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Extremist Rebels Launch Deadly Attack in Northeast Nigeria - VOA

MAY 05, 2022

MAIDUGURI, NIGERIA — 

Islamic extremist rebels have killed at least seven people in an attack in northeast Borno state in Nigeria, witnesses told The Associated Press on Wednesday.

The rebels attacked Kautukari village in the Chibok area of Borno on Tuesday evening, said residents. The attack happened at the same time that U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres was in the state to meet with survivors of jihadi violence.

The Chibok area is 115 kilometers (71 miles) away from Maiduguri, the state capital, where Guterres met with former militants being reintegrated into society and thousands of people displaced by the insurgency.

"They came in large number with superior firepower (and) took over the community," said Hassan Chibok, a community leader. Troops from a nearby military base were deployed to repel the attack but "the damage had been done," Chibok said, adding that "casualties are up to 10."

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres waves to the crowds upon arrival in Maiduguri, Nigeria, May 3, 2021.
United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres waves to the crowds upon arrival in Maiduguri, Nigeria, May 3, 2021.

Another resident Yana Galang said at least seven people were killed in the latest violence before the Nigerian military intervened.

Nigerian police did not immediately respond to a request for confirmation of the attack.

Nigeria, Africa's most populous country with 206 million people, continues to grapple with a 10-year-old insurgency in the northeast by Islamic extremist rebels of Boko Haram and its offshoot, the Islamic State West Africa Province. The extremists are fighting to establish Shariah law and to stop Western education.

More than 35,000 people have died and millions have been displaced by the extremist violence, according to the U.N. Development Program.

Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari said earlier this week that the war against the extremists is "approaching its conclusion," citing continued military airstrikes and the mass defection of thousands of the fighters, some of whom analysts say are laying down their arms because of infighting within the jihadi group.

The violence, however, continues in border communities and areas closer to the Lake Chad region, the stronghold of the Islamic State-linked group, ISWAP.

"Things are getting worse" in Kautukari village in Chibok and adjourning areas closer to the forest, said community leader Chibok, saying the extremists' presence near the forest is a contributing factor.

Air France Sees Profitability This Summer on Travel Demand Surge - BLOOMBERG

MAY 05, 2022

(Bloomberg) --

Air France-KLM sees surging demand for travel driving a return to profitability this summer as the carrier looks for ways to pay back government support received during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Franco-Dutch carrier expects to report break-even operating income in the second quarter and will be “significantly positive” in the third quarter, according to an earnings filing Thursday. The group reported earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization of 221 million euros ($233 million) for the first quarter, better than it had targeted. 

“This paves the way for a successful summer season in all our activities, which we continue to strengthen through our extensive transformation plan,” Chief Executive Officer Ben Smith said in the statement. 

Air France-KLM said it has been rapidly adding capacity and reinstating services as countries around the world unwind Covid-19 travel restrictions and reopen borders. The group said it has partly repaid Dutch state-backed revolving credit facilities of 311 million euros at its KLM unit and is making progress on refinancing as much as 500 million euros of Air France’s assets to repay French state aid. 

The group raised ticket prices through the first quarter on its long-haul services in response to rising fuel prices, and said it expected strong summer demand to result in yields higher than pre-pandemic levels. It also said that the first-quarter results were driven by a strong performance on routes to the Caribbean and Indian Ocean destinations, as well as Africa and South America.

The carrier’s KLM unit reported a 3 million-euro operating profit while its low-cost Transavia arm was operating capacity in the first quarter that was close to that offered in the same period in 2019. Transavia’s fleet will increase to almost 100 planes as it looks to tap European leisure traffic, the company said. 

Air France-KLM said it continues to mull a capital increase by way of a possible rights issue as well as the issue of instruments such as straight and perpetual bonds to repay as much as 4 billion euros of pandemic era state-aid, although the timing and size of each transaction depends on market conditions and regulatory approvals. 

