Travel News

Why aviation industry remains in recession – Union - PUNCH

MAY 02, 2022

BY   Okechukwu Nnodim

The National Union of Air Transport Employees on Sunday said the recent hike in airfares coupled with the impact of the Russia/Ukraine war and the COVID-19 outbreak had delayed the exit of Nigeria’s aviation sector from recession.

NUATE President, Ben Nnabue, who disclosed this in his 2022 May Day speech to workers in the sector, stated that the past year brought both strife and strides to employees in the aviation industry.

He said, “You have witnessed that before we could feel the relief from the waning notorious Coronavirus, our industry was greeted with the double punch of the Putin war on Ukraine and skyrocketing aviation fuel price.

“Against the background of negative travellers’ reaction to recent airfare increases, these multiple adversities have been exceedingly crippling, particularly for airlines. This has delayed the exit of our industry from recession.

“As expected, your union has been seriously challenged by the current pall surrounding the aviation industry. Notwithstanding, however, your union has been proving equal to the task, even making notable strides to the bargain.”

Nnabue also noted that the twin big issues of minimum wage consequential adjustment and conditions of service for the aviation agencies were currently raging.

“We stand firmly by the decision of workers not to accept continuing shifting of the goal post by government agencies on these issues.

“Therefore, this week has been set out for major decisions and subsequent decisive actions that will bring these issues to a foreclosure.

In a similar vein, Nnabue stated that NUATE was unsatisfied with ongoing discussions around the big question of airport concession.

He said, “We are unclear as to the government’s actual response to the demands of aviation unions on labour issues and many lapses in the concession programme.

“In the coming weeks, important decisions will be made to chart a clear path towards ameliorating already stated demands of workers.”

KLM cancels flights as crowds jam Amsterdam's Schiphol - AFP

MAY 02, 2022

Dutch national carrier KLM cancelled dozens of weekend flights Friday at Schiphol airport, hit hard by a strike and staff shortages as it struggles to cope with pre-coronavirus passenger numbers.

The airline axed 47 single and return flights on Saturday and Sunday, after cutting 28 return flights on Friday following an urgent plea by the airport, seen as a major gateway to Europe.

"The cancellations should contribute to Schiphol's request to keep operations at the airport manageable because of staff shortages," KLM said in a statement.

"These cancellations in KLM's flight schedule also contribute to reducing the workload" for its own staff, the airline said.

Schiphol -- Europe's busiest airport in terms of aircraft movements in 2019 when more than 70 million passengers passed through its gates -- saw numbers plunge during the coronavirus pandemic.

But after the Dutch government dropped its last major Covid-19 restrictions in mid-March, passenger numbers once again took off, peaking around the Easter weekend which was still continuing.

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) condemned Schiphol's request to airlines as "outrageous".

"Passengers book flights weeks or months in advance," IATA told the Dutch news agency ANP. "Some of them will have to cancel their holiday plans."

Dozens of flights were delayed last Saturday after some KLM ground staff walked out in a wildcat strike to protest staff shortages and long working hours.

The strike came on the first day of the May school holidays, with many families going on holiday for the first time since coronavirus restrictions were dropped.

Airlines "have complied with Schiphol's request to allow fewer passengers to travel this weekend because of the crowds", the airport said in a statement.

"The crowds are caused by the May holidays and the personnel shortages in the aviation sector," it said.

The airport said it would have talks with airlines on Sunday to discuss the problem.

Meanwhile, at least one travel company has moved operations to the nearby and less busy Rotterdam The Hague Airport.

Sydney House Prices Slide Further in April as Rate Rise Looms - BLOOMBERG

MAY 02, 2022

(Bloomberg) -- Sydney home prices declined for a third straight month in April, weighing on national property values as buyers hunkered down ahead of expected interest-rate increases.

Sydney recorded a 0.2% drop, while Melbourne was flat, CoreLogic Inc. said in a report Monday. Prices still advanced across the nation’s other major cities, gaining a monthly 0.3%, as these markets tend to lag the two largest ones.

