An aviation expert, Mr Bankole Bernard, seeks the Federal Government’s urgent assistance on provision of foreign exchange to allow foreign airlines repatriate their unremitted ticket revenue to their respective countries.
Bernard, the Chairman of Finchglow Holdings, made this known to the News Agency of Nigeria on the sideline of the 26th Annual Conference of League of Airports and Aviation Correspondents (LAAC) in Lagos on Sunday.
The theme of the seminar was “Sunset Airports: the Safety and Economic Implications”.
NAN reports that the International Air Transportation Association (IATA) Regional Vice President, Africa & Middle East, Mr Kamil Al-Alawadhi, had said the amount of foreign airlines’ blocked funds in Nigeria estimated at $208 million in the third quarter in 2021 had risen to $283 million in the first quarter of 2022. Bernard noted that the effect of unremitted funds would not only affect the cost of airfares but the number of air travellers, cost of goods and rate of inflation in the country.
He, therefore, urged the government through the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to address the issue of the funds as it affects aviation and other industries.
“On the issue of non repatriation of funds by the foreign airlines, I think it is an issue that is over flogged.
I don’t think at this particular point in time we should still be talking about things like this.
“We need to go back to the drawing board and address this thing the way we had addressed it in the past.
“Remember two years ago, we had this kind of issue that even the funds got to an amount far higher than what it is now about $750 million.
“And here we are we are talking about $450 million that has been stocked as a result of CBN not providing funds.
“I think we need to give priority and I think with the sort of service that this foreign airlines have brought to us, I think CBN should have given them priority to enable them repatriate their money.
“I honestly don’t understand what is happening at CBN but it really requires a lot of intervention, the government needs to address the issue,” he told NAN.
On the effect of the high cost of aviation fuel, Bernard said it would have multiplier effect on the air fare, the number of passengers that would travel by air and the cost of goods in the market.
The expert further lamented that the rate of inflation would go up because in Nigeria today, majority of the goods in the market were imported products.
He, however, said it was unfortunate that two airlines had been temporarily suspended but said that safety was important in the air transport business.
“It is quite unfortunate but you know in our industry it is safety first, I want to believe that the regulator had to place safety over convenience which I absolutely agree with them.
“If the airlines need to undergo audits to ensure that the lives of citizens are protected I think it is worth it.
Y“es, it is going to create a sort of impact on either the number of inventory of tickets in the market place, aircraft to be used,” the expert said.
By Yunus YusufThe Nigerian College of Aviation Technology (NCAT) says the aviation industry requires accelerated recovery plans, for it to overcome its current challenges caused by the rising cases of COVID-19 pandemic.
Capt. Alkali Modibbo Rector of the college, made this known at the 25th Annual Conference and Award Ceremony, organised by the League of Airports and Aviation Correspondents (LAAC) in Lagos on Friday.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the theme of the conference was Nigeria’s Aviation Industry: Management, Policy and Regulation.
Modibbo noted that the sector at present, required direct injection of continued financial support, provision of credits, offer of deferrals and discounts on charges, and most especially, concessions.
He lamented that globally, the airline sub-sector was facing a “throat-cutting” competition, especially from low-cost airlines, amidst dwindling passengers due to the pandemic.
“In Nigeria, the airline sub-sector has continued to face unpredictable operational costs as well as losses, due to the devaluation of Naira against the international currencies and irregular availability of aviation fuel.
“It is regrettable that these, among others, added up to the operational cost.
” Hence, operational services deteriorated when normal flight services were resumed, followed by frequent scheduled flight challenges and exorbitant ticket prices”, he said.
According to him, “This could be a symptom of the larger financial strain that airlines currently face.
” Fortunately, here in Nigeria, the airlines are tremendously picking up tempo with an encouraging passenger turn out.
“Governments and donor institutions should provide the funds to ensure the survival and the business continuity of key stakeholders of the aviation industry as recommended by the African Aviation Industry Group (AAIG) in 2020.”
Madibbo, however, lauded the Federal Government for investing in infrastructure across the various airports, despite the plans to privatise or concession the aerodromes.
The Rector also urged the operators to emulate their counterparts across the globe by adopting merger and aircraft leasing.
He said this would further help them to address the challenges of competitiveness and financial capacities, standardisation of sanitation and safety issues, as well as norms to increase customers confidence.
