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Green Africa disrupts airline business with cheap airfares - BUSINESSDAY

MAY 28, 2021

With insecurity driving more people to travel by air and the incessant surge in airfares as a result of depleting fleet and high foreign exchange, Green Africa, a new entrant in the Nigerian aviation sector, may cause disruption in airline business as it commences sales of tickets with airfares as low as N16,500.

From N28,000 for one hour flight after the high season in December 2020, the average cost of one hour ticket has now risen to N60,000 for one way ticket and rising still as high as N80,000 for passengers who buy a ticket on the day they are travelling.

Airlines have continued to increase the price of tickets because they source foreign exchange from the parallel market at N500 per dollar.

This is also as operators point out that many aircraft that were taken out of the country overseas were yet to be brought back because of the coronavirus pandemic, which has hindered activities in most countries, so the Nigerian carriers have limited fleet but high demand for air travel, as insecurity continues to discourage many people from travelling by road.

With the 70 percent slash in airfares offered by Green Africa, stakeholders are concerned if these fares would be sustainable and if passengers would be willing to fly propeller aircraft instead of jet aircraft, considering how uncomfortable these aircraft can be.

“Actually, if I ran an airline in Nigeria, I would do exactly what Green Africa appears to be trying to do – target the mid-to-lower end of the market with cheap tickets by using propeller aircraft instead of jet aircraft.

“Up to 40 percent less fuel consumption so cheaper tickets. The trade-off is longer flight times and more in-flight turbulence since turboprops have lower cruising altitude (and turboprops are also noisier than jets). But in Nigeria, the deciding factor is always price,” David Hundeyin, a renowned writer, journalist and researcher stated via his twitter handle @DavidHundeyin.

He acknowledged that turboprops are less comfortable and take longer time than jets, adding that some aircraft type like the ATR72, which Green Africa uses are known to have tail rudder issues in severe icing conditions, but in our equatorial climate, that is unlikely to be a factor.

Hundeyin, who expressed his optimism in Green Africa’s business model, added, “Let people fly for N20,000 and you’re printing money.”

With Green Africa’s commencement of ticket sales, some airlines are already slashing fares.

For instance, airfares from Lagos to Abuja has dropped from N60,000 in April to between N25,000 and N35,000 now.

AirPeace slashed the airfare from Lagos to Ilorin from N52,500, some airlines charged last month, to N32,700.

Seyi Adewale, CEO, Mainstream Cargo Limited, told BusinessDay that N16,500 airfares was just a promotional fare by Green Africa to appeal to passengers not used to flying a propeller aircraft and who were yet to experience the airline for the first time.

“If Green Africa does not get people to experience their flights, they won’t be able to penetrate the market. People would be willing to fly the turboprops, as long as it is cheaper,” Adawale said.

He assured that after two weeks of offering promotional prices, Green Africa would begin to adjust prices to fit into current operational and economic realities.

Checks by BusinessDay show that the seat capacity for an ATR 72-600 aircraft that would be operated by Green Africa would take between 70 and 78 passengers, depending on the seat configuration.

John Ojikutu, aviation security consultant and secretary general of the Aviation Safety Round Table Initiative (ASRTI), told BusinessDay that the load factors of the small aircraft were lower, so they may not break even if they charge the same rates with airlines having bigger aircraft.

It cost airlines between $500,000 and $1 million to carry out mandatory C-checks on their aircraft every 18 months.

Checks show that it cost not less than N2 million to operate a one-way flight using a Boeing 737 aircraft. Aviation fuel cost about N220 per litre and operators would need not less than 8,000ltr (N1.7m) to operate a one way Lagos- Abuja flight. In addition, operators need to pay for landing and parking fees, ground handling fees, en-route air navigation services, catering, among others.

Aviation analysts say when airlines charge passengers less than N40,000 for a one-way flight, they are operating at a loss or relying on government intervention funds, palliatives or concession on recurring debts.

However, Tolu Odutola, a pilot and aviation expert, argued that Green Africa operates ATR 72-600, which are generally cheaper to maintain than the 737s, CRJs and other aircraft operated by local airlines.

Operations cost is generally cheaper and that is probably why ticket costs are commiserate, Odutola said, but noted that N16,500 fare may also just be an introductory rate to break into the market.