Australia, like much of the developed world, recorded significant property gains through the pandemic after the Reserve Bank slashed rates to near zero to help prop up the economy. But rising expectations of policy tightening in the months ahead, together with already very high house prices, is beginning to cool buyer ardor.

“With the RBA cash rate set to rise, potentially as early as tomorrow, we are likely to see a further loss of momentum in housing conditions over the remainder of the year,” said Tim Lawless, research director at CoreLogic. “As the cash rate rises, variable mortgage rates will also trend higher, reducing borrowing capacity and impacting borrower serviceability assessments.”

Australian Policy Makers Take Election Center Stage in Rate Call

The central bank meets on Tuesday and is widely expected to hike its cash rate by 15 basis points to 0.25%, the first increase since 2010. 

Today’s report showed annual growth in home values slowed to 16.7% over the 12 months through April, from a recent peak of 22.2% for the year through November 2021. 

China’s Lockdowns Wreak Havoc on Economy as Xi Pledges Support - BLOOMBERG

MAY 02, 2022

(Bloomberg) -- China’s stringent lockdowns to curb Covid infections are taking a significant toll on the economy and roiling global supply chains, with President Xi Jinping under pressure to deliver on pledges to support growth.

The damage from shutdowns in April in major financial hub Shanghai, auto manufacturing center Changchun and elsewhere was laid bare by the first official data for the month released over the weekend. Both manufacturing and services activity plunged to their worst levels since February 2020, when the nation shut down to contain the first coronavirus outbreak, according to purchasing managers surveys.

Read more: China Maintains Covid Fight as Virus Lockdowns Pummel Economy

The strain on global supply chains is also becoming apparent, with the PMI data showing suppliers face the longest delays in more than two years in delivering raw materials to their manufacturing customers. Inventories of finished goods climbed to the highest level in more than a decade, while indexes for exports and imports slumped.

The figures came a day after the Communist Party’s Politburo, led by Xi, promised to meet its economic targets while at the same time sticking with its Covid Zero policy to curb infections. Economists see the two goals as contradictory, with many cutting their growth projections to well below the government’s official target of around 5.5%. 

“I expect GDP growth in the second quarter to turn negative, as lockdowns will likely be on and off,” said Zhang Zhiwei, chief economist at Pinpoint Asset Management. “The key issue going forward is how the government will fine-tune its ‘zero tolerance’ policy to mitigate the economic damage.”

Nevertheless, the Politburo’s comments -- which were timed during the trading day -- fueled a rally in stocks and the currency, with technology shares surging on signs of a possible easing of a regulatory crackdown on internet platform companies. Investors were also encouraged by comments suggesting a loosening of property restrictions and a push to boost infrastructure investment. 

Xi appeared to soften his stance toward the private sector, telling the Politburo meeting that the healthy development of private capital should be encouraged. At the same time, he said capital must be regulated and shouldn’t undermine the objectives of common prosperity.  

The pledges by top leaders came as omicron virus outbreaks continue to spread, with growing fears of a lockdown in Beijing. The capital city tightened Covid requirements over the weekend after more infections were reported following rounds of mass testing of its 22 million population. 

Citizens are now required to provide negative nucleic acid test results within 48 hours in order to enter any public venue during the five-day Labor Day holiday. Dining-in at restaurants is banned during the period, and indoor venues including theaters, internet cafes and gyms will suspend operations. The Universal Studios theme park in Beijing also announced it would temporarily close from Sunday to comply with epidemic prevention measures.

In Shanghai, where large swaths of the population have been locked down for a month or more, the government announced on Sunday that six districts met the criteria for zero community spread of Covid-19 and can loosen restrictions. Zero community spread means reporting no local Covid infections for three consecutive days and if the new daily case counts are less than 0.001% of the area’s population for the same period.

As manufacturer to the world, the lockdowns in China mean possible shortages of goods and add another risk to global inflation. Despite repeated calls from the authorities to ensure smooth logistics, container goods were still left sitting at Shanghai’s port for weeks. 

