Travel News

Ethiopian Introduces Arabic, French Services at Customer Centre - THISDAY

MAY 07, 2023

Ethiopian Airlines has announced that it has started providing its Global Customer Interaction Center services in two additional international languages namely, Arabic and French.

The Global Customer Interaction Center underwent a major reform in 2014, expanding its interaction scope with customers from call handling to an omni-channel interaction leveraging multiple channels including social media. Regarding the addition of these languages, Ethiopian Airlines Group CEO Mr. Mesfin Tasew, said, “We are excited to further expand the services of our globally acclaimed customer interaction center using Arabic and French as additional international languages for handling the queries of our customers. The addition of these languages is a game changer as it will enable us to cater to our customers with their preferred languages. It will also increase our customer reach to locations where these languages are spoken predominantly. Offering the services of our Global Customer Interaction Center in multiple international languages also proves our commitment andrelentless efforts to elevate customers’ experience.” The center has received the ‘World Class Contact Center’ accolade from Snapshotz, an internationally recognized certifying body for customer service delivery. It won the certificate after onsite completion of Snapshotz’s audit process and probing over 800 data points.

Dnata Adopts Latest Feature in IATA’s DG AuthoCheck

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) announced that dnata has become the first company to adopt ‘Connect API’, the newest feature of IATA’s DG AutoCheck.

Connect API will help in the digitalization of the air cargo industry by automating the transfer of data from DG AutoCheck to other systems in the industry’s value chain. This connectivity has been enabled via IBS Software’s iCargo solution, which is currently being Implemented across dnata’s global network. 

Connect API can be used flexibly in line with user priorities. dnata, for example plans to use Connect API to link its warehouse management system (iCargo) to DG AutoCheck to automate the creation of notifications to captain (NOTOC). Other potential applications include linking DG AutoCheck to operational or accounting systems and cargo management systems (CMS). 

According to IATA’s Senior Vice President Commercial Products and Services, Frederic Leger, “Efficiently exchanging data with Connect API will help deliver the speed, quality, compliance and ultimately safety benefits of digitalization that air cargo customers are demanding. These benefits are real and measurable. Today it can take up to 100 minutes to get flight crew of freighter operations, detailed information on dangerous goods in the payload through NOTOC systems. With Connect API, this will be instantaneous. We are proud to be launching Connect API with dnata, bringing benefits to their customers.”  

dnata’s SVP UAE Cargo and Global Cargo Strategy, Guillaume Crozier, said: “We are delighted to deliver this innovation to our customers. Connecting iCargo to DG AutoCheck through Connect API will accelerate dangerous goods acceptance checks while enabling the highest level of safety, compliance, and efficiency throughout the handling process. In addition, we will be able to further optimize our operations through the data by our systems working more efficiently together.”

Labour Disrupts Owerri Flights, Air Peace Loses N400m - DAILY TRUST

MAY 07, 2023

Hundreds of Owerri-bound passengers were stranded at airports in Lagos, Abuja and other parts of the country yesterday when members of the Nigeria Labour Congress…

By Abdullateef Aliyu

Hundreds of Owerri-bound passengers were stranded at airports in Lagos, Abuja and other parts of the country yesterday when members of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) prevented flights from taking off to Owerri, the Imo State capital.

The action, according to Air Peace, one of the airlines affected, caused it to lose N400 million.

The NLC declared a “No Flight to Owerri” action in protest against the disruption of the May Day celebration by the state governor, Hope Uzodinma.

The NLC had in a letter by its Secretary-General, Comrade Emmanuel Ugboaja, declared a comprehensive industrial action in the state and directed other affiliates, especially unions in aviation to ensure no flight leaves Lagos Airport to Owerri.

Following the action, several flights leaving the Murtala Muhammed International Airport (MMIA), Lagos to Owerri were not allowed to leave the airport.

The action affected Air Peace, Ibom Air, Dana and other airlines flying to the state.

The Air Peace in a statement, said it has no affiliation whatsoever with the Imo State government and wondered why its operation would be disrupted.

“They had written to us yesterday, saying that no flight should be operated into Owerri today because, as alleged, Governor Uzodinma disrupted their May Day activities a few days ago.

“While they were doing this, another Nigerian airline was allowed to operate into and out of Owerri. They took over our counters in Owerri, Abuja and Lagos, disrupting over 110 flights of Air Peace.

