Travel News

American Airlines Suspends US-Spain Flight Due to Boeing 787 Delays - BLOOMBERG

MARCH 25, 2023

(Bloomberg) -- American Airlines Group Inc. will temporarily suspend a route between the US and Spain because of ongoing delays in the delivery of Boeing Co. 787 Dreamliners. 

Service between Philadelphia and Madrid will stop throughout May and early June, American said in a statement Friday. The carrier is contacting customers booked on the affected flights to make new travel arrangements.

American and some other carriers have struggled for several years with delayed deliveries of the twin-aisle Dreamliner, which American last month blamed for causing “significant reductions to our planned long-haul flying.” Boeing once again paused handovers in February over documentation issues before resuming earlier this month.

“We continue to work with our customers, including American Airlines, on delivery timing and deeply regret the impact to their operations,” Boeing said in a separate statement. “We remain focused on driving stability in our production system, including closely partnering with our suppliers to address industry challenges to meet our customer commitments.”

American’s next scheduled 787 Dreamliner would be two years late if Boeing handed over the plane this month, the airline said. At the end of 2022, Fort Worth, Texas-based American was operating 33 787-8 aircraft and 22 787-9 variants. It’s scheduled to receive four of the planes this year and 12 in 2024. 

Boeing earlier suspended Dreamliner deliveries in May 2021 to address structural glitches, and didn’t resume them until August 2022.

The suspended route was reported earlier by the Wall Street Journal. 

Hong Kong Airport Handled 2.1 Million Passengers in February - BLOOMBERG

MARCH 26, 2023

(Bloomberg) -- Hong Kong International Airport handled 2.1 million passengers last month, about 24 times that of February last year, airport authorities said in statement.

Cargo volume increased 6.7% to 290,000 tons and flight movements rose 95.7% to 16,305.

“Due to the relaxation of travel restrictions, all passenger segments experienced significant growths, particularly Hong Kong residents,” Airport Authority Hong Kong said in the statement on Sunday. “Traffic to and from Southeast Asia and Japan recorded the most significant increases.”

NOTE: Hong Kong Airport’s Passenger Volume Surges as China Reopens

Air Peace begins direct flight from Nigeria to Israel April 20 - BUSINESSDAY

MARCH 26, 2023

Air Peace, Nigeria’s biggest carrier, will fly directly for the first time from Nigeria to the State of Israel on April 20, 2023.

This is a relief to Nigerians and Israelis who have to travel for 27 hours from Nigeria to Israel via other nations but direct flight between the two countries would take just five hours.

Israeli government has confirmed that Air Peace’s inaugural flight to Ben Gurion International Airport, Tel-Aviv, Israel would be April 20, 2023.

Miri Regev, the Israeli Minister of Transportation and Road Safety, who disclosed this in Israel, noted that this would be a historical feat, as there had never been a direct flight between the Middle East nation and Nigeria.

“Nigeria’s flag carrier Air Peace will begin operating direct flights to Israel for the first time, starting on April 20, the Minister of Transportation and Road Safety announced today (Sunday). Minister Regev today approved the aviation agreement signed between Israel and Nigeria, and submitted it for government approval.

“The signed agreement will for the first time allow the airlines of each of the countries to operate regular flights at Ben Gurion Airport to several destinations in Nigeria, such as Abuja and Lagos. In the first phase, the Nigerian company (airline) will operate two weekly flights between Israel and Nigeria.

“So far, no direct flights have been operated between the two countries and the thousands of pilgrims who come to Israel every year from Nigeria have flown through Turkey or Ethiopia. The agreement will allow Israeli and Nigerian airlines to make direct flights between the countries and increase the number of pilgrims who come to Israel every year,” Israeli embassy source disclosed.

Regev said Israel has started opening new routes to connect the world and identified Nigeria as one of the leading countries in Africa that maintained close ties with Israel.

“Recently we have witnessed a wave of new routes being opened to destinations all over the world, and I am happy to announce the launch of direct flights to Nigeria as well. Nigeria is one of the leading countries in Africa, and it maintains close ties with Israel in a wide variety of fields, along with traffic of pilgrims who come to Israel to visit the holy places of Christianity. I welcome the opening of the new line and am sure that it will contribute to strengthening the business and cultural ties between the nations and between the governments,” she said.

Allen Onyema, the chairman and CEO of Air Peace, said that the airline is prepared for the inaugural and subsequent flights to the Holy Land, disclosing that it would begin with two flights a week and increase frequency with time.

