Travel News

Incessant Bird Strikes in Nigeria’s Airspace Worry Airlines - THISDAY

MAY 21, 2021

BY  Chinedu Eze 

Incidents of bird strike have become a source of concern to airline operators who fear that if not checked it may result to a major accident.

To this end, the airlines have called on the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) to urgently curtail the movement of birds around the airports and flight paths on takeoff. A bird strike is a collision between an airborne animal (usually birds or bats) and an aircraft.

While airstrikes are categorised as natural phenomenon that could be controlled using environmental techniques, it however becomes worrisome when bird strike occurs frequently, thereby distorting flight schedules and threatening air safety. For instance, early this week, in less than 48 hours, two aircraft belonging to Aero Contractors and Max Air suffered bird strike, damaging the engine blades and causing pilots to make air return.

The Emir of Kano, Aminu Ado Bayero and 139 other passengers onboard Max Air flight that took off from the Aminu Kano International Airport (AKIA), Kano Tuesday, were hit by a bird, which forced one of the two-engine aircraft to malfunction, prompting the pilot to return to base.

Eyewitness account said the attack caused a big bang on the aircraft and the passengers were petrified with fear, as many went into bouts of prayer, not knowing what actually happened to the aircraft.

Operating with only one engine while gaining altitude on take, the aircraft was jolted, made heavy noise and vibrated in the air, as the pilot dexterously stabilised it and headed back to Kano airport to land.

Report also indicated that the pilot-in-command later informed the passengers about the nature of the incident and returned to base to disembark the passengers. In the same vein, on May 17, 2021, Aero Contractors’ Port Harcourt-Abuja flight returned to Port Harcourt after one of the engines of the aircraft was hit by a bird few minutes after takeoff.

Similarly, on March 21, 2021, a Lagos-bound Aero Contractors flight returned to Kano after one of the engines of the aircraft was hit by bird during takeoff. The aircraft, with over 100 passengers onboard, made an air return to base barely 15 minutes after takeoff. The flight, N2142, had de¬parted the airport at 9:30a.m, but returned to base about 09:45.

To the Chief Operating Officer of Dana Air, Obi Mbanuzuo, frequent bird strike has become a source of worry to airlines. He called on FAAN to urge its wild life department to do everything possible to curtail the movement of birds around the airport.

He said that Dana Air pilots have been urged to carefully monitor possibility of bird strike before taking off, keeping themselves abreast of bird flocks in communication with air traffic controllers. The Managing Director of Aero Contractors, Captain Mahmoud Abdullahi told THISDAY that the frequency of the bird strike has reached a worrisome level that something urgent must be done.

“This is getting too much. The wild life and hazard people in FAAN has to improve in their job. This has happened to us and has happened to Max Air in Kano. The damage is costing us too much. FAAN has to do something about this. These birds come up when they cut grasses and stir the insects and the bird will fly around looking for the insects to feed on.

“The frequency of the bird strike incidents sends a wrong signal about air operations, especially as many passengers don’t really understand what it is; what they know is that something is wrong with the aircraft and this is not good for the airlines. Bird strike is a natural phenomenon. It happens all over the world. Everyone knows the Hudson Miracle when a flight picked birds and landed on the river and everyone was saved,” the Aero Managing Director said.

The General Manager, Public Affairs, FAAN, Mrs. Henrietta Yakubu told THISDAY that the agency has been cutting grasses at the airport to make sure that the birds were no more attracted to the airports.

“We are carrying intensive grass cutting exercise. It has been a long time we have not seen birds and suddenly they started coming to the airports. Some of the things we do include the use of Pyrotechnics (screamer siren and Banger) for dispersal of birds through shooting into the air.

“We use propane cannon, which is dispersal of bird through explosive sound device that uses propane gas. We also use chemical dispersal against birds mostly from standing water and phoenix bird wailers, which is an automated voice sound device installed by the runway to prevent birds from the runway,” she explained.

Turkish Airlines Opens New Cargo Connection - THISDAY

MAY 21, 2021

A new scheduled service is now available for the fast transport of goods from Munich to Istanbul as well as to many Asian destinations as Turkish Airlines Cargo has launched its first weekly cargo service from Bavaria to the Bosporus.

The Turkish carrier is operating Airbus A330F freighters on its new cargo route. The new service has already been well received by Bavaria’s business community and logistics companies. The inaugural flights to and fro Istanbul were already fully booked with 50 tons of freight on each flight.

The companies based in Munich Airport’s catchment area include numerous successful global players and market leaders from the automotive, electronics, medical technology, biotechnology and aerospace sectors, who rely on efficient transport routes to destinations all over the world.

