Travel News

Air Peace Employees Foil Trafficking of Two Babies - THISDAY

JUNE 12, 2021

BY  Chinedu Eze 

The cabin crew members of Air Peace on Tuesday foiled an attempt by a man and a woman to traffic two babies at the Murtala Muhammed Airport, Terminal 2, Lagos. According to the statement by the spokesperson of the airline, Stanley Olisa, who revealed that Air Peace’s Passenger Service Executives and Security Personnel became suspicious when the two adults, travelling to Asaba, were being checked-in at the counter.

“On June 7, 2021, at MMA2, around 12:00 hours, a man and a woman, carrying two babies, approached our counter for check-in. Our Passenger Service Executive, being suspicious of the duo’s behaviour, questioned them about the babies. They said the babies belonged to them and were travelling to Asaba,” he added.

Olisa narrated that as the suspicion intensified, the two adults, who hinted that the babies were three months old each, were further questioned by another counter attendant and a security personnel but they gave a different narrative.

“The two adults gave conflicting explanations to different staff- that the babies were being taken to United Kingdom to unite them with their parents and later they said they were sending the babies to Zimbabwe for adoption,” he added, while also commending the staff for preventing the crime. Upon further questioning, Olisa said the adults confessed that they were not the parents of the babies.

Consequently, Air Peace’s Security Unit took both of them to the MMA2 Police Station where they admitted they were agents who trafficked children for adoption.

The Police said they would transfer the case to the National Agency for Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP) for further investigation and action.

It can be recalled that Air Peace crew recently prevented two child trafficking schemes in June 2018, on a Lagos–Banjul flight and in January 2019 on a Lagos-Port Harcourt flight respectively.

U.S. Air Travelers Top 2 Million for First Time Since Pandemic - BLOOMBERG

JUNE 12, 2021

(Bloomberg) -- Daily U.S. air travelers exceeded 2 million for the first time since the Covid-19 pandemic began, reaching almost three-quarters of the volume recorded on the same day in 2019, according to the Transportation Security Administration.

TSA officials screened 2,028,961 people at airport security checkpoints on Friday, which was 1.5 million more than on June 11, 2020 and 74% of the number on the same day two years ago, the agency said in a statement.

Air travel rebounded as the U.S. vaccination campaign took off and unleashed a wave of pent-up demand. The surge has pushed up airfares for the peak summer travel season as flight schedules remain lighter than before the pandemic.

TSA screened an average of 2 million to 2.5 million travelers per day before Covid-19 hit. Screening volume at U.S. airports reached a low on 87,354 on April 13, 2020.

Blue Origin Auctions Seat on Bezos Rocket for $28 Million - BLOOMBERG

JUNE 12, 2021

(Bloomberg) -- Blue Origin raised $28 million by auctioning a seat to accompany founder Jeff Bezos on a July 20 rocket ride –- the first time the company will carry people to space.

The identity of the winner won’t be revealed for a few weeks, Blue Origin said Saturday. The day’s live auction followed weeks of online bidding with more than 7,000 submissions from people in 159 countries. Bezos’s brother, Mark, will also make the trip.

The 11-minute excursion from Van Horn, Texas, will carry as many as six passengers. Blue Origin hasn’t yet revealed who else will be aboard the New Shepard spacecraft. The automated flight will be the company’s 16th but first with humans aboard.

Blue Origin is vying with Elon Musk’s Space Exploration Technologies and Richard Branson-backed Virgin Galactic Holdings Inc. to offer trips to space to a small number of wealthy tourists. Bezos has compared space tourism to the barnstormers whose stunt flying helped fuel public fascination in the early days of aviation and made planes a common mode of transportation.

Passengers aboard New Shepard, named for pioneering astronaut Alan Shepard, must be:

  • Between 5 feet (1.52 meters) and 6 feet, 4 inches tall, weighing 110 pounds-223 pounds (50-100 kilograms).
  • Able to climb the seven flights on the launch tower in less than 90 seconds and sit strapped in the vehicle for as long as 90 minutes without access to a lavatory.
  • Able to withstand gravitational forces of as much as 5.5 times the person’s normal weight during descent and 3 times the weight for as long as two minutes on ascent.