Onyema commended the governments of Nigeria and Israel, saying that they made it possible, breaking old barriers to make direct flight between the two countries a reality, adding that it is an indication of the strong relationship between the two countries.

He also disclosed that the airline has completed plans to begin three times a week flight service to Jeddah and Medina in order to make it easy for Nigerians who wish to travel for pilgrimage, adding that it is in fulfillment of the promise the airline made to Nigerians of connecting them to domestic destinations and to the world.

He expressed confidence that the airline would secure approval from Saudi authorities for the flight service and in next few days would announce the date for the schedule flight operation.

Air Peace, which started operation in 2014, has recorded many firsts. It was the first Nigerian carrier that met the stringent safety and security standard of Israel, which enabled it to evacuate Israeli citizens during the COVID-19 lockdown in 2020.

The airline has started direct flight to China and on March 31 it would launch another direct flight to India.

Air Peace which has recorded the fastest growth by fleet in the African continent was the first in Africa to operate the new Embraer E195-E2 and it is expecting more deliveries of the aircraft in addition to receiving seven Boeing B737 MAX 8 and eight Boeing 737MAX 10 from 2023.

Nigeria Air To Begin Service Before End Of May - SIMPLY FLYING

MARCH 26, 2023


The new national airline is due to begin operations from Lagos by the end of the current administration.

Nigeria's aviation minister confirmed this week that the country's upcoming national airline, Nigeria Air, is still on track to launch by the end of May. The comments came at the 2023 National Aviation Stakeholders Forum, where Nigerian Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, also confirmed that the government was releasing more funds due to foreign airlines.

The country's original flag carrier, Nigeria Airways, collapsed twenty years ago, and efforts have been underway for several years to revive it. The original airline was rebranded into Nigeria Airways in 1971 following the dissolution of West African Airways Corporation, which was founded in 1958. Nigeria Airways was also based at Murtala Muhammed International Airport in Lagos, home of the upcoming Nigeria Air, and operated for 45 years before ceasing operations in 2003.

An influx of jobs

The minister expressed his excitement for the new airline to create additional employment opportunities. Mr Sirika claimed in his comments that Nigeria was the only country where qualified pilots struggle to find work, as countries worldwide struggle with pilot shortages. Upwards of 50 pilots have approached the aviation minister complaining about their unemployment status, which he said underscores the point that the national carrier should be able to employ more pilots and create other job opportunities.

The minister continued by promising the national carrier will contribute to Nigeria's gross domestic product, grow the hospitality and tourism industries, promote the agricultural sector, and create more jobs. A separate study has found the country's aviation sector is vital to the national economy by providing 241,000 direct and indirect jobs and an annual contribution of $1.7 billion.

The upcoming airline has faced several setbacks, including a legal challenge from local airlines that feel they were unjustly excluded from the bidding process. Sirika on Thursday, however, expressed his firm determination to have the airline running by the end of May:

“Local and international flights will commence soon by May 29. Negotiations between the Ethiopian Airlines Group Consortium and the Nigerian government are ongoing. The next step is for the country’s Federal Executive Council to approve of the full business case."

Over 16 million travelers passed through Nigerian airports last year, an increase of 9 million from 2020. The coming years will undoubtedly be even busier for Nigerian aviation. Local airlines, including Air Peace, Ibom Air, and Overland Airways, are expected to receive up to 40 new aircraft over the next 36 months.

Releasing additional airline funds

The minister further confirmed on Thursday that the government was actively releasing funds claimed by foreign airlines, which they have been unable to repatriate due to a lack of dollars in the nation. The total amount airlines have failed to repatriate from the country is said to have risen to $743.7 million in January, up from the $662 million remaining at the end of 2022.

While Sirka did not confirm a timetable for releasing the trapped funds, he did offer specifics for which airlines are currently receiving funds. Of the total amount, some $216 million goes to IATA airlines and $201 million to Qatar Airways, according to the International Air Transport Association (IATA). The aviation minister confirmed the government is "Doing our best to get the monies released" and added that Emirates Airlines had received the majority of its funds with only around $35 million still to be collected.

The airline was most recently granted its air operator's license (AOC) in June. It is still in court proceedings over its deal with Ethiopia Airlines to contribute its operational expertise and fleet to relaunch the new Nigerian carrier. The agreement calls for the Nigerian government to retain a 5% stake in the new airline, with Ethiopian Airlines taking 49% and Nigerian investors claiming the remaining 46%.

