from the affected passengers.”

      According to Lere, the airline has contacted their Lagos headquarters and is currently investigating the incident.

      “I was told this morning that they have reached out to their Lagos headquarters. And they said they were currently working on it. But so far, they have not given a direction as to what the way is,” he stated.

      He lamented, “I am truly upset because all of our personal and banking information is on that phone.”

      Responding, The Director of Consumer Protection & Public Affairs of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority, Michael Achimugu, said no official complaints had been made to the agency but promised to contact the local public protection officer in charge for further explanation.

      “I am hearing this for the first time. The right process is to complain to the airline first, as they handle the baggage. If the airline does not take appropriate action, then the affected passengers can report to the NCAA.

       “Airlines have policies against carrying valuables in overhead cabinets; these items should be declared,” he noted.

      Achimugu also mentioned that he would contact the local public protection officer to gather more details about the case.

      “I will find out if such a thing happened and get the details,” he promised.

      As of the time of filing this report, the Chief Operating Officer of Air Peace, Toyin Olajide, did not respond to several phone calls and text messages sent to him on the issue. 

      Portugal to Tighten Visa Rules in Response to Record Immigration - BLOOMBERG

      JUNE 06, 2024

      (Bloomberg) -- Portugal’s government plans to tighten immigration rules by requiring a work visa from most foreigners wishing to enter and live in the country.

      Until now, a foreign citizen who entered Portugal with a tourist visa and found a job would be able to apply for a residence permit. With the planned new requirements, most foreigners wanting to work in the country will need to apply for a work visa at a Portuguese consulate prior to arriving, Presidency Minister Antonio Leitao Amaro said on Monday.

      “Portugal needs regulated immigration,” Leitao Amaro said at a press conference near Lisbon after a cabinet meeting at which the plan was approved. “Rules without supervision are the path to the limbo and indignity that many immigrants are living in.”

      The number of foreign residents in Portugal rose 33% to a record one million people in 2023, representing about 10% of the country’s total population, according to data compiled by the government.

      Portugal’s center-right minority government also plans to increase border controls, create a task force to deal with a backlog of more than 400,000 visa applications, and invest in centers to help address the immediate needs of migrants living under difficult conditions, the minister said.

      Japa: Canada To Launch Permanent Residency-on-Arrival Program For Caregivers - LEADERSHIP

      JUNE 06, 2024

      In a groundbreaking move, Canada’s Immigration Minister, Marc Miller, has announced a new initiative allowing caregivers to receive permanent residency upon arrival in the country.

      The program is set to commence by the end of 2024 or early 2025 at the latest, replacing the expiring Home Child Care Provider Pilot and Home Support Worker Pilot.

      The new program marks a significant upgrade from the existing caregiver pilot programs, which required a certain amount of work experience in Canada. Under the new initiative, caregivers will be granted permanent residency upon arrival, addressing the nation’s evolving home care needs and recognising the invaluable contributions of home care professionals.


      “Caregivers play a critical role in supporting Canadian families, and our programs need to reflect their invaluable contributions,” said Miller in an IRCC news release. “As we work to implement a permanent caregivers program, these two new pilots will not only improve support for caregivers but also provide families with the quality care they deserve.”

      The new programs, set to replace the current pilots expiring on June 17, will allow caregivers to work for organisations that provide temporary or part-time care for semi-independent individuals or those recovering from injury or illness. This is a shift from previous requirements, which mandated a Canadian Language Benchmark (CLB) of 5, a year of Canadian post-secondary education or its foreign equivalent, and at least six months of work experience.

      Eligibility for the new caregiver program includes achieving a minimum of level 4 on the CLB, holding the equivalent of a Canadian high school diploma, having recent and relevant work experience, and receiving an offer for a full-time home care job.The demand for caregivers in Canada is on the rise as the population ages. According to the 2024-2026 Immigration Levels Plan, Canada expects to welcome more than 15,000 new permanent residents through caregiver programs. Since the launch of the Home Child Care Provider Pilot and the Home Support Worker Pilot in 2019, approximately 5,700 caregivers and their family members have become permanent residents as of April 30, 2024.

      A recent report by the Canadian Centre for Caregiving Excellence highlights the urgent needs of caregivers in Canada. It notes that many caregivers are over 65 and may also require care themselves.

      “Nearly one in five caregivers are over the age of 65. Senior caregivers are least likely to access any services or supports to help with their responsibilities,” the report stated.

      Additionally, the increasing need for childcare providers is driven by more women entering the workforce, traditionally the primary caregivers for young children.

      IRCC has not yet clarified the work experience requirement for the new pilot programs, promising more details closer to the full launch of the programs.

      Airlines reject $300 helicopter landing fee - PUNCH

      JUNE 07, 2024

      BY Olasunkanmi Akinlotan

      The Airline Operators of Nigeria, the umbrella body for local airline operators, has said aside from lacking a legal framework, the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency does not provide any additional service to helicopter operators to justify the imposition of a landing fee.

      The Minister of Aviation and Aerospace Development, Festus Keyamo, had since called for the suspension of the new levy over outcry in the aviation industry.

      The minister, however, set up a committee to look at the appropriateness or otherwise of the new levy payment by helicopter operators.

      The umbrella body for scheduled and unscheduled airlines in Nigeria stressed that the imposition of the Helicopter Landing and Take-off Fee at private helipads, and oil rig platforms when no service is provided at those locations to the helicopter operators by NAMA is contrary to the provision of section 7 (1) (r) of the then applicable NAMA Act as well as to section 1, paragraph 2(1) of ICAO Document 9082.

      Spokesman for AON, Prof. Obiora Okonkwo, alleged that NAMA did not adhere to the policies, principles and guidelines contained in the ICAO Documents 9082 (ICAO’s Policies on Charges for Airports and Air Navigation Services) and 9161 (Manual on Air Navigation Services Economics) before imposing the Helicopter Landing and Take-off Fee.

      Quoting Part 18, section (e) of the Nigeria Civil Aviation Regulations, AON asked NAMA to adhere to the policies, principles and guidelines contained in those documents.

        The body further alleged that contrary to the ministry’s press statement of May 13, 2024, neither NCAA nor FAAN is a party to the MoU between NAMA and Naebi Dynamic Concepts Limited for the collection of the helicopter landing and take-off fee at private helipads, oil rig platforms, among others.

        Okonkwo said,, “The fee is charged and demanded in US Dollars contrary to the provision of section 15 of the Central Bank of Nigeria Act, which is clear that the unit of currency in Nigeria shall be the Naira.”

        “There is nowhere in the world where the Air Navigation Service Provider does not provide any service to helicopter operators but charges landing and take-off fees for landings and take-off on and from private helipads, oil rig platforms, FSPOs, FSOs, etc.

        He added, “The examples given by the Ministry of Aviation and Aerospace Development in the Press Release of 13°” May 2024 of where landing and take-off fee is paid are all of the airports. The engagement of Naebi Dynamic Concepts Limited did not follow due process as it did not comply with the requirements of the Public Procurement Act for the procurement of the services of consultants.”

        Giving a historical background, Okonkwo explained that the matter began in 2018 when Naebi Dynamic Concepts Limited proposed the introduction of “Helicopter Landing and Take-off Fee” to the immediate past Minister of Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika, who forwarded the proposal to the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority for comment.

        He added that, NCAA then, dismissed the development saying no legal framework for the development.


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