Travel News

Canada tells citizens to leave Russia due to unpredictable security situation - REUTERS

MARCH 07, 2022

OTTAWA,  (Reuters) - Canada told its citizens on Saturday to leave Russia "while commercial means are still available," saying security conditions were unpredictable and could deteriorate without notice.

"Flight availability is becoming extremely limited ... The ability of our embassy to provide consular services in Russia may become severely limited," Canada's foreign ministry said in a travel advisory. Canada, like many other Western nations, imposed broad sanctions on Russia after the invasion of Ukraine.

Reporting by David Ljunggren Editing by Paul Simao

UPDATED: Russia-Ukraine War: Fourth batch of Nigerian evacuees arrive Abuja - PREMIUM TIMES

MARCH 07, 2022

The stranded Nigerians were successfully evacuated following the intervention of the federal government with the cooperation of governments of countries neighbouring Ukraine.

By Chiamaka Okafor

The fourth batch of Nigerian evacuees from Ukraine arrived Friday night at Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja.

They arrived on a plane owned by Air Peace, one of the airlines billed to airlift Nigerians returning from Ukraine. They were airlifted from Hungary where they had fled following the war in Ukraine.

A total of 306 Nigerians were evacuated on the fourth flight, according to the federal government.

PREMIUM TIMES reported the arrival of 772 evacuees who arrived in Nigeria on Friday through Max Air and Air Peace, the two airlines billed to airlift Nigerians returning from Ukraine.

The federal government on Wednesday approved $8.5 million for the evacuation of 5,000 stranded Nigerians.

According to a NAN report, the federal government gave 100 dollars to each of the evacuees to help them get to their relatives when they get to Nigeria.

Three of the returnees confirmed to PREMIUM TIMES that they received the money.

PREMIUM TIMES spoke with some of them at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport where they were received by different government agencies.

However, there are still over 300 Nigerian students stuck in Sumy waiting to be evacuated.

Over one million people have fled Ukraine since Russia’s invasion, the United Nations said, warning that “at this rate” the exodus could become “the biggest refugee crisis this century.”

Air Peace Kicks Off Direct Flight to Dubai - THISDAY

MARCH 07, 2022

BY  Chinedu Eze

Nigeria’s leading airline, Air Peace, has commenced direct flights to Dubai.

The first flight was operated with one of the airline’s Boeing 777 5N-BUU, on Tuesday, March 1, 2022.

The management of the airline disclosed this in a press statement and said that it is poised to give customers the best experience on the route.

The airline stated that United Arab Emirates is not a new terrain for Air Peace, as it commenced scheduled operations into the country via Sharjah Airport in July 2019, adding that the airline is glad that it can now operate three weekly direct flights into the city of Dubai.

Air Peace noted that UAE and Nigeria have a long-standing relationship and is delighted to be serving as one of the veritable means of oiling this amity, especially solidifying the economic ties between the two countries through air travel.

“Our commitment to excellence and determination to reduce the air travel burden of Africans will continue to drive our route expansion and fleet modernisation. It is this same excellence that we’re replicating in this service. Air Peace has recorded a lot of landmark strides in just seven years of operation, “it stated.

Nigerians Cry Out As Petrol Scarcity Persists - LEADERSHIP

MARCH 07, 2022

Despite continuous assurances of availability of petrol by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), transport fare is steadily rising as commercial transporters resort to patronising black market operators. The NNPC, again last week, promised petrol availability in sufficient quantity after failing to fulfill earlier pledges. Unofficially petrol sells between N180 – N200 per litre in various parts of Nigeria.

Marketers attribute this to a N500,000 Ship-to-Ship Coordination Charge for each transshipment operation for petrol, introduced by NNPC for involving its Marine Logistics, a part of moves by NNPC to fully recover its operational cost since the recently passed Petroleum Industry Act had made it a limited liability company.

A memo from NNPC Limited with Ref. NNPC/ML/STS01, dated 18th February, 2022, addressed to marketers with heading, “Payment Of STS Coordination Charge” signed by O.I O Ajilo on behalf of GGM Shipping, reads: ‘Please be informed that the NNPC Management has directed that effective 10th February 2022, the sum of Five Hundred Thousand Naira, (N500,000.00) only will be charged for STS Coordination fee for each transshipment operation involving NNPC Marine Logistics. This amount is to cover manpower and logistics required for coordination and production of cargo documents for the transshipment operations. A remita payment request will be generated by our accounts section for each operation to effect necessary payment upon the vessels tendering notice of Readiness, NOR.’