Air Peace Begins Flights to Ilorin - THE NATION

MAY 28, 2021

Air Peace has announced the commencement of Ilorin flights from Lagos and Abuja as well an increase in its daily flights to Accra, Ghana

Spokesman of the airline, Stanley Olisa, who disclosed this to journalists, stated that the airline was set to kick off daily Abuja-Ilorin-Abuja and Lagos-Ilorin-Lagos flights on June 17, 2021. Olisa explained that the new route further exemplifies the airline’s unwavering determination to interconnect various cities across Nigeria while filling the gaps in Nigeria’s air travel connectivity, adding that the flying public could start booking flights for the new destination.

According to him, Air Peace continually reviews its current route network, assesses the air travel needs of Nigerians and consequently develops strategic action plans to meet those needs by launching new routes and connections for Nigerians at affordable fares, with its signature hospitality.

“In the same vein, the airline has also increased its Accra flights to two daily in line with popular demand.

“Air Peace currently services 16 domestic routes, five regional routes and two international destinations, including Johannesburg and boasts of a mixed fleet of 28 aircraft, including 2 brand new Embraer 195-E2 jets delivered earlier this year, with 11 more lined up for delivery,” Olisa said.

Green Africa Offers N16, 500 Fares - THISDAY

MAY 28, 2021

Green Africa has commenced flight tickets sales with offerings as low as N16, 500. The airline said the booking website greenafrica.com is now open to members of the public for ticket purchase following the pre-sales approval of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA).

Cities to be served are Lagos (LOS) connecting Akure (AKR), Ilorin (ILR), Abuja (ABV), Owerri (QOW), Port Harcourt (PHC) and Enugu (ENU).

“Flights as low as N16, 500 are available on the website with flight dates starting from June 24th, 2021. Three products are available – gSaver, gClassicTM and gFlexTM giving customers the flexibility of purchasing the product that suits their travel plans. gFlyers who register on the booking website – greenafrica.com get a unique code that gives 10 per cent off their first booking to celebrate this milestone,” the airline stated.

Speaking on the development, Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Green Africa, Babawande Afolabi, said, “Today is a great day for every member of the gTeam and we are thrilled that our customers can now book their trips with us. We are building a value carrier that will connect customers to their opportunities and be a catalyst for positive change across the region.”

The ongoing “gFlyer Special Offer” which takes 10 per cent off ticket prices will last till 11:59pm WAT on June 23rd, 2021. Corporate package known as “gBusiness” is planned for roll out within the coming weeks to cater to SMEs and corporate travels.

The airline is one of the new entrants that are to debut soon, as it has finished the last stage of the process to obtain Air Operator Certification (AOC).

There are other airlines lined up to join the Nigerian domestic market, so it is expected that the outrageous airfares would soon become competitive.

Like Green Africa, other new entrants have chosen small body aircraft, which industry experts said are more profitable and easy to maintain.

Czechs to fully reopen restaurants, bars, admit some foreign tourists - REUTERS

MAY 28, 2021

Czech restaurants, bars, night clubs and other hospitality venuescan serve customersindoors from Monday, Health Minister Adam Vojtech said on Friday, announcing a quicker-than-planned easing of COVID-19 restrictions following a court ruling.

The Czech government, which has been battling one of the world's most severe second waves of the pandemic, had planned to open indoor facilities from mid-June, as the situation has been steadily improving and vaccinations increasing.

But last week the country's Supreme Administrative Court ruled that blanket restrictions on restaurants were illegal, acting upon a complaint filed by a customer.

"I am not entirely happy that we have to make such a radical easing at one moment. If it were not for the court ruling, then I would suggest sticking to the June 14 date (planned for reopening)," Vojtech told a televised news conference.

Restaurants in the Czech Republic have been allowed to serve customers outdoors since May 17. Schools have also reopened.

From Monday, swimming pools, saunas and casinos will also be allowed to reopen, while the numbers of participants allowed at culture and sports events will rise.

For restaurants self-tests for COVID-19 will suffice, while for all other venues that are allowed to reopen people will have to get tested professionally, Vojtech said.

The Czech Republic will also open up to tourists from seven countries - Slovakia, Hungary, Poland, Slovenia, Croatia, Austria and Germany - under reciprocal agreements.

As of Friday morning, the seven-day number of reported cases per 100,000 dropped to 34. Earlier this year the Czech Republic had one of the highest per capita COVID-19 infection and death rates in the world.

Now the number of daily vaccinations has reached around 100,000. The country of 10.7 million has distributed 5 million doses of vaccines in total so far, and 1.37 million people have now received two doses.

Saudi Arabia lifts ban from travelers arriving from 11 countries- SPA - REUTERS

MAY 29, 2021

Saudi Arabia is lifting a ban on travelers arriving from 11 countries that it imposed to curb the spread of coronavirus, the Saudi state news agency said on Saturday, but will still require quarantine procedures.

