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Calling a man bald counts as sexual harassment, UK judge rules - CNBC

MAY 14, 2022

Calling a man bald can now be classed as sexual harassment, a U.K. employment tribunal judge has ruled.

Three members of the tribunal who decided on the ruling, and alluded to their own experience of hair loss, said that baldness was more prevalent in men than women. Therefore, they argued that the use of the word “bald” as an insult related to a “protected characteristic of sex.”

The tribunal compared calling a man bald to commenting on the size of woman’s breasts, based on a 1995 case.

The ruling, published Wednesday, was made on a case where the insult was alleged to have been used against Tony Finn, while he worked as an electrician for the British Bung Manufacturing Company.

Finn had worked at the company, which manufactures wooden cask closures for the brewing industry, in Yorkshire in the northeast of England, for nearly 24 years. He was fired last year and the circumstances around his dismissal were also part of the case.

Finn claimed that he was called a “bald c---” and was also threatened by his shift supervisor, Jamie King, in a dispute in July 2019.

The tribunal determined that using this insult was a “violation against the claimant’s [Finn] dignity, it created an intimidating ... environment for him, it was done for that purpose, and it related to the claimant’s sex.”

The tribunal members also suggested that it was not the use of profanities that was the issue, with Finn also having being found to use such language in the workplace: “Although, as we find, industrial language was commonplace on this West Yorkshire factory floor, in our judgment Mr King crossed the line by making remarks personal to the claimant about his appearance.” 

Finn is set to receive compensation on the tribunal’s ruling, though the amount had not yet been determined.

Dubai Airports Posts Best Quarter in Two Years as Travel Surges - BLOOMBERG

MAY 14, 2022

(Bloomberg) -- Sign up for our Middle East newsletter and follow us @middleeast for news on the region.

A surge in demand helped Dubai’s main airport post its best quarter since the coronavirus pandemic began, and the Gulf hub may reach pre-Covid levels of travel earlier than expected.

“We’ve revised our year-end forecast and think we’ll be close to pre-pandemic levels perhaps during 2024 -- the original idea was 2025 or even beyond,” Dubai Airports Chief Executive Officer Paul Griffiths said on Bloomberg TV. “People are engaging in revenge tourism after two years of lockdown, they’re rushing out to buy tickets.”

First-quarter passenger volumes at the airport rose to 13.6 million, up 15.7% from last quarter, and more than doubling from a year earlier. The airport now expects annual traffic to reach 58.3 million, exceeding a prior forecast of 57 million. 

“While the recovery was initially led by point-to-point traffic, which continues to exceed pre-pandemic levels, the opening of international travel across many key markets has enabled transfer traffic to rebound to 60% of 2019 levels,” Griffiths said in a statement. India was the top destination, followed by Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and the UK. 

The comments echo Emirates Chairman Sheikh Ahmed Bin Saeed Al Maktoum, who said on Tuesday the airline aims to return to full capacity by the end of 2022 and to break even over the period having been profitable since the start of the year.

Griffiths also said:

  • On inflation: “We’ve come out with a significantly lower cost base than when we went into the pandemic. Combined with the surge in passenger numbers, the inflationary pressure that we’re under has had a fairly minor impact on our business. We’ve been cash positive throughout the pandemic. We took early measure to control costs and we’ve keep costs under control during the recovery so far”
  • On a potential IPO: “That’s a decision for the government to make. There is no serious discussion at management level. However, looking around the world, airports are attractive utilities. The government will decide”
  • On asset utilization: “We’re looking at asset utilization. In the long run, Dubai World Central is an important airport and it will play a key role in the strategy of expansion of Dubai’s aviation sector”
    • Some airlines have moved operations to the city’s second airport as Dubai International’s northern runway has been closed for maintenance works

The decaying underbelly of Calabar, Nigeria’s ‘cleanest city’ - ALJAZEERA

MAY 14, 2022

In the 2000s, Calabar emerged as a tourism hub in Nigeria but all that good work has now been rubbished by heaps of litter.


By 


Calabar, Nigeria – Each day, just after dawn in the sleepy southern Nigerian city of Calabar, Hannah Edet sets up shop within the perimeter of a mountain of rubbish right in the heart of Watts Market, or Urua Watts as locals call it.

She dangles a thick bunch of fresh pumpkin leaves to passing commuters and vehicles, advertising to them in her native Efik language, ignoring the stench of decomposing rubbish in the air. The refuse, which piles up to four feet high, has spilled over onto the main road, slowing down traffic. Drivers, winding through the route, spit out in disgust while pedestrians press their palms tightly to their noses.

