Friday, 5 August 2016

Nigeria’s Aviation News Headlines For Friday August 5, 2016


Fresh Controversy over N120b Aviation Intervention Fund(Guardian)

The whereabouts of the Federal Government’s intervention fund for the aviation sector has continued to generate controversies between the disbursing Central Bank of Nigeria and operators in the aviation sector.
While the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) is still on the trail of operators that received the Federal Government’s largesse in 2011, the airline operators have continued to deny ever receiving the fund.
The umbrella body for the airline operators in the country, Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON), has in fact refuted ever receiving a dime from the government in the last 30 years.

Chairman of the association, Capt. Nogie Meggison, for the first time declared that none of the two intervention funds of the government in the last 16 years has ever directly benefited the private investors that are still heavily indebted to banks.
But concerned stakeholders have flayed the AON for the denial, citing that its members indeed received the loan, allegedly diverted the fund to private course, adding that they should be made accountable and liable for conspiracy and diversion of public funds.
It would be recalled that the aviation sector was one of the beneficiaries of the Federal Government’s N500 billion-intervention fund in the wake of the 2011 recession. The fund was to keep the critical sectors afloat the troubled economy.


Foreign Airlines Lost N6.4bn to Naira Devaluation(Thisday)

* Why Nigerians pay higher airfares
The Country Manager of British Airways, Kola Olayinka has disclosed that foreign airlines operating in Nigeria lost N6.4billion in the N157.6 billion ($800) of their revenues trapped in the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) when the Naira was devalued from N197 to
N280 by the apex regulator.
The BA Country Manager explained that the total amount of money trapped in CBN before the devaluation was $800 million and for every $1million the airlines lost N80million.
Olayinka made this known on Wednesday during the Aviation Round Table (ART) Breakfast Meeting in Lagos. He explained that the fares Nigerians pay for international destinations have increased because more naira is exchanged for dollars, but passengers
still pay the same fare in dollar denomination.
He said that the economic downturn and scarcity of the dollar are bringing uncertainties in the Nigerian economy and have affected every business done in Nigeria and in the entire economy.


Travel Demand Decreases over Fragile Economies, Terror Attacks(New Telegraph)

The International Air Transport Association (IATA), the clearing house for 260 airlines across the globe, has expressed concern that the demand for air travel is growing at slow pace owing to the economic downturn, political shock and a wave of terrorist attacks
that are contributing to a softer demand environment.
This disclosure was made by IATA’s Director General and Chief Executive Officer, Tony Tyler, when he announced global passenger traffic data for June showing that demand (measured in revenue passenger kilometres or RPKs) rose by 5.2 per cent compared to a year ago.
This was up slightly from the 4.8 per cent increase recorded in May (revised). However, the upward trend in seasonally adjusted traffic has moderated since January. June capacity, according to IATA (available seat kilometres or ASKs) increased by 5.6 per cent,
and load factor slipped 0.3 percentage points to 80.7 per cent.
His words: “The demand for travel continues to increase, but at a slower pace. The fragile and uncertain economic backdrop, political shocks and a wave of terrorist attacks are all contributing to a softer demand environment.”


As Airlines Grapple with Economic Downturn(Thisday)

More foreign airlines are contemplating leaving Nigeria because the economic meltdown is affecting their operations. Chinedu Eze looks at the dilemma of these airlines and how Nigerian travellers are being ripped off under the prevailing climate
The first time international airlines got wind of what the future held for them in Nigeria was when they were unable to repatriate their funds in late 2015. A major European carrier country manager miffed about the situation, which had not happened in Nigeria for so
many years, hinted that the airline might stop its service to Nigeria.
That was the first impulsive action aimed at arm twisting government to release the funds; but many of them knew that Nigeria, over the years had remained their most lucrative route in Africa and whatever economic challenges they are facing now is transient.
But airlines live on their daily revenues. As the money is generated, they pay for fuel, renew their leases, pay their crew and their charges. So every route that does not justify the service in terms of revenues might be closed. But many of the airlines knew that
Nigeria has a peculiar case.

Experts, Labour Express Divergent Views over Airport Concession(Thisday)

Some aviation industry experts have backed federal government’s plan to concession airport facilities to private sector for effective management and further development.
Labour unions in the aviation industry had opposed the planned concession, alleging that government has not provided the right framework for the programme.
Government hinged its decision to concession the airports to the fact that it can no longer fund the development of airport infrastructure due to its lean resources and the present economic downturn.
But commenting, Managing Director of Medview Airline, Alhaji Muneer Bankole said the concession of the airport was very necessary in order to have rapid development in infrastructure development and eliminate hindrances encountered by airlines as they
grapple with obsolete facilities at the airports.
The labour unions also pointed out ‘that the workers of the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) are not being carried along in the planned airport concession.




