Nigerian National Carrier soon

 

 

Nigeria has commenced negotiation with aircraft manufacturers preparatory to the unveiling of a new national carrier, many years after Nigerian Airways was liquidated.

The Minister of State for Aviation, Sen. Hadi Sirika, said that the Federal Government was also negotiating with investors at the ongoing Farnborough International Air Show in the United Kingdom.

Mr James Odaudu, Deputy Director, Media and Public Affairs in the aviation ministry said in Farnborough on Monday that the Nigerian delegation which the minister led, had met with the Management of Airplane manufacturers Airbus to negotiate the acquisition of the desired aircraft for the nation.

Sirika also disclosed that negotiations with Boeing and other Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) would take place on Tuesday.

According to the Minister, the ongoing International Air Show is an opportunity to negotiate with airline manufacturers with the view of getting the most competitive and best value-for-money deals for the country.

He said he would also explore every opportunity available at the air show, an event that brings the biggest and the best in the industry, to attract more prospective investors into the Nigerian aviation environment.

Sirika explained that the show would provide an opportunity to establish a Maintenance Repair and Overhaul (MRO) facility in Nigeria, concession of some airports in the country and other components of the Aviation Roadmap the federal government.

The minister had earlier tweeted: “Negotiating Aircraft orders with Airbus at Farnborough ahead of National Carrier unveiling on Wednesday.

“Negotiations with Boeing and other OEMs tomorrow.

“Met with Standard Chartered Bank earlier. All is looking good!”

The minister had on July 6, announced that the name and logo of the airline would be unveiled during the air show in the UK and assured that the airline would commence operations in December.

The government had explained that the perceived delay in the launch of the National Carrier of Nigeria was to avoid the mistake of the past.

Sirika, said that in a bid to avoid errors that led to the failure of the defunct Nigeria Airways, the national carrier would be private sector driven.

He said that stakeholders had agreed on a Public Private Partnership (PPP) arrangement for the new national carrier.

The minister explained the Federal Government was following Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission (ICRC) guidelines to ensure that due processes in the arrangement.

According to him, government has appointed the Transaction Advisers to work out modalities for the carrier.

He said that government intended to go into alliances or joint ventures with other aircraft manufacturers to increase the reach and number of routes of the national carrier.

Sirika added that the planned improvement of airport and air navigation infrastructure would support the expected growth from activities of the new carrier.

“The question of national carrier, we all have agreement that this national carrier can only survive and succeed if it is private sector led and driven.

“Public Private Partnerships (PPPs) in Nigeria are guided by act of parliament which is the ICRC Act 2007 that spelt out how to go about doing all these things.

“We will be following them diligently. But unfortunately, it is cumbersome but we are following it so that we don’t run afoul of the law.

“African Development Bank and other companies are discussing with us on this matter.

“We are yet to meet with other stakeholders but we expect to meet them during this conference and after then, we will go and do our road shows.

“The key thing here is having something that will stand the test of time so that we don’t start and falter.

“It has happened to Nigeria before. The Air Nigeria was founded and at some point, it died because of something that was faulty.

‘’We have learnt our lessons and we are not going to repeat it again,” he said.

Sirika admitted that one of the major challenges of air transportation in Africa was high taxes.

He said that the issue of high taxes would be discussed as a critical factor to encourage investors.

”The lower the tax, the more flights in and the more flights in, the more passengers, more jobs, more revenue and that is within our master plan.’

Dana Air wins award

Dana Air has emerged the Best Customer Friendly Domestic airline in 2018 at a summit and award ceremony organised by the Association of Foreign Airlines and Representatives in Nigeria (AFARN) in Lagos.

Dana Air also pledged to support one of the recipients of the Integrity award who appealed for support at the event, as part of the airline’s strong commitment towards the well-being of Nigerians and encouraging honesty and integrity among not just aviation workers but Nigerians in general.

Dana Air’s Media and Communications Manager, Kingsley Ezenwa, while receiving the award on behalf of the airline said: “Every frequent flyer in Nigeria knows that Dana Air is the best in terms of on-time departures, customer service and in-flight service, but I want to seize this opportunity to correct a wrong perception. Dana Air is owned by a Nigerian, born in Jos and had his primary and secondary education in Ibadan before proceeding to the UK for his higher education.’’