Edet’s voice is croaky as she laments to Al Jazeera: “This thing [the smell of the rubbish] has blocked my nose and throat. I’m not feeling comfortable.”

In the mid-2000s, Calabar, a former slave port during the days of British colonial rule, emerged as a tourism destination for local and foreign visitors attracted to its beautiful green scenery, rich culture and proximity to the Atlantic Ocean.

Between 2003-2006, former Liberian president Charles Taylor, who was fleeing his country on allegations of war crimes, lived in exile in a seaside villa in the city with his family.

The city’s annual Christmas carnival, once hailed as Africa’s biggest street party, played host to a range of notable performers, including the South African composer and trumpeter Hugh Masekela and Senegalese-American rapper Akon.

In 2007, a report by The New Humanitarian, then part of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, declared: “Of the many towns and cities on the African continent, Calabar must be one of the cleanest.”

These days, the city has lost its allure.

A trickle-down effect

In places where a plush line of trees once existed, pockets of trash dot the scenery instead. In some areas, rubbish trailing the streets now hosts a formidable breed of houseflies and scavengers.

Within the metropolis, the gutters are awash with refuse or thick with overgrown weed. Dan Archibong Memorial Park, which sits adjacent to the city mall, is under lock and key but also home to weeds and a mass of fallen leaves.

A number of Urua Watts traders maintain that the central landfill at Lemna on the outskirts of the city – Calabar’s major solid waste dumpsite – has reached maximum capacity and that the refuse overflow could also be the result of a boycott by garbage collectors over unpaid salaries.

And that has had a trickle-down effect on the pockets of residents like Edet, a 45-year-old single parent to five children – and their health.

“Last week, my neighbour was terribly sick [and] just recovered,” she said, her eyes becoming misty with tears. “In fact, it’s him that advised me to take some antibiotics and Paracetamol to help me a little.”

According to her, the garbage collectors last came to evacuate the waste on April 8.

“Most times flies from the refuse perch on the pumpkin and this scares customers away,” Edet told Al Jazeera, gesturing at her scant vegetables. “That’s why I didn’t buy as much market as I used to because when they [buyers] come, they cover their noses and run. Formerly, it wasn’t like this, especially in the time of Donald Duke.”

A woman walks beside the refuse dump at Watts Market
A woman walks beside the overflowing refuse dump at Watts Market in Calabar, southern Nigeria [Credit: Monday Ogar/Al Jazeera]

A strategic ecotourism agenda
Between 1999-2007, the governor of Cross River State was a suave saxophone-playing gentleman called Donald Duke. Under his administration, the state capital, Calabar, flourished as a tourism hub.

Taking a cue from his predecessor Clement Ebri (1992-1993) who focused on landscaping and nurturing ornamental plants around the city, Duke upped the ante. He established resorts and parks and set up agencies responsible for cleaning and evacuating waste in the capital and for beautifying the state.

It was part of a strategic ecotourism agenda, said Duke Emmanuel, a radio host and product manager at independent radio station Hit 95.9 FM Calabar.

“During Donald Duke’s time, the focus of the state was basically tourism,” he told Al Jazeera. “It was typical to find waste bins and baskets at strategic points within, say, 100 meters and they were regularly cleared, compared to what we have now.”

“Because tourism was at the heart of the administration, the salaries of the waste management guys were promptly paid,” Emmanuel said. “In fact, there were reports that Donald Duke would drive incognito to inspect the city’s cleanliness. It’s just crazy what Calabar metropolis has degraded into now.”

Effiom Duke (not related to Donald Duke), deputy national coordinator of Green Code, an environmental and human rights advocacy group, blamed the deterioration of standards on a “lack of strategic planning” for a population boom and called for the present dumpsite to be closed.

“We shouldn’t have a dumpsite close to where people live,” he told Al Jazeera. “Go and see the level of decongested water that drips from the dumpsite and flows to the river where the state’s Water Board pumping station is.”

“It’s a disgrace to the state and government,” Effiom added. “During the time of Donald Duke, it was impossible for you to find refuse on the road. There were taskforce agents around strategic points. If you dropped litter on the road, they’d arrest you and charge you to tribunal.”

For Uquetan Ibor, senior lecturer in environmental pollution at the University of Calabar, the situation is only a “worrisome” beginning of something much worse.

The accumulation of rubbish on the streets has pushed residents into disposing refuse in the gutters, thereby blocking the narrow drainage corridors and resulting in flooding of depressed areas he told Al Jazeera.