Modibbo noted that the college needed to upgrade its curriculum, in tune with the current situation of heightened operations, security, sanitation and the digital transformation of the industry.
He explained that the institution needed to look deeply into the changes, which the aviation value chain was undergoing
He said this was to enable them design the training requirements that would critically produce the workforce, a post-pandemic arrangements that aviation industry would require. (NAN)
By Yunus Yusuf
Aviation Minister Senator Hadi Sirika has pledged to complete ongoing projects in the industry before the current administration completes its term by 2023.
Sirika assured this during the 25th annual conference and awards ceremony organized by the League of Airports and Aviation Correspondents (LAAC) in Lagos on Wednesday.
The Nigerian News Agency (NAN) reports that the theme of the conference was: “Nigeria's Aviation Industry: Management, Policy and Regulation”.
The minister noted that the administration of President Muhamadu Buhari had a vision of a sector that would provide the greatest comfort, safety and security to the majority of passengers before the end of his term.
Sirika, represented by the Commissioner of the Accident Investigation Bureau (AIB), Mr. Akin Olateru also pledged to urgently improve the operational environment of airlines operating in the country.
The minister said the ministry was in consultation with relevant government ministries, departments and agencies to provide assistance to airlines.
Sirika pointed out that the ministry had been able to achieve zero import duties on aircraft engines, spare parts and the special exchange counter for the aviation sector.
He said: “We have improved the availability of aviation fuel in the industry and this has restructured the aviation agencies.
“Others are improving aviation safety and security, upgrading NCAT to a regional center of excellence.
"And we have succeeded in introducing policies on remotely piloted aircraft, employment policies on the application of the expatriate quota."
Sirika noted that Nigeria currently has Bilateral Air Services Agreements (BASA) with 89 countries.
He added that 15 countries had already indicated that they were ready to sign BASAs with the country while 13 other countries were on the threshold of renegotiation.
The minister said that in 2016, after carrying out a diagnostic of the aviation industry, he called a conference of all stakeholders where they came out with a very clear roadmap.
Sirika said the roadmap is aimed at developing the aviation sector with the ultimate goal of making aviation highly relevant to the Nigerian economy.
He said: “However, as you know, COVID-19 has put the global economy to the test, with air travel arguably the hardest hit by the pandemic.
“Statistics from the International Airline Transport Association (IATA) on the economic impact of COVID-19 on Nigeria revealed a loss of revenue of $ 994 million in 2020.
"In terms of jobs at risk in Nigeria, it is 125,370 and the loss of contribution to GDP is $ 885 million."
Sirika said the federal government was able to cushion the effects of the pandemic by providing a N5 billion cash intervention to national airlines.
The minister said they could not have achieved all of this without the cooperation, constructive criticism and great understanding from everyone in the industry.
The president of the event, Captain Ibrahim Mshelia, congratulated the organizers on the choice of the theme, adding that there could not be a better time to discuss hot issues like this in an industry that struggles with too much. of oppressive forces.
Mshelia, the chairman of Westlink Airlines, said these forces were both man-made and natural.
“The natural is the COVID-19 pandemic, which has devastated not only the aviation industry, even Nigeria alone. It is a scourge that has rocked all sectors with devastating effects on a global scale from the beginning of 2020.
“As we all know, aviation standards, management, policies and regulations on the global stage are monitored and overseen by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO).
“Each signatory country sends a representative to the ICAO council. So I believe that the motive for this theme will be to review, dissect, ”he said.
Mshelia said the theme will also refine some of our existing policies and practices, which conflict with global standards and also affect our collective growth. (NAA)
The Federal Executive Council has approved plans to establish the Accident Investigation Bureau (AIB) Training School, in the country.
Olateru noted that it would partner with the Nigerian College of Aviation Technology (NCAT) in Zaria, on the training of aviators.
He further stated that the institution would enable AIB, which had not been charging money for its services, to earn money by training people from both Africa and outside the continent.
The commissioner explained that it had drawn up curriculum from Cranfield University, Singapore Aviation Training Institute, as it planned to establish a world class training school.
Olateru stated that it was important to also cooperate with various government agencies and other institutions, for training and successful accident investigation.
He said: “We had signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with University of Lagos, University of Ilorin and another University in the United Kingdom.