Speaking further to newsmen, Ezenwa  said, with a customer service department that works 24/7 and multiplicity of booking options available to our guests, capped with a reward programme that guarantees both flight-related and non-flight related benefits and rewards, we sure deserve the award.”

‘”And on behalf of the Management of Dana Air and our ever-committed and professional staff, we wish to thank AFARN for this award. We dedicate the award to our loyal guests who continue to fly the smartest way despite the recent efforts of some enemies of consistency and exceptional service.’’

 

 

FAAN to acquire scanners to boost security

 

 

 

To boost security at airports nationwide, the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) has ordered for modern scanners, its General Manager, Customer Services, Mrs Ebele Okoye, has said.

She disclosed this at the Second Quarter stakeholders’ forum held at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos.

Okoye said the scanners could detect hard drugs, ammunition and food as well as harmful liquids.

She said: “Arrangements have been made to bring these scanners to Nigeria. They are different from what we have because they can detect anything inside a baggage without manual checks.

“Our goal is to reduce interface between passengers and officials of agencies at the airport to curb corrupt practices and also improve service delivery at our airports.”

According to her, the forum is one of the obligations of FAAN as outlined in the reviewed FAAN Service Charter and it is aimed at improving relationship between FAAN and the stakeholders.

FAAN Managing Director, Mr Saleh Dunoma, represented by FAAN’s Director of Operations, Capt. Rabiu Yadudu, said the cordial relationship between FAAN and the stakeholders must be sustained for efficient and effective service delivery.

“I enjoin us to join hands together to uplift our airports so that we can achieve our mission statement of being among the best airport groups in the world.

“This forum is to ensure that the cordial relationship that existed is strengthened to achieve excellence at all times.

“This is an important road map for us in the industry to ensure service improvement as feedback mechanism,” he said.

MMIA General Manager Mrs Victoria Shin-Aba, said FAAN was seeking ways to improve customer service, especially with the recent inauguration of a feedback application at the airport.

Mrs Shin-Aba noted that the app, an initiative of the Presidential Enabling Business Environment Council (PEBEC), would give passengers and the public the opportunity to register their complaints or commend the quality of services being rendered by government agencies at the airports.

“The application also gives assurance that such complaints will be attended to and resolved within 72hours, in line with the provisions of Executive Order 1 of the Federal Government of Nigeria,” she said.

Meanwhile, the N3 billion contractual agreements that stalled the installation of very important airfield lighting at 1/8 Left runway of the Murtala Muhammed Airport, Lagos, would be resolved, according to Dunoma.

The Lagos airport has two runways. The 1/8 Right runway is dedicated to international airline operations because of the length and width of the facility while the 1/8 Left runway is one used by domestic carriers.

Dunoma, represented by Director of Airport Operations, Capt. Rabiu Hamisu Yadudu, disclosed that the project was stalled eight years ago; a situation that embarrassed the government and made life difficult for domestic airlines.

He said the Federal Government has revisited the project, adding that the facility would be completed in the next few months.

He announced that the central taxi-way of the airport runway, which was closed 10 years ago, would be re-opened in three months.

Dunoma, who did not disclose the contractual agreement that led to the abandoning of the project eight years ago, said: “Small contractual issues delayed the project. This facility is very important for airlines and we are doing everything possible to make sure it is fixed to save airlines from wastage of fuel.”

The central taxi-way closure has led to difficulty for domestic airlines. A taxi-way is a ground path used by aircraft that connects a runway with another area of an airport.

Taxiways are usually made of concrete or asphalt, and much like runway surfaces, are pretty solid – anything from a foot to five feet in thickness.

The 18-Left runway had remained without light for over a decade, forcing domestic airlines to bring stop their operations by 7pm because of lack of light on the runway. They, however, taxi to a far distant 18-Right runway for landing and take-off.

AIB, UNILAG partner on material laboratory usage

 

 

The Accident Investigation Bureau (AIB) has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the University of Lagos (UNILAG) on the use of its metallurgical laboratory at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport (NAIA), Abuja.

