After months of agitation, the federal government has included airlines in the Interbank Foreign Exchange Market. By this development, airlines would now be given priority when they request for foreign exchange, along with others also shortlisted.
Minister of State, Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika, who made this known at the weekend, said that this was made possible following the dogged efforts of his Ministry, the airlines through the Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON) and his personal negotiations.
Since last year, the airlines had been pushing for this inclusion because everything about aircraft management and repairs is imported, including training and even manpower engagement.
“This is after much intervention on behalf of the airlines both foreign and domestic. The Central Bank has yielded and we are happy because this means a lot to us and the airlines. They have been going through a lot and we are so happy that this is will be a huge succor to their operations”, Sirika said.
Forex Concession: NCAA Urges Airlines to Improve Service
NCAA’s Director-General Capt. Muhtar Usman gave the advice in a statement in Lagos yesterday.
The forex concession was recently granted to airlines by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) following the intervention of the Minister of State for Aviation, Hadi Sirika.
The statement said: “This is to further engender market confidence, ensure access to forex by the airlines and sustain the integrity of the Nigerian Inter-bank forex market.
“The CBN has resolved pursuant to the minister’s show of concern to intervene in the inter-bank forex market through forward settlement.
“For clarity, the SMIS retail is an important one-off exercise dedicated to the clearance of backlog of matured forex obligation for airlines”.
According to the statement, this success is another step ahead in seamless operations in the aviation industry.
“It is expected that this is a major window for those airlines that had earlier ceased their operations to recommence in earnest.
“Therefore, with this intervention comes a landmark incentive for both local and foreign operators to carry out safe, secure and lucrative operations in Nigeria.
Some of the operators, who lauded the initiative, told New Telegraph that the implementation does not clear the immediate problems of the airlines, adding that the modalities and availability of forex from Banks would determine its workability.
The Managing Director of Medview Airlines, Alhaji Muneer Bankole, said, “It is a welcome development but we hope it would be acted upon.” Another airline chief, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the policy would favour foreign carriers more than domestic operators.
German airline Air Berlin said in a security note on its website that the carriage of Samsung Galaxy Note 7 is prohibited on all flights of Air Berlin group.
The Note 7 mobile phones are not allowed to be brought on board immediately since Saturday, a spokesperson of Air Berlin was quoted by German media.
“Safety is always the highest of priorities for Air Berlin,” according to the security note.
The airline has already prohibited the use of the devices on its flights before.
Meanwhile, another German airline Lufthansa also announced to ban Galaxy Note 7 on all flights related to the United States.
According to a Lufthansa spokesperson, the ban would soon possibly apply to all other Lufthansa flights.
Hajj: What Airlines Expect From Pilgrims
HajjEvery year, millions of people drawn from various countries around the world travel to Mecca, Saudi Arabia for ‘The Hajj’, which is an annual Islamic pilgrimage and a mandatory religious duty for Muslims. It is one of the five pillars of Islam, alongside Shahadah,
Salat, Zakat, and Sawm.In fact, Wikepedia describes the Hajj as the largest annual gathering of people in the world and notes that it is one religious duty that must be carried out at least once in the lifetime by all adult Muslims who are physically and financially capable of undertaking
the journey, and can also support their family during their absence.
AirlinesPilgrims mostly travel to Hajj in groups. During the early 19th Century, numbers undertaking the traditional overland pilgrimage within caravans began to diminish as many pilgrims began arriving in Mecca by steamship. This continued for many years, until air
travel came to predominate.It was the North African country of Egypt that introduced the first airline service for Hajj pilgrims in 1937. And that trend has been sustained thereafter as the majority of pilgrims now opt to travel by air, including thousands of Nigerians. The exact date of the
beginning of Hajj depends on the lunar calendar and this year’s Hajj started on September 9 and ended on September 14. .
Do’s and don’ts for pilgrims
Airlines insist that all Hajj passengers should have a passport valid for a minimum of six months from date of departure with a valid Hajj visa attached within the passport.
Some airlines demand for vaccination booklet showing vaccination against Meningitis.
Booklet must be stamped and signed by authorized doctor or Port health authorities.
King Abdulaziz International Airport in Jeddah and Prince Mohammad Bin Abdulaziz Airport in Medina have dedicated pilgrim terminals to assist the arrival of pilgrims.Because most Hajj operations involves group movements, airlines also demand the highest form of sanitary discipline amongst pilgrims as well as strict adherence to all security and safety instructions while on board the aircraft. Airlines expect pilgrims to also
travel without illegal drugs and not to be engaged in any act of drug trafficking.Airlines, therefore, liaise with airport security to ensure that no pilgrim boards a flight with any hard drug, illicit drinks or banned substance, (even traveling with kola nuts) into Saudi Kingdom can be considered as an offence.