 Abdullahi: Solution to Aviation Fuel Scarcity is Local Refining(Thisday)

Director of Consumer Protection Directorate, Adamu Abdullahi says the scarcity of aviation fuel would continue until the government begins to refine the product locally. He spoke to Chinedu Eze. Excerpts:
From your own experience, what is the reaction of the passengers over this protracted aviation fuel scarcity, known as Jet A1?
Okay, let me talk from my own personal experience. Yesterday I had Dana Air booking by 6:30 pm to Lagos from Abuja. As at 2:00 pm the flight was moved from 6:30 to 7:30 pm. I was at the airport by 6:00 pm, waiting for my flight. Around 7:00 pm I got
another message from the public speaker system at the airport that the flight had been moved to 9:00 pm. So I didn’t have a choice, I had to wait because I knew it was beyond the power of the airline.
What is happening is that there is aviation fuel shortage in the country. Since government decided to deregulate the importation of fuel, it also affected the importation of Jet A1 and therefore the product is scarce. We don’t refine it locally. Kaduna and Warri
refineries used to refine Jet A1 in this country and they don’t do so anymore. Now we depend solely on importation.
So for oil markers to go to the black market and buy dollar at N380 per dollar, it is very, very expensive and by the time you bring your product to the country it is no longer economically viable. As you know, aviation fuel constitutes about 70 to 75 per cent of
cost of the ticket you buy. So by the time the cost of aviation is added to the ticket we are in trouble. So airlines are doing business at a very, very expensive rate because their major cost of operation, which is aviation fuel has gone up by over 150 percent.


Aviation Stakeholders Berate FG over Failure to Establish MRO in Nigeria(Thisday)

Industry stakeholders on Wednesday berated the federal government for what they described as “wrong-headed policies, lack of vision and self-centredness”, which they said have been responsible for the retrogression of the aviation industry over the years.
The stakeholders including airline operators, airport managers, analysts, pilots, engineers and others accused government of being responsible for non-establishment of Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul (MRO) facility anywhere in the country.
They noted that the lack of MRO facility in the country is a major setback which is partly responsible for the high demand of foreign exchange in the industry, lack of developed technical manpower and the inability for Nigeria to carry out C-checks and D-checks
(aircraft maintenance) locally.
Specifically, the Chief Executive Officer of Bi-Courtney Aviation Services Limited (BASL), Capt Jari Williams said ferrying aircraft overseas for mandatory maintenance encourages capital flight and berated government for its lack of policy that would encourage
local establishment of such facility in the country.
Williams noted that for any organisation to establish a viable MRO in the country, the federal government must give the initiator subvention, tax waivers, pioneer status and Free Trade Zone (FTZ).

Arik Wins Award (Guardian)

Arik Air won the West African Airline of the Year award at the Ghana Aviation Awards 2016 held in Accra recently.
Ghana Aviation Awards Events Director, Richard Abbey Jnr, said that the ward was conferred on Arik Air because of its achievement in airline business leadership and commitment to safety.
The award ceremony, held at Movenpick Ambassador Hotel, Accra, was a gathering of major aviation personalities in West Africa and a celebration of excellence in the industry.

Arik said that the award was its crowning glory for eight years of operation in Ghana and the rest of the region, beginning with the inauguration of flight to in January 2008.
Today, Arik Air operates from Lagos to 10 West and Central African cities, namely Accra (Ghana), Cotonou (Benin), Monrovia (Liberia), Freetown (Sierra Leone), Abidjan (Cote d’Ivoire), Banjul (Gambia), Dakar (Senegal), Douala (Cameroon), Luanda (Angola) and
Libreville (Gabon).


 African Carriers, Others Record Air Cargo Growth in June, says IATA(Guardian)

African carriers have recorded 0.4 per cent freight growth in June 2016 compared to the same period last year, as the airlines’ capacity in the continent surged by 19.9 per cent year-on-year on the back of long-haul expansion, which continued the trend seen
since December 2015.
In its released data for global airfreight demand in June 2016, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) recorded a rise in freight tonne kilometers of 4.3 per cent year-on-year.
This, according to IATA, was the fastest pace of growth in 14 months. Freight capacity measured in available freight tonne kilometers (AFTKs) increased by 4.9 per cent year-on-year, keeping yields under downward pressure, it noted.