“This particular illegal action of NLC and TUC will lead to over N400 million loss to the airline. It will equally lead to massive disruptions and cancellations of our flights across the country today, and that will snowball into the coming days too,” Air Peace stated.

Flight Disruption: Stay away from airports, FAAN tells NLC, TUC - VANGUARD

MAY 07, 2023

The Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) has urged the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and Trade Union Congress (TUC) to stay away and not disrupt flight operations at airports over their grievances in Owerri.

Capt. Hamisu Yadudu, Managing Director, FAAN, said this in Lagos on Sunday while speaking with newsmen.

Recall that the unions, on Wednesday, disrupted flight operations to Owerri over alleged disruptions of their May Day rally by miscreants.

Yadudu said the unions’ disruption of flight operations was condemnable.

“They wrote to us that our workers would come and picket the Lagos Airport and they should not allow flights to fly Owerri Airport because their members were harassed by Imo State Government.

“However, for any organisation that is licensed by the government to behave in personal interest and not national interest, is very unfortunate.

“It has nothing to do with labour or workers in Nigeria; in fact, they undermined aviation and other workers because people lost their flights. I pray no one dies.

“The more you distress aviation, the more you are creating vulnerability for uncertainty.

“What happened that day is very regrettable and just a sign of ego massage and I think that has no place in aviation,” he said.

Yadudu said the unions’ action was illegal and  a violation of the Nigeria Civil Aviation Act which puts aviation as an essential service.5

He said the unions undermined the nation by carrying out the action, noting that FAAN would not tolerate such anymore.

The Managing Director said that he had written to the Ministry of Aviation, notifying them of the need to protect the aviation sector from the action of the NLC and TUC.

Yadudu said the industry needed the confidence of stakeholders, to boost operations.

Lagos-Ibadan Expressway - FRSC Tells Travellers to Seek Alternative Routes - PREMIUM TIMES

MAY 08, 2023

FRSC advises Lagos-bound travellers to use the Ikorodu through Sagamu and Ijebu-Ode, and Epe for Lagos routes

The Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) has advised travellers using the Lagos-Ibadan expressway to explore alternative ways due to a road traffic crash along the route.

The Corps spokesperson, Bisi Kazeem, disclosed this on Sunday in a statement in Abuja.

Mr Kazeem said the crash involving a tanker occurred in the early hours of Sunday under the Ibafo pedestrian bridge on the outward Lagos section of the expressway.

He said the FRSC officers and some security agencies had been on top of the situation since the occurrence of the crash.

He added that the contents of the fallen vehicle had been successfully trans-loaded into another one while men of the Ogun State Fire Service had proceeded to refill their water tank.

"Unfortunately, some inpatient drivers who choose to drive against the flow of traffic from all available exit points have done so, thereby causing traffic jams.

"This is however, not only for the outward Lagos section where the RTC occurred alone but also, the inward Lagos section as well.

"All road users going into and out of Lagos are therefore advised to explore alternative routes.

"Such routes include Ikorodu through Sagamu and Ijebu-Ode, and Epe for Lagos bound vehicles, " he said.

He advised some to ply Abeokuta through Sagamu Interchange as well for their own good.

American Airlines pilots vote for potential strike while airline says negotiations are progressing - CNBC

MAY 08, 2023


  • American Airlines and the pilots’ union are negotiating a new contract.
  • More than 99% of pilots who voted approved of allowing the union to call a potential strike, a step other airlines’ pilots have recently taken.

American Airlines pilots have voted overwhelmingly to allow their labor union to call a strike while the carrier said talks for a new contract are getting close to a conclusion.

Pilot strikes are rare and would require permission from the federal National Mediation Board. The vote doesn’t mean a decision to call a strike would happen immediately.

More than 96% of American’s pilots participated in the vote and 99% of them voted to allow the union to call a strike, the Allied Pilots Association said Monday.

The APA called the strike authorization vote in March as talks for a new deal dragged on. American Airlines CEO Robert Isom had said the airline was ready to raise pay to match rival Delta Air Lines, whose pilots approved a four-year deal earlier this year with 34% raises and other improvements.

“Today marks a proud milestone in our pilot group’s unity and resolve and an important step on our path to securing the contract we have earned and deserve — one that prevents management from operating at a discount to our competitors and includes our ‘must have’ quality-of-life priorities,” APA president Capt. Ed Sicher wrote to pilots Monday.

A spokeswoman for American Airlines said the carrier believes a deal is “within reach” and that a “handful” of issues are left to complete.