Following a series of bailouts to get Air France-KLM through the worst of the Covid-19 crisis, the French state holds a stake of about 29% and the Dutch government 9.3%. Until three-quarters of the aid is paid back, Air France-KLM is under European Union restrictions on executive compensation and banned from acquiring more than a 10% stake in a rival -- conditions that tie its hands for any industry consolidation.

Lufthansa, Air France Predict Bumper Summer, Wary Over Costs - BLOOMBERG

MAY 05, 2022

BY  William Wilkes and Siddharth PhilipBloomberg News


(Bloomberg) -- Europe’s biggest airlines are growing increasingly confident that the easing of coronavirus restrictions will kick off a summer boom as a surge in bookings spurs them to lift capacity.

Deutsche Lufthansa AG and Air France-KLM are less certain about prospects going deeper into the year, with the German company saying Thursday that fuel prices are tough to predict and that it’s not clear how far increasing household costs will weigh on demand.

Both carriers reported a strong start to 2022 after the impact from the omicron variant of Covid-19 quickly faded. Lufthansa said that demand has “recovered faster and stronger than expected in recent weeks,” while Air France-KLM Chief Executive Officer Ben Smith said that corporate and premium sales have begun to revive, following an already strong upward trend in leisure demand.

European airlines are adding seats and flights as the dropping of travel curbs opens up markets after two years of upheaval, with Lufthansa planning to deploy 2022 capacity equal to 75% of the 2019 level, up from 70% previously. At the same time a jump in costs for everything from fuel to staff is pressuring margins, pushing carriers to raise fares -- something that might not be sustainable as household budgets come under pressure.

Lufthansa shares traded 3% higher as of 9:06 a.m. Frankfurt, with Air France-KLM up 3.7% in Paris. Planemaker Airbus SE, which reported results after the close Wednesday and signaled long-term confidence in global travel by lifting future jetliner build rates, surged 7.4%.

Air France-KLM said in a statement it expects to break-even in operating income in the second quarter and to be “significantly positive” in the third. Lufthansa, which already posted a surprise profit in the third quarter of last year, reiterated guidance for an improvement in full-year adjusted earnings before interest and tax.

Air France-KLM reported an operating loss of 350 million euros for the first quarter, a 40% beat on expectations, according to Bernstein analyst Alex Irving, who said in a note that “the outlook for the summer is sunny,” while Lufthansa cut its adjusted Ebit loss to 591 million euros from 1.05 billion euros a year earlier, also beating analyst estimates.

Carsten Spohr, the German company’s CEO, said he’s “mentally ticking off the crisis” as the Covid threat recedes. At the same time, Lufthansa warned that “uncertainties remain for the company’s further business development,” with the fuel trend and consumer behavior as inflation climbs impossible to predict.

Lufthansa’s kerosene costs more than doubled in the quarter, while inflation in Europe’s largest economy in April jumped to the highest level since post-reunification records began in the early 1990s.

London Heathrow airport, Europe’s busiest prior to the pandemic, last week raised its passenger forecast for the year, but warned that demand is likely to drop off in late summer and beyond as the boom gives way to a “winter freeze.” It said much current demand is from people reuniting with loved ones or cashing in vouchers from postponed journeys, both short-term trends.

In the longer term there’s still confidence that aviation will overcome current obstacles, however, with Airbus pushing ahead with ambitious plans to ramp up production of its bestselling A320 family of jets to 75 a month by 2025, a jump of 50% on the build rate now.

IAG SA, the third of Europe’s dominant network carrier groups and parent of British Airways, is scheduled to report results Friday.

(Updates with share prices in fifth paragraph, Heathrow warning on future demand in 10th, Airbus build-rate hike in 11th)

Abuja’s local airport is the most patronised in Nigeria - BUSINESSDAY

MAY 05, 2022

Between 2017 and 2018, the domestic wing of the Muritala Muhammed Airport in Lagos dominated the domestic passenger movements. Specifically, in 2017, 35.5 percent of the domestic air passengers patronised the Lagos airport; 27.2 percent used Abuja, 8.3 percent travelled through Port Harcourt; 4 percent through Owerri, and 3.4 percent through the Kaduna airport. Those were the top five domestic airports in Nigeria as of 2017. 