The body stated that freight demand increased year-on-year in June across all regions with the exception of Latin America, which recorded a 9.8 per cent decrease, compared to the same period last year, adding that Middle East and Europe posted the fastest

demand growth in June with year-on-year increases of 8.0 per cent and 5.1 per cent respectively.
Speaking, the Director General, IATA, Tony Tyler said that: “June saw an improvement in demand for air freight. That’s good news. However, we cannot read too much into one month’s performance. Air cargo markets have been in the doldrums for several years
during which there were several false starts on indications for improvement.

British Airways Offers Instant Rewards During Check-in(Tribune)

British Airways has commenced an instant rewards scheme for customers in Nigeria, with travellers who are non-members of the airline’s Executive Club loyalty programme receiving frequent flier miles after check-in.
Speaking on the mechanics of the new initiative which began last week at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos, the Regional Commercial Manager, West Africa, at British Airways, Mr Kola Olayinka, observed that customer details would now be
automatically registered for BA Avios, whether or not the customer is a member of the Executive Club.
“It would be superfluous to say at this point that Nigeria is experiencing challenging economic times. As an active corporate citizen that cherishes its customers, we will keep doing all we can to help,” Olayinka commented.
“With the new rewards program, customers will earn miles instantly for every trip. Needless to say, they will earn more miles as they fly, so they can keep a bank of their Avios miles for their children to use as they go to and from school or save them up for a
flight to a holiday destination.” he added.

Rwanda Air to Offer Nigerian Passengers Generous Baggage Allowance(Thisday)

East African carrier, Rwand Air has offered a new incentive to Nigerian passengers with generous bag allowance as it plans to connect flight services between Lagos and its hub in Kigali into Far Eastern routes including Mumbai in India and Guangzhou in China.
This was disclosed by the airline’s Country Manager, Ms. Ibiyemi Odusi at the weekend.
Odusi said part of the reasons why the airline decided to operate into these routes was to bridge the services of other airlines operating on the routes because Nigerian travellers need more airlines on those routes, adding that the airline would deploy a bigger
aircraft on the routes to give passengers value for their money.


ICAO Seeks Global Partnerships (Guardian)

International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) has expressed the need for greater partnership and cooperation to safely and sustainably manage aviation’s growth, which is particularly strong in the Asia and Pacific Region.
The organisation also stressed ICAO and the Asia-Pacific’s continuing priorities relating to the modernisation of Air Navigation Services (ANS) and other air transport infrastructure.
Addressing aviation leaders at the 53rd Conference of Asia and Pacific directors general of civil aviation in Colombo, the Council President, ICAO, Olumuyiwa Aliu noted the challenges relating to dependable funding sources and stressed that ICAO World
Aviation Forums should be looked to for related solutions.

He said: “The goal of these events is to forge the partnerships and cooperation which are needed amongst governments, donors, financial institutions, and industry to ensure sustainable levels of support for all of our aviation development goals, especially with

regard to how essential this development will be to the overall connectivity and long-term economic prosperity of Asia-Pacific States,” Aliu said.


Despite FX Scarcity, Naira Plunging to $400/$, Pilgrims to Get Dollars at N197(Thisday, Punch, Daily Trust, Sun)

Despite the shortage of foreign exchange in the country and continuing slide of the naira on the parallel market, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) on Thursday announced the federal government’s approval of N197 to the dollar for intending pilgrims travelling
for the 2016 hajj in Saudi Arabia.
The naira shed N10 yesterday to close at N400 to the dollar, compared to N390 to the dollar from the previous day.
The naira also fell on the interbank market closing at N315.06 to the dollar, lower than N311.03 to the dollar from the previous day.
The central bank, in a circular addressed to all authorised dealers and the general public, said each intending pilgrims would be entitled to purchase a minimum of $750 and maximum of $1,000 as Pilgrim Travelling Allowance (PTA).
“No commission shall be charged by the banks for the sale of PTA to the intending pilgrims. The CBN shall sell the PTA to the designated banks in Lagos and Abuja and the accounts of the respective banks shall be debited as soon as the funds are disbursed.
“Each designated bank is required to sell to the CBN the unutilised funds not later than two weeks from the date of the last inward flight to Nigeria from Jedda, while the account of the bank shall be credited promptly,” it said in the circular.
Commenting on the naira pressure on the parallel market yesterday, the President, Association of Bureau de Change (BDC) Operators of Nigeria (ABCON), Alhaji Aminu Gwadabe, expressed optimism that the naira would rebound once banks that are agents to
approved international money transfer operators start to sell foreign currencies accruing from remittances to licensed BDCs.