“There was plenty of evidence of worsening supply pressures,” Mitul Kotecha, head of emerging markets strategy at TD Securities, wrote in a note. “While there has been some gradual easing in some cities and provinces, manufacturing has struggled due to logistical and supply chain pressures.”

The economy is also losing the one strong pillar that had helped drive its recovery from the 2020 lockdowns. The PMI survey released Saturday showed the new export order sub-index plunged deeper into contraction to its worst level in nearly two years, while the import sub-index was the lowest since February 2020.  

Activity is likely to remain depressed throughout the second quarter as virus restrictions are tightened in several places. The fear of widespread outbreaks has ruined the prospect of a bump in consumption during the five-day Labor Day break, which is usually one of the busiest seasons for domestic tourism.

A 7.9% contraction in gross domestic product in Jilin province in the first quarter is also a warning sign on the kind of damage other regions can expect. The northeastern province of Jilin, of which Changchun is the capital, was locked down in March, and restrictions are only now starting to be lifted.  

“We remain deeply concerned about growth,” Nomura Holdings Inc. economists wrote in a note. “Despite the raft of policy measures announced by the Politburo meeting, we still believe markets should remain focused on the development of the pandemic and the corresponding Zero Covid strategy. All other polices are of secondary importance.”

Canada's economy 'overheating,' higher rates needed -Macklem - REUTERS

MAY 02, 2022

By Julie Gordon and Steve Scherer

OTTAWA (Reuters) -Canada's economy is overheating, creating domestic inflationary pressures, and higher interest rates are needed to cool things down, the head of the Bank of Canada said on Wednesday.

Governor Tiff Macklem, testifying to a Senate committee, said interest rates may need to go above the neutral rate range - currently estimated to be between 2% and 3% - for a period of time to get inflation back to target.

"If you boil it down, the economy is overheating. That's creating domestic inflationary pressures. We need to cool growth, to cool inflation," Macklem said.

"It's going to be delicate," he added. "But we do need to raise interest rates to moderate that spending growth and get inflation back to target."

The Bank of Canada increased interest rates by a rare 50 basis points earlier this month, and Macklem has signaled that the central bank will likely consider a second oversized hike at its next meeting, on June 1.

How high rates go will depend on how the economy responds to increases and on the inflation outlook, Macklem reiterated.

"It's possible that we may have to go above the neutral rate for a period of time to return inflation to target, but it's a bit above 2 or 3%, it's not 7% or 8%," he said, when pressed on whether rates could return to levels seen decades ago.

"That reflects the fact that inflation expectations are well anchored," he added.

Canada's inflation rate hit a 31-year high of 6.7% in March.

(Reporting by Julie Gordon in OttawaEditing by Chris Reese and Leslie Adler)

Inflation: Transport Fare In Q1 Highest In February - DAILY TRUST

MAY 02, 2022

By Faruk Shuaibu

The average price Nigerians pay for transportation in 2022 skyrocketed in February, reports by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) have shown.

Similarly, the average fare paid by commuters for bus journeys within the city per drop increased by 1.18 per cent; month-on-month from N470.83 in December, 2021 to N476.39 in January, 2022. While a journey by motorcycle per drop increased by 2.58 per cent month-on-month from N332.37 in December, 2021 to N340.94 in January, 2022. The fare paid for water transport in January, 2022, stood at N888.24; showing an increase of 0.77.

For February, the air fare increased by 16.88 per cent on a month-on-month basis from N38,352.19 in January, 2022 to N44,825.04 in February. On a year-on-year basis, it increased by 22.95 per cent (N36,458.11) in February, 2021.

Intercity transportation stood at N3,106.72 in February, 2022, an increase of 10.90 per cent on from the N2,801 in January. While it rose by 30.93 per cent (N2,372.87) year-on-year in February, 2021.

