Travel News

Igbinedion Varsity to Absorb Students From Ukraine - Official - PREMIUM TIMES

SEPTEMBER 07, 2022

Many Nigerian students studying in Ukraine have been shut out from schools because of the ongoing Russia-Ukraine war.

The Igbinedion University, Okada, Edo State, said it has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with two Ukrainian universities to absorb students displaced by the ongoing conflict with Russia.

The Vice-Chancellor of the university, Lawrence Ezemonye, disclosed this in Okada on Tuesday in his welcome address at a lecture to celebrate the 88th birthday of Gabriel Igbinedion, the founder of the university.

Mr Ezemonye, a professor, said the first set of the students, who were medical students, would soon be given admission into the institution with the approval of the Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria.

This effort, he said, was in line with the internationalisation of the pedagogical profile of the private university through partnerships.

"Our drive to being a leading centre of development, enhancing knowledge production, capacity building, scientific innovations and breakthroughs through a coupling of local and global network and synergies, remains on course.

"In this regard, we have intensified the internationalisation of our pedagogical profile through partnerships with foreign institutions and bodies in the areas of articulation and exchange programmes, joint programme delivery and joint research under strict compliance with regulatory requirements.

"This is in consonance with our determination to expose the students to a formidable learning experience targeted at producing global leaders," he said.

The vice-chancellor said the lecture was aimed at acknowledging a great mind in Mr Igbinedion, whose "great vision" birthed the pioneer private university in Nigeria.

Samson Itegboje, who spoke on 'Diplomacy and Nigeria's Fortunes: Private Sector Action through Education, Practice and More', eulogised the role of private individuals and institutions such as the celebrator and the Igbinedion University for the strategic services.

Mr Itegboje said the service comes through the enhancement of the nation's image and conduct of studies and training in international relations, political science and other relevant disciplines.

He said these relevant disciplines served as building blocks for Nigeria's diplomacy and invariably the future.

UK House Prices Rise Led By Surge in London, Halifax Says - BLOOMBERG

SEPTEMBER 07, 2022

(Bloomberg) --

UK house prices rebounded in August, led by the strongest growth in London in six years, one of the nation’s biggest mortgage lenders said.

Halifax said its measure of property prices rose 0.4% last month after a 0.1% dip the month before, bringing the average cost of a home to a new record of £294,260.

The increase defied predictions that a cost-of-living crisis and rising mortgage costs would puncture the strength of the property market, which kept growing through the pandemic and last recession.

“While house prices have so far proved to be resilient in the face of growing economic uncertainty, industry surveys point towards cooling expectations across the majority of UK regions, as buyer demand eases, and other forward-looking indicators also imply a likely slowdown in market activity,” Kim Kinnaird, director of Halifax Mortgages, said in a statement Wednesday. 

Kinnaird expects a “more challenging period” for house prices in the coming months because gains have stretched affordability for many purchasers.

Mortgage rates are now at their highest since 2016 after six interest-rate increases from the Bank of England since December, with another half-point rise expected next week. 

The annual rate of house price growth was 11.5%, little changed from the previous month’s 11.8%. London and Wales were the strongest regions for sales, with prices in the capital jumping 8.8% from a year ago, the most in six years. Wales saw the fastest growth since 2005, up 16.1%.

The figures confirm a reading from the UK’s other main mortgage lender, which also registered growth in the market in August, typically a month where prices soften.

Nationwide Building Society said the average cost of a home rose 0.8% in August to £273,751, the 13th consecutive monthly increase. 

“The Bank of England is widely expected to continue raising interest rates, which will also exert a cooling impact on the market if this feeds through to mortgage rates, which have already increased noticeably in recent months,” said Nationwide Chief Economist Robert Gardner. 

Fuel scarcity hits Abuja as marketers shut stations - PUNCH

SEPTEMBER 07, 2022

Many fillings stations were shut on Tuesday leading to lengthy queues by motorists for Premium Motor Spirit, popularly called petrol, at the few outlets that dispensed the commodity in Abuja and neighbouring states.