AIB Commissioner, Mr. Akin Olateru, at the signing of the agreement at the varsity’s Senate Building, said the lab would be of benefit to Nigerians, students of higher institutions of learning and industries.

Olateru said the lab would save Nigeria huge capital flights, which would have been expended on air tickets, hotels and others by researchers, stressing that collaboration with organisations would further enhance one another’s capabilities.

He explained that the agency had written to 12 higher institutions of learning on collaboration on the use of the facility, but decried that only three universities – University of Ilorin, UNILAG and Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka replied.

He noted that the United States’ National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) partnered public and private organisations and wondered why same could not be done here.

He said: “I believe we can make this country great with collaborations. We need collaborations like this to help us add values to the country. We actually wrote to 12 universities, but only three responded to our letters, which is very unfortunate.

“This is why I want to thank your leadership for the signing of this MoU because it shows the efforts you are putting in place to increase the knowledge base of this great institution of learning.”

He, however, expressed satisfaction with the responses of the three universities, adding that there still room for any institution willing to partner it.

He noted that the management would not compel any organisation or institution to collaborate with it on the use of the equipment.

UNILAG Vice Chancellor, Prof. Oluwatoyin Ogundipe explained that university education is about research.

He declared that UNILAG was  research-oriented, saying the institution collaborates with other universities and institutions across the country and beyond.

He said varsity students had been taking the centrestage in the country while at the international level, they have been making great impacts.

Ogundipe said: ‘The direction of research now is about collaborations and networking. I am glad that we are starting this on a good note. I want to assure you that we will make maximum use of this with our students. Our intention is to make our students known locally and visible at the global stage and I am happy we are achieving that so far. On our own, we will give this collaboration the 100 per cent support it deserves.”

‘Why we want to diversify helicopter business’

 

                   Emperor Chris Baywood Ibe

 

A further boost for the helicopter segment of the aviation industry was last week recorded in Lagos. A new kid on the bloc,  Tropical Arctic Logistics Limited (TAL), made a daring entry into the segment, promising to revolutionalise the business by playing in the off-shore logistics section. With this, the firm hopes to diversify the business and and revolutionise the logistic value chain.

Part of the strategies to achieve its objective, according to the firm, is to put in place a template that combines effective equipment utilisation and deployment of indigenous expertise  to have a competitive edge.

TAL President and Chief Executive Officer, Emperor Chris Baywood Ibe, disclosed this last week in an interview with The Nation.

According to Ibe, the firm is set to invest over $150 million on  acquisiction of six AW139 Helicopters to enable it change the narratives of the business.

He said though the attrition rate of helicopter operators is not high in Nigeria, many operators are yet to understand the trick of the trade.

According to Ibe, TAL carried out a forensic study of why other operators were not doing well in the business before it ventured into the hugely capital intensive sector.

He said the firm has invested hugely in  human capital by attracting the best hands in the sector to drive the brand.

The growing interest in the offshore  segment, he said, is the motivation behind the huge investment, especially given the limited number of operators in the industry that is high capital intensive and technically demanding.

He said TAL has acquired the equipment: AW139, which it considered appropriate for the clients it looked forward to offer services other than in the oil and gas sector. They include excutive spot charter, banking industry, medical emergency evacuation and allied services as well as executive private aircraft charter.

He spoke of plans by TAL to commence scheduled domestic services to revolutionise the operational landscape.

Ibe said his desire to venture into domestic schedule operations was propelled by the lack of capacity of existing operators, which he accused of using the wrong business model.

He queried why  operators running domestic flights should utilise bigger aircraft instead of Embraear business jets, adding that the unsuitability of equipment is responsible for the collapse of many domestic carriers.

He said: “We did not rush into this business; we have done our business feasibility studies. In the last five years, we have carried out a study on why many airlines have failed and from the post mortem, we can say, the use of equipment, in terms of aircraft size and type is key.

“Why should a domestic operator use a Boeing 737 aircraft for a fifty minutes flight? This does not make any commercial sense, operators should consider using Embaear business jets, for its convenience, fuel economy and less crew utlisation. This is the reason we want to venture into domestic scheduled services.”