“I see an enormous potential for demand here and could well imagine that Turkish Airlines will soon expand its cargo service with additional frequencies. “Against the backdrop of the ongoing crisis in aviation, this route opening is an important sign of confidence in Munich as an airfreight location, now more than ever,” explained Jost Lammers, CEO of Munich Airport, who personally welcomed the crew of the inaugural flight to the cargo apron.

New entrant airline, Green Africa to commence flight operations June 24th - BLUEPRINT

MAY 21, 2021

’s latest airline, Green Africa on Thursday announced the commencement of sales of its tickets preparatory to the start of its scheduled flight operations.

It said ticket sales via its website greenafrica.com is coming at the heel of  pre-sales approvals granted the carrier by the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA).

A breakdown of the flight schedule indicates that commercial flights into Akure, Ilorin, Abuja, Owerri, Port Harcourt and  from the airline base in Lagos are scheduled to commence from June 24th, .

It said  ATR 72-600 aircraft (with registrations 5N-GAE and 5N-GAA) have arrived the country while a third aircraft with (5N-GAD)  is being expected.

“To mark this major milestone, our first set of gFlyers to book tickets on greenafrica.com will enjoy 10% off the  of tickets as at booking time.” Green Africa told journalists.

Speaking on the plan to commence the “gFlyer Special Offer” flight ticket sales, Babawande Afolabi, Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Green Africa said, “This is a pivotal milestone on this journey, and we are delighted that the Green Africa vision is becoming a reality. We look forward to serving our customer and building Green Africa at scale.”

BREAKING: General Ibrahim Attahiru, The Chief Of Army Staff, Dies In Plane Crash - TV360

MAY 21, 2021

Reports just coming in say an aircraft belonging to the Nigeria Airforce has crashed in kaduna. Eight persons were reported to be on board including

the Chief of Army Staff Ibrahim Attahiru.

In a statement, the Nigerian Air Force confirmed that there was an accident involving one of its aircraft in Kaduna but no details were revealed.

Edward Gabkwet, the force’s Director of Public Relations and Information released a terse statement – “An air crash involving a @NigAirForce aircraft occurred this evening near the Kaduna International Airport. The immediate cause of the crash is still being ascertained. More details to follow soon”

Attahiru was appointed Chief of Army Staff on January 26, 2021.

Born on 10th August 1966 in Doka, Kaduna North Local Government Area, Kaduna State, he graduated from the Nigerian Defence Academy.

He commenced cadets training in January 1984 and was commissioned into the rank of Second Lieutenant in December 1986 as an Infantry Officer. He holds a Masters degree in Strategic Management and Policy Studies from the Nigerian Defence Academy.

General Attahiru has held several appointments on the staff, instructional and in command during his military career. He had a tour of duty with the United Nations in Sierra leone as a Military Observer, where he facilitated United Kingdom military engagement, Operation BARASS in September 2000.

He was an Operation Officer and later Company Commander in NIBATT 19 ECOMOG Operations in Liberia. Also, he had the unique privilege of having commanded with distinction all through the chain of command in the Nigerian Army.

American Airlines says technical issue at Sabre hit operations - REUTERS

MAY 21, 2021

May 21 (Reuters) - American Airlines said on Friday that travel technology firm Sabre Corp had a technical issue that impacted multiple carriers, including its own.

American Airlines said the technical issue had been resolved.

Virgin Australia, which also uses Sabre's technology for air bookings, said in a tweet earlier on Friday its flights were impacted by a global system outage, which was affecting its check-in and boarding systems. (https://bit.ly/3wokLcl) (Reporting by Arathy S Nair in Bengaluru; Editing by Ramakrishnan M.)

Virgin Atlantic to resume UK-Israel flights after truce - REUTERS

MAY 21, 2021

LONDON, May 21 (Reuters) - Virgin Atlantic said on Friday it expected to resume flights from Britain to Israel on Monday following the ceasefire in the region, but said it would keep the route under constant review.

Airlines including Virgin, British Airways and others had cancelled flights to Israel following the outbreak of violence this month.

"We very much welcome the news that a ceasefire has been agreed," a spokesman said.

"Our London Heathrow - Tel Aviv services remain under constant review and based on the current outlook we expect to operate flight VS453 on Monday 24th May and the return leg VS454 from Tel Aviv to London Heathrow on Tuesday 25th May." (Reporting by Kate Holton; editing by Guy Faulconbridge)

London Heathrow to Open Separate Terminal for High-Risk Arrivals - BLOOMBERG

MAY 21, 2021

(Bloomberg) -- London Heathrow airport will devote a terminal to arrivals from countries with high levels of Covid-19 infection amid concern that having them share a building with other passengers risks spreading the virus.