"Ethiopian Airlines, the offered bidder for the national carrier, is highly competent and profitable enough to add value to the Nigerian aviation sector," Sirika noted in response to questions regarding the matter on Thursday. Domestically, members of the Airline Operators of Nigeria, including Azman Air, Air Peace, MaxAir, United Nigeria Airlines, and TopBrass Aviation, have filed a lawsuit claiming that the ownership arrangements of the new carrier give it an unfair advantage and claims that Nigerians should wholly own any new national airline.

Nigeria-India direct flight to commence March 31- Envoy - NAN

MARCH 26, 2023

By Muhyideen Jimoh

Mr Gangadharan Balasubramanian, Indian High Commissioner to Nigeria says the much anticipated direct flights from Nigeria to India is set to commence on March 31.

Balasubramanian told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja that Air Peace, a private Nigerian airline had concluded plans for the inaugural flight from Lagos to Mumbai, Bombay.

” I can announce to you that that Air Peace will be flying directly from Lagos to India on March 31st for the inaugural flight.

“This is part of the implementation of the Bilateral Air Service Agreement (BASA) aimed at deepening relations between both countries, so I have been invited for the inauguration, ” he said.

Balasubramanian explained that the direct flight would further strengthen economic, trade, bilateral relations, and people-to-people ties between both strategic countries.

“The volume of trade between both countries as at 2022 is 14.95 billion dollars, so we believe agreements such as this will go a long way in boosting our relations,” he said.

He expressed optimism that the new route would increase the volume of trade between both countries, while opening new vista of opportunities for citizens of both countries.

NAN reports that Nigeria and the Republic of India had in 2019 signed a Bilateral Air Service Agreement (BASA), to deepen flight operations end to end.

Minister for Aviation, Hadi Sirika had expressed optimism that the agreement would further deepen cooperation between both countries.

BASA covers the basic framework under which airlines are granted bilateral rights to fly two countries. The frequency, designated airlines of the signatories, origin, intermediate points as well as traffic rights, type of aircraft and tax issues are normally covered by Memoranda of Understanding.

The new route is expected to further boost relations between both countries, as more than 135 indian companies currently operate in Nigeria.

India is becoming the prime destination for Nigerians seeking medical tourism, studies, businesses among others. (NAN) (www.nannews.ng)

Edited by Grace Yussuf

Nigeria Air to commence operations before May 29 - THE GUARDIAN

MARCH 27, 2023

By Sulaimon Salau

The Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, has assured that the national carrier, Nigeria Air, would commence operation before May 29, 2023. Sirika, who disclosed this at the 2023 National Aviation Stakeholders Forum, said that the benefits from the establishment of a national carrier would include reduced capital flight, optimal benefit of BASA and SAATM and a developed aviation hub.
He listed other benefits to include higher contribution of aviation sector to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP), boosting of hospitality and tourism business, growth and development in agriculture as well as creation of jobs around the agro-cargo terminals.

He said that Nigeria has started making payments to foreign airlines’ whose ticket sales fund were held up by dollar shortages. He said Qatar Airlines had $201m blocked while another $216m was owed to IATA airlines. “We are doing our best to get the monies released,” Sirika said.

British Airways has lost another battle in the war with its Middle Eastern rivals - THE TELEGRAPH

MARCH 29, 2023

There is an ABBA movement gathering momentum in southern Africa. Not the Swedish pop group, of course. These travelling malcontents are declaring they’ll fly on Anything But British Airways. It’s an old joke but one that’s doing the rounds again among folk who must flit between London and Johannesburg or Cape Town.

These frequent flyers complain that BA, which had for decades been their airline of choice, is using older planes on the South African routes, that the staff seem uninterested in their customers, and that BA is more expensive than its rivals. Instead, they’re going with the Gulf carriers – Etihad, Emirates and Qatar, via Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Doha, respectively.

It adds credence to a recent Which? survey in which 8,000 respondents put the three Gulf airlines on top and BA was voted 14th out of 15. Passengers declared that “BA is a thoroughly mediocre airline for both long-haul and short-haul”, awarding it two stars (out of five) for food and drink, for in-flight entertainment and for value-for-money. Etihad scored four stars in each of these categories.

Added to this, in a snap price check The Ultimate Travel Company, a major player in the luxury holiday market which ranks South Africa as its clients’ most popular destination, found that Etihad was cheaper than BA on the key London-Johannesburg route.

Prices vary from month to month, but the Gulf airline consistently came out on top. For example, for departures at the end of May, BA charges £770 for economy and £3,870 for business class while Etihad’s fares are £715 and £3,230. In June, BA is charging £10,580 for business class and Etihad £7,815.