“Most times you can’t even enter these neighbourhoods when it rains,” he added. “It’s so bad you see people using elevated bridges to get to their houses.”

Scavengers, Uquetan also added, are now in the mix, spearheading an unintended ripple effect.

“They [scavengers] pick these bottles from those unsanitary conditions and sell to market women for ridiculously cheap prices,” he said. “These [market] women in turn reuse these bottles to sell palm oil, Zobo and tiger nut drink to residents … some of these bottles contained products made from mercury and cyanide.

“Some of them are even petrol products, like engine oil and such. As you know this can result in lead poisoning, posing serious health hazards for the end-users in the future.”

‘I can’t breathe’
Upon assuming office in 2015, current State Governor Benedict Ayade stressed his intention to maintain cleanliness standards in Calabar as the cleanest city nationwide. He also constituted a special task force called Green Police – later renamed Green Sheriff – as an environmental watchdog.

Four of Ayade’s more than 2,000 special advisers are specifically assigned to waste management and in the 2022 state budget (PDF), 1.1 billion Nigerian naira ($2.6m) was approved for the waste management agency

This has barely translated to anything on the streets because of indifference on the part of the government to effectively deal with the problem of waste, said Effiom Duke. “Time and time again our government has shown that they can’t be accountable. Of all the money allocated to waste management, only a tiny fraction is released … that’s the problem.”

Edet said the task force has been more preoccupied with identifying houses with inadequate sewage systems to get bribes from defaulters rather than maintaining proper sanitation in the metropolis.

“When it comes to keeping the environment clean, you will never find these people,” she told Al Jazeera.

The manager of the Cross River State Waste Management Agency did not respond to requests for comment. Sunday Oko, director of waste management at the state Ministry of Environment, told Al Jazeera: “Where’s the refuse? There’s no dirt anywhere. We’re working.”


Back on the streets, Edet has one earnest desire: “I only wish they’d come and clear this refuse,” she said. “I can’t breathe anymore.”

SOURCE: AL JAZEERA

Will Aero Survive These Austere Times? - THISDAY

MAY 16, 2022

Nigeria’s oldest carrier, Aero Contractors, is almost down but it has the potential to rise again and become one of Nigeria’s most successful carriers, writes Chinedu Eze

Key factors are going in favour of Aero Contractors. These include invaluable goodwill, highly skilled manpower with experience, a training school and a priceless aircraft maintenance facility. What is going against the foremost Nigerian carrier is that it does not have operational funds; it is crippled by N50 billion debt and save for two aged aircraft, Aero is bereft of operational equipment. These last factors on the downside can be a Nunc dimittis to any airline in Nigeria.

But Aero is still trudging on, hoping for financial intervention. The Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON) under which the airline is in receivership has been mum. It might have exhausted itself, but looking at how Arik Air and Aero Contractors have been doing under AMCON, it is the opinion of many industry stakeholders that the government agency’s foray into the aviation industry was a failure. According to many industry observers, not being able to put Arik Air and Aero Contractors on a good profitable pedestal is a failure “on the side of AMCON.”

Maintenance Facility

But Aero was a beckoning hope in 2018 and 2019; before COVID-19. That was when it rejuvenated its maintenance facility. In 2018, the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) issued Approved Maintenance Organisation (AMO) certificate to the company, qualifying it to carry out aircraft maintenance up to C-check level on Boeing Classics: B737-300, B737-400 and B737-500.

Aero went on to extend its maintenance hangar so that it could effectively take in a Boeing 737 aircraft and it was partnering with A J Walters of UK for tooling and spares; the South Africa Airways Technical and other international maintenance organisations to ensure that its aircraft maintenance facility was in line with global standards.

For years the airline had been conducting maintenance on helicopters and Bombardier Dash 8 aircraft up to D and C-check respectively.

The airline also hoped then to secure European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) certification before the middle of next year.

“Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) has given the certification for Aero to conduct C-checks on Boeing B737 Classics. I have always said that Aero Contractors Maintenance Organisation has been in existence for about 58 (2018) years and it has been conducting checks and it has been improving. Over the years it has done remarkably well in maintaining small body aircraft like Bombardier Dash-8, Hawkers and other private jets. 