“The finish line is in sight,” she said in a statement. “We understand that a strike authorization vote is one of the important ways pilots express their desire to get a deal done and we respect the message of voting results.”

Including higher 401(k) contributions, at the end of a potential four-year deal at American, a captain flying narrow-body planes would make $475,000 at the top of the scale while the most senior captains of wide-body planes would make $590,000 per year, based on a recent contract proposal.

Pilot contract talks have been difficult throughout the industry, including at American, United Airlines and Southwest Airlines, as pilots seek not only increases in pay but quality-of-life improvements such as better, more predictable schedules as travel demand improves following the pandemic.

Why Airfares, Hotels and Cars are Getting So Expensive for Americans - BLOOMBERG

MAY 08, 2023

(Bloomberg) -- Companies from automakers to hoteliers keep on sacrificing sales volume – sometimes by design, sometimes by necessity – in favor of higher prices, a dynamic that will test the Federal Reserve’s efforts to rein in inflation. 

The latest set of earnings showed that businesses aren’t likely to walk away from a strategy Corbu LLC’s Samuel Rines calls “price over volume” adopted by certain industries at the height of the pandemic, when supplies and labor were both hard to come by.

Ford Motor Co. said this month it is aiming to maintain robust sticker prices, even if that means rolling fewer cars off its assembly lines. Lodging giant Marriott International Inc. has focused on increasing room rates, especially for corporate accounts. Southwest Airlines Co. is among US carriers that are pulling in record revenue as tight flying capacity is helping to keep fares higher.

With peak tourism season around the corner, this reliance on pricing power isn’t going anywhere. And it may be apparent in Wednesday’s consumer price index report, which economists surveyed by Bloomberg estimate will show the annual inflation rate was unchanged at 5% in April after falling for nine straight months. 

“It is going to prove much more sticky, prevalent and problematic for the Fed over the summer than people anticipate,” said Rines, an economist and managing director at Corbu.  

Auto prices are not far off record highs and the average monthly payment for a new car in March was $754 amid rising interest rates, according to Cox Automotive. That’s almost one sixth of the median post-tax income for US households. The price crunch will likely get more acute as carmakers push to convert their fleets to more expensive electric models.

The pricing tactics reflect lessons of earlier phases of the pandemic: When Ford and its rivals struggled with a chip shortage, they saw running with a thinner backlog of cars had profit upside. 

Unlike Ford, which is intentionally limiting manufacturing output, some airlines can’t fly at full capacity because they don’t have enough trained pilots and are seeing delays in receiving new aircraft and parts. Southwest, for example, has said it could have operated as much as 8% more flying capacity in March if it had enough pilots.

The capacity constraints, coupled with strong demand, are allowing the industry to command high prices, especially for flights overseas. Round-trip fares to Europe are averaging $1,032, or 35% above last year and 24% higher than pre-pandemic, according to travel search engine Hopper Inc. International fares should reach their highest levels in five years this summer, the Hopper data show. 

The lodging industry, meanwhile, has changed its playbook for the current consumer environment. Prices at US hotels increased by more than 10% in the first quarter compared to the year before, according to data from STR, a Costar Group company. Over the same period, though, occupancy rates increased by only about 6%.

One reason is the demand mix has changed, with leisure travelers returning faster than business travelers, concentrating demand on weekends. But owners also acclimated to running hotels at lower occupancy, a model that helps reduce costs because there are fewer rooms to clean.

“In the pandemic, the industry lost a lot of staff, and gained a lot of pricing power,” said Jan Freitag, national director for hospitality analytics at CoStar.

These service businesses are courting consumers who have been conditioned to put up with price increases after pandemic-related supply chain snarls drove up the cost of everyday staples.

Case in point: Kimberly-Clark Corp., the Dallas-based maker of Huggies diapers and Kleenex tissues, raised prices by 10% across all its categories last quarter. Sales volumes did fall by 5%, but its gross margin rose to 33% from about 30% a year ago.

“If the price goes up on bath tissue, it generally doesn’t mean you’re going to use the bathroom less, right?” Chief Executive Officer Michael Hsu said on its earnings call last month.

Rines, the Corbu economist, says that backdrop has led investors to expect companies to raise prices to become more profitable.

“What we’ve seen is companies across the board do that,” he said. “And if companies can’t do that, they’re getting hammered.”

Still, price-hike strategies can only carry service-sector companies so far. Consumers might balk, and some politicians and economists, including Rines, have already characterized the moves as opportunism because profits have risen alongside prices.