CBN Resumes Dollar Sales to BDCs Today(Nation)

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) will today resume dollar sales to Bureaux De Change (BDCs) seven months after it stopped the practice.
It stopped the sales last January because of what it called dollar scarcity and abuse of operating guidelines.
Speaking to The Nation yesterday, Aminu Gwadabe,  Association of Bureau De Change Operators of Nigeria (ABCON) President, said nearly 3,000 BDCs are expected to access dollar from the CBN today.
He said the BDCs had on Wednesday, funded their accounts with the CBN in readiness for the transaction, adding that dollar disbursement will start today and continue next week.
“Our members funded their accounts with the CBN on Wednesday and will get the dollar equivalent today. The funds will be sold at the prevailing inter-bank rate,” he said.

US Declares Borno, Adamawa, Rivers, Imo, 16 Other States Unsafe(Thisday)

The United States government, in its latest travel advisory to its citizens living in Nigeria, has listed 20 of Nigeria’s 36 states as unsafe and advised them to stay away from them.
Among the 20, it cited Borno, Adamawa and Yobe as complete no-go areas as “the ability of the US Mission to provide assistance to US citizens” in those states remains severely limited.
The travel warning published on Wednesday on the website of the U.S. Department of State, replaced an earlier one of last February, reported Afrique News yesterday.
In addition to the three frontline states, the State Department also “recommends against all but essential travel to the following states due to the risk of kidnappings, robberies, and other armed attacks: Bauchi, Bayelsa, Delta, Edo, Gombe, Imo, Jigawa,
Kaduna, Kano, Katsina, Kebbi, Kogi, Niger, Plateau, Rivers, Sokoto, and Zamfara.
“The Department of State also warns against travel in the Gulf of Guinea, because of the threat of piracy,” the advisory published online added.
It said based on safety and security risk assessments, the embassy maintains restrictions for travel by US officials to the states listed above.
Officials must also apply for advance clearance by the US mission for any travel to those states.
The statement also urged vigilance around government security facilities; churches, mosques, other places of worship; locations where large crowds may gather such as hotels, clubs, bars, restaurants, markets, shopping malls; and other areas frequented by
expatriates and foreign travellers.

Buhari Seeks Economic Deals with Italy (Daily Trust)

President Muhammadu Buhari welcomes Dr. Timiebi Koripamo-Agary, a member of the governing council, while the Managing Director of Shell, Osagie Okunbor, (left), Vice President Prof. Yemi Osinbajo (3rd left); National Security Adviser, retired Maj- Gen.

Babagana Monguno (right); Chief of Staff to the President, Abba Kyari (2nd right) and other government officials watch, shortly after the inauguration of the Governing Council and Board of Trustees on Ogoni Clean-Up at the State House in Abuja yes
President Muhammadu Buhari has called for intensive economic engagement with Italy.
The Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity Mallam Garba Shehu, in a statement, said Buhari spoke at the State House in Abuja yesterday during a courtesy call by Mr. Paolo Gentiloni, the Italian Minister of Foreign Affairs and
International Cooperation.

United Kingdom Pledges Job Creation Initiatives in Nigeria(Guardian)

Britain has pledged increased trade relations with Nigeria targeting job creation initiatives with Nigeria.
The British Government, which has been involved in training Nigerian military fighters for the counter terrorism effort in the North East, said efforts are on to ensure that British companies already in Nigeria, continue to invest in the economy while new investors
would be encouraged to come into the country.
British High Commissioner, Paul Arkwright, stated this during a visit to the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Foreign Affairs and Diaspora, Abike Dabiri-Erewa in Abuja recently.

Arkwright said he is making efforts to attract investments in sectors such as agriculture, solid minerals, infrastructure, power and solar energy, which will provide employment for Nigerians.
He noted that UK remains a primary investor in Nigeria with companies such as Shell, Guinness, Unilever and a host of others who already have multi billion dollars investments in Nigeria.
He however pointed out that the low investors’ confidence in Nigeria, has been a challenge, adding, “but I am saying they should come and explore for themselves.”


Zika Vaccines Show Early Promise(New Telegraph)

Three different ways of designing a vaccine have been shown to be completely protective against the Zika virus.
Scientists found all three offered protection in tests on rhesus monkeys.
Zika has been deemed a public health emergency, because it can cause serious birth defects.
Teams around the world are working to design a vaccine that can be given to people, but it is likely to be years before any is ready for widespread use.
More than 60 countries and territories now have continuing transmission of Zika, which is carried by mosquitoes.
The scientists in this latest study used three different approaches often used in vaccine development – one was an inactive, and therefore harmless, replica of the virus and two others used parts of the Zika virus’s genetic code.
All three offered complete protection and none were linked to major side-effects.
The US scientists, including experts from the military, say their results mark a further promising step forward in the search for a jab against the Zika virus.

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