“But there has always been a limiting factor for Aero Contractors to perform C-checks on bigger aeroplanes. So we now had a comprehensive look at what is needed so that we could achieve the great feat of carrying out C-check maintenance on Boeing B737 classics. Finally, we got all our people and every other thing ready and send them to NCAA to look at everything for approval. What we needed was to meet the specification for conducting C-check on bigger aircraft, the Boeing B737 classic, which includes B737-300, B737-400 and B737-500,” former Aero CEO, Capt Ado Sanusi had told THISDAY.

That maintenance facility was a lifeline for Aero Contractors. When it began to maintain aircraft for other airlines was when it began to earn revenues from another source other than the scheduled operation ad rotors division.

By early 2019, Aero had started getting offers to conduct C-check on third party aircraft (aircraft of other airlines) but the company started the C-check with its aircraft and would maintain two of its own before conducting the C-check on another, which was already in waiting.

Aero Rotors

When Aero Contractors was established in 1959, it targeted the oil and gas industry, to provide shuttle and related services and this was the base of the airline’s revenue until 2000 when it started scheduled flight service. In March 2013, industrial action grounded flights for 18 days, in a dispute over outsourcing and reduction in staff numbers. The strike, from 13–28 March, grounded Aero’s active fleet of nine aircraft and was reported to have cost the airline at least N10 billion in ticket sales. 

AMCON at the financially jaundiced status of Aero took 60 per cent of Aero stakes in 2013 and in August of the same year it took over the management of the airline. But in 2021 Aero shut down its rotors wing, which was money-spinning for the airline because, under receivership, E & P companies were niggard at doing business with the airline.

At the time AMCON took over the management of the airline, Aero Contrac¬tors had no fewer than eight helicopters (a rotary wing) and nine aircraft (fixed wing), but its helicopters had dwindled to just one by December 2020.

The Managing Director of the airline, Captain Abdullahi Mahmood admitted to THISDAY the precarious state of the airline and identified factors that led to the debilitating condition of the indigenous carrier.

Captain Mahmood disclosed that the management was doing everything possible to revive the carrier, saying that the factors that brought Aero to its knees are the contagious ailment infecting other airlines in the industry.

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

“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 costs you cannot survive. We are still operating but from the rate we are going we may shut down anytime,” the Managing Director said.

He also explained that because the aircraft in the fleet are old they break down very often so there is a high cost of maintenance and spares have to be imported and even insuring the aircraft requires foreign exchange.

Aero management also said that although the maintenance facility of the airlines was generating revenue it could not make a profit because the funds generated are used to pay personnel and overhead.

Revival

THISDAY also spoke to the immediate past CEO of the airline, Captain Ado Sanusi, who also said that it was very unlikely that the airline would survive, except it was urgently injected with new aircraft and funds.

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.

He recalled that 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 AMCON, so what the airline needed was more aircraft, which would enable it to increase revenue.

THISDAY learnt that then AMCON had invested so much money in the airline but was not ready to invest more, so Sanusi and his team brainstormed on whether the C-check could be conducted in-house and 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 the door for us because it restored passenger confidence, knowing that we could 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 the 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 that 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 the 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. The average age of the aircraft was the late 20s or early 30s. We communicated to the shareholders. We could not do D-check, which was a 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 to put the airline as an ongoing concern,” Sanusi said.  Aero is described as a fully made airline because it has a scheduled operations wing, rotary wing, MRO and training school; no other airline in Nigeria came close.

On why the airline was going under, Sanusi 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, and 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.

There is still hope that Aero Contractors will rise again.

Passengers Spend Night At Airports As Fuel Shortage Bites Harder - DAILY TRUST

MAY 16, 2022

Hundreds of airline passengers were stranded across the country over the weekend following scarcity of Aviation fuel known as Jet A1 which is affecting all airline operators, findings by Daily Trust have shown.

The development, it was learnt, started from last week after airline operators suspended their plan to shut down.

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Dana Air was the first to cry out over the scarcity of Jet A1 which it said is affecting its operations. 

“Unfortunately, we are again witnessing the scarcity of Jet A1 fuel across the airports in Nigeria, which has in some cases, caused recent flight delays,” said Sukh Mann, Dana Air Deputy CEO.

Daily Trust learnt that all airlines including Air Peace, Azman Air, Max Air, Dana Air, among others are being affected by the aviation fuel scarcity. 

In addition, it was learnt that the product is being sold at N695 in airports like Yola, Adamawa; Maiduguri in Borno.

While it was sold at N598 per litre in Lagos, it was N642 in Kano; N640 in Kaduna; 627 in Abuja; N626 in Port Harcourt; N635 in Enugu; N630 in Anambra, among others.