Speaking further, he said: “We are considering starting scheduled service operations. But we are going to use the right aircraft types and not B737 that airlines are using. It makes no sense operating B737 for 50 minute flight.”

Ibe said the firm will save huge money by ensuring that it carries out in-house maintenance of its aircraft with assistance from its technical partners.

He said the firm paid huge premium on safety and security because of its desire to venture into offshore helicopter logistic operations.

According to him,  the company’s operational safety policy for  onshore and offshore operations is one of the key attributes which will achieve tremendous resonance among stakeholders.

“This is one of the reasons why Tropical Arctic Logistics is poised to achieve incomparable heights in customer service standards,” he added.

Ibe noted that Tropical Arctic Logistics has benefitted tremendously from the unrivalled knowledge and experience of its human capital.

TAL, he said,  will carry out operations in accordance with the Nigerian Content Monitoring Development Board (NCMDB) policy to develop local capacity. “Indeed, apart from the technical support from our off-shore partners, Rose Aviation, based in the Republic of Ireland, TAL is a company by Nigerians and for Nigerians with international best practices.

”In line with our major focus on safety and efficiency, Tropical Arctic Logistics Limited  crew are certified Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) European Aviation Safety Agency ( EASA ) trained personnel in alignment with the industry and country of operation regulatory requirements,”he said.

The firm, Ibe said, will   continue to  evaluate the business dynamics and monitor the relevant sectoral indices in order to achieve optimal growth and profitability.

“However, we wish to assure all stakeholders that this is just the beginning of even better and greater accomplishments for the company.  The management and staff are passionately committed to implementing the transformational agenda as envisioned by the board of directors in achieving unparalleled safety records.

“We have, therefore, positioned our company for leadership in this sector, an unparalleled feat for a company founded just five years ago. We are poised to pursue the local content policy by ensuring we carry out in house maintenance of our equipment.

“This is achievable because our aircraft pilots and engineers have the competence to achieve this feat. We have learnt from the mistakes of other operators, and have carried out a comprehensive business plan  to guide us. We will take relevant steps to mitigate such trend,” he said.

On diversifying into offshore helicopter operations, Ibe said: “We have looked around and could see that the future of this business is in the offshore segment of oil and gas. Though, it is technically driven, we are convinced we have the right skills set to drive the business whether it is deep water oil pipelines, marine vessels and allied services.”

 

Hadi Sirika and the return of Nigeria Airways

 

  Alhaji  Hadi Sirika

 

