It's a new week and a lot is happening in the the aviation sector. Have a quick grasp of the trending issues and follow the links to read the stories in full.
14 Airlines Close Shop in Nigeria amid Forex Hike (Guardian)
• Foreign firms lose N64b repatriating stuck funds
• NCAA begins fresh certification of airport screeners
No fewer than 14 airlines have withdrawn their services from the country due to low patronage on account of the economic recession.
The airlines, including Iberia, United Airlines and Air Gambia, are among the 50 that operated the Nigerian routes some months ago.
Besides, foreign airlines operating in the country are estimated to have lost about N64 billion in the wake of the new foreign exchange (forex) policy of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).
President of the National Association of Nigeria Travel Agencies (NANTA), Bankole Bernard, said that the new forex policy and economic crunch came with enormous negative effect on travel agencies, the reason for which they exited the country.
that more airlines might quit flying the Nigerian routes.
Apparently frustrated by the low patronage, he said that some of his members were beginning to consider relocating to Ghana, where “their policies are consistent.”
Bernard said that the alleged inconsistent policy of the current administration, particularly on the naira devaluation, accounted for the current “nightmarish” experience the airlines are facing.
The loss of N64b by the foreign airlines was on account of repatriating $800 million stuck in the economy in the last one year, but released after the recent devaluation of the naira.
With the devaluation, the accumulated $800million from airlines’ sales of tickets when the exchange rate was still at N197 to $1, was taken out of the country at the new rate of N320 to $1. Consequently, a substantial amount was lost in the last couple of weeks.
N8.1bn Debt: NAMA to Withdraw Services To Airlines (Leadership)Debtor airlines to the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency, (NAMA) may seize to enjoy the services of the aviation agency starting from today, 8th August, 2016.
Records show that debtor airlines’ indebtedness is hitting about N8.1billion, forcing NAMA to arrive to the conclusion of withdrawing its services.
According to checks by Leadership, there are indications that the agency is mapping out strategies to wield the big stick of denying debtor airlines clearance to fly until they settle their bills.
The debt profile shows that between 2001-December 2013, domestic airlines were owing N3.8 billion for en-route navigational charges, while from June 2014-June 2016 it rose to N1.6 billion.
Moribund airlines debt profile is put at N6.5 billion while debt owed by oil companies, private and state governments is put at N1.5 billion.
Because of this huge debt profile, NAMA is said to be incapacitated in paying its pensions to retired staff in the tune of N18 billion and servicing its facilities for seamless navigation.
Paucity of Funds Threatens NAMA Operations (Thisday)
Lack of funds has made it difficult for the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA) to carry out its financial obligations, THISDAY investigations have revealed.
Sources familiar with the agency’s operations hinted that it is facing great difficulty in funding the maintenance of its critical equipment as well as payment of staff remunerations and pensions to its retired personnel owing to airlines’ huge indebtedness to it (NAMA).
The debts, which were traced to 2001, include the ones Nigerian airline operators refused to pay from 2001 to 2013, which attracted litigation that was later won at the Supreme Court by the agency.
NAMA provides very critical services fundamental to flight operations including air traffic control, visual and non-visual aids, aeronautical telecommunication services that enhance commercial, private and military aircraft fly in and out of Nigeria’s airspace.
The breakdown of these debts, THISDAY gathered revealed domestic airlines including the ones that had closed operations in Nigeria owe the agency over N6.5billion, while private oil companies and state governments are indebted to it to the tune of N1.5billion, totalling N8.08billion naira.
Govt Undermining Domestic Airlines, say Operators (Punch)
The Airline Operators of Nigeria has said domestic carriers are being undermined by the government through lack of support for their operations.
The Chairman, AON, Capt. Noggie Meggison, said in a statement that while foreign exchange was regularly being allocated to importers of petrol at N285 per dollar, domestic airlines received no such support from the government.