Travelers from the United Arab Emirates, Germany, the United States, Ireland, Italy, Portugal, the United Kingdom, Sweden, Switzerland, France and Japan, will be allowed entry from Sunday, SPA reported, quoting an Interior Ministry source.

Airport changes name after years of fighting over 'Orlando' - THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

MAY 29, 2021

MELBOURNE, Fla. (AP) — After years of fighting and litigation over who can include “Orlando” in the name of their central Florida airport, Orlando International Airport officials and Orlando Melbourne International Airport officials have tentatively agreed that Orlando Melbourne International Airport will change its name to Melbourne Orlando International Airport.

The Melbourne Airport Authority announced the Space Coast airport's new name Friday. The name change was legally agreed upon to everyone’s mutual satisfaction in a consent and license agreement, officials said. It must be approved by both airport boards.

The newly renamed Melbourne Orlando International Airport is about 70 miles (110 kilometers) southeast of Orlando International Airport, which is the busiest airport in Florida.

The Melbourne International Airport began operations in 1928 and changed its name in 2015 to Orlando Melbourne International Airport in an effort to attract more travelers. Officials with the Greater Orlando Aviation Authority, which operates the Orlando International Airport, took issue with the new name of the Orlando Melbourne International Airport and eventually filed a federal lawsuit in 2019. The lawsuit claimed the Orlando Melbourne International Airport was misleading passengers into believing they were going to the theme park mecca in the middle of the state instead of Florida's Atlantic coast.

The Associated Press

Woman arrested at US border with sloth, crocodile parts - THE CANADIAN PRESS

MAY 29, 2021

HIGHGATE SPRINGS, Vt. (AP) — A Montreal woman has been arrested on charges of trying to cross the U.S. border into Canada with “numerous undeclared wildlife items," including a three-toed sloth, 18 crocodile skulls and heads and seven crocodile feet, according to documents filed in federal court in Vermont.

Both sloth and crocodile are protected under the U.S. Endangered Species Act and the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, the Bennington Banner reported Friday.

Vanessa Rondeau, the owner of The Old Cavern Boutique in Montreal, also was alleged to be in possession of two horseshoe crabs, 30 sea stars, 23 racoon feet, eight African antelope horns, one human skull “with mounted butterflies,” four puffer fish and six shark jaws on Wednesday when she attempted to cross the border at Highgate Springs, Vermont, according to the criminal complaint.

All wildlife must be declared to the Fish and Wildlife Service upon import into the United States and prior to its export from the United States, under the Endangered Species Act.

An email was sent to Rondeau’s public defender seeking comment.

Rondeau entered the U.S. 18 times between November 2018 and September 2019, mostly at the Champlain, New York, port of entry, including a dozen times between midnight and 2 a.m.., Ryan Bessey, a special agent with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, wrote in an affidavit.

Working undercover Bessey asked Rondeau in a private message in January 2020 if she had any polar bear skulls for sale, the affidavit states. Rondeau offered to sell a skull for $780 and Bessey received it in the mail, he said. Bessey bought another polar bear skull from Rondeau for $711, he said.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service had also intercepted packages she sent containing skulls from a bird, a weasel, a bat and the skin from a Hartmann’s zebra, another protected species, the affidavit states.

The Old Cavern Boutique "offers for sale a variety of unique curiosity and oddity items, many composed in whole or in part from wildlife,” Bessey wrote.

The Lacey Act prohibits the trafficking of items that come from endangered species.

FG begins Kaduna-Kano rail construction in July – Amaechi - PUNCH

MAY 30, 2021

BY Okechukwu Nnodim



The Federal Government will begin the construction of the Kaduna-Kano rail line in July, the Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, said on Friday.

Amaechi said the government was currently rounding up the Lagos-Ibadan rail project billed for inauguration in June and based on that, construction work on the Kaduna-Kano line would commence in July.

He disclosed this when he led a delegation of Nigerian Shippers Council and Nigeria Railway Corporation on a courtesy visit to Kano State Governor, Abdullahi Ganduje, in Kano.

The minister told his host that based on the economic viability of the state, the rail line and the Inland Dry Port would boost the business activities of Kano, as well as encourage import and export.

Amaechi stated that even though there was no river in the state, maritime activities would be brought to Kano once the rail line becomes operational.

He was quoted in a statement issued in Abuja by his media aide, Taiye Edeni, as saying “We are here because we want to see how far you have gone with the Dala Inland Dry Port.