One of the usual features on Nigerian social media is the nostalgic passion with which Nigerians often distribute pictures of the old Nigeria Airways and how that company once considered one of the best in Africa was mismanaged and made to fail. Established in 1958, it was liquidated in 2003. I have seen pictures of old tickets, images of Nigeria Airways pilots and crew, and for anyone who travelled with Nigeria Airways, you cannot but be moved to pity. Pity yes, because while Nigeria, the most populated country in Africa can no longer manage an airline of its own, the African skies are dominated by such airlines as Ethiopian airlines, Air Maroc, Kenya Airways, and South African airlines. Rwanda has a functional airline too. There is also Air Namibia.
The assets of the Nigeria Airways of old have not only been liquidated; most of its former staffs are wasting away. In the aviation sector, Nigeria has the biggest market in Africa, and has signed Bilateral Air Service Agreements with over 70 countries, but it lacks the capacity to compete. Even the few private airlines operating within the country are barely struggling to survive.
The agony of the Nigerian air traveller is not something to be imagined: we all face a daily grind of disappointment from airlines that cancel flights at will and offer no explanation. When you complain, the airlines simply tell you that things are very hard. So, if things are hard, are they supposed to be so shabby?
The other month, the door of an aircraft on the domestic route flew off as the plane landed. That has not stopped Nigerians from patronizing that same airline. Most of the country’s airports are also poorly equipped and poorly maintained. The air-conditioning rarely works; the toilets are a nightmare. Aviation is big business but more than that, it is a major catalyst for economic growth and development. If there is any sector that is in urgent need of rescue, the Nigerian aviation sector is that sector.
It is therefore a thing of interest that the Federal Government says it is now determined to revitalize the aviation sector and bring back Nigeria Airways or Air Nigeria as it has been referred to. This much was disclosed when the Minister of State for Aviation, Hadi Sirika received a certificate of no objection, an Outline Business Case certificate of compliance it is called, from the Infrastructure Concession and Regulatory Commission (ICRC). Tomorrow July 18, in London, Minister Sirika is launching a Road Show to attract investors, and formally unveil the name, the logo, the colour scheme and the structure of the national carrier. It all sounds so exciting and I am sure many Nigerians who agonise daily over how other African countries seem to succeed where we keep failing would like to see Nigeria run its own national airline and create opportunities for the business sector. The only problem that I see is that there is so much that is opaque in the proposals that have been put forward so far by Mr. Sirika. Being a former pilot, the Minister is definitely not a tyro in the business, but as he engages both the local and international audience, there are many questions that must be addressed. I intend to raise a few of these in this preliminary comment.
The Ministry of Transportation and ICRC, the regulatory body, do not seem to be on the same page. The ICRC and similar institutions involved may face challenges with their own reputation. The Outline Business Case Certificate by the ICRC seems to agree only in principle that a national carrier can be established. It goes further to give specific conditions under which this may be done, and the Minister himself has quoted some of these conditions which the Ministry under his watch seems to be breaching already. Having noted that the business case and market study submitted to it are “in substantial compliance with the ICRC Act, 2005 and the National Policy on Public Private Partnership”, the ICRC avers: “This certificate is granted on the condition that the Federal Government demonstrates her commitment to leverage private sector capital and expertise towards the establishment of the National Carrier through the provision of an upfront grant/Viability Gap Funding (VGF) to fund aircraft acquisition/start-up capital. The FGN also agrees to zero contribution to airline management decisions and zero management control by the government. Any attempt to impose government control over the management of the Airline invalidates this certificate and the entire process”.
It goes further: “In view of the fact that the mitigating conditions for the project may change over time, this Certificate is valid for 12 months from the date indicated below. This certificate is therefore issued to enable the Ministry commence an international open competitive bidding process to procure a world-class strategic investor to manage, operate, maintain, and invest in the National Carrier.” The ICRC provides further information on its website with regard to other aviation sector projects including the development of an aerotropolis, the establishment of a maintenance, repair and overhaul centre (MRO) and the development of cargo/agro-allied airport terminals.
Except the role of the infrastructure concession regulatory body is a mere formality, I do not see any evidence that the Federal Government of Nigeria, through the Ministry of Transportation (Aviation) is keen about compliance with the strict provisions outlined in the Certificate of No Objection. The Road Show scheduled for Farnborough, London, tomorrow, does not sound like “an open competitive bidding”; it is a launch. Do you do a roadshow for a transaction that does not yet exist, or for a company that is not yet in existence? Minister Sirika and whoever his transaction advisers may be have already determined that the proposed airline would cost the Nigeria government $8.8 million. How was that arrived at? He has also talked about a take-off grant of $300 million to purchase 5 aircraft to be delivered by December 19? There certainly must be some known best practices in the setting up of a national carrier. Whatever business model, that we are following does not look like the very best. Who starts an airline by first buying aircraft at full cost? Hadi Sirika reportedly met with officials of Boeing, the aircraft maker in May. Would it not be better to lease the proposed five aircraft from Boeing and enter into a partnership agreement with them, with a private investor in charge of the new airline?