Diana Gomes, a Bloomberg Intelligence analyst who covers consumer goods, said that for all the companies she follows, gross margin is still below what it was in 2019 – a signal their price hikes are largely only offsetting rising commodities and supply-chain costs.

Going forward, prices for services like travel and hotel stays are the biggest concern for the Federal Reserve.

That in part reflects that services companies rely more heavily on workers than manufacturers do, so they’re more affected by wage growth. And those gains have been relentless, up 5.1% year over year among private-sector workers, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

For the Fed, the challenge is to cool off a hot labor market while simultaneously sapping companies’ pricing power, said Kathy Bostjancic, chief economist at Nationwide Life Insurance Co. She sees consumers scaling back on spending a bit once they scratch their travel itch this summer, given rising costs. 

“It needs to be seen if companies can continue this pricing power,” she said. “My sense is that it fades.”

Flight disruption in Abuja as Max Air loses landing wheel - THE GUARDIAN

MAY 08, 2023

By Wole Oyebade (Lagos) and Joke Falaju (Abuja)

NSIB begins investigation

It was a chaotic scene at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport (NAIA), Abuja, yesterday, as Max Air airline had a serious incident on landing, and abruptly cordoned off the busy runway.

The emergency incident, which occurred at about 2:58 p.m., panicked onboard passengers, as much as it distressed all Abuja outbound and inbound passengers that were subsequently grounded for over seven hours.

The Guardian learnt that the Boeing 737 Max Air jet, with registration number 5N-MBD, and 149 souls onboard, took off from Yola Airport at 2:03pm, losing one of its left rear tyres.

An onboard passenger said the take off damage to a rear tyre was noticed by the passengers, “with many panicking and some started praying for safe landing.”

“The flight went well until it hit the Abuja runway, losing the second tyre, with more confusion for everyone on board. The roll was scary, and the left landing wheel was engulfed in flames.”

Emergency responders and Aerodrome Rescue and Fire-fighting Service (ARFFS), who had been intimated of the emergency landing, were on ground to put off the fire. All passengers and crew disembarked and safely evacuated on the runway.

Former President of the Nigeria Medical Association (NMA), Dr. Mike Ogirima, who was also onboard, gave an account of the incident, saying the tyre burst occurred after takeoff at Yola Airport.

Ogirima said: “We thank God. We are still on the runway, and the pilot has reassured us. He has called for the stairs, and we are now disembarking from the runway to be evacuated to the airport building at the arrival hall.

“We bless God because we have witnessed the pull-out of the tyre right from the airport in Yola, and we went into a prayer session. I never announced it as a surgeon, so as not to cause any panic, but we bless God.”

Officials of the Abuja Airport, when contacted at 5 p.m., said efforts were on to usher in a heavy duty crane to safely tow the damaged equipment off the runway, and have the same reopened to domestic and international flight operations.

“As it is, we cannot just move the aircraft that has lost a landing wheel on the runway. It requires a lot of effort, but we are trying to do that as soon as possible,” one of the aerodrome engineers said.

General Manager, Public Relations of the Nigeria Safety Investigations Bureau (NSIB), Tunji Oketumbi, said the runway was temporarily shut for repairs.

Oketumbi confirmed that the aircraft busted two tyres, but has been safely evacuated from the runway.

He added that NSIB officers were probing the incident, and details would be made available to the general public.

As at press time yesterday, Aviation Minister, Hadi Sirika, tweeted that the runway was due to be open in about an hour.

US to propose new rules for airline cancellations, delays - THE CANADIAN PRESS

MAY 08, 2023

The Biden administration is working on new regulations that would require airlines to compensate passengers and cover their meals and hotel rooms if they are stranded for reasons within the airline's control.

The White House said President Joe Biden and Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg would announce the start of the rulemaking process Monday.

The rulemaking pledge continues a push by the Democratic administration to require airlines to improve customer service, and it comes just weeks before the start of the peak summer travel season.

The aim of the rules would be, for the first time, to require airlines to pay compensation beyond a ticket refund and to cover expenses that consumers incur, including rebooking on another flight, if the airline causes a cancellation or significant delay.

“When an airline causes a flight cancellation or delay, passengers should not foot the bill,” Buttigieg said in a statement.

Currently, when an airline cancels a flight for any reason, consumers can demand a refund of the unused part of their ticket and certain extras that they might have paid to the airline, such as fees for checking a bag or getting a seat assignment. Airlines often try to persuade consumers to accept a travel voucher instead of a refund.