Bus journey within the city per drop increased by 5.00 per cent on a month-on-month from N476.39 in January, 2022 to N500.20 in February, 2022. But commuters had to pay a 38.44 per cent from N361.31 in February, 2021 to N500.20 in February, 2022.

For motorcycle per drop, there was an increase of 11.20 per cent month-on-month from N340.94 in January to N379.12 in February, 2022. While it rose by 42.13 per cent from N266.74 in February, 2021 to N379.12 in February, 2022. Water transport also increased to N913, a 2.80 per cent month-on-month but 15.0 per cent from N794.02 in February, 2021 to N913.13 in February, 2022.

In March, air fare increased by 4.43 per cent month-on-month from N44,825.04 in February, 2022 to N 46,810.62 in March, 2022. On a year-on-year basis, the fare rose by 28.26 per cent (N36,495.41) in March, 2021.

Nothing Wrong With Doctors Leaving Nigeria, They 'Ll Return Better Equipped - Ngige - THISDAY

MAY 03, 2022

By Funmi Ogundare

All Progressive Congress (APC) Presidential aspirant and Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr. Chris Ngige, yesterday described the issue of brain drain and migration of medical doctors out of the country as not totally a bad situation, saying they would come back home better equipped with knowledge to make the desired impact in the country.

Ngige, who was a guest on 'The Morning Show' on Arise News Channel, yesterday stressed that there was nothing wrong with doctors leaving Nigeria.

He argued: "This is not a phenomenon that is new in Nigeria. By 1982 and 1984, our doctors were moving to Saudi Arabia and United Kingdom. It was not a new thing. By 1990, they were moving to the United States. These countries need our doctors because they are well trained.

"Our medical doctors and consultants are the best. With the slide of the naira. When I was in the medical school, it was two dollars to one naira. But when I was graduating, it became 78 kobo to one dollar and with Structural Adjustment Programme (SAP), it moved to five dollars. Viz-a-viz the earning power locally and abroad, it is a thing the doctors can't resist and they moved in the 80s and 90s.

"What I am saying is that it is not all that bad in such a situation. Those doctors and consultants came back with better knowledge while some came back with equipment. What am saying is that all hope is not lost."

Responding to a question on doctor-patient ratio and whether the country has been able to meet the World Health Organisation's (WHO) standards, the minister said so far, no country in the world had been able to meet except Austria that is closer to it.

However, he said Nigeria should be able to deploy its doctors appropriately especially to the rural areas.

He said: "I asked the Nigeria Medical Association (NMA) if we have deployed the ones we have here appropriately? The answer is no. Seventy per cent of doctors in Nigeria are in urban cities.

"Some of them are unemployed and I am saying that if we deploy these people properly in the rural areas and pay them rural allowances, the doctor/patient ratio would not be noticed.

"If we deploy all our NYSC doctors, in the Primary Health Centre (PHC), then the basic healthcare system would have gone up. Deployment is another issue. Why should people come to the urban centres and are not employed anywhere and you are employed as ad hoc staff?

"Don't forget that these doctors were trained with tax payers' money and they were paying N80,000 in a term," Ngige stressed.

Speaking on the ASUU strike, he expressed concern that conciliation has failed between the federal government and the union, adding that most of the things in the 2009 agreement are not implementable.

"When the unions come to me, it means their employers have failed, my office is to serve as a conciliator between workers and employers. So when you see ASUU coming too, it means conciliation has failed too in education and once they come, if am unable, I should send them to National Industrial Court for their employers to adjudicate for them.

"So, most of the time my job is to listen to the complaints of the parties and take document from the ministry of finance and pass it on to ASUU. For ASUU, the document they will hold is 2009 agreement which was not signed by this administration. A lot of the things there are not implementable," Ngige said.

Tension As Tyres Of Lagos-Bound Dana Flight Catch Fire At Port Harcourt Airport - DAILY TRUST

MAY 03, 2022

There was tension at Murtala Muhammed Airport, Lagos, when the tyres of a Dana Air plane heading for Port Harcourt caught fire....