The ICRC says the Federal Government must not operate or control the proposed airline. This is precisely what Hadi Sirika and his team are already doing. And if they say no, and insist that the private sector is already involved in the project, perhaps Mr. Sirika will disclose this tomorrow in London! But let him also disclose basic information about when the tender was placed for an “open competitive bidding.” And if there was no tender, who is that person who may have appropriated the power to determine the private sector partners for the national carrier? And when Mr. Sirika talks about a N300 million for the purchase of five aircraft to be delivered by December 2018, he should be asked where that money is coming from? Is it provided for in the 2018 budget? And if so, under what line entry, or will the money come through virement? The National Assembly should raise these questions. Nobody should use taxpayer’s funds to buy some end-of-life aircraft and claim that they are setting up an airline for Nigerians.
I also find it curious that all the relevant persons and agencies that should be involved in the planning of something as important as a national airline have been quiet. Did the National Economic Council headed by the Vice-President discuss the matter for example? Is the Ministry of National Planning aware of it? Is the proposed airline part of the Economic Recovery Growth Plan (ERGP), and what is the framework in place to ensure fairness and transparency? Is the substantive Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi even involved in this at all; his studied silence is odd. Or abi the thing no concern am?
If Nigeria must have a national airline again, then we must get it right. This is my point. The ICRC is obviously insisting on private sector control and management, because it was government inefficiency that killed off the old Nigeria Airways. The airline became a gravy train for the big men in high places. They used the planes for their private purposes, including going for weekend parties in London at government expense. Directors of government agencies and departments travelled with the airline on free tickets. Nigeria Airways was supposed to provide a hub for the aviation sector in Africa, its eventual mismanagement made that impossible. We must learn from history in order not to repeat it. Sirika says the proposed airline will take advantage of the African Single Air Transport Market. The Open Skies Agreement is part of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement – 44 countries signed up to it in Kigali in March. Nigeria wants to benefit from this agreement, but it is yet to make up its mind about the value of African integration and free trade. You see our people? “We want to buy aircraft, we want to buy aircraft…” That’s all I hear them saying as if an aircraft is a toddler’s toy.
I raise another poser: why do we even have to create a brand new national airline from the scratch. The Federal Government, through the Assets Management Company of Nigeria (AMCON) is already in possession of three airlines that are indebted to AMCON: Arik Air, Aero and whatever is left of Virgin Nigeria or Air Nigeria. AMCON’s mandate is to rescue these airlines and put them back on their feet. Can they not form the nucleus of the proposed national carrier; and turned, surviving assets and all, into one airline that Nigeria can brand for national purpose under the management of competent investors, and with government providing the needed oxygen? Would this not be more advisable than embarking on a new set of opaque transactions? Government can rescue moribund airlines such as the ones I have mentioned, encourage quality private sector participation, and just ensure a level playing field. A national airline that will be under the control of the Minister of Transportation in charge of Aviation, will sooner than later constitute itself into a threat to industry competitiveness.
What remains is a moral question. Whatever the Federal Government decides to do eventually, it would be most unfair to set up a new national carrier without resolving the lingering matter of the unpaid entitlements and benefits of the old Nigeria Airways staff. When that company crashed, many lives were destroyed. Some of the pilots ended up as taxi drivers; many of the crew had to go and learn new trade, a few got jobs with the new commercial airlines. There was a time former Nigeria Airways staff formed a union and they used to carry placards to lament their fate and the injustice that they suffered. I don’t see those placards anymore; they have probably given up hope, and some of them may have died. Not to pay their entitlements – calculated at a total of N45 billion, and already approved for payment by the Federal Executive Council more than a year ago, would be an assault on their memory and an act of cruelty.
II. Minister Adeosun’s NYSC Certificate The Minister of Finance, Mrs Kemi Adeosun has been in the eye of the storm, and that is putting it mildly. While I believe that she may be the target of a conspiracy against her by persons on whose toes she may have stepped, (otherwise, who is still worrying these days about NYSC certificate?), it seems she herself has not helped matters by refusing to say a word to explain her dilemma. If she thinks the matter will blow away, the fact that the Federal Government has now intervened with the unconvincing claim that a probe is underway is a sure recipe for mischief.
There are three weighty issues involved, in fact four: (1) she has been called a dodger. The NYSC Act does not permit anyone below the age of 30 to dodge a mandatory call to national service, except under circumstances that do not apply to her. At the time of her graduation from university, the Minister was 22 years old; (2) she is also being accused of forgery, or being an accessory to the act of forgery. The NYSC has not been helpful by suggesting that although she applied for a certificate of exemption, after dodging the NYSC for eight years, the exemption certificate with her is unknown to them; (3) she is also being accused of having made false representation of herself on the basis of which she has taken very high jobs in Nigeria – first as a Commissioner and now as a Minister. (4) some persons have labeled this an act of corruption, obviously in order to score a point against the government she is serving. It is a tough moment for her.
Still, Mrs. Adeosun should be given the benefit of the doubt, which she is entitled to, but her silence is not golden at all: we need to hear her own side of the story, within a reasonable period of time. The burden of proof having shifted to her, her refusal to talk is a clear evidence of withholding which could destroy any presumption of innocence in her favour. It is also wrong for anyone to say on her behalf that at the time of her graduation, she was not a Nigerian citizen because she was born in England. Section 25(1) (c) of the 1999 Constitution states clearly that Nigerian citizenship includes “every person born outside Nigeria either of whose parents is a citizen of Nigeria”. So at what point did she renounce her Nigerian citizenship? And does she have a work permit to enable her work in Nigeria if indeed she is a foreigner? There are many lessons here for all young persons who were “born abroad” or who may not be excited about the NYSC.