Passengers were advised to consult a medical professional about medical conditions and their ability to fly on New Shepard. Customers also must provide informed consent, acknowledging the various risks of flying to space.

SpaceX already ferries astronauts to the International Space Station for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. Both SpaceX and Virgin Galactic are preparing to fly nongovernment customers.

Blue Origin will donate the auction proceeds to its Club for the Future foundation, which aims to inspire young people to pursue careers in science, technology and mathematics.

Bezos, who spends about $1 billion a year to fund Blue Origin, has been slowly selling off his stake in Amazon.com Inc. to invest in his space endeavors. He will step down as chief executive officer of Amazon on July 5, with Andy Jassy assuming the role.

Aer Lingus passengers stranded as operator Stobart Air ceases trading - THE GUARDIAN UK

JUNE 12, 2021

Travellers have been left stranded in cities in the UK and Ireland and nearly 500 jobs are at risk after a regional Irish airline announced it was going into liquidation.

Aer Lingus said a number of regional flights had been cancelled after the operator, Stobart Air, ended its contract with the Irish airline.

The announcement, which comes after Stobart Air failed to find a buyer and ceased trading, affects several flights from Dublin and Belfast airports to UK cities.

An Aer Lingus statement said it had been notified late on Friday that Stobart was terminating its franchise agreement with immediate effect.

The statement said: “Stobart Air referred to the continuing impact of the pandemic, which has resulted in almost no flying since March 2020. Stobart Air has ceased trading and is now in the process of appointing a liquidator.

“Aer Lingus apologises to customers for the inconvenience caused by the cancellation at such short notice of all flights operated by Stobart Air.”

The airline said it was communicating with customers to advise them of their options in terms of rebooking or requesting a refund.

The announcement affects flights from Dublin to Kerry, Donegal, Glasgow, Edinburgh and Newquay. Flights from Belfast to Manchester, Birmingham, Edinburgh, Leeds Bradford, Exeter and East Midlands airports have also been cancelled.

Aer Lingus flights to Heathrow are not affected.

A spokesperson for Belfast City airport said it was working with Aer Lingus to ensure the routes affected would be operating again as soon as possible.

A spokesperson for Stobart Air said: “It is with great regret and sadness that Stobart Air can confirm that the board is in the process of appointing a liquidator to the business and the airline is to cease operations with immediate effect.”

The airline apologised to its customers for the inconvenience caused at short notice and said all 480 staff had been informed.

The spokesperson said: “Last April, Stobart Air announced that a new owner had been identified. However, it has emerged that the funding to support this transaction is no longer in place and the new owner is now unable to conclude the transaction.

“Given the continued impact of the pandemic which has virtually halted air travel … and in the absence of any alternative purchasers or sources of funding, the board of Stobart Air must take the necessary, unavoidable and difficult decision to seek to appoint a liquidator.”

Customers who have booked flights are advised not go to the airport and to check the Aer Lingus website.

NEWS WIRE 1h ago Singapore Virus Cases at Close to 2-Week High Amid More Tests - BLOOMBERG

JUNE 14, 2021

BY Kwan Wei Kevin Tan

People wearing protective masks stand in line outside a mandatory Covid-19 test site set up at a housing block in the Hougang district of Singapore, on Saturday, May 22, 2021. Singapore is stepping up mandatory testing across the island-nation for Covid-19 as new and unlinked infections rise in the local community. The government is conducting tests for all residents of the housing block after some positive coronavirus cases were found there.

People wearing protective masks stand in line outside a mandatory Covid-19 test site set up at a housing block in the Hougang district of Singapore, on Saturday, May 22, 2021. Singapore is stepping up mandatory testing across the island-nation for Covid-19 as new and unlinked infections rise in the local community. The government is conducting tests for all residents of the housing block after some positive coronavirus cases were found there. , Bloomberg

(Bloomberg) -- Singaporean authorities detected 19 new locally-transmitted coronavirus cases, the highest since June 3, due to an increase in testing amid a phased loosening of restrictions this week.