Petrol scarcity resumed again in the Federal Capital Territory and environs on Tuesday after about a month break, as motorists and other PMS users imagined when they would see the last of fuel queues in Abuja.

The petrol scarcity and its attendant queues on Tuesday were due to the warning strike embarked upon by the Suleja Depot Branch of the Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria.

The oil marketers commenced the three-day warning strike on Monday and stopped their members from lifting petrol from the depot to more than five states in the North including Abuja, a development that caused scarcity on Tuesday.

The two ever-busy filling stations, Conoil and Total, located right in front of the headquarters of the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited, shut their doors to customers on Tuesday.

Reason being that they had no product to dispense. However, black marketers in front of the filling stations and opposite NNPC headquarters, used the opportunity to sell their wares at higher rates to motorists.

Government officials kept mute about the situation when contacted.

The spokesperson of the Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority,  Kimchi Apollo, for instance, did not answer his telephone when contacted. He also did not reply a text message sent to him on the matter.

The PUNCH reported on Tuesday that Abuja, Kaduna, Nasarawa, Kogi, Niger and neighbouring states might encounter another round of PMS scarcity following the commencement of a three-day warning strike by the Suleja Depot Branch of IPMAN.

Members of the union commenced the strike on Monday in protest against the continued indebtedness of the Federal Government to oil marketers with respect to the payment of fuel transportation costs, otherwise called bridging claims.

The IPMAN Suleja Depot Branch Chairman, Yahaya Alhassan, said marketers had stopped the supply of products from the depot, as the union had prevented trucks from moving PMS to the northern states.

He said marketers were withdrawing their services until the Federal Government settled their outstanding bridging claims of N50.5bn.

He said the three-day warning strike would go on if the Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority fails to remit the money.

“At the expiration of the warning strike on Wednesday, if they (NMDPRA) fail to pay us, the stoppage of supply would continue indefinitely,” Alhassan stated, adding that all the appeals which the association made to the authority to pay the debt had been ignored.

In a similar development, the National Executive Committee of IPMAN said on Tuesday that it had been informed of some series of  unwarranted attacks against members loading petroleum products across NNPC depots and private depots.

It said the attacks were within Rivers State “by group of disgruntled people using the army and police and claiming to be acting on order from above.”

IPMAN President, Debo Ahmed, said members of the association should be “kindly be informed that we have not authorised any body to harass or intimidate our members under the guise of levy collection.

“On behalf of IPMAN NEC, I direct that you withdraw your services anywhere you find them trying to execute this evil plot.”

Payments of marketers’ claims ongoing, N103bn disbursed – NMDPRA

Reacting to the development in a statement on Tuesday night, the NMDPRA said it held a meeting with the Northern Independent Petroleum Marketers Forum on September 5 and 6, 2022 with the participation of the NNPC Ltd.

It stated that during the meeting the authority informed the marketers that payment of their claims was ongoing and that over N103bn had been paid to marketers.

“Previous engagements and today’s meeting addressed issues regarding bridging claims and other matters,” it stated.

It added, “The authority would like to reiterate that payment of bridging claims is an ongoing process and payments are disbursed as it is received from marketers.

Lufthansa Pilots Set to Strike Again in Worsening Pay Dispute - BLOOMBERG

SEPTEMBER 07, 2022

(Bloomberg) -- Deutsche Lufthansa AG averted a disruptive pilot strike after raising its pay offer, a move that will avoid cancellations while complicating the airline’s efforts to boost profit and pay down debt.

The VC pilots union spokesman said the union decided to call off a planned two-day walkout that was due to start after midnight after Lufthansa improved its offer. The union didn’t immediately comment on the terms of the new conditions. Lufthansa didn’t immediately comment.

Lufthansa shares traded 3.1% higher as of 2:48pm in Frankfurt. The company’s stock has fallen about 3% since the start of the year.