In Kano, passengers of Azman Airlines were between Saturday and Sunday stranded at Malam Aminu Kano International Airport (MAKIA) for over 24 hours.

The incident led to some of the passengers spending the night at the departure area of the airport as they did not learn about the rescheduled flight until late in the evening.

Many of the passengers, travelling to Abuja and Lagos, lamented that they were supposed to fly at 4:00pm on Saturday but could not see even staff of the airline and that they got the rescheduled notice around 8:00pm.

“I was here yesterday and expected to fly around 4pm but these people were not even around to tell us anything. I only got a notification around 8pm that the flight has been rescheduled to today (Sunday). Some of us spent the night here. This is totally disappointing,” Jamilu Rabiu, one of the passengers said.

However, one of the company’s staff who spoke on the condition of anonymity admitted that they had technical difficulties with their aeroplane but assured that the passengers will fly around 6:30pm (on Sunday).

“As you can see we are now clearing yesterday’s passengers. We have 4:00pm yesterday and 7:30am and another 4:00pm today. So we are expected to clear them today (Sunday).

“One of our aeroplanes is coming in the next one hour and we will clear yesterday’s passengers and today’s at 7:30pm. They all have collected their boarding passes and now we are waiting for the aeroplane,” he said.

As of the time of filing this report, many passengers were stranded across the country with airlines struggling to get the product.

In Abuja, some Air Peace passengers were also stranded and accommodated by the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria’s (FAAN).

It was learnt that trouble began for the passengers who were billed to travel on the Air Peace flight to Owerri on the 8th of May, 2022 when their flight was cancelled at night and they were left to their fate in spite of a customer service charter by the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) that prescribes that passengers be accommodated in that type of situation.

But the FAAN Airport Manager of the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja Mr. Kabir Mohammed having noticed the agitation of the stranded passengers stepped in and provided one-night accommodation and also fed those who were willing to be accommodated. 

One of the passengers in a letter to the SERVICOM desk at the airport dated 9th of May 2022, on behalf of the affected passengers thanked FAAN for the gesture even though it was the responsibility of the airline to have accommodated and fed them.

The passenger, Mr. Samuel Eke Onyemauwa wrote: “I write this recommendation about the staff and management of FAAN Abuja over their wonderful and efficient service offered to us when Air Peace Airlines disappointed us. We were billed to fly to Owerri on the evening of 8th May 2022.

“The staff and management of FAAN Abuja intervened over the chaos situation, lodged and fed us till the next day after we were abandoned and left stranded by Air Peace in the dead of the night. The following day, FAAN brought us back to the airport to travel. Indeed, FAAN averted what would have turned into a chaotic situation” he narrated.

Daily Trust at the meeting held last week, the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) Limited, Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and airline operators agreed to provide six million litres of aviation fuel at N480 a litre for three months.

It was part of the agreements reached at the end of the meeting summoned by the house of representatives to avert airline operators’ planned shutdown. 

However, an airline operator, Barr. Shehu Wada blamed the massive flight delays throughout the weekend on the scarcity of Jet fuel, saying no airline is immune from the challenge.

Why Airlines Cannot Tame the Increasing Price of Aviation Fuel - THISDAY

MAY 16, 2022

Despite their campaigns and agitations, Nigerian domestic carriers have failed to influence the price of aviation fuel and now they are pitted against oil marketers, writes Chinedu Eze

In recent times, the aviation industry has provoked a lot of anxiety and worry in the minds of many Nigerians. Air travellers were aghast when the Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON) announced they would suspend flight operations on May 9, 2022, but eventually, that did not happen to the relief of many. 

It is all about the price of aviation fuel, known as Jet A1. The airlines said that the prices ranged from N600 per litre to N700 per litre; depending on which part of the country an airline is buying the product. If an operator is buying the product in Maiduguri, he will pay N700 per litre, in Kano, N680 per litre, in Abuja, N650 per litre and in Lagos, N600 per litre.

But in a recent statement, oil marketers argued that they are not selling the product at N700 per litre. The marketers under the aegis of the Major Oil Marketers Association of Nigeria (MOMAN) denied reports that Aviation Turbine Kerosene (ATK), otherwise known as aviation fuel, was being sold at N700 per litre in some parts of the country.

The Executive Secretary of MOMAN, Clement Isong, explained that aviation fuel is sold by marketers at the rate of between N540 and N550 per litre at the tarmac at Lagos airports and N570 to N580 per litre at the farthest airport from Lagos. Isong also denied knowledge of aviation fuel selling at N700 per litre anywhere across the country and acknowledged that the Nigerian National Petroleum Company (NNPC) has intervened with the importation of the product.