There was tension at Port Harcourt International Airport when the tyres of a Dana Air plane heading for Lagos caught fire.

The 50 passengers on board the aircraft were immediately evacuated as the pilot aborted takeoff.

However, all the aboard  were safely disembarked.

The airline confirmed that the Pilot-in-Command of the MD-83 aircraft with registration number 5N-JOY aborted takeoff after noticing some anomaly.

In a statement by its spokesman, Kingsley Ezenwa, the airline said, “Our aircraft with registration number 5N JOY operating flight 9J 344 from Port Harcourt to Lagos on 2nd of May 2022 was set to take off when the pilot in command noticed an anomaly which he queried with the Air Traffic Control (ATC) before embarking on a ramp return in line with our strict safety operating procedures

“However, the impact on the brakes as a result of the aborted take off affected the aircraft tyres which sparked off while the aircraft was taxiing to repark.

“All 50 passengers onboard the aircraft disembarked safely and our maintenance team immediately grounded the aircraft pending the conclusion of their investigations.  Once again, we sincerely apologize to all the passengers on the flight for the inconveniences caused due to the eventual cancellation of the flight.

“At Dana Air, the safety of our passengers and crew will remain a top  priority in all aspect of our operations and we will continue to operate in accordance with the civil aviation regulations and global best practices.”

‘We’re just robots’: US airline workers stranded amid staff shortages - THE GUARDIAN UK

MAY 03, 2022

Flight attendants report sleeping on airport floors when employers fail to find them hotel rooms

US airlines are still experiencing staffing shortages as air travel rebounded after initial Covid-19 shutdowns in 2020 when many airline workers were encouraged to go on furlough, resign, or retire early.

The phenomenon promises to disrupt travel for flyers even as Americans largely seek to return to many pre-pandemic habits, including air travel for work and tourism.

At JetBlue, flight delays and cancellations have been attributed to staff shortages. Transport Workers United, which represents about 5,000 flight attendants at JetBlue, criticized the airline’s blaming of flight attendants for not accepting enough assignments, causing delays and cancellations.

The union argued JetBlue had responded to staff shortages and operational problems by increasing disciplinary actions toward workers, including increasing the amount of critical coverage days workers must be available to work or else accrue disciplinary attendance points that could lead to termination.

“Historically, JetBlue has always run a skeleton staff of crew members in all their departments,” said a longtime flight attendant at JetBlue who requested to remain anonymous as they are not authorized to speak with the media.

The flight attendant said problems related to Covid-19 such as canceled, rescheduled or delayed flights that prolong time on duty or away from home and difficulties with transportation and hotel lodging for flight attendants have made many workers reluctant to accept extra assignments.

They also said many flight attendants experiencing delays or flight changes have waited several hours for JetBlue to get them a hotel room or transportation to a hotel in a layover city, cutting into their rest time. Some have given up and paid for a hotel or transportation out of pocket.

“You are kept hostage at times and are unable to get home. This is really hard for people that do have children or parents that they help take care of,” the flight attendant said. “They’re not thinking of us as humans. We’re still human beings involved in all of this too. We want to see our company succeed and we all want to come to work, we want to do the best we can, we want the passengers to keep coming back, but I feel like the thought of us as actual human beings has been removed from the equation. We’re just robots that are here to get the job done and I think that’s the thing we’re struggling with the most, that there is no respect for the workers any more.”

Gary Peterson, vice-president of the air division at Transport Workers United, argued JetBlue and other carriers have been competing in a race to the bottom terms of how workers are treated, retaining enough workers, and maintaining airline jobs as career jobs.

“I think there’s a systemic problem in the industry – everybody’s trying to compete against the lowest carrier, instead of setting themselves up to be the premier carrier,” said Peterson. “Sleeping in the hallway at the airport – that never used to happen in the industry, and now it’s becoming the new norm.”

At Spirit Airlines, staffing problems have contributed to four operation meltdowns since August 2021, an unheard-of frequency according to the Association of Flight Attendants – Communications Workers of America (AFA-CWA).