A marketer revealed to us that while NNPC Limited and it’s business units, which are also ‘Limited’ are  recovering their costs by passing same to marketers, there is no approval for marketers to pass these costs to the pump buyer. However, marketers cannot absorb these costs, citing newly introduced N500k bill imposed on marketers by NNPC.

“Prior to now, marketers charter NNPC vessels and pay in Naira, however we are now forced to source US dollars to pay for the charter of NNPC vessels; this is separate from costs of fenders and other ancillary costs now separated from vessel charter cost which marketers now bear but which we have no approval to pass on to the pump.

“NMDPRA and NNPC have both stated the FG’s reluctance to review pump price. Since they have passed them to marketers, the latter will reflect it either ex-depot or at the pumps,” the source said adding they have to recover costs as well.

Most private depot owners recently raised ex-depot price of petrol from approved N142 – N145/litre price to between N162 and N170/litre.

Chief Executive Officer of the Centre For The Promotion Of Private Enterprise,  CPPE, Muda Yusuf, says Russian invasion of Ukraine would produce a profound and multidimensional implication for the Nigerian economy, especially if it gets protracted. Adding, Nigeria would experience escalation of energy prices for diesel, aviation fuel, kerosene and gas, mounting petrol import and subsidy bill and aggravation of petrol smuggling.

In Lagos and Abuja, queues have persisted in the last three weeks at filling stations, with street racketeers selling a litre of petrol between N300 to N500 as against N162 – N165 official band

Kenya Airways Sees Russia’s Invasion Inflating Air Ticket Costs - BLOOMBERG

MARCH 08, 2022

(Bloomberg) -- Kenya Airways Plc said Russia’s invasion of Ukraine will result in airlines increasing ticket prices after crude oil surged, while uncertainty may reduce demand for travel. 

“We have started seeing many of the airlines taking action on this to ensure that they are able to keep on flying,” Commercial Director Julius Thairu said in an interview. 

The war could lead to a fresh crisis for aviation just as the industry looks to emerge from the Covid-19 pandemic. Airspace bans have already severely curtailed the level of flying between Russia, Ukraine and other countries, while financial sanctions imposed by a number of nations are making it harder to conduct business in Russia.

Kenya Airways projects its revenue will climb by more than 50% this year, barring the emergence of a disruptive coronavirus variant and potential jitters around the East African nation’s elections scheduled for Aug. 9, Thairu said. 

“In the last couple of months we have been slowly restoring our network, aligned with passenger demand,” Thairu said. “We have currently restored more than 90% of our network, we are flying to 42 destinations and 35 of those destinations are in Africa.” 

The airline, in which the Kenyan government has a 48.9% stake, suspended seven routes in 2020 in a bid to preserve cash. KQ, as the carrier is also known, is flying at about 60% of pre-pandemic levels and expects to reach as much as 65% this year, Thairu said. 

FG targets 30,000 e-passports monthly rollout in South-east - Aregbesola - VANGUARD

MARCH 08, 2022

By Olasunkanmi Akoni

Nigeria Immigration Service, NIS, said it targets an average monthly production of over 30,000 booklets of the enhanced electronic-Passports at its newly commissioned passport production centre in Enugu, Enugu State.

Vanguard learnt that at an average daily production capacity of 1,500 booklets, it is projected that the e-Passport facility in Enugu could process, on average, 7,500 booklets per week and above 30,000 booklets in a month.

Speaking at the recent launch of the enhanced e-Passport and commissioning of the electronic Passport Production Centre, the Minister of Interior, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, said the moves were part of strategic initiatives to put a permanent end to the lingering challenges faced by Nigerians in obtaining travel passports.

He said the Enugu facility was strategic given the high volume of economic activities in the South-east and the increasing number of citizens from the region whose businesses and socio-economic pursuits are linked internationally and thereby require faster and easier processing of their travel documents.

‘The interior ministry appreciates the volume of economic activities in the South-east and the rising number of citizens from the region who have a strong international dimension to their businesses and socio-economic pursuits. They need travel documents.

“It is our responsibility to provide it for them within the shortest possible time, at a  reasonable price and without any hassle,’’ he stated.

Aregbesola added that the centralized Passport Production Centre in Enugu would fast-track the processing of all applications enrolled in the neighbouring passport issuing centres in the entire five South-east states, namely Abia, Anambra, Ebonyi, Imo and Enugu, which are electronically transmitted to the Enugu facility for production.

He assured passport applicants from the region that, with the commissioned facility, the challenges such as delays, clumsiness and shortage of booklets associated with the production chain have been eliminated.