A dedicated facility for flights from so-called red list nations will open in Heathrow’s Terminal 3 from June 1, the airport said in a statement Friday. The hub had been in protracted talks over government funding for the plan, which it said will be very challenging logistically.

“Red list routes will likely be a feature of U.K. travel for the foreseeable future as countries vaccinate their populations at different rates,” the airport said. “We’re adapting Heathrow to this longer-term reality.”

Red-list passengers are currently met from the plane, guided down special immigration channels and taken straight to an approved quarantine hotel.

Other travelers have expressed concerns about close contact, especially given the spread of variants like the one first identified in India. Checks for negative coronavirus tests at the border have forced people to line up for hours in arrivals halls, heightening fears about potential transmission.

Heathrow said the change should allow Border Force officials to carry out their duties “more efficiently as passenger volumes increase.” The red-list facility will be moved to Terminal 4 as soon as operationally possible so that Terminal 3, which is more easily adaptable in the short term, can reopen for other passengers.

Airfares to continue rising as airlines source forex from parallel market - BUSINESSDAY

MAY 22, 2021

BY  Ifeoma Okeke

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

From N28, 000 for a one-hour flight after the high season in December 2020, the average cost of an hour ticket is now risen N60, 000 (one-way ticket) and risen as high as N120, for passengers who buy a ticket on the day they are traveling.

The airlines said there are indications that the fares would continue to soar, unless the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) provides them forex or creates a special window for aviation.

This is also as operators have pointed 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. As a result, Nigerian carriers have a limited fleet but high demand for air travel, as insecurity continues to discourage many people from traveling by road.

Toyin Olajide, the chief operating officer, Air Peace, said that airfares are high because of forex as airlines buy dollars from the parallel market to source spares, which they use to maintain their aircraft, noting that airlines need dollars for most of their operational expenses.

Olajide stated that the fares could be higher if the airlines wish to reflect the actual cost of operations in their tickets but competition has kept the cost of ticket at the current pricing, which is still lower than the pricing that could make flight operation profitable.

“Airfares are high because of forex. We buy dollars from the parallel market because we cannot source from the CBN. When you look at the prices of tickets, they don’t reflect the actual cost of operation; if they do they will be higher than what we sell tickets now, but competition has kept the fares relatively low.

“We need dollars for most of the things we do in aviation. We buy spares in dollars and we source dollars at N500 per dollar. Just imagine the cost if you want to import an aircraft engine. So the high cost of fares is because of forex,” she said.

The chief operating officer also acknowledged that currently there is limited capacity because airlines are operating less number of aircraft in their fleet, disclosing that Air Peace has most of its aircraft overseas where they were ferried for maintenance but they got stuck because of COVID-19 pandemic lockdown.

She said that most maintenance facilities overseas engage in skeletal operations due to the lockdown, so many aircraft under maintenance have not been completed to return to Nigeria for service.

“Our aircraft that were ferried for maintenance overseas have not returned due to the lockdown. The maintenance facilities cannot meet delivery time. Few people are allowed to work on the aircraft and because of the lockdown so many things are not working the way they should.

“For example, we have some of the aircraft in Israel, if you order spares from another country it takes time before it will be delivered because Immigration services may not be working in some countries, some companies may not even be operating optimally. So these are some of the challenges that we have,” Olajide said.

She also disclosed that about 21 of Air Peace aircraft are under maintenance or due for maintenance and explained that the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) calculates aircraft maintenance date by calendar months, so anyone that operated for 18 months is grounded and readied for maintenance.

“We have 21 airplanes that are under maintenance or due for maintenance but we have not got slot for those due for maintenance in facilities overseas. They have to push out the ones that have completed their checks before they will take in more. So the aircraft have to queue and wait,” she said.

Olajide, however, said that the good news was that the brand new Air Peace aircraft, Embraer E195-E2 would soon start operation, as NCAA is about to complete its certification on them.

Also speaking on the high cost of airfares, Ado Sanusi, the former CEO of Aero Contractors, said that high demand triggered the increase in airfares and capacity is not growing, adding that dollar is getting scarcer every day; so airlines go to the market where they can buy the dollars at any amount in naira.