Two cases were untraceable while 17 cases were linked to earlier infections, government data showed on Monday. Of the new infections detected today, one was discovered in a foreign worker dormitory. Six imported cases were already under quarantine.

On June 3, 35 coronavirus cases were detected, with just one infection unlinked.

Over the weekend, a spike in cases prompted the Ministry of Health to close a shopping mall and food center temporarily after several infections were detected in those locations. Aside from cleaning operations, staff and tenants will be undergoing Covid-19 testing.

The increase in cases comes after Singapore’s government decided to ease some of the restrictions imposed in mid-May following an outbreak. Starting today, group sizes have been raised to five from two persons. If cases remain under control, the authorities will allow dining-in at restaurants and fitness classes from June 21.

U.K. Dropped From Abu Dhabi Travel ‘Green List’ as Cases Spike - BLOOMBERG

JUNE 14, 2021

BY  Adveith NairBloomberg News

(Bloomberg) --

The U.K. has been removed from Abu Dhabi’s ‘Green List,’ meaning travelers from the country will now need to quarantine on arrival in the Middle Eastern city.

The oil-rich capital of the United Arab Emirates updated the list on Sunday to remove Britain and Tajikistan and add Malta, The National newspaper reported. Passengers traveling to the U.K. from the UAE have been required to self-isolate since the start of the year.

The move comes as coronavirus cases rise in the U.K. The number of confirmed infections of the delta strain, first identified in India, has tripled in a week to 42,323. Prime Minister Boris Johnson is now less hopeful he will be able to lift England’s restrictions as planned on June 21.

Britain and the UAE have among the world’s fastest vaccine programs, but both countries have seen cases rise over the past month.

Hoodlums return to Lagos-Ibadan Long Bridge, residents raise the alarm - PUNCH

JUNE 14, 2021

BY  Samson Folarin

Respite is not in sight for motorists and commuters plying the Long Bridge, Ogun State end of the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway, as hoodlums have continued to launch attacks on users of the road.

PUNCH Metro learnt that despite efforts by the police and the surrounding communities to end the scourge, including hiring vigilantes and installing solar-powered lights on the bridge, robbers still found means of dispossessing people of their valuables.

The Long Bridge is a five-kilometre bridge stretching from the Warewa end of the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway to the OPIC/Kara end of the road.

Hoodlums have been known to hide under the bridge and attack people after their vehicles break down or there is a traffic jam, especially at night and early in the morning.

After robbing their victims, they sometimes club others and leave them for dead.

Some others have been kidnapped on the bridge, including a bus driver, Ahmed Adepoju, who was abducted on March 5, 2021, after his vehicle broke down.

Our correspondent gathered that the usual victims were residents of the host communities of Arepo, Warewa, Banku, Mokore, Arigbede and Magboro.

A resident, who shared his experience on his estate security platform, said his wife was attacked in broad daylight last Tuesday after her vehicle broke down.

He said, “My wife was attacked on the Long Bridge in broad daylight around 1.30pm when her vehicle had a little hitch right in the middle of the bridge.

“She actually had a fuel gauge problem and so didn’t know when her fuel ran out. She was lucky to get a known face from Aribido with a motorcycle, who helped her to buy fuel.

“As fate would have it, as soon as the fuel was poured into the tank and the engine started, out of nowhere, some Fulani herdsmen (from her description), appeared and one opened the driver’s side door and lunged at her with a dagger, trying to stab her. Thank God for his goodness, she said she didn’t know how she dodged the descending knife by mere inches and stepped on the throttle at the same time as she sped off to safety. She didn’t stop until she got to Matrix fuel station before she could get herself together and catch her breath.”

PUNCH Metro learnt that the writer craved anonymity for security reasons.

Another resident said there had been an influx of some people from a particular region of the country, who were settling around the Pipeline Road, Unity Estate, Arepo.