Cheaper Aviation Fuel

 MOMAN also argued that in West Africa, aviation fuel is cheapest in the sub-region. It also said in comparative terms, that the aviation industry was already benefitting from the government’s intervention when local prices are compared to West African regional prices, “despite the deregulated status of aviation fuel”. The marketers warned that the situation was not sustainable given the already humongous N4 trillion annual subsidy costs being borne by the country.

It explained that concerning aviation fuel, verifiable prices in West Africa ranged from $1.25 per litre in Ghana to as high as $1.51 per litre in Liberia, saying even then, the product has remained scarce across the sub-region.

MOMAN maintained that due to the intervention of NNPC over the last several weeks, aviation fuel was landed into marine terminal tanks in Nigeria at between N480 and N500 per litre, depending on the logistics efficiency of the operator.

It further explained that “due to high costs of specific handling of Jet A1 (special transport and continuous filtration), the product is sold on the tarmac at Ikeja (our benchmark), between N540 and N550 per litre and across other airports at between N570 and N580 per litre.

“During this period of NNPC intervention, as NNPC uses the nominal Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) exchange rate, no independent importer could import aviation fuel as it is unable to access foreign exchange at the same rate, leaving NNPC as the major importer of aviation fuel for now, even though the product is deregulated.”

However, the marketers admitted that those interventions were sometimes necessary to mitigate shocks and help the economy, the operating environment and the public to adjust to the new realities while efforts were being made and innovations introduced to optimise costs and increase efficiencies.

While noting that those interventions cannot be permanent, MOMAN expressed hope that the war in Ukraine should come to a speedy conclusion.

It also expressed the hope that the integration of products from the local refineries including the four NNPC refineries under rehabilitation, the Dangote Refinery under construction as well modular refineries into the supply chain, would mitigate the high costs being borne by the government and Nigerians.

However, aviation industry observers had argued that Nigeria has the passenger traffic and the number of aircraft so comparing it to other countries in West Africa was a weak argument. They also noted that as an oil producer, there should be some benefits the country’s citizens ought to have just by producing the product locally and lamented that it was a failure of government that Nigeria is not producing petroleum products locally. They also emphasised that premium motor spirit, which is petrol and diesel prices in other West African countries are cheaper than what obtains in Nigeria; so the marketers should not single out aviation fuel.

Also, the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Godwin Emefiele, has said that crude oil theft in the Niger Delta region had made it difficult to grant foreign exchange to aviation operators, adding that CBN would not grant any concession to the airline operators because it would amount to giving subsidy  (on the price of aviation fuel) to aviation operators.

No Subsidy 

But the airlines had said that contrary to what MOMAN was circulating, that they never requested subsidies and that they do not even support subsidies in any way. The CEO of Aero Contractors, Captain Abdullahi Mahmood, told THISDAY in a telephone interview that Nigerian carriers never demanded subsidies from the government but requested that government would review the pricing so that it would come down to the level that Nigerians would be able to travel by air.

He said that airlines do not want to pass the new cost of aviation fuel to the passengers because if they do, passengers would pay between N100, 000 to N150, 000 for one hour flight.

“We don’t want subsidy. We cried out because we are aware that government knows what to do when they have a crisis like this. We also know that if the government takes full charge of the importation the price of the product will be cheaper than what the marketer will bring. Airlines never asked for a subsidy. We are not asking for a reduction in the price of aviation fuel for our interest. We are doing so for passengers because if we push the cost to the customers, tickets will cost from N100,000 to N150,000. 

The aviation industry is a critical sector. That is why the US government gives bailouts to airlines. All the airlines are privately owned, the government gives them bailout because of the critical role they play in the nation’s economy and the fact that they employ thousands of the citizens,” he said.

He recalled that in 2008, the US government gave a bailout to General Motors and other American vehicle manufacturing companies, which helped them to revamp their production and today they are doing better.

“There was no single airline that said, give us subsidy. We want the Nigerian travellers to pay less amount of money for tickets. Airlines generally make a marginal profit of two per cent even though establishing an airline is capital intensive. Aviation is the catalyst to any country’s economy and this is because of the movement of people, the economic driver. Even now how many people travel by air at N50,000 for one hour flight? 