In 2018, Lagos still remained the most patronised, only that Abuja gained more market share. The top five local airports in Nigeria by usage in 2018 were Lagos, 33.2 percent; Abuja, 30.2 percent; Port Harcourt, 8.4 percent; Owerri,4 percent and Kano, 3.2 percent.

However, the trend where Lagos was the most patronised domestic airport changed in 2019 as the local wing of the Nnamdi Azikiwe Airport Abuja became the most patronised by local air travellers. In that year, Abuja accounted for 33.5 percent of the domestic passenger movements. Lagos’ Muritala Muhammad Airport accounted for 31.8 percent; 8.6 percent travelled through Port Harcourt; 4 percent through Kano, and 3.2 percent through Sam Mbakwe Airport in Owerri, Imo State.

The positions of the top five domestic airports in Nigeria were no different in 2020, as Abuja still retained the top spot, accounting for 38.6 percent of the domestic travellers. Lagos attracted 34.3 percent while Port Harcourt, Kano and Owerri accounted for 6.6 percent, 4.9 percent, and 4.1 percent respectively.

In 2021, Abuja shed some market share as 36.6 percent of the domestic air travellers patronised it; 31.5 percent through Lagos while 6.9 percent travelled through Port Harcourt.  Owerri became the fourth most patronised domestic airport, accounting for 4.5 percent while Kano got 4.2 percent.

Upsurge in the usage of the airport at Owerri was due to the closure of Akanu Ibiam International Airport Enugu in the last quarter of 2019. Surprisingly, after its reopening, traffic at Owerri airport has remained steady. We interpret this to mean that domestic air travellers now find Owerri more attractive and continue to patronise it. Owerri airport also serves as a stopover for most of the flights to the south-south geopolitical zone. 

Few airports stand out with over 100% growth in passenger traffic

Domestic passenger traffic at the Umaru Musa Yar’ Adua Airport in Katsina State grew by 249.9 percent, the highest in the country in 2021. The improvement seen in the usage of this airport may not be unconnected with the rising insecurity in that region. Political patronage is another reason because it is the home of President Muhammadu Buhari.

Traffic at the Akure airport rose by 240.41 percent, and this is partly explained by the investment drive of the Ondo State Government which commissioned a number of new businesses in the state in 2020/2021. Undoubtedly, it is one of the leading cocoa producing states in Nigeria, and consequently, investment inflows into cocoa farming and chocolate production have put the state on the global chocolate producing chart. All other things being equal, chocolate produced in the Sunshine state will hit the European market by July.

International passenger movements 

Seven international airports in Nigeria were involved in the international operations in 2021. These are the Lagos, Abuja, Port Harcourt, Kano, Enugu, Maiduguri and Katsina international airports. 

Year on year, international passenger traffic rose by 57.6 percent in 2021. The Muritala Muhammed International Airport in Lagos State took the lead by having 72 percent of the foreign passengers’ traffic, 25 percent through Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport Abuja just as 2 percent and 1 percent travelled through Kano and Port Harcourt airports respectively.

The growth in foreign passenger movements in 2021 still fell short of the pre-pandemic period. Put differently, 1,109,621 arrivals were recorded as against 1,109,525 departures in 2021. In 2019, Nigeria recorded 4.6 million foreign passengers, implying that the patronage in 2021 was 51.9 percent lower compared with the level of patronage in 2019. 

In Lagos, 1.595 million international travellers patronised the Muritala Muhammed International Airport in 2021, comprising 787,874 arrivals and 807,648 departures, which means more air passengers left the country through the Lagos airport than arrived here

The reverse was the case in Abuja, Port Harcourt, Enugu, and Kano, each of which recorded more arrivals than departures. Only one passenger left and arrived through Umaru Musa Yar’ Adua International Airport in Katsina.

Lagos, Abuja dominance mirrors investment inflows into Nigeria

On the average, 96 percent of foreign air travellers patronised both the Muritala Muhammed International Airport in Lagos and the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport in Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory.

This pattern is not going to change anytime soon. One of the reasons for this postulation is that the dominance of the two international airports in terms of patronage reflects the destination of foreign investments inflows into the country. 