Aregbesola, therefore, urged applicants to always apply and make payments online for their preferred categories of passport and process their application via the official passport portal at passport.immigration.gov.ng adding that, ‘‘this arrangement is not only to save time and cost but also to speed up the process and procedure.’’

The minister again read the riot act to NIS personnel at the Passport Control Offices nationwide to desist from undermining the new measures put in place to institutionalize efficient passport application in the country, while also warning that any passport applicant that paid money to any staff for the issuance of passport would be prosecuted.

‘‘But it will interest you to know that between 2019 and now, the NIS has issued about 3 million passports to Nigerians. Last year alone, 1.3 million passports were issued. Also, last time I checked, over 250,000 passports remain uncollected by applicants.,” Aregbesola stated.

Nigerians Won’t Be Used As Mercenaries In Ukraine – FG - DAILY TRUST

MARCH 08, 2022

By Hamisu Kabir Matazu

The Federal Government on Monday said that it would not fold its arms and allow any Nigerian to be used or be recruited as mercenaries to fight in Ukraine.

He said Nigeria’s decision not to allow the use or the recruitment of its citizens as mercenaries to fight in Ukraine or anywhere else in the world is in line with international laws. 

He stated: “The Ministry of Foreign Affairs contacted the embassy to verify the speculation.

“The Ukrainian Embassy refuted the allegation but confirmed that a number of Nigerians had approached the embassy indicating their willingness to fight on the side of Ukraine in its ongoing conflict with Russia.

“Furthermore, the embassy clarified that the Ukrainian government is not admitting foreign volunteer fighters.

“It, therefore, dissociated itself from the claim that it is requesting one thousand dollars from each Nigerian volunteer for air ticket and visa.

“As a responsible member of the international community and consistent with our obligations under international laws, Nigeria discourages the use of mercenaries anywhere in the world.

“It will not tolerate the recruitment, in Nigeria, of Nigerians as mercenaries to fight in Ukraine or anywhere else in the world”.

Customs Suspends VIN Automation On Imported Used Vehicles - CHANNELS TV

MARCH 08, 2022

Authorities of the Nigeria Customs Service have finally announced the suspension of the implementation of the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) valuation policy recently introduced on imported used vehicles.

The suspension according to a circular dated March 7th, 2022, and titled, ‘Approval Of Grace Period, To Clear Backlog Of Vehicles’, begins from Tuesday, March 8th, 2022.

The policy which allows for importers to auto-generate tariffs on imported cars had led to weeks of demonstration and the shutdown of port activities by licensed Customs Agents, while the service insist on implementation led to the shutdown of port activities

However, the communique says it has approved one month window to enable the clearing agents to clear the backlog of vehicles held up in the port as a result of the strike.

Importers and agents are also warned to ensure the uniform application of rebates for all vehicles using the correct values for their assessments, according to the statement.

It further states that “the VIN-valuation protocol is still in operation as reviews and updates are being captured in our system to reflect these adjustments.”

The circular also directed the affected area controllers to monitor the transition period and ensure manual assessments are in compliance with extant laws of the hand throughout the one month grace period, starting from Tuesday 8 to 22 March 2022.

The customs National public relations officer, Timi Bomodi was on Channels Television weekend Breakfast programme, Sunrise, last week Saturday where he explained that the leadership of the service were weighing the newly introduced policy for necessary action.

Other participants on the show argued that there is an urgent need for the customs to step down the policy which they say lack an economic basis.

U.K. House Prices Surge at Strongest Annual Pace Since 2007 - BLOOMBERG

MARCH 08, 2022

(Bloomberg) --

U.K. house prices surged at the fastest annual pace since before the global financial crisis started in 2007.

The mortgage lender Halifax said the average value of a home rose for an eighth month to a record 278,123 pounds ($367,500) in February. The 0.5% gain last month left prices 10.8% higher than a year ago.

Halifax warned that growth may slow in the coming months as consumers feel a squeeze on the cost of living, with taxes and energy bills both set to jump in April. It’s also concerned about the impact of higher interest rates, a shortage of properties for sale and the hit to confidence from the war in Ukraine.

“Geopolitical events expose the U.K. to new sources of uncertainty,” said Russell Galley, managing director of Halifax. “These factors are likely to weigh on buyer demand as the year progresses, with market activity likely to return to more normal levels and an easing of house price growth to be expected.”

House prices enjoyed a stellar run during the pandemic, fueled by record-low borrowing costs, a temporary tax cut on purchases and a demand for more space. 