“Airlines are also taking advantage of the demand because I cannot understand why economy tickets were selling for N74, 000 from Abuja to Kano, one way, which is less than one hour flight. There is a lot of demand for air travel because of security challenges on the roads; airlines are taking advantage of that,” Sanusi said.

But Mahmoud Abdullahi, the managing director of Aero Contractors, said that high fares are caused by scarcity of foreign exchange so airlines are finding it difficult to access dollars so they buy from the parallel market.

“Airlines are finding it difficult to source dollars. They are buying it from bureau de change. If we are getting it from CBN it will be better. Then there is this issue with aviation fuel, which prices change every day. It keeps going up. For airlines, everything is dominated in dollars. CBN should give airlines a special window to access forex. The fares are increasing but there is a limit to what the passengers can afford,” the Aero Contractors boss said.

Sam Adurogboye, general manager, public affairs, NCAA, said that the maintenance calendar of 18 months for C-check couldn’t be changed because that is what is in the regulation, so it is the law.

He, however, remarked that if the airlines want to review it they should submit a proposal to the regulation committee to consider.

Eiffel Tower to Reopen in Mid-July After Suffering Heavy Losses - BLOOMBERG

MAY 22, 2021

BY  Gaspard SebagBloomberg News

PARIS, FRANCE - APRIL 09: A young woman wearing a headscarf walks in front of the Eiffel Tower, on April 9, 2021 in Paris, France. A proposed "Anti-Separatism' bill currently in front of France's National Assembly has faced a backlash for an amendment that would ban the wearing of Muslim headscarves for those under the age of 18. (Photo by Sam Tarling/Getty Images)

PARIS, FRANCE - APRIL 09: A young woman wearing a headscarf walks in front of the Eiffel Tower, on April 9, 2021 in Paris, France. A proposed "Anti-Separatism' bill currently in front of France's National Assembly has faced a backlash for an amendment that would ban the wearing of Muslim headscarves for those under the age of 18. (Photo by Sam Tarling/Getty Images) , Photographer: Sam Tarling/Getty Images Europe

(Bloomberg) --

The Eiffel Tower is getting ready to welcome visitors again starting in mid-July as restrictions linked to the coronavirus ease throughout France.

The French capital’s iconic structure will reopen from July 16 to tourists eager to climb the 324-meter tower’s staircases or use its lifts, according to an announcement on Twitter.

The news comes as the terraces of cafes, restaurants and bars in Paris and throughout France reopened this week. The country’s curfew was pushed back to 9 p.m. and French citizens can now shop for shoes and visit museums, albeit with restrictions on the number of people who can enter.

Read more: From Paris Cafes to Roman Gelato, Europe Is Finally Reawakening

The operator’s representatives told Agence France-Presse that about 10,000 tourists will be able to visit per day, as opposed to 25,000 in normal times. The attraction receives 7 million visitors each year, according to its website.

The iron structure, which has been closed since the start of France’s second lockdown at the end of October, has suffered heavy losses and will need to be recapitalized in the coming months, according to the site operator.

Operating losses for 2020-2021 are expected to reach 120 million euros ($146 million) in total, a representative for the Societe d’Exploitation de la Tour Eiffel told AFP on Thursday.

Germany Imposes U.K. Travel Curbs Due to Variant From India - BLOOMBERG

MAY 22, 2021

BY  Arne DelfsBloomberg News

(Bloomberg) --

Germany will impose fresh restrictions on travelers from the U.K. starting on Sunday due to the rapid spread in Britain of the coronavirus strain first identified in India.

Travelers from the U.K. will have to spend two weeks in quarantine upon arrival in Germany even if they test negative for the virus, according to the foreign ministry. In addition, transport companies will only be allowed to bring German citizens back into the country.

Germany now classifies Britain as a “virus variant area,” the country’s highest risk category, following a recommendation from the Robert Koch Institute (RKI), according to the foreign ministry.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said that she is deeply concerned about the spread of the variant first detected India.

“This variant seems to be even more aggressive than the British mutation,” Merkel said after the G-20 World Health Summit on Friday. “That means we will have to be careful.”

Read more: How the India Covid Variant Exposed U.K.’s Pandemic Weaknesses

Germany had recently eased strict lockdown measures after the incident rate dropped below 100 in most areas. Britain, too, was removed from Germany’s list of risky areas after a fast-paced vaccination campaign and tough lockdowns massively reduced case numbers.

The decision to classify Britain as the highest risk area again might effect the presence of Merkel’s delegation at the three-day G-7 summit in Cornwall, which is scheduled to begin on June 11. Journalists have been advised not to travel to the U.K. to cover the event because they would be forced to quarantine afterward.


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