Late last month, the union -- which represents about 9,600 members -- voted overwhelmingly in favor of walkouts. Lufthansa’s pilots are demanding wage increases to help offset the near double-digit increase in consumer prices. A walkout by ground crew caused the carrier to scrap hundreds of flights at its Frankfurt and Munich hubs just last week. 

Europe’s aviation industry has been plagued by chaotic operations in recent months, partly because of a lack of ground personnel in areas from security to baggage handling, and as employees push for higher wages to grapple with soaring costs of living. 

Travel demand has roared back as people return to business trips and vacations after being stuck in lockdowns for the better part of two years, pandemic-fighting measures that pushed Lufthansa to the brink of bankruptcy in 2020 and left it saddled with billions of euros in debt.

In a bid to cut the carrier’s debt pile, Lufthansa Chief Executive Officer Carsten Spohr has pledged to boost the airline’s earnings margin to a minimum of 8% by 2024. Disputes with worker representatives and concessions over pay suggest Spohr might have trouble reaching those goals, as he tries to balance the need for more staff with a push to cut costs.

FG To Sanction Foreign Airlines Over Refusal To Sell Tickets In Naira - CHANNELS TV

SEPTEMBER 07, 2022

The Federal Government has threatened to sanction foreign airlines in the country over their refusal to accept naira payment for flight tickets.

The Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, made this known at a briefing today after the Federal Executive Council meeting chaired by President Muhammadu Buhari.

He said intelligence reports indicated that some of the airlines refuse to sell in naira but charge ticket fares in dollars instead, in violation of Nigerian laws.

The minister disclosed that the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority has been directed to deal with any of such airlines that are caught flouting the laws.

Sirika cautioned them to refrain from using the social media to place their demands rather than resorting to the diplomatic channels.

[READ ALSO] N19bn Debt: NCAA Threatens To Suspend Airlines

According to him, foreign airlines have made over 1.1 billion dollars so far from Nigeria since 2016, an amount which could have remained in the country if they were local airlines.

He further revealed that the airlines remitted over 600 million dollars to their home countries in 2016, while over 265 million dollars has also been released this year.

Fight Or Flight: Nigeria’s FX Crisis And The Aviation Sector - FORBES

SEPTEMBER 07, 2022

By Peace Hyde

Nigeria is currently facing a foreign currency crisis, which is taking a toll on the Nigerian aviation sector.

With Emirates airline announcing in August its suspension of flights to Nigeria from September 1 after being unable to repatriate $85 million of its revenue withheld in the country, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) released $265 million to foreign airlines to help ease the situation.

In light of these developments, Emirates has now announced it will reinstate flights to/from Lagos from September 11. On its site, it adds: “The airline welcomed the Central Bank of Nigeria’s move to release a portion of our blocked funds, and we continue to engage with the Nigerian authorities to ensure the repatriation of our outstanding and future funds may continue without hindrance.”

But though the move is seen as a welcome reprieve, the crisis is far from over.

A lack of foreign currency

With CBN’s official exchange rate standing at N415.37 to $1 for selling and N415.87 to $1 for buying as at the end of July 2022, compared to the black market rate, which currently stands at N680 to $1 for selling and about N720 to $1 for buying, accounting for a staggering 19% hike in just one month, Nigeria is currently facing a foreign currency (FX) crisis and this is taking a significant toll on the Nigerian aviation sector.

Like many industries decimated by the marauding Covid-19 pandemic, the aviation sector in Nigeria and all over the world was forced to come to a sudden halt. This had a knock-on effect on foreign investors in the country who fled to find solace on safer grounds as crude oil prices took a downward spiral.

“Oil prices have since stabilized but the problem is that foreign investors have not returned to Nigeria. Foreign investors bring an influx of forex into the country through foreign direct investment and without it, the country’s supply has essentially dried up,” says Ola Oladele, a financial markets expert in Lagos.

In an attempt to curtail the amount of FX available in the market, the CBN decided on a controversial move to stop selling FX to Bureau De Change operators in July 2021, forcing individuals and businesses who needed FX to only go to the banks. The problem is, there is not enough FX to go around and slowly but surely, the resulting effect is beginning to hamper operations in the aviation sector of Africa’s most populous economy.