“Lack of supply continues to underpin rising house prices, with recent industry surveys showing a dearth of new properties being listed, now a long-term trend,” Galley said. “This may be a particular issue at the larger end of the property market.”

Affordability is already stretched for first-time buyers, and now they face a brutal cost of living squeeze that is set to be made worse by the surge in oil and gas prices following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. 

At the same time, taxes are due to go sharply in April and the Bank of England is expected to deliver a series of interest-rate rises this year to tame runaway inflation.

Uncertainty Over Nigeria Air 3 Weeks To Take Off - DAILY TRUST

MARCH 08, 2022

Three weeks to the proposed take off of the national carrier, Nigeria Air, there is uncertainty in the aviation industry with stakeholders expressing mixed...

    By Abdullateef Aliyu

Three weeks to the proposed take off of the national carrier, Nigeria Air, there is uncertainty in the aviation industry with stakeholders expressing mixed feelings over the feasibility of the project, Daily Trust can report.

Minister of Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika, had promised that the earlier rested national carrier will now commence operations by April 2022.

He spoke in November, last year, after a Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting, disclosing that the airline would create 70,000 jobs.

According to him, while the government would hold five per cent, 46 per cent would go to Nigerian entrepreneurs while the remaining 49 per cent would be reserved for strategic equity partners including foreign investors.

He had said, “This airline, if started and within the first few years will generate about 70,000 jobs. These 70,000 jobs are higher than the total number of civil servants that we have in the country. Its importance had been well discussed so, I’ll not go back to it. You had discussed it separately also on various fora as to the need for it.”

>span class="s1">Daily Trust reports since 2018 when Nigeria Air was unveiled, three different airlines have commenced operation including Ibom Air, which started operation June 7, 2019; United Nigeria (February 2, 2021) and Green Africa. Also another airline, Xejet, recently got its Air Operator’s Certificate (AOC).

Also, it would be recalled that the federal government said last year that it expects private investors to raise $250m for the proposed carrier.

However, as the government races against the time, it would on Tuesday open a bid for intending investors on the national carrier project.

This is just as a source in the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) confirmed to our correspondent at the weekend that the process of issuance of the Air Operator’s Certificate (AOC) for Nigeria Air has commenced.

But while efforts are ongoing to bring back Nigeria Air, the NG Eagles, another federal government-owned airline being championed by the Assets Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON) has been stalled over what sources called “complicated crisis” surrounding the new carrier.

It would be recalled that there was a petition by some aviation unions to the National Assembly kicking against AOC for NG Eagles created from the vestiges of Arik Air taken over by AMCON.

NG Eagles had converted at least two of Arik Air planes to NG Eagles preparatory to the commencement of operations but up till now, the AOC has not been issued.

But the highly placed source who confirmed the commencement of the AOC process for Nigeria Air did not however state when the process started and the time it would be completed.

Normally, the AOC, which involves five different rigorous stages could take more than two years depending on the availability of relevant documents and completion of the relevant paper works.

Many stakeholders are anxious as to the magic the government hopes to perform in securing the AOC for the take-off of the national carrier, warning that any attempt at waiving some aspects of this would not augur well for the industry.

“It is true that the process has actually started to get the AOC for the new national carrier. I can confirm that you and I hope every Nigerian would join the minister in making this happen,” the source said, pleading not to be named as he was not authorised to speak on the issue.

But beyond the AOC, other experts said they were waiting to see the magic to be performed by the government when it is not on record that the Air Transport License (ATL), which precedes the AOC has been obtained.

In addition, the proposed airline needs to have at least two aircraft to conduct demonstration flights across the country in addition to having in place a Board of Directors, recruitment of technical staff to at least man the proposed airline.

An airline operator who spoke with our correspondent on the condition of anonymity said, “We need to ask ourselves what is the total number of civil servants? For the past 13 years, there has not been any national carrier.

“Now, private people spent over $13bn of their money and the government didn’t pay. So why are you going to create another one when the private people are helping you by spending over $13bn of their money. Now there are about 28 foreign airlines coming out of Nigeria, already we have been covered. If you say it is capital flight, now you are going to start your own capital flight because you are going to buy planes. And if you are going to lease, you are going to lease newer planes.”

>span class="s1">He however said if the government insists on going ahead with the national carrier, the process must be followed to the letter.

“Do you know some airlines spent three years pursuing AOC? Arik Air did demonstration flights to as far as New York, Paris. If the government decides to waive some of these things, then we will protest. You need the paperwork, you have to get a number of staff, a number of planes, demonstration flights,” he said.

The minister had said last that by April, “We should be able to have our AOC ready, which means, we are ready to start.”


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