“This is because between now and July, we would start work on the Kaduna-Kano part of the rail. Wherever we link the Kano rail to Kaduna and link Ibadan to Abuja, then we have the problem of cargoes.”

The minister added, “We have to learn how to manage cargoes that come to Kano, like you know, we are also linking Kano-Maradi. So Kano will be the hub for the railway sector and with a major station in Kano it will be able to control the volume of human traffic in Kano.”

Amaechi said Kano was important to the railway sector, adding that the Federal Government was trying to see how to bring maritime into Kano, as the Nigerian Shippers’ Council North-West Zonal Office was located in Kano.

Responding, Ganduje said that he was delighted that the zonal office of the NSC was located in the state because of the commercial nature of Kano.

The Kano governor stated that based on the population of the state, its volume of import and export had been very high.

He said the state government would make the Dala Inland Dry Port wet in terms of performance.

Fare offering spikes competition among airlines - THE NATON

MAY 30, 2021

•As new operator offers N16,500 fare regime on key routes



By Kelvin Osa Okunbor

Lower fare regime by start-up carriers in aviation has triggered fierce competition.

Latching on less fuel consuming propeller airplanes and a discount on fares a new operator, Green African Airways is creating unease among indigenous operators as the carrier unveiled lower fares offering as low as N16,500 on a one way trip.

Investigation by The Nation revealed that the lower fare regime by the new carrier which unveiled itself as a low cost operator is forcing other carriers to review their fares before the carrier begins flights next month.

Other operators charge double fare structure offered by the new carrier on same routes.

According to information gleaned from the airline’s website booking for flights is now open to the public for ticket purchase activities following the pre-sales approval of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA). Cities to be served are Lagos (LOS) connecting Akure (AKR), Ilorin (ILR), Abuja (ABV), Owerri (QOW), Port Harcourt (PHC) and Enugu (ENU).

The information reads:” Flights as low as N16,500 are available on the website with flight dates starting from June 24th, 2021. Three products are available- gSaver, gClassicTM and gFlexTM giving customers the flexibility of purchasing the product that suits their travel plans. gFlyers who register on the booking website – greenafrica.com get a unique code that gives 10 percent off their first booking to celebrate this milestone.”

Speaking in an interview, Green Africa Airways Chief Executive Officer/ Founder, Babawande Afolabi said: “Today is a great day for every member of the gTeam and we are thrilled that our customers can now book their trips with us. We are building a value carrier that will connect customers to their opportunities and be a catalyst for positive change across the region.

“The ongoing “gFlyer Special Offer ‘’ which takes 10 percent off ticket prices will last till 11:59pm WAT on June 23rd, 2021. Corporate package known as “gBusiness” is planned to roll out within the coming weeks to cater to SMEs and corporate travelers. “

Besides Green Africa Airways another operator – Cardinal Airlines, which intends to revolutionize air travel promised to offer lower fares.

The airline sources hinted that it is concluding plans to bring in ATR regional aircraft to boost its operations.

COVID-19 cases surge in China's Guangzhou city, triggering flight cancellations - CNA

MAY 31, 2021

SHANGHAI: China on Monday (May 31) reported a sudden surge in COVID-19 infections in the country's south, with 18 new local cases on May 30 in the city of Guangzhou, causing a flurry of flight cancellations.

Of the 27 new coronavirus cases reported by the national health authority in its daily updates, only seven infections were imported, with the remainder originating in Guangdong province.

Out of the 20 new locally confirmed patients on May 30, 18 were found in Guangzhou city and two in Foshan city, health authorities in Guangdong province said on Monday.

As of 11.40am, a total of 519 flights at Guangzhou Baiyun International Airport were cancelled, accounting for 37 per cent of total flights on Monday, according to aviation data provider Variflight.

Guangzhou Baiyun International Airport, which carried 43.8 million passengers last year, was the world's busiest airport in the midst of a global pandemic.

People leaving the city from airports, train stations and shuttle bus stations need to show proof of a negative COVID-19 test within three days, unless they were transiting, the city said in a statement late on Sunday.

On Saturday, the Guangzhou government ordered residents on five streets in the city's Liwan district to remain at home and suspended non-essential activities, while entertainment venues and markets were closed.

Recent infections in the city were contracted with a fast-spreading virus strain detected in India according to genome sequencing results, Chen Bin, deputy director at the city's municipal health commission, told a press conference on Sunday.

China also reported 19 new asymptomatic infections, which China does not classify as confirmed cases, on May 30, compared with 22 a day earlier.

As of May 30, China had a total of 91,099 confirmed COVID-19 cases, while its death toll remained unchanged at 4,636. 

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