FX impact on aviation

“This is a sad situation. Emirates have done everything they can to get their money out in the right way by collaborating with the International Air Transport Association (IATA), banks and even via the CBN. To help them limit their exposure to dollars which has been scarce in the Nigerian market for some time, they offered to pay for fuel in Naira but all has been in vain,” says Sindy Foster, an aviation analyst and founder of Avaero Capital Partners, a leading aviation and aerospace marketing agency.

In a Twitter thread, the IATA said “it is disappointed that the amount of airline money blocked from repatriation by the Nigerian government grew to $464 million in July 2022. IATA’s many warnings

that failure to restore timely repatriation will hurt Nigeria with reduced air connectivity are proving true with the withdrawal of Emirates from the market.”

“We are being forced to buy Jet A-1 fuel refined outside Nigeria at the cost of the current exchange rate and that is impossible to meet,” avers Simon Opoku, an aircraft engineer working with Arik.

The shortage of FX means Nigeria has restricted access to foreign currency for imports. The issue is, foreign airlines have a fiduciary duty to repatriate their earnings from international business back to their home country. In order to operate globally, airlines enter into an agreement with the IATA to sell tickets based on IATA approved rates and in exchange, they have the ability, through their bilateral partnership agreement, to repatriate their money back home anytime they choose.

The complication is, they have their money domiciled in their account in Naira but if they want to send the money out, they need to wait for the CBN to have the FX available or buy the FX from the black market at a loss.

According to Susan Akporiaye, President of the National Association of Nigeria Travel Agencies, airline funds have been trapped in the country since the last quarter of 2021.

“The fact that someone has money in their bank account in Naira because they have to sell tickets in the local currency and then when they try to repatriate they are given stories is just not going to work for the Nigerian aviation sector,” says Foster.

FG Vows to Punish Foreign Airlines Selling Tickets in Dollars - THISDAY

SEPTEMBER 07, 2022

Deji Elumoye in Abuja 

The federal government has vowed to sanction foreign airlines selling tickets to Nigerians in hard currency, insisting that such practice is a violation of the nation’s laws.

The Minister of Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika, who disclosed this to newsmen Wednesday after the weekly Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting, which was presided over by President Muhammadu Buhari at the State House, Abuja, said the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) had been instructed to swing into action by protecting the interest of Nigerians against reported airlines’ operations malpractices, adding that no violator, either high or mighty, would be spared if caught in violation.

According to him, intelligence reports showed that some of the airlines are refusing naira and charging ticket fares in dollars in violation of the nation’s laws, while some others have blocked local travel agencies from accessing their websites for transactions.

His words: “I want to use this opportunity to say that reports are reaching us that some of the airlines are refusing to sell tickets in naira. That is a violation of our local laws. They will not be allowed. The high and the mighty among them will be sanctioned, if they’re caught doing that.

“NCAA had been directed to swing into action and once we find any airline violating this, we will definitely deal with them. Also, they blocked the travel agents from access. They also made only the expensive tickets available and so on and so forth. 

“Our regulators are not sleeping, we have a very vibrant Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority. Once they found any airline guilty, that airline will be dealt with because we need to protect our people. It is according to our agreements, to what we have signed and this is according to international convention. 

“So going forward, they should desist from doing things that are outside of the law. They should also desist from writing us and putting things in social media. They should go through diplomatic channels if they want response from federal government.”

Details shortly…

Aviation: Nigeria’s cargo traffic low amidst massive global demands - VANGUARD

SEPTEMBER 08, 2022

*FG, regulatory bodies stall cargo business – Stakeholders

By Prince Okafor

Despite the massive demand for Nigeria’s goods globally, the country’s cargo traffic remains low among the top African airports ranking by freight traffic.

Nigeria has one of the most nutritious fruits in the world but demand and supply are not meeting at the moment, with China, India, and some Europe countries seeking these products.