He said the migrants posed security threats.

A former Chairman, Journalists’ Estate Residents Development Association, Phase 1, Arepo, John Ajayi, said two attacks were reported to the security committee last Wednesday.

He noted that while one happened around 1.30pm, the other occurred around 6pm.

He stated, “The Long Bridge has become a menace to people living in that corridor, particularly those in Warewa, Arepo and Magboro. We have made several attempts to stop the attacks. We even went to the extent of building a house for the police at the Warewa Division. We also bought patrol buses for the police. But the police are not well equipped and their number is not sufficient. They don’t have enough men to patrol the bridge.

“Recently, a concerned resident donated some equipment to be installed on the Long Bridge so that we could have the place illuminated. Despite this, the bad boys continue to operate there. This is because under the bridge accommodates them. They usually jump out of the place to attack motorists. As it is now, we are in danger and we are afraid.”

He asked the government to station patrol vehicles on the bridge and secure the lives of users.

The President, Arepo Residential Community Development Association, Mr Bode Adefolu, confirmed the attack on the female motorist, adding that the security situation on the bridge was a serious cause of concern to residents.

He noted that the community was searching for experts, who would install proper security lights on the bridge.

“We also need to increase the number of security patrols on the bridge. We have employed 10 security guards already, five during the day and five at night. But we need more. On June 11, the Police Community Relations Committee approached the Ogun State Government to assist us with Amotekun, which is part of what we are looking forward to now,” he added.

A senior police officer at the Warewa Division said the police got a report of an attack on the bridge last Tuesday.

The officer, however, noted that the hoodlums were repelled.

“There is no high incidence of attacks on the bridge as claimed,” the officer added.

The Ogun State Police Public Relations Officer, Abimbola Oyeyemi, said detectives had been patrolling the bridge on shifts.

According to him, there has not been any official complaint for the past three months.

“We know how many people we have arrested on that bridge and those who have lost their lives during exchange of gunfire with our policemen. Our policemen are always there to ward off any form of attack in that place,” he added.

Lagos-Ibadan train begins full operations Tuesday – NRC - PUNCH

JUNE 14, 2021

BY  Kariola Mustapha

The Nigerian Railway Corporation says it will begin full operation of the standard gauge railway service from Lagos to Ibadan on Tuesday.

It also revealed a new schedule for its movement and stops, according to the News Agency of Nigeria.

The report said the management of NRC through a statement signed by the Lagos District Manager, Mr Jerry Oche, revealed this in Lagos on Sunday.

The Lagos-Ibadan train services would now be available in the mornings from Tuesday, the report said.

Oche was quoted to have said, “The updated time table for Tuesday to Friday is as follows: Lagos to Ibadan: 8:00 am from Mobolaji Johnson Station at Alagomeji Ebute-Meta Lagos. Also the train will take off from Ibadan to Lagos: 8am from Obafemi Awolowo Station at Moniya.

“The train will take off from Lagos to Ibadan: 4pm from Mobolaji Johnson Station Alagomji, while from Ibadan to Lagos: 4pm from Obafemi Awolowo Station at Moniya.

“The standard gauge train schedule on Saturday from Lagos to Ibadan: 8:30am from Mobolaji Johnson Station at Alagomeji while the train will leave from Ibadan to Lagos: 8:30am from Obafemi Awolowo Station at Moniya.

“For Saturday evening from Lagos to Ibadan: 6pm from Mobolaji Johnson Station at Alagomji, while the train will take off from Ibadan to Lagos: 6pm from Obafemi Awolowo Station at Moniya.”

He added that Alagomeji, Abeokuta, and Moniya were still the stop stations of the Lagos-Ibadan train services.

Meet Afolabi, founder of Green Africa, Nigeria’s most affordable carrier - BUSINESSDAY

JUNE 14, 2021

BY  Okafor Endurance

With the bold message on its website, “Welcome to the future – you are one flight closer to your dreams and destinations”, Green Africa Airways, a new entrant to the Nigerian aviation sector, is disrupting the airline business with low airfares that start from N16,500, the lowest in the country.