 “We protested about the increase of the price of aviation fuel because we wanted to draw the attention of the government to look at how it can help. If we continue to increase the cost of tickets passengers will shun the airports. Airlines might be forced to shut down and the mortality rate of airlines in Nigeria will increase. Employees will lose their jobs and go into the already saturated labour market. That is not what the operators want. Many of them have invested so much in aviation. There is a crisis,” he said.

Mahmood said that what makes it more difficult was that the increase comes suddenly, accusing oil marketers of not giving prior notice before increasing the price of their product. 

“There is no airline that will experience such a spike in the price of aviation fuel that will not be shocked. We buy high volumes of the product. Such a high price is very difficult because of the volume of litres we buy (Boeing 737 consumes 3409.57 litres of fuel for one hour flight). What we buy is sector fuel. 

Flight flying from Lagos to Abuja, for example, will buy sector fuel. That is taking fuel that will take you to Abuja and extra fuel, which will enable you to hover and fly to an alternate airport to Abuja, which is Mallam Aminu Kano International Airport, Kano. So you cannot just buy any fuel that is taking you to Abuja. All these have to be taken into consideration,” the Aero Contractors CEO said.

The airlines and oil marketers seem to have reached a temporary amicable solution with the intervention of the federal government agencies, the National Assembly and others. But what will bring a permanent solution to this problem is the local refining of aviation fuel and other petroleum products.

UK Diesel Prices at the Pump Hit Record High, RAC Says - BLOOMBERG

MAY 16, 2022

(Bloomberg) --

The price for Britain’s motorists to fill up their cars with diesel reached a fresh high, in another blow to consumers grappling with the nation’s cost-of-living crisis.

The average UK diesel price rose to a record 180.29 pence ($2.24) per liter on Sunday, up from a previous high of 179.9 pence on March 23, according to the RAC, the country’s main motoring organization.

Despite the government announcing a cut of five pence per liter to fuel duty until next March, UK diesel prices at the pump have risen following a decision to ban all shipments of Russian oil. One-third of Britain’s diesel imports come from Russia, meaning that shunning Moscow’s crude has put further upward pressure on energy prices at a time when Britons are already grappling with soaring inflation.

“Efforts to move away from importing Russian diesel have led to a tightening of supply and pushed up the price retailers pay for diesel,” RAC fuel spokesperson Simon Williams said Monday in a statement. “While the wholesale price has eased in the last few days this is likely to be temporary, especially if the European Union agrees to ban imports of Russian oil.”

EU foreign ministers are meeting in Brussels on Monday to discuss the next round of sanctions on Russia in response to its invasion of Ukraine. The bloc’s diplomats have floated a delay in the phased-in oil ban after Hungary objected, saying the step would be too damaging to its economy. 

The price of gasoline, known as petrol in the UK, has also risen since the start of May, averaging 166.65 pence at the start of this month. That’s just below a record high of 167.3 pence reached on March 22, according to RAC data.

Rate Hikes Hit Canada Housing With First Price Drop in Two Years - BLOOMBERG

MAY 16, 2022

(Bloomberg) -- Canadian home prices fell for the first time in two years as a rapid rise in interest rates looks set to threaten one of the world’s hottest housing markets.

Benchmark home prices declined 0.6% in April from the month before, the first drop since April 2020, according to data released Monday from the Canadian Real Estate Association. The number of sales, meanwhile, plunged 12.6%.

The shift is coming as the Bank of Canada embarks on an aggressive campaign of rate increases to fight inflation running at a three-decade high. Markets are betting that the policy interest rate, which began the year at 0.25%, will have to rise to 3% over the next year.

The sharp jump in Canadian home prices since the pandemic -- they’re up 24% over the past 12 months -- was partly driven by emergency-low rates that helped the economy through the Covid-19 crisis. But now rate increases have left the nation’s housing market looking increasingly vulnerable.

“Following a record-breaking couple of years, housing markets in many parts of Canada have cooled off pretty sharply over the last two months, in line with a jump in interest rates and buyer fatigue,” Jill Oudil, chair of the real estate association, said in a news release accompanying the data.

An inflationary surge is being seen around the world as supply chain problems combine with higher commodity prices caused by Russia’s invasion in Ukraine. Assets from stocks to bonds to cryptocurrencies have plunged in recent weeks as policymakers everywhere scramble to drain stimulus from the economy and get consumer prices under control. A separate release Monday showed Canadian consumer confidence posting its sharpest weekly drop since April 2020.

In the housing market, last month’s price declines were heaviest in the smaller communities around Toronto that saw some of the steepest gains through the pandemic as remote work allowed buyers to look further afield. The suburbs of Oakville and Milton saw benchmark prices decline 5.6% in April from the month before, while prices in the city of London, Ontario, about a two hour drive from Toronto, declined 4%, the data show.