So, having taken all this on board, and having been a loyal BA flier for decades, I decided to try out the competition. I flew to Johannesburg via Abu Dhabi with Etihad, the luxury airline bankrolled by sheikhs and boasting the youngest fleet of aircraft in the world. And for good measure I also did what my friends in southern Africa are doing, and broke up the journey with a couple of nights at one of the Emirate’s opulent resorts.

Emirates flight EY26 departs Heathrow at 2pm and gets into Abu Dhabi at 6pm local time. My seven-hour flight on a 787 Dreamliner, to my mind the most passenger-friendly aircraft of the time, was comfortable and entertaining (with a better selection of films than most of the legacy carriers). The crew were impeccably polite. The food and drink were top class. Basically, it confirmed all the views expressed in the Which? poll.

The 6pm arrival meant I had checked in at the Saadiyat Rotana Resort and Villas by 8pm (it’s a 20-minute cab ride from the airport), in time for a light meal and a wander around the sprawling 327-room Saadiyat Island resort. Coming out of a European winter, this was my first encounter with warmth, sunlight and clear summer nights. As I discovered the following morning, it is set on a five-mile stretch of pristine white beach, and an early-morning swim in the sea reset my chakras significantly.

The day ahead would take in a morning visit to the nearby Louvre Abu Dhabi, the first stage in the rulers’ mission to establish Saadiyat Island (literally Island of Happiness) as the cultural centre of the Gulf, and then an afternoon trip across to neighbouring Yas Island for a wild spin around Ferrari World, the high-octane theme park that features some of the most hair-raising rides in the world.

The Louvre, which opened in 2017, is soon to be joined by the Frank Gehry-designed Guggenheim Abu Dhabi and the Zayed National Museum, together providing cultural centrifuge that the rulers claim will broaden the minds of generations to come, and hopefully lure foreign tourists. Although not universally acclaimed by international art critics, and recently cited in court over the trafficking of illicit Egyptian artefacts, this Louvre presents itself as a travel through time, through civilizations, through cultures.

Thus, I strolled from a Jordanian sculpture of a two-headed human from 6500 BC, through to Princess Henuttawy’s Egyptian sarcophagus from 950 BC, and then on to the Dutch tapestry of Daniel and Nebuchadnezzar from 1520, all in the space of a few hundred metres. This was my third visit to the museum, and, for all the brickbats, it remains a favourite.

After a couple hours of contemplative wanderings through the calm pools of light and shade in the presence of great art, it was on to the blood-and-thunder of Ferrari World on neighbouring Yas Island. As Saadiyat is the island of culture, so Yas is the island of theme parks, principally Ferrari World, Yas Waterworld, Warner Brothers World and the soon-to-be-opened Sea World. The lure here is the fastest roller coaster in the world – the Formula Rossa goes from 0 to 240kph in just under five seconds – a thrill that in its own right made the Abu Dhabi excursion worthwhile.

Finally, dinner at the Rotana’s excellent Italian restaurant and then a late-night drive to the airport to catch EY 602 to Johannesburg, which leaves at 1.45am, but after an eight-hour flight delivers you to Johannesburg at dawn (8am). Compared to BA’s direct, 11-hour flight this is a somewhat circuitous, time-consuming route but it certainly made for a pleasant diversion.

The return leg was more time efficient with no break between flights. EY 601 left Johannesburg at 10.15am and arrived in Abu Dhabi at 8.00pm, which meant a six-hour layover before EY 11 took off for London. It arrived at Heathrow at 06.45 the following morning.

So, what, you may ask, is the point of adding so many extra hours to flying time? Well, the luxury of flying Etihad and the languid break on the out leg apart, there is the price advantage. For the rest you’ll have to ask southern Africans. They’re certainly doing it.

FG To Install Facial Recognition In Airports - DAILY TRUST

MARCH 29, 2023

The Federal Government has disclosed plans to install facial recognition technology at major Airports in the country. In a statement yesterday, the Minister of State,…

    By Faruk Shuaibu

The Federal Government has disclosed plans to install facial recognition technology at major Airports in the country.

In a statement yesterday, the Minister of State, Budget and National Planning, Clem Agba, said airports would soon be operating an automatic security measure that would incorporate the use of technology to improve security around Airports and easily detect impostors.