The Lagos-based airline was founded by Babawande Afolabi, an American returnee that holds the record as the youngest airline owner in Africa’s largest economy. The Osun State-born entrepreneur is in his 30s.

The company which is offering the cheapest airfare in Nigeria is coming into the market at a time when the prices of flight tickets have jumped to one of their highest levels. Airlines in Nigeria have continued to increase the price of tickets because of the scarcity of dollar, depleting fleet and the surge in demand for flights amid heightened insecurity in Nigeria’s inter-state roads.

With plans to start its flights from 24 June 2021, Green Africa is offering a 70 percent slash in airfares compared to its peers in the industry. The Lagos-based airline is commencing its operations six years after the day was first established. Founded on 15 June 2015 by Afolabi, who serves as the chief executive officer, Green Africa describes itself as a low-cost carrier as it targets the low-income segment of the Nigerian economy that cannot afford the luxurious but expensive seats on the flights of other carriers.

Originally planned to start its operations in 2019, Green Africa Airways has received the necessary operating licences from the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority and is said to have placed an order for fifty A220-300s from Airbus while it also committed to leasing an additional three A220-300s aircraft from leasing company, GTLK Europe. The leased aircraft will allow Green Africa to meet its planned launch of commercial operations this June.

Green Africa’s Board of directors consists of industry veterans including Afolabi’s former boss, Tom Horton, former chairman and CEO of American Airlines (Afolabi was a summer associate at American Airlines in 2013); William Shaw, current CEO of Interjet; Virasb Vahidi, former CCO of American Airlines; Wale Adeosun, founder and CEO of Kuramo Capital; and Gbenga Oyebode, founder and chairman of Aluko & Oyebode.

Before founding Green Africa Airways, Afolabi worked in the finance and airline industries. His experience includes investment banking for financial institutions and emerging market clients at Morgan Stanley, as well as corporate strategy at American Airlines.

The Political Science and Economics graduate of the Illinois Wesleyan University (2010), where he served as student body president, is also the founder of Teatime Capital, a venture capital initiative focused on making micro-equity investments to ultra-small Nigerian businesses in often overlooked regions of the country. “Giving people microloans means giving them a shot at life,” Afolabi said. “Small businesses give people the means to send children to school, hopefully raising the literacy rates and lowering crime. It provides a new foundation for society.”

Born in Ile-Ife, Afolabi who holds an MBA from Stanford Graduate School of Business (2014) plans to expand the low-fare service offered by Green Africa across the African continent after it kicks off in the most populous country in the region. Having interned with Morgan Stanley on Wall Street, an article published in Illinois Wesleyan University Magazine, 2002-2017 said Afolabi was focused on bringing microloans to Nigeria. Afolabi, according to the magazine, applied for an internship with Sponsors for Educational Opportunity (SEO), which places minority students with some of the nation’s top companies.

“Of the more than 5,000 students who applied for internships through SEO, Afolabi is one of only 438 students to receive an internship, working this summer for Morgan Stanley on Wall Street,” the article said. The oldest of five children, Afolabi was raised to believe the world can be changed. “My mother is an elementary school teacher, and my father is a financial analyst on a very small scale,” said Afolabi. “They both instilled in me the knowledge that education can make things better. I must learn all I can and build my credentials so the financial institutions in Nigeria will truly understand how this can help. Before people change the world, they have to change themselves.”

Afolabi, whose internship was in investment banking, was one of only 48 sophomores granted an SEO internship in the summer of 2008. The SEO Career Program most often works with college juniors, placing them in seven categories of internships ranging from accounting and corporate law to global corporate finance leadership.

“All of this will help when I return to Nigeria and speak to financial institutions there about creating a microloan program,” Afolabi, whose own father had a business idea that died away because he could not secure a loan for as little as $200, said in 2008. According to Afolabi, his father’s business idea could not flourish because he had no money, no collateral and no connections to make it happen.