Nigerian airline: FG begins talks with Boeing, Airbus

Minister of State for Aviation, Hadi Sirika has disclosed that the Federal Government had started negotiations with aircraft manufacturers and investors towards the unveiling of the national carrier at the ongoing Farnborough International Air Show in the United Kingdom.

Sirika disclosed this in a statement by Mr James Odaudu, Deputy Director, Media and Public Affairs from Farnborough on Monday.

He said that the Nigerian delegation which he led, had met with the Management of Airplane manufacturers, Airbus to negotiate the acquisition of the desired aircraft for the nation.

Sirika also disclosed that negotiations with Boeing and other Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) would take place on Tuesday.

According to the Minister, the ongoing International Air Show is an opportunity to negotiate with airline manufacturers with the view of getting the most competitive and best value-for-money deals for the country.

He said he would also explore every opportunity available at the air show, an event that brings the biggest and the best in the industry, to attract more prospective investors into the Nigerian aviation environment.

Sirika explained that the show would provide an opportunity to establish a Maintenance Repair and Overhaul (MRO) facility in Nigeria, concession of some airports in the country and other components of the Aviation Roadmap the federal government.

The minister had earlier written on his twitter handle: “Negotiating Aircraft orders with Airbus at Farnborough ahead of National Carrier unveiling on Wednesday.

“Negotiations with Boeing and other OEMs tomorrow.

“Met with Standard Chartered Bank earlier. All is looking good!”

The minister had on July 6 announced that the name and logo of the airline would be unveiled during the air show in the UK and assured that the airline would commence operation by december.

Nigeria’s aviation getting back its rhythm

 

…In half-year 2018, aviation sector has benefitted from sound policies, commitment and great drive never seen for a long time. WOLE SHADARE writes that the sector is on the right footing

 

Nigeria’s aviation getting back its rhythm

 

 

If there is one sector in Nigeria that has done well in the half year 2018, it is the aviation industry. Between 2015 and early 2017, the aviation industry in Nigeria recorded what seems to be the worst period since civil aviation started. This was occasioned by recession, which led to job losses and scarcity of foreign exchange, among others.

But one thing that has worked for the sector, which in no small measure led to stability of the industry, was the careful planning by the Minister of Transportation, Chibuike Amaechi and the Minister of State for Aviation, Hadi Sirika, in ensuring that not too much change were made when they assumed office. This quarter has seen significant improvement and the culmination of the clear path the duo charted for the sector. Government, despite pressure refused to tinker so much with the personnel they met in the agencies, save for those that they brought into strategic positions in the sector and those they felt were going to add value to a sector as sensitive as the aviation industry.

AIB releases more crash reports

The release of six additional accident reports by the Accident Investigation Bureau (AIB) early this year has engendered confidence in the sector. Among the reports released was the accident involving an Associated Air aircraft with registration number, 5N-BJY, carrying the corpse of erstwhile Governor of Ondo State, Dr. Olusegun Agagu, which took place on October 3, 2013, minutes after takeoff from the Murtala Muhammed Airport, Ikeja, Lagos.