Nigeria recorded $23.99 billion worth of capital importation in 2019. In terms of destinations, Lagos State, Nigeria’s commercial capital, attracted $17.67 billion or 73.7 percent of the total capital importation in 2019. It also received 85.8 percent of the $9.66 billion capital importation in 2020, as well as 86.9 percent or $6.7 billion of capital importation in 2021.

Abuja received 25.9 percent of the capital importation in 2019; 13.2 percent in 2020, and 12.4 percent in 2021. As the two most important centres in Nigeria, this trend will remain for the foreseeable future. Consequently, foreign passengers will continue to patronise the international airports in those cities.

Lagos, Abuja are major hubs for Nollywood production
 
Another important factor is that Lagos and Abuja are the major hubs for Nollywood movie production in Nigeria. 65.3 percent of movies produced in the first half of 2021 took place in both Lagos and Abuja.

Plane forced to u-turn over Ireland as passengers discover pilot is still in training - EURONEWS

MAY 06, 2022

By Jill Pole 05/05/2022 - 17:44

A plane to New York was forced to return to London mid-flight after it was revealed that the co-pilot was not properly trained.

The Virgin Atlantic Airbus A330 was heading towards JFK airport and was only 40 minutes into its journey on Monday 2 May, when the pilot was found out. Passengers were safely returned to Heathrow after the ‘first officer’ co-pilot, told the captain he had not yet completed his final flying test.

He had joined the company in 2017.


The mistake was described as a “rostering error” by an airline spokesperson, as the flight was forced to do a u-turn over Ireland.

“The qualified first officer, who was flying alongside an experienced captain, was replaced with a new pilot to ensure full compliance with Virgin Atlantic’s training protocols, which exceed industry standards,” Virgin said in a statement.

“We apologise for any inconvenience caused to our customers, who arrived two hours and 40 minutes later than scheduled as a result of the crew change.”

Tanya Moutzalias/AP
A Virgin Atlantic plane on the tarmac.Tanya Moutzalias/AP

Passengers were left feeling angry following the incident, which had a knock-on effect for other flights and connections.

“It was embarrassing for everyone and the passengers were furious,” a source told The Sun.

The UK’s aviation watchdog, the Civil Aviation Authority, said it had been made aware of the incident. "Both pilots were suitably licensed and qualified to undertake the flight," it added.

61 Years After, Nigeria's Foremost Airline, Aero Contractors Goes Under - THISDAY

MAY 06, 2022

Barring any urgent intervention, Nigeria's foremost carrier, Aero Contractors may be on its way out of the skies after over 61 years of flight operations.

With only two aged aircraft, Bombardier Dash 8-300 and Boeing 737-500 in their early 30s and totally bereft of operating cash, the airline is now on its knees about to shut the door for scheduled services.

Aero Contractors, which provided shuttle service for oil and gas industry for decades and extended its service to scheduled flight operations since 2000 has become moribund with over N50 billion debt overhang.

THISDAY investigations revealed that economic recession occasioned by the COVID-19 lockdown and protracted low season after December heavy passenger traffic demand, culminated to the financial drought of the airline.

It was learnt that currently, the airline finds it difficult to fuel its existing fleet.

The Managing Director of the airline, Captain 

Abdullahi Mahmood in a telephone interview with THISDAY confirmed the precarious state of the airline and identified factors that led to debilitating condition of the indigenous carrier.

Captain Mahmood said that the airline could stop operation at any time because the management is finding it increasingly difficult to keep the aircraft in the airspace.

He said that high cost of foreign exchange, high maintenance cost, high cost of aviation fuel and low traffic are responsible for the bad condition of the airline.

According to him, "Maintenance cost is high, foreign exchange is not available and the high fuel price in addition to the fact that after the high Christmas season, there was low passenger traffic from later January till Easter period. Then we are also contending with overhead, which is so much.

"When you have no traffic and what you are generating cannot defray operating cost, you cannot survive. We are still operating but from the rate we are going we may shut down anytime."