“We hope to sign such MoU with more Nigerian agencies such as, Nigerian Navy and Lagos State Emergency Management Agency (LASEMA).
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that drone is an Unmanned Aircraft Vehicle (UAV), aircraft type that could fly autonomously; without a human in control.
The commissioner explained that the drones once it had been approved by NCAA, would further improve its accident investigation.
Olateru noted that the bureau was at the process of certification and that was why it did not deploy drones, during the last accident investigation exercise.
”Drone is extremely essential when accident occurs in a wider area and when it is not available, it could take a longer time to gather evidence.
”We hope to fast-track the application with the NCAA. We are putting our papers together and we are pushing the application,” he said.
The commissioner added that others were in Cranfield University in California and Singapore Aviation Training Institute.
Edited By: Chinyere Nwachukwu/Ismail Abdulaziz (NAN)
Some stakeholders in the aviation sector on Thursday called for total automation of airports operations to reduce human contacts in line with the post COVID-19 procedures.
They made the called at the aviation stakeholders’ Webinar meeting, organised by the League of Airports and Aviation Correspondents (LAAC) in Lagos.
The topic of the meeting was: “Nigeria’s Aviation Industry: Changing Times, Changing Strategy”.
Dr Harold Demuren, former Director-General, Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), said the only way to move the aviation industry forward was to ensure that all airports operations were fully automated.
“We need to align with the international best practices by checking in our luggage and booking tickets online without human interference,” Demuren said.
According to him, the process is already on at the Heathrow Airport, London, where luggage are picked at home and checked into the aircraft.
“This process will reduce the frequency of contacting the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We should develop and embrace more scientific online technology approach at the airports,” he said.
The former NCAA director-general, however, urged stakeholders to explore the ongoing challenges in the sector and turn it to opportunities during post COVID-19 period.
Contributing, Dr Gbenga Olowo, President, Aviation Safety Round Table Initiative (ASRTI), said that one of the major challenges of the post COVID-19 era was checking in passengers into the aircraft without contacts.
Olowo aligned with other stakeholders’ call for automated systems at the airports to reduce human contacts.
He urged the airports authority to have a code for domestic airports for easy identification of terminals by passengers, while travelling.
According to him, all stakeholders have to show total commitment to the new procedures in the sector to enable it to succeed.
Contributing, the Managing Director, Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), Capt. Rabiu Yadudu, urged stakeholders in the sector to work together toward addressing challenges confronting the industry.
Yadudu said: “Cooperation of all stakeholders has to be total, till the aviation sector starts working.
“We must ensure effective synergy among everybody, and must be proactive as a team in addressing the sector’s challenges.”
Also, Mr Allen Onyema, the Chairman, Air Peace, said palliatives were given to airlines all over the world, adding that Nigeria should not be left out of such largesse.
Onyema said the availability of such palliatives to airlines would prevent job losses in the nation’s aviation sector.
He, however, opposed the idea of leaving the middle seat of the aircraft empty, as a measure to guard against the Coronavirus.
Onyema said that the airlines had designed effective check-in arrangements that would address human contacts.
According to him, leaving the middle seat vacant does not mean one cannot contact COVID-19, adding that the process must be well-structured.
“If the middle seat is left empty, it will also increase the ticket fee.
“Local industries should be encouraged in Nigeria; civil service should see investors as partners,” he said.
Commenting, Mr Akin Olateru, the Commissioner/Chief Executive, the Accident Investigation Bureau (AIB), Ministry of Aviation, advised stakeholders to invest in lnformation Technology (IT) to improve services in the sector.
Olateru suggested the introduction of electronic process at the airports and the offline passengers check-in system.
“This is being done at the Heathrow Airport in London. All stakeholders should be thinking out of the box, simplify the process, to reduce human contacts.
“Aviation sector will flourish, but it is only those who can think out of the box that can make it,” he said.
The AIB commissioner noted that the aviation bailout would not last forever, urging everybody to review business activities to avoid losses.
Alhaji Adamu Abdullahi, Director, Department of Consumer Protection, NCAA, said the opening of airports in June would be subject to the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 directive.
“The reopening of the domestic airports in June is sacrosanct, but still subject to the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 directive, ” Abdullahi said.
He described the aviation industry as one of the most democratic sectors of the economy.
Edited By: Folorunso Poroye/Olagoke Olatoye (NAN)