Commissioner, AIB, Akin Olateru, an aircraft engineer, who has been doing excellently well since he took over as the agency and one who has restored confidence to the agency and conformed with international best practice.

His words: “When I assumed office, we met 27 accidents and serious incidents whose investigations needed to be conducted and safety recommendations issued to relevant agencies or organisations and of course, the public. We have released 10 already, meaning we have 17 left. As I speak today, we have six safety recommendations to be released anytime soon. If we release these six that I just promised, then we are going to have 11 left. But we have three accidents that recently occurred under my watch involving Dana Air and Delta Air, which we are still investigating and which I have not added to the 27 that I inherited. ”

Single African Air Transport Market

The Single African Air Transport Market (SAATM), a flagship project under the Agenda 2063 of the African Union (AU), seeking to liberalise and unify the African skies was launched during the 30th Ordinary Session of the Assembly of Heads of State and Government of the AU on 28 January 2018 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

Benin, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Capo Verde, Central African Republic, Chad, Republic of Congo, Côte d’Ivoire, Egypt, Ethiopia, Gabon, Ghana, Guinee Conakry, Kenya, Liberia, Mali, Mozambique, Nigeria, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Swaziland, Togo and Zimbabwe are signatories to the project.

A fresh twist was added to the importance of SAATM when Nigerian airlines under the aegis of Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON) asked the Federal Government to backtrack on the immediate implementation of the open skies programme encapsulated in the (SAATM) propounded by the African Union Heads of State and Government.

 

Blocked funds

It was cheery news that over $600 million foreign airlines’ trapped funds had been cleared by Nigeria. The Director-General of International Air Transport Association (IATA), Alexandre de Juniac, made the disclosure at the recently concluded IATA AGM in Sydney Australia.

He said, “We have had some recent success. The $600 million backlog in Nigeria has been cleared and we made $120 million of progress from a peak of over $500 million in Angola. I encourage the government of Angola to work with airlines to help reduce this backlog further.”

He disclosed that given the deepening economic crisis in Venezuela, a resolution appears to be unlikely in the short term.
“We are encouraged by the recent developments in Nigeria and Angola and hope other states will also move quickly to address blocked funds”, he added.

Aero MRO

Aero Contractor’s foray into aircraft Maintenance Repair Overhaul (MRO) excited airline operators and the sector generally. Airline operation without an efficient maintenance facility is a big drawback to a carrier. Many of the country’s airline operators travel around the world in search of available slots to carry out due maintenance on their airplanes. Most times, the amount of money spent on carrying out such maintenance checks on aircraft is almost double of those in Europe and America, yet, the most profitable airline in the world earn just 5 per cent profit annually. Several stakeholders and professionals in the sector had over the years canvassed for the establishment of a viable MRO facilities, which they said would further reduce cost of operations for the airlines especially in Nigeria where operators and other private investors claimed is hostile to business growth.

 

VAT removal

One of the greatest help the Federal Government did to airlines was removal of Value Added Tax (VAT) on air transport. Described as a lifeline to sustaining their operations, which has a very low life span of between 10 and 15 years, operators told New Telegraph that it is indeed a welcome development following over 20 years agitation by Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON), umbrella for all operators in the country.

President Muhammadu Buhari had on June 6, 2018 signed Executive Order for the removal of VAT from “All Forms of Shared Transportation.”

The decision taken at the Federal Executive Council meeting, experts said presents a veritable opportunity for the aviation industry to immediately take advantage of the decision to expedite a White Paper to that effect. VAT on commercial air transportation is a huge departure from what obtains worldwide and an increased burden on the Nigerian travellers.

 

Airlines’ suspension
The Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) has raised its oversight functions with going tough on air carriers that violated safety. Many airlines have been suspended and fined. But the high profile suspension done recently was one involving FirstNation Airways. The aviation regulatory body discovered that the airline had disregarded warnings and continued with the unauthorised and illegal operations in violation of its AOC terms and conditions of issuance.

Last line
There is no doubt, Nigeria’s aviation sector, in the half year 2018, looks good and it is hoped that administrators would sustain the tempo to make it a better year for the sector.