“The road transporters don’t pay five per cent VAT, or the regulatory five per cent ticket sales tax, or other multiple taxes being charged the airlines today, where as much as 35 per cent of the total ticket price is paid as taxes and levies.
“Apart from the question of no support on the fixed rate of jet fuel, the government is not making dollars available for the airlines to carry out their operations. To this end, therefore, it will seem like the airlines are being undermined.”
Meggison said for most air passengers, the alternative mean of travel would be going by road.
Air Peace Plans to Launch operations into Accra, Altanta, Dubai (Daily Sun)Air Peace Limited is planning to commence commercial flight operations out of Nigeria into Accra, Ghana; Dubai, United Arab Emirates; Atlanta, United States of America; China; Dakar, Senegal; and Niger Republic, its Chief Operating Officer, Mrs. Oluwatoyin Olajide, has said.
Mrs Olajide said that the planned foray into the offshore routes constituted part of the airlines new expansion programmme.
She said the civil aviation authorities of Ghana and Niger Republic have already endorsed the plan of the airline to spread its wings into their countries given the pedigree of the Nigerian carrier in giving priority to safety and global best practice in its operations.
“The airline is eager to operate the international flights soon as the chairman and management of Air Peace will continuously strive for excellence in all its operations and distinguish the airline through quality service delivery,” said Olajide.
“Air Peace will not relent in its expansion plan. The airline will strengthen the quality of its operations and facilities in keeping with its promise of assuring high level passenger safety,” she added.Speaking during a two-day foreign air operator base inspection visit to Air Peace facilities in Lagos, Head of Operations Department of Niger Civil Aviation Authority, Mr. Bala Sani, said the airline’s safety standards, state-of-the-art equipment and structure qualified it for international flight operations.
Air safety: NCAA Commences Certification of AVSEC Screeners (New Telegraph, Guardian,DailyTimes, DailyTrust)
In accordance to the provision of the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) certification System (Annex 17 Standards 3.4.3) for aviation security personnel and the requirements of National Civil Aviation Security Training Programme (NCASTP), the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority has begun full implementation of certification of all aviation security screeners in the nation’s airports.
An AVSEC screener is a security personnel responsible for the screening of passengers, cabin baggage, hold baggage, cargo, courier, mail and aviation personnel items with the use of x-ray screening equipment prior to boarding or loading of baggage andcargo into the aircraft or movement to restricted areas.
Therefore, in line with the aforementioned, any person prior to being designated as an Aviation Security Screener in Nigeria must obtain certification from the NCAA.
The Director General of NCAA, Capt. Muhtar Usman, had in a letter titled: “Full Implementation of Certification of Aviation Security Screeners with ref.no. NCAA/AVSEC/SCRN.CERT/GEN/29,” dated June 15th, 2016, advised all stakeholders to commence the process of certification of personnel to act as an Aviation Security Screener.
All stakeholders were informed in the letter that the full implementation of this directive will take effect from August 1, 2016.Thereafter; it shall become a violation of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Security Programme (NCASP) for screeners who have not been certified by the Regulatory Authority to carry out any screening duties in Nigeria.
FG Prosecutes Turkish Airlines over Consumer Rights’ Violation (Thisday, Punch, DailyTrust)
The federal government has dragged Turkish Airlines before a Federal High Court in Abuja over the alleged criminal violation of the enabling law of the Consumer Protection Council (CPC) and for impunity.
The prosecution came on the heels of the refusal by Turkish Airlines to respond to the lawful requests from CPC for a full situation report on the airline’s alleged shoddy treatment of passengers on Flight TK 623 from Istanbul to Abuja on 25th and 31st of December 2015 and 9th of January 2016, which prompted the council to approach the Office of the Attorney General for the prosecution of the airline.
According to the charge sheet, the federal government alleged that the three accused persons between the 20th December 2015 and March 2016 “without sufficient cause refused to provide the Consumer Protection Council documents on Turkish Airlines’ policy on delayed baggage”, thereby committing an offence punishable under Section 18 of the CPC Act.