According to the Airports Council International, ACI, Nigeria Murtala Muhammed Airport Two, ranked fifth in Africa, as it handled only 204,649 tonnes of goods in 2021 as against Jomo Kenyatta International Airport which tops the list with over 363,204 tonnes of cargo in the same year.

A total of 2.15 million metric tons of cargo transited through African airports, representing around 1.7 per cent of the global cargo volume.

However, stakeholders have faulted the Federal Government’s inability to provide information on where things are being produced, the market and service providers capable of utilising these opportunities.

They argued that they have always made assets available for traders in the last 40 years, but the federal government and the regulatory bodies have not really been involved in the process.

Speaking at the ongoing second Aviation and Cargo Conference 2022, CHINET, in Lagos, Chisco Logistics, Chief Executive Officer, Obinna Anyaegbu, noted that it is very important for everyone in the industry to play their role, as they are not to play all roles.

He said: “We need more African products. We need patriotism. People are moving out of Nigeria yet we have very good soil to plant and harvest.

“We have these products but we lack markets for these products. Chinese people want to eat our bananas, plantain and pineapples. We have one of the most nutritious fruits in the world but demand and supply are not met at the moment.

“We plan to bridge this gap as a company. We have always made assets available for traders and this is what we have done for the last 40 years. But government and the regulatory bodies have to be involved.

“We have seen aviation investments go bad, so if we have to do this in the aviation sector, we want to ensure we do this correctly with the government parastatals and traders that have contracts for supply in Europe and other parts of the world.

“There are cargo planes and passenger bellies that go out of Nigeria empty. But there are also rotten fruits in the farm. So at the moment, there is a gap. So we are trying to consolidate and see how we can play in this regard. We are a logistic solution.

“When you look at Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Product, GDP, about 10 to 13 percent of the GDP is from the Logistics sector because this is about commerce and production. We eat and drink every day and things have to move around.

“We need to pay for logistics. Nigeria’s logistics market is about $60 billion market. If you say our GDP is between $500 to $600 billion market, so 10 percent of this or more amounts to $60 billion.

“For now, we try to gather information to enable us to bring in assets. We want to bring in assets but it has to be in the right way. We have to see off-takers and agree on what the products are.

“We do not see the products. We have actually ventured into the market. We have leased an airplane two years ago, doing Lagos-Accra when our vehicle service was down. Because every single day we move from Lagos to Accra by bus and trucks.

“But when COVID-19 hit, we leased an airplane because we had no goods to move. It was a 14-tonne 737 airplane and we were struggling to get two tonnes in a week. We saw that the biggest player on the route was DHL and they were bringing about 70 to 80 tonnes into Nigeria and moving it across West Africa.

“So it is mostly imported goods that are moving via the African routes. Kenya is taking out a lot and they have a great supply contract. They meet the international standards.”

Also, the President of Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association of Nigeria, Alex Nwuba, noted that, “We call them cargo airports but they are just airports. They just have that name cargo because they are built by State governments but it doesn’t mean that we can’t take advantage of that structure.

“The comparative advantage is where these airports exist. Anambra has a strategy for producing agricultural products and vegetables for domestic and international markets. You cannot move this by road. The airport will be useful to achieve this.

“Anambra is a huge industrial and commerce-based economy and some of these things that are produced within that economy and taken out of that economy will take advantage of that airport. There is a potential for tourism that exists in Yobe State.

“In Calabar, there is potential for tourism. The state government is building a new airport at Ogudu to bring you closer to that experience. We can take advantage of this. Airports are nothing more than real estate. We can take advantage of this.

“There are opportunities. The logistics companies have said they have the trucks and means to move goods, the aviation sector said they have the airplanes. We know that there are goods produced in different parts of the country.

“The information gap exists because there has been no real mechanism. This is driven by the Ministry of Commerce and Information to provide information on where things are being produced, where the market for those items are and all the service providers can cease some of these opportunities.

“We are lacking the information on where things are and the market for those items. We need this market intelligence, so that service providers can take advantage of those opportunities.”