After widespread flight disruptions last summer, the Transportation Department posted an online dashboard that was designed to pressure the airlines to improve customer service. The site lets consumers check each airline's policy on refunds and compensation when flights are canceled or delayed.

Each of the 10 largest U.S. airlines quickly promised to provide cash or vouchers for meals when a cancellation forces passengers to wait at least three hours for another flight. Nine of the 10 — all but Frontier Airlines — also promised to pay for accommodations for passengers stranded overnight.

Questions arose again around reimbursing consumers for out-of-pocket costs after Southwest Airlines canceled nearly 17,000 flights during a December meltdown in service. The Transportation and Justice departments are investigating whether Southwest scheduled more flights than it realistically could handle.

The Transportation Department says it is working with the airlines to reduce cancellations and delays this summer, when air travel could exceed pre-coronavirus pandemic records.

A report last month from the congressional Government Accountability Office blamed airlines for many cancellations, but the Federal Aviation Administration has also created disruptions due to technology outages and staffing shortages. The FAA recently encouraged airlines to reduce flights to and from major New York airports this summer because it doesn't have enough air traffic controllers at a key facility.

Biden to Seek Rules for Airline Benefits to Stranded Travelers - BLOOMBERG

MAY 08, 2023

(Bloomberg) -- President Joe Biden plans to announce that the federal government is drafting new rules that could require airlines to provide meals, hotels and additional compensation to travelers on canceled or severely delayed flights ahead of an expected crush of summer travel.

The president will announce the effort — which will also seek to force airlines to improve the availability of customer service during periods of widespread flight delays or cancellations — at an event Monday at the White House alongside Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg. 

The administration will also roll out a new version of a Department of Transportation website - FlightRights.gov - that shows which airlines already offer compensation to travelers experiencing delays and cancellations, according to a White House official who requested anonymity to describe the effort before it was announced. 

The regulatory push comes as the Transportation Security Administration has said that it expects air travel this summer to surpass pre-pandemic levels. Airlines struggled to ramp up during last year’s summer, prompting tens of thousands of delays and cancellations. Winter travel was marked by a meltdown of Southwest Airlines Co.’s technology systems that left hundreds of thousands of travelers impacted.

The Biden Administration rolled out an initial version of the dashboard last year, which prompted the majority of US airlines to explicitly guarantee meals, rebooking services and accommodations when flights were canceled for reasons under an airline’s control. Earlier this year, the administration expanded the dashboard as part of an effort to pressure airlines to drop seat selection fees for children sitting next to accompanying adults.

Because of the changes airlines have already made unilaterally, the practical impact of the regulatory effort for travelers and airlines may be muted.  

Frontier Airlines Inc. is the only major US carrier that doesn’t guarantee complimentary hotel accommodations and ground transportation for passengers affected by a controllable overnight cancellation, according to government data.

But the White House is hoping the effort prompts airlines to expand existing benefits, the official said, noting that virtually no airlines compensate passengers beyond offering refunds. Travelers in Europe and Canada can apply for cash compensation for certain flight delays and cancellations caused by things within the airline’s control, and consumer advocates argue those penalties lead to fewer delays than experienced by US travelers.

Gunmen in Nigeria kidnap 40 worshippers from church - REUTERS

MAY 09, 2023

KADUNA, Nigeria, May 8 (Reuters) - Gunmen abducted 40 people from a church in a remote village in northern Nigeria, a local Christian group said on Monday, in the latest attack against worshippers.

Armed gangs, known locally as bandits, have been abducting people from villages, schools and highways mostly in the northwest of the country, where government security is thin.

Reverend Joseph John Hayan, chairman of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) in Kaduna state, said the attack took place on Sunday when gunmen attacked worshippers during a service at Bege Baptist Church, in Madala village, in Chikun local government area.

Chikun is among two districts in Kaduna where ransom-seeking armed gangs are most active.

Hayan, however, said 15 of those kidnapped escaped from their captors on Sunday night.

"We have not heard any contact for ransom or anything from them (gunmen) concerning the remaining people and we pray that the abductors would be merciful to release the remaining 25 back to their families," Hayan said.

A Kaduna police spokesperson did not respond to calls and messages to their mobile phone.

Reporting by Garba Muhammad, Writing by MacDonald Dzirutwe, Editing by Andrew Cawthorne


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