Workers at Spirit Airlines have protested outside airports in Las Vegas, Orlando and Dallas in recent weeks over contract violations by the airlines, mass cancellations that have stranded flight attendants, and persistent staffing shortages.

Don Reno Intreglia, a Spirit Airlines flight attendant based in Orlando, Florida, and AFA-CWA vice-president for Spirit Airlines, said the airline’s cancellation team and a separate team that handles flight attendant scheduling will get out of sync or fall behind, causing a domino effect in operations and leaving flight attendants to deal with frustrated passengers with no information.

The result, he said, had been flight attendants being stranded away from home with no hotel lodging, left for up to 30 hours with no answers or resolution.

“It’s been horrible on the morale for the flight attendants, because you’re sleeping on an airport floor, you’ve got pretty much nowhere to go. We had flight attendants who were getting kicked out of airports in the middle of the night,” said Intreglia. “We want the traveling public to know that we’re trying to pressure management into making serious changes, so that we are prepared for the summer travel.”

Pilots have been experiencing similar difficulties.

Pilots with Alaska Airlines are voting on a strike authorization as new union contract negotiations continue and the airline experiences a shortage of pilots.

At Delta Air Lines, pilots represented by the Airline Pilots Association have been protesting over the past several weeks outside Delta hubs in SeattleAtlantaSalt Lake CityDetroit, Los Angeles and Minneapolis, over excessive scheduling and fatigue.

“Our pilots are tired and fatigued,” said Captain Evan Baach. “Our pilots are working record amounts of overtime, we’re working longer days, we have shorter nights in between our duty periods. We want the company to match their words with action and make changes to the pilot schedules.”

A spokesperson for Delta Air Lines said in an email, “Pilot schedules remain in line with all requirements set by the FAA as well as those outlined in our pilot contract. All of our people, including our pilots, are working hard to restore our airline and deliver for our customers as we emerge from the pandemic. We are grateful for and proud of their efforts.”

JetBlue and Spirit Airlines did not respond to multiple requests for comment.

2022 Hajj: NAHCON Boss Pledges To Reduce Fares - INDEPENDENT

MAY 03, 2022

By Ahmed Musa

ABUJA – The leadership of the National Hajj Com­mission of Nigeria (NAHCON) has as­sured intending pilgrims that it was working to minimise the rising cost of participating in the holy exercise in 2022.

This was contained in a statement issued and signed by the chairman and chief executive officer of the Com­mission, Alhaji Zikirullah Kunle Hassan, to congratu­late Muslim faithful on the occasion of this year’s Eid-el Fitr in Abuja.

The NAHCON boss equal­ly disclosed that the commis­sion has made significant progress in its preparation for the 2022 Hajj exercise, just as he informed pilgrims of newly introduced policy guidelines issued by the king­dom of Saudi Arabia.

The statement reads: “By the special favour of the Al­mighty, we witness the end of Ramadan fast, glory be to Him that makes any situ­ation possible. On behalf of my humble self, NAHCON Board, management, and entire staff, I congratulate Nigerian Muslims for being alive to celebrate this joyous occasion of Eid-el-Fitr. I pray that we have exited the holy month of Ramadan with an exalted demeanor than when we started. I also pray that the Almighty grants the suppli­cations that we made for our­selves and for our country. May all our acts of worship be rewarded with jannatul firdaus.

“As we revel in the prospect of participating in Hajj 2022, I would like to reassure our intending pilgrims and other stakeholders that NAHCON has reached a significant preparatory stage with criti­cal partners essential to the success of Hajj operations. Similarly, the Commission is exploring every possible window to minimize the in­evitable increase in Hajj fare. It is in the light of this that I urge our intending pilgrims and other stakeholders to re­ciprocate NAHCON’s effort through timely payment of dues as soon as the final fare for Hajj 2022 is announced. A timely move in this direction will help management in de­termining the number of pil­grims the Commission would be making arrangements for, which is an important para­digm for a successful Hajj.  


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