The accused persons were also arraigned before the court for allegedly neglecting, without sufficient cause, to attend and testify before CPC on the number of passengers aboard Turkish Airlines Flight TK 623 from Istanbul to Abuja on 25th and 31st of December 2015 as well as 9th of January 2016, who were affected by its untimely delivery of baggage, thereby committing an offence punishable under Section 18 of the CPC’s enabling law.
Aviation: A Sector in Suspended Animation (Leadership)The operating environment in Nigerian aviation sector seems to be getting tougher following the high cost of operations. Although a couple of the airlines have continued to operate successfully, most of the local and international airlines operating
in the country are passing through turbulent times, writes TONY AWUNOR.
With the falling price of oil and the continuous decline of naira against the dollar, operators in the nation’s aviation sector have not fared well because their daily operations, globally, are carried out largely in US dollars.
Initially, only domestic airlines were feeling the pressure but international players have also been hit by the operational difficulties, following their funds that can’t be repatriated in the country.
Consequently, some big players like United Airlines and Iberia have left the country despite warnings from the International Air Transport Association (IATA) which called on governments to respect international agreements obliging them to ensure airlines are able
to repatriate their revenues.
Naira Sells for N395/$ at Parallel Market (Daily Sun)
There was slight improvement in the value of the Naira Friday at the parallel market as it was sold for N395 to the US Dollar just as two banks kick started the sale of foreign exchange to the Bureax de Change operators.
This translated to N5 gain to the local currency which had slumped to N400/$ at the black market on Thursday.
However, at the inter-bank market, the Naira depreciated further to N318.91 , down from the N315.06 to the dollar from the previous day.
Commenting on the latest development, the President of the Association of Bureau de Change (ABDC)Operators Alhaji Aminu Gwadabe, who had earlier expressed optimism that the Naira would rebound, said:“The exchange rate today(Friday) was N394, N395/$.As of today only two banks indicated interest to sell the proceeds of international money transfer which they were asked to sell to us. They said they would sell to us at the inter-bank rate plus one per cent.
More banks said they would come by Monday(today).”On the volume sold to them, he said it was $15,000 per bid maximum, adding that “the bigger banks were unable to give because of logistics. That would be on Monday also for collection.”
The Naira has dropped steadily on the black market last week after opening the week at 381. Traders blamed the situation on high dollar demand from holiday makers travelling overseas for vacation.Recall that CBN told international money transfer operators to pay dollar proceeds from customer transfers into local commercial banks in naira, while selling the dollars themselves to bureaux de change outlets.
FG Partially Shuts Down Apapa-Ijora Bridge, Engineering Drawings Missing(Thisday, Vanguard)
The federal government yesterday shutdown the Apapa-Ijora Bridge in Lagos to outward bound traffic for quick rehabilitation, even as it admitted that the engineering drawings for the bridge constructed in the 1970s, are missing.
THISDAY had raised the red flag last week over the extreme deterioration of the bridge, which has massive holes that have exposed the steel rods supporting it.
Apart from the caved in portion, investigations also revealed that some of the pillars under the bridge had structural defects due to fire incidents that had worn off the concrete and exposed the iron rods.
The state of the bridge, which carries heavy traffic every day, including articulated trucks conveying petroleum products from the depots in Apapa and goods’ containers in and out of the seaports, is not only a threat to lives and property, but has exacerbated the gridlock in that section of the Apapa central business district and enable traffic robbers to have a field day.
However, inward bound traffic into Apapa will remain open throughout the period of the bridge’s repairs, said the Minister of Power, Works, and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Fashola at a meeting with stakeholders at the Area B office of the Nigeria Police,yesterday.
Fashola said outbound vehicles from Apapa would have to use alternate routes, including the service lane beside the distressed bridge or the Orile stretch or Ajegunle axis.