Speaking during a visit by the Japanese Ambassador in Nigeria, Matsunaga Kazuyoshi, Agba said that the technology would be procured through grant agreements between the Federal Government of Nigeria and the Japanese Government with a focus on Lagos and Abuja International Airports in the pilot phase before the project would be extended to Port Harcourt, Enugu and Kano Airport.

The Minister disclosed that as part of the pre-requisites for the processing of the Facial Recognition Technology, he would be leading the Ambassador and the team on a site survey visit to Lagos and Abuja Airports for necessary assessments.

“I am happy that the series of meetings, which began in January this year in Tokyo on this project, aimed at recognizing faces of persons who pass through our international airports has started to yield results.  This, we believe, would further strengthen the security of our people and the country as a whole. This project was conceived in view of several security concerns among Nigerians and the need to nip these growing concerns in the bud”

On his part, Kazuyoshi explained that the use of advanced technology like the facial recognition system would ensure that security threats were reduced in and around Nigeria Airports.

“The initiative will further strengthen Nigeria’s security architecture and encourage more investment opportunities in different sectors of the economy. Similar projects have been implemented in Nairobi and Kenya which have changed the security narratives there.”

He stated that the security solution works through image capturing techniques, Neo Face Watch Logging in, live view, widgets and dashboard, face Search and image manager and basic configuration, among others.

He further called on the Nigeria Police Force and the country’s immigration services to embrace the initiative as it would automate most of their operations and ease day to day security checks in the Airports.

FG launches passport production facility in Osun - PUNCH

MARCH 30, 2023

By Temitayo Jaiyeola

The Federal Government has rolled out it enhanced e-passport as well as unveiled a new passport production centre and front office in Ilesa, Osun State.

At the launch, the Minister of Interior, Rauf Aregbesola, stated that the production and front office facilities would make it easier for more travellers to get their Nigerian international passports.

He said the facilities in Ilesa would join others in Lagos, Ibadan, Enugu, Katsina, Zaria, Daura as well as Nigerian foreign missions in countries such as the United States, United Kingdom, and Canada, among others, where the enhanced e-passport system has been rolled out recently.

In a statement, Aregbesola said, “The Nigeria Immigration Service has continued to make very remarkable contributions to the overall service delivery and accomplishments of the mandate of the Ministry of Interior, which I have supervised in the last four years.

“The climax of these contributions by the NIS is the widely acclaimed reforms in the passport administration both at home and in the Diaspora.

He also applauded the NIS under the Comptroller General of Immigration, Mr Isah Idris, for their professionalism and commitment to qualitative service delivery.

In his speech, CGI Idris stated that the enhanced e-Passport was significant to the service’s drive for robust service delivery to Nigerians and the travelling public.

He said, “The NIS is more than committed to producing results that meet the needs of our present-day society while making the best use of resources at its disposal.

“The enhanced e-Passport is significant to our drive for robust service delivery to our citizens. We are aware of the challenges being experienced by some of our compatriots in accessing passport services in recent times but with the various efforts being emplaced, such as the unveiling of the enhanced e-Passport here in Ilesa, these challenges will soon give way for the emergence of a more seamless passport application and processing.

“Efforts are ongoing to ensure more front offices are opened in other states to reduce the traffic.”

He added that the new facilities would reduce delays faced by the travelling public to the barest minimum.

He also urged applicants for new passports or reissues to abide by the guidelines and ensure they apply and pay online, avoid middlemen as well as provide correct personal information and verified National Identification Number.

Lufthansa Nears ITA Airways Deal as Shared Business Plan Agreed - BLOOMBERG

MARCH 30, 2023

(Bloomberg) -- Italy state-owned carrier ITA Airways approved a business plan shared with Deutsche Lufthansa AG, a further step toward selling a minority stake to the German airline. 

The plan envisages the development of ITA Airways’ fleet, network and strategic goals and it has been discussed by Italy’s Finance Minister Giancarlo Giorgetti, ITA Chairman Antonino Turicchi and Lufthansa’s Chief Executive Officer Carsten Spohr in a meeting in Rome on Thursday. The plan hasn’t been publicly disclosed yet. 

“Further progress has been made in the direction of the industrial partnership between the two carriers,” the Finance Ministry said in a separate note. 

Lufthansa aims to buy a minority stake in the successor of Italy’s failed flag carrier Alitalia, strengthening its position in the European airline market. The German carrier is seeking to buy as much as 40% of ITA, with the two parties still negotiating over its value. Daily Corriere della Sera reported that the stake could be worth between €200 million ($218 million) and €250 million.

ITA Airways lost €486 million in 2022, according to a statement. 


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