He also explained that because the aircraft in the fleet are old and breakdown very often, the cost of maintenance is high, "and spares have to be imported and even insuring the aircraft requires foreign exchange."

When contacted, the immediate past CEO of the airline, Captain 

Ado Sanusi, confirmed that it is very unlikely that the airline would survive, except it urgently acquires new fleet.

Sanusi who took over the airline in February 2017, when it was in comatose told THISDAY that the airline was coming back from shutting down when he began to preside over its affairs.

"The airline had two aircraft, which were due for major checks, the C-check, passenger confidence was low and three of the airline's aircraft were in maintenance facilities overseas. The airline was at the brink of collapse when we took it over, "he said.

Sanusi further explained that the airline was under receivership, as it was being managed by the Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON), "so what the airline needed was more aircraft, which would enable it to increase revenue."

THISDAY learnt that the AMCOM had invested so much money in the airline but was not ready to invest more, a situation that lead to Sanusi and his team to consider having the C-check conducted in-house.

"The engineers in the airline went to work, they took the Boeing 737 classic and successfully conducted C-check and received Aircraft Maintenance Organisation (AMO) certification from the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA).

"The success of the C-check opened door for us because it restored passenger confidence, knowing that we had the ability to maintain our aircraft and from 40 to 50 per cent load factor, our passenger traffic grew to 80 per cent.

"AMCON was elated that they continued to support us. We sold assets we didn't need and we brought back one of the three aircraft ferried overseas for maintenance and now had two Boeing and One Bombardier Dash 8. Our revenue rose from N180 million to N2 billion. We did a lot.

"We bought the engines of United Nigeria Airlines Boeing B737-300 aircraft. With our revenue, we revamped the rotary wing of the airline and would have clinched a multimillion-dollar deal with Total for shuttle service but because the airline was under receivership we didn't. We even went into a strategic partnership with indigenous company to revive the rotary wing and was in that process when COVID-19 came," Sanusi said.

"The COVID-19 lockdown was the undoing of the airline, like many others in other parts of the world, "Sanusi said, adding, "It was during the lockdown that the Maintenance, Overhaul and Repair (MRO) facility came alive and began to engage in third party maintenance, which is maintenance of other airlines' aircraft."

"Immediately after the lockdown we were ready to go into business. Passenger demand was unprecedented. The prospect of Aero was very good. It had a chance to recover, but the biggest challenge was fleet renewal. Average age of the aircraft was late 20s or early 30s. We communicated to the shareholders.

'We did not have the ability to do D-check, which was heavy check, but we later got approval and we conducted D-check on the Boeing 737 after which we would retire the aircraft, hoping that there would be fleet renewal in order to put the airline as an on-going concern, "Sanusi revealed.

Aero, is described as a fully made airline because it has scheduled operations wing, rotary wing, MRO and training school; no other airline in Nigeria came close.

THISDAY learnt that for the airline to survive some of the workers had to be put on redundancy and at the peak of revival it had about 400 staff, about 100 in schedule wing, 10 in training and the others on administrative and maintenance and whenever it had more jobs on maintenance it recalled more technical staff.

On why the airline was going under, Sanui said, "The airline needs fleet renewal without which it cannot survive. External factors include high cost of aviation fuel, scarcity and high cost of forex, low passenger traffic, which was extraordinarily very low. When I left the airline had a good chance of survival, even coming out of receivership. But it needed strict financial management," he said.

A former top manager of the airline said that the genesis of Nigeria's foremost carrier started because of the way it went into scheduled passenger operation, the kind of aircraft it acquired, the age of the aircraft and "When AMCON took it over it did not inject enough fund into the airline. If sufficient funds were injected and the rotary wing was revived it would have survived; although the oil and gas industry was going down at a time when the price of crude crashed. The airline has good people but it needed finance," he said.

Apapa Congestion: Lagos to begin Badagry Seaport construction - NAN

MAY 06, 2022

The Lagos State government on Thursday said plans have reached an advanced stage to begin the construction of Badagry Seaport in the state.

Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu made the disclosure in Lagos at the All Markets Conference 2022 (AMC’22), organised by the Ndigboamaka Progressive (Markets) Association, whose theme was “Development and Sustainability of the Nation’s Economy”.

Mr Sanwo-Olu said the new seaport would be sited in the Badagry area of the state to reduce congestion at the Apapa Seaport.

The governor noted that the state government had secured land for the project, but was only waiting for the approval of the Federal Executive Council (FEC).

He explained that the facilities at the Apapa Seaport are overstretched, while efforts to reduce the challenges at the port by the government had produced a little result.

Mr Sanwo-Olu promised that the construction of the new seaport at Lekki would be completed before the end of 2022.

”The government will start the construction of Badagry Port very soon. Apapa Port is overstretched and the capacity is becoming inadequate,” said the governor.

”For the Badagry Port, we have already secured a land and we are only waiting for the FEC approval to commence work.”

The governor gave an assurance that work would be completed on the Mile 2-Badagry road before the end of 2022.

Mr Sanwo-Olu advised traders to be extremely careful over fire disasters, especially during the dry season, stressing that fire outbreaks occur more between October and March of each year.

According to him, “it is during this season that we usually have incidents of fire outbreaks. Combustive items and materials should be avoided in and around markets at this time.”

Mr Sanwo-Olu, while commenting on the frequent building collapse in the state, urged residents to use quality and standard materials, and engage professionals for building jobs.

Earlier in his opening remark, Jude Okeke, the President, Ndigboamaka, appealed to the state government to carry along the traders in their policies and laws. (NAN)

JUST IN: Domestic airlines to shut down operations with effect from Monday - VANGUARD

MAY 06, 2022

… say aviation fuel now 700 naira per litre

...ask travellers to make alternative arrangements

By Lawani Mikairu

Nigerian airline operators have issued a notice that with effect from Monday, 9th May, they will shut down their operations due to the high cost of aviation fuel which has hit 700 naira per litre.

A statement issued and signed by all the airline operators yesterday advised the traveling public who intend to fly to make alternative arrangements to avoid being stranded at the country’s airports.

The statement read : ” It is with a great sense of responsibility and patriotism that the Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON)  have carried on deploying and subsidizing their services to our highly esteemed Nigerian flying public in the last four months despite the steady and astronomical hike in the price of JetA1 and other operating costs.”

“Overtime, aviation fuel price (JetA1) has risen from N190 per litre to N700 currently. No airline in the world can absorb this kind of sudden shock from such an astronomical rise over a short period. While aviation fuel worldwide is said to cost about 40% of an airline’s operating cost globally, the present hike has shut up Nigeria’s operating cost to about 95%. “.

” In the face of this, airlines have engaged the Federal Government, the National Assembly, NNPC and Oil Marketers with the view to bringing the cost of JetA1 down which has currently made the unit cost per seat for a one hour flight in Nigeria today to an average of N120,000. The latter cannot be fully passed to passengers who are already experiencing a lot of difficulties.”

“While AON appreciates the efforts of the current government under the leadership of President Muhammadu Buhari to ensure air transport in Nigeria grows, unfortunately, the cost of aviation fuel has continued to rise unabated thereby creating huge pressure on the sustainability of operations and financial viability of the airlines. This is unsustainable and

the airlines can no longer absorb the pressure.”

“To this end therefore, the Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON) hereby wishes to regrettably inform the general public that member airlines will discontinue operations nationwide with effect from Monday May 9, 2022 until further notice.”

“AON uses this medium to humbly state that we regret any inconveniences this very difficult decision might cause and

appeal to travelers to kindly reconsider their travel itinerary and make alternative arrangements”, Alhaji  Abdulmunaf Yunusa Sarina, President, AON advised.

Airlines Announce Shutdown As Aviation Fuel Hits N700 - DAILY TRUST

MAY 06, 2022

The Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON) has announced the shutdown of operations, with effect from Monday, over the skyrocketing cost of Aviation fuel, which...

    By  Abdullateef Aliyu

The Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON) has announced the shutdown of operations, with effect from Monday, over the skyrocketing cost of Aviation fuel, which has reached an all-time high of N700 per litre.