“There are so many people like him. I hope microloans can help. I hope they can be a lifeline for my people,” he said.

Afolabi’s plans from his university days to help the most vulnerable segment of the Nigerian economy is coming to life today as he has been able to set up Teatime Capital, a venture capital that is helping to invest in ultra-small businesses in Nigeria. The reason for Afolabi’s decision to establish a low-fare airline is not far-fetched from his plan to provide products that can serve the low-income segment of the economy. With the business model of Green Africa, Afolabi is trying to attempt the ‘Southwest effect’ on air travel in Nigeria. Its first flight is days away, yet the Lagos-based startup budget airline is edging closer to disrupting the Nigerian airspace forever. It has announced its entrance with cheaper airfares for seven routes including Lagos to Abuja, a strategy that looks well suited to a large country where average incomes are low and rising insecurity is increasingly discouraging road travel.

Green Africa’s strategy is not new, at least not on the global scene. It has a similar playbook to the world’s largest low-cost carrier, Southwest Airlines. Southwest, despite being a low-cost carrier, has been able to stay profitable through many decades. It even has an economic term named after it popularly called “the Southwest effect”. Southwest started out with an idea to make air travel accessible for all. While most carriers in the US focused on wealthy travellers, it set out to disrupt the market by giving more people the opportunity to travel by air at a low cost.

Southwest Airlines focused on four main things: a low-cost structure that stayed low due to fast growth, happy employees who liked their jobs and translated that to customers, being future-minded, and differentiated. Green Africa, just like Southwest, is coming into the Nigerian aviation sector with a low-cost structure with fares between N16,500 and N23,000, which is about a 50 to 70 percent slash in average fares charged by other airlines. Although, there have been questions as to whether the prices will remain low.

“I would not say the price they have started with will be permanent, it is an introductory offer but you can be sure that if you pick the first three airlines in the country with the lowest fare in two or three months, Green Africa would be one of them,” Olumide Ohunayo, a member of the Aviation Safety Roundtable Initiative (ASRTI), said. “They have started with a very low-cost aircraft, they are taking a smaller market that fits the Nigerian market and if they build on that and get good maintenance organizations, continue with the same fleet, get better deals with the manufacturer of such aircraft, the maintenance and cost of operation would go lower, their fares will not increase,” Ohunayo said.

Despite the similarity in low fares, differences such as fleet and routes make Green Africa different from Southwest. Green Africa will use ATR72-600S jetliners, a turboprop, while Southwest operates Boeing 737 jet planes. Turboprops are generally more fuel-efficient than jets whose fuel usage is higher.

Nigerian Railway releases timetable for Lagos-Ibadan train service - DAILY POST

JUNE 14, 2021

The Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC) has released the timetable for the Lagos Ibadan Train Service (LITS).

The Monday to Friday schedule is effective from Monday, 14th June 2021.

The management said Alagomeji, Agege, Kajola, Olodo, Papalanto, Abeokuta, and Moniya are now the stop stations.

The line-up is as follows: Lagos to Ibadan: 8.00 am from Mobolaji Johnson Station; Ibadan to Lagos: 8.00 am from Obafemi Awolowo Station at Moniya.

Lagos to Ibadan: 4.00 pm from Mobolaji Johnson Station Alagomeji; Ibadan to Lagos: 4.00 pm from Obafemi Awolowo Station at Moniya.

Saturday Schedule: Lagos to Ibadan: 8.30 am from Mobolaji Johnson Station at Alagomeji; Ibadan to Lagos: 8.30 am from Obafemi Awolowo Station at Moniya.

Lagos to Ibadan: 6.00 pm from Mobolaji Johnson Station at Alagomeji; Ibadan to Lagos: 6.00 pm from Obafemi Awolowo Station at Moniya.

Last Thursday, President Buhari Muhammadu Buhari commissioned the Mobolaji Johnson Railway Station in Lagos.

The facility is the start point for the 157km double track Lagos-Ibadan standard gauge


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