Foreign airlines still exploiting Nigerians –NANTA cries out - THE SUN

SEPTEMBER 09, 2022

•Says tickets now sell for N3m

National Association of Nigerian Travel Agencies (NANTA) has said that despite the funds released by the Federal Government to foreign airlines, the operators are still charging Nigerians exhorbitant air fare. 

Speaking  during a press conference yesterday, the national president of NANTA, Susan Akporiaye,  said flight tickets that used to sell for N300,000 now go for N1.5 million, while in some cases, the cost is as high as N3 million

She said the exploitative fares are only charged on Nigerian travelers as no other African country has experienced this despite the fact that they owe foreign airlines. 

“As usual with them, their response which we could describe as ‘High Fare pandemic’, is solely targeted at Nigeria and Nigerians, and cannot be seen where in Africa even in countries where they also have their funds being trapped in Nigeria.

 “Nigerians have to buy tickets to the tune of three to four million naira be charged as high as one million naira to change travel dates even on tickets before this trouble began.

“We appreciate the response to the release of some funds, urge Government as a matter of urgency to open further windows of engagement and calling for a meeting with all parties involved; to include CBN, Minister of Aviation, Minister of Finance, Foreign Airlines, NCAA, IATA”, she said. 

Akporiaye disclosed that many of the carriers are yet to get 50 percent of their total funds released by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), adding that only 25 percent of the entire sum had been released to the carrier with huge backlog making it extremely impossible for them to open the lower fare inventories.

She however absolved the airlines of  complicity, admitting that Nigeria violated all known Bilateral Air Services Agreement (BASA) which allows foreign carriers to quickly repatriate their funds out of the country as quickly as possible, stressing that the country does not have the moral right to blame the carriers for some of their actions .

Exorbitant Air Tickets: 3 Million Jobs Threatened As Travel Agents Shut Down Offices - NIGERIAN TRIBUNE

SEPTEMBER 09, 2022

.Three weeks after release of $265m trapped funds, some airlines yet to get own shares

By Shola Adekola - Lagos 

INDICATIONS have just emerged as to how some of the foreign airlines operating into Nigeria have continued to use the ongoing high season to exploit the Nigerian travelling public through exorbitant fares. 

Meanwhile, not all the foreign airlines have received their part of the $265 million of the $600 million trapped in the country that was recently released by the Federal Government. 

In a media briefing on Thursday, the leadership of the National Association of Nigeria Travel Agencies (NANTA) alerted how despite the intervention of the government on the release of the money, the foreign carriers continued to exploit Nigerians. 

The travel agents at the press briefing raised the alarm of an imminent over three million jobs loss following the cut in travel by carriers and some of the airlines that have continued to threaten to leave Nigeria. 

According to the president of NANTA, Mrs Susan Akporiaye, “The gesture, instead of breathing a return to order, emboldened the foreign airlines to visit the Nigerian travelling public with most exploitative response in the name of protecting their business. 

“As usual with them, their response which we could describe as ‘high fare pandemic’ is solely targeted at Nigeria and Nigerians, and cannot be seen anywhere in Africa even in countries where they also have their funds being trapped.” 

She described the decision of the airlines to hike fares as unacceptable, exploitative and hostile to the survival of Nigeria’s aviation downstream sector to which the leadership of the agencies was calling for sanity. 

The NANTA president said, “It is sad that Nigerians have to buy tickets to the tune of three to four million naira and be charged as high as one million to change travel dates even on tickets bought before this wahala began.” 

The NANTA president hinted of how members of the association have started shutting down some of their offices as many Nigerians could no longer afford to travel because of high fares charged following the closure of their low inventory fares. 

According to her, prior to the removal of the low inventory charges, a hitherto N300,000 fare has now skyrocketed to N1.5 million. 

“In between these strangulating circumstances, the airlines withdrew lower inventories across board, selling at the highest possible openings as a way to cushion their funds being trapped. 

“Nigerians have to buy tickets to the tune of three to four million naira and can be charged as high as one million naira to change travel dates even on tickets before this trouble began.  https://tribuneonlineng.com/ex...


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