The operators sympathised with the passengers, saying Jet A1 has shot up the cost of operations to over 95 percent.

The Operators stated this in a letter its President, Alhaji Abdulmunaf Yunusa Sarina, sent to the Minister of Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika.

Sarina’s position was endorsed by the chief executives of all the domestic airlines.

The letter read: “It is with a great sense of responsibility and patriotism that the Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON) have carried on deploying and subsidizing their services to our highly esteemed Nigerian flying public in the last four months despite the steady and astronomical hike in the price of JetA1 and other operating costs.

“Overtime, aviation fuel price (JetA1) has risen from N190 per litre to N700 currently. No airline in the world can absorb this kind of sudden shock from such an astronomical rise over a short period.

“While aviation fuel worldwide is said to cost about 40% of an airline’s operating cost globally, the present hike has shut up Nigeria’s operating cost to about 95%.

“In the face of this, airlines have engaged the Federal Government, the National Assembly, NNPC and Oil Marketers with the view to bringing the cost of JetA1 down which has currently made the unit cost per seat for a one hour flight in Nigeria today to an average of N120,000.

“The latter cannot be fully passed to passengers who are already experiencing a lot of difficulties.

“While AON appreciates the efforts of the current government under the leadership of President Muhammadu Buhari to ensure air transport in Nigeria grows, unfortunately, the cost of aviation fuel has continued to rise unabated thereby creating huge pressure on the sustainability of operations and financial viability of the airlines. This is unsustainable and the airlines can no longer absorb the pressure.

“To this end therefore, the Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON) hereby wishes to regrettably inform the general public that member airlines will discontinue operations nationwide with effect from Monday May 9, 2022 until further notice.

“AON uses this medium to humbly state that we regret any inconveniences this very difficult decision might cause and appeal to travelers to kindly reconsider their travel itinerary and make alternative arrangements.”

Nigerian airlines to halt domestic flights over jet fuel hikes - BBC

MAY 07, 2022

Nigeria's airlines are to stop domestic operations from Monday in protest at the spiralling cost of jet fuel.

It has risen almost fourfold this year, which was unsustainable, the Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON) said.

"No airline in the world can absorb this kind of sudden shock from such an astronomical rise over a short period," its statement said.

The hikes have been triggered principally by Russia's invasion of Ukraine at the end of February.

AON, which represents Nigeria's nine domestic carriers, said the airlines had been having to subsidise services over the last four months.

There have been many flight cancellations and delays since March, often blamed on a shortage of jet fuel. The price of tickets has also tripled on some routes in recent weeks.

Passengers in Nigeria pay for fares in naira, the local currency that has been devaluing. However, fuel suppliers need to be paid in US dollars.

Despite being Africa's largest oil producer, Nigeria imports almost all its jet fuel.

AON said that it had told the government, MPs, the state-owned oil company and the association representing fuel sellers that something needed to be done to bring costs down.

The hikes could not be fully passed on to passengers as they were "already experiencing a lot of difficulties", it said.

The government has not yet commented on the planned strike.

Kidnapping fears

AON said operations would cease indefinitely from Monday, apologised to customers and urged them to make alternative arrangements.

The manager of one of the airlines told the BBC the suspension would not affect international flights - though those with internal connections will be hit.

It will be a massive disruption for travellers in Nigeria and another blow for one of Africa's largest economies, reports the BBC's Ishaq Khalid from the capital, Abuja.

Flights are often the preferred option for travel these days for those who can afford it because of insecurity on roads across the country, he says.

Kidnapping gangs operate on highways, targeting vehicles and then abducting passengers who they hold for ransom.

There has been general outrage on social media after the announcement - with people bemoaning the state of the economy, and advising those that opt to travel by road to factor in ransom money.

Last month, a train was targeted on the high-speed link between Abuja and the city of Kaduna and at least 62 people are known to have been taken hostage.

According to security risk management firm Beacon Consulting, in the first three months of this year more than 3,500 people were killed and many more kidnapped by armed groups in Nigeria.

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