The slowdown in sales activity, meanwhile, was broad-based, with 80% of local markets nationwide posting a monthly decline in transactions, the data show.

Ian Soucy, a realtor in Ottawa, said he’s been surprised by how much the market has cooled this spring. “Buyers are hesitant, just with the unknown of the interest rates rising,” Soucy said, pointing to the likelihood of another 50-basis-point hike in June. Entry-level townhomes that were “flying off the shelves” as recently as a couple months ago are now sitting on the market for a few weeks, he said.

Nevertheless, even in the midst of the current slowdown Canada’s housing market remains historically tight.

The country has just 2.2 months of inventory available right now, compared to a longer term average of five months, the data show. But this metric has been moving up, and the ratio of sales to new listings -- another measure of market tightness -- fell to 66.5% in April. In its release, the real estate board said that ratio was approaching a level traditionally signaling the market is shifting to buyers from sellers.

“After 12 years of ‘higher interest rates are just around the corner,’ here they are,” Shaun Cathcart, the real estate board’s senior economist, said in the press release. “But it’s less about what the Bank of Canada has done so far. It’s about a pretty steep pace of continued tightening that markets expect to play out over the balance of the year.”

(Updates with more detail from 7th paragraph.)

More People Are Flying Premium Class Now They Can Travel Again - BLOOMBERG

MAY 16, 2022

(Bloomberg) -- More people are flying in premium cabins for leisure trips despite airfares rising on surging oil prices and demand, and that’s helped offset a slower recovery in business travel, according to the International Air Transport Association. 

“There’s a strong pent-up demand for travel,” IATA Director General Willie Walsh told reporters in Singapore on Monday. “Consumers had disposable income during the two years of the pandemic. People have, consumers have, saved and therefore they are prepared to spend that money.”

Travel Giant TUI Predicts Profit as Dash for Beach Picks Up 

A quick recovery is crucial for global aviation, one of the industries hardest hit by the pandemic as governments shut borders and the skies emptied. While travel has started picking up in most markets, some countries, particularly in the Asia-Pacific region, have yet to fully open up. 

China, for example, is tightening Covid-related restrictions again and discouraging citizens from flying, putting a significant dent in global tourism. 

“It’s clearly disappointing that China is pursuing this Zero Covid approach,” Walsh said. The country was a very “strategically important market where a lot of airlines were looking at growth opportunities. I think airlines will be reassessing that, given the continued closure of the borders in China.”   

China Faces Bleak Holidays as Covid Zero Disrupts Travel 

The war in Ukraine has added another challenge for airlines, as sanctions against Russia have pushed up oil prices by limiting supply, meaning the single-biggest cost item on their balance sheets has become even more of a burden. That has forced airlines globally to raise ticket prices. 

“Given the financial performance of airlines, there’s just no way an airline can absorb that additional cost,” Walsh said. “It’s inevitable that those higher oil prices will find their way through to consumers in the form of higher ticket prices.”

Domestic airlines may reschedule, cancel flights as aviation fuel scarcity persists —AON - VANGUARD

MAY 17, 2022

By Lawani Mikairu

Domestic airline operators, under the aegis of  Airline Operators of Nigeria, AON, yesterday said they may resort to flight cancellation and delays as aviation fuel scarcity persists.

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The operators said this in a statement signed by AON spokesman, Dr Obiora Okonkwo. 

AON: Disaligned and far behind the front lines
The statement, titled ”Public notice: Disruptions in flight operations”, yesterday read : “The Airline Operators of Nigeria wish to alert the public of impending disruptions to scheduled flight operations of members of the association.

 
” This development is being forced on members by the growing scarcity of aviation fuel popularly known as Jet-Al. The scarcity is impacting negatively on the seamless conduct of air transport operations and would lead to flight rescheduling, and, or, cancellations.

“However, the association and its members are working very hard, and in alliance with product marketers, government and relevant stakeholders, to ensure availability and proper pricing of aviation fuel in the country.

 
“While pleading the understanding of the flying public in the face of this reality, we also promise to do all that is necessary, and within our powers, to restore normal flight schedules as soon as possible,” the airlines Spokesman promised.

Recall, AON  members had threatened to shut down flight operations two weeks ago due to the high cost of aviation fuel , popularly called Jet A1. But the intervention of the federal government and stakeholders made the members call off the planned action at the last minute.

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