Travel News

Kenya Airways Pilots to Go Ahead With Strike Despite Court Order - BLOOMBERG

NOVEMBER 04, 2022

(Bloomberg) -- A Kenyan pilots’ union vowed to go ahead with a strike on Saturday, threatening to disrupt Kenya Airways Plc flights for thousands of travelers. 

“There shall be no Kenya Airways aircraft departing Jomo Kenyatta International Airport flown by” a member of the Kenya Airline Pilots Association, the group said in a statement on Friday, referring to the Nairobi airport.

The union’s announcement comes days after the airline’s management said it obtained a court order blocking the planned industrial action.

Kenya Airways Gets Court Order to Stop Pilots’ Strike

“We reiterate that the industrial action is unlawful, ill-timed, and unnecessary at this point as it will delay and disrupt the ability of KQ to recover and eventually get the airline back to meeting all its obligations,” Chief Executive Officer Allan Kilavuka said in an emailed statement.

The intended strike is also counter-productive to the government’s efforts to revive the East African nation’s economy, he said. 

Kenya Airways, which is 48.9% state owned, was targeting to return to profitability in 2024 after overhauling its operations. It currently transports more than 250,000 passengers each month. A strike would put at stake an average of 60 to 70 flights and revenue of around 300 million shillings ($2.5 million) a day.

Both the airline and the union should urgently seek to resolve the impasse, which will damage a fragile recovery in the Kenyan aviation industry, according to an emailed statement by the Kenya Association of Air Operators.

(Updates with Kenya Airways comments in fourth paragraph, lobby group in final)

China Is Preparing a Plan to End Covid Flight Suspensions - BLOOMBERG

NOVEMBER 04, 2022

(Bloomberg) -- China is working on plans to scrap a system that penalizes airlines for bringing virus cases into the country, according to people familiar with the matter, a sign authorities are looking for ways to ease the impact of the Covid Zero policy.

The State Council, which oversees China’s bureaucracy, recently asked government agencies including the civil aviation regulator to prepare for ending the so-called circuit-breaker mechanism, said the people, asking not to be identified because the matter is sensitive. The system sees airlines banned temporarily from specific routes into China for one-to-two weeks, depending on how many Covid-positive passengers they bring in to the country. A similar mechanism for Hong Kong was halted in July. 

The request is part of a broader three-step plan devised mid-year to normalize China’s aviation industry, the people said, with the country effectively cut off from the rest of the world by its pandemic border curbs. 

The first step was to increase the number of flights into China, which appears to already be in train. The Civil Aviation Administration of China, or CAAC, said last month the country will more than double international passenger flights between October and late-March from the same period a year ago, and carriers including China Eastern Airlines Corp. and China Southern Airlines Corp. have said they’re already looking at increasing flights. 

China’s Biggest Airlines Plan More International Flights at Last

The focus now appears to have moved to step two, with senior leaders recently asking regulators to draw up a game plan for easing the circuit breaker rule. The third step would be facilitating a full return to normal aviation traffic, the people said. It’s unclear what the timeline is for the implementation of these two steps.

The State Council and CAAC didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.

Evidence China is even considering changes that would ease its global isolation would be scrutinized by investors, with Chinese equities near multi-year lows because of the economic damage wrought by Covid Zero’s snap lockdowns, testing drives and border restrictions. 

Shares of airlines, including China Eastern and China Southern, extended gains in Hong Kong on the flight ban news, while the yuan climbed in offshore trading. 

Wake Up, China. Markets Really Hate Covid Zero: John Authers

An unverified screenshot circulating on social media claiming a broad reopening plan was being considered sparked a $450 billion speculative rally in stock markets this week. Soon after, China’s top health body reaffirmed its commitment to the zero-tolerance virus approach. 

How a Mysterious China Screenshot Spurred $450 Billion Rally

In another sign China is at least cognizant of the impact of its restrictions at the border, officials are debating whether to reduce the amount of time people coming into the country must spend in mandatory quarantine, Bloomberg News reported in October. Bureaucrats are looking at cutting the period to two days in a hotel and then five days at home, people familiar with the matter said. That’s down from 10 days of isolation on entry into the country, which includes a week confined to a hotel room.

China’s current circuit-breaker policy makes getting into the country difficult for many travelers, even after it was tweaked in August. Inbound routes are halted for one week if the percentage of infected passengers on a flight hits 4%, and it’s a two-week suspension if the rate reaches 8%. The previous policy triggered a two-week stoppage for a 5% infection rate and a month’s suspension at 10%.

This Is How Long Experts See China Clinging on to Covid Zero

(Updates with market reaction in eighth paragraph.)

Untold Stories Of Nigerians ‘Stranded’ In UAE - DAILY TRUST

NOVEMBER 05, 2022

“When you get a job in the UAE, it is the rule for the company to give you a two-year visa, but the visa...

    By Joshua Odeyemi

“I am in a fix. My visa has expired and I can’t renew it. My job is gone. Life is hell in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) for Nigerians now,” said a Nigerian who has been living and working in the gulf nation for three years until the recent diplomatic row between it and Nigeria put his survival on the line.

Also, a graduate of Mass Communication from Kaduna Polytechnic, Innocent Idache, relocated to the UAE after his inability to gain employment in Nigeria for almost a decade. Fortune smiled at him and he got himself a job at a construction company in the UAE in 2018.

He has been the pillar of support to his family and friends back home in Nigeria since then. He has been contributing hugely to the billions of naira remittances that come to Nigeria yearly since then.

However, his survival is now being threatened following the decision of the Arab country to stop issuing visas to Nigerians. Companies in the country have also been instructed not to employ Nigerians, a situation that has put thousands of Nigerians’ lives on the line.

Idache is planning to send his wife back home while he continues to struggle for survival in the foreign land.

Another Nigerian who simply gave his name as Bobby said he may incur huge debts in fines if the federal government of Nigeria does not find a way to resolve its issues with the government of the UAE on time.

The issues

For close to two years, the UAE and Nigeria have been entangled in a series of diplomatic battles but it got to a new height recently when the gulf country stopped issuing visas and work permits to Nigerians.

In July 2021, an official at the Ministry of Labour in the UAE confirmed that work permits were being regulated in view of precautionary and preventive measures for COVID-19, but the action seems to be targeted at Nigerians only.

The ministry governs all work-related issues and is responsible for issuing work permits (labour cards) and imposing labour bans.

Stranded Nigerians in Dubai


In December 2020, a memorandum of understanding was signed between Nigeria and the UAE to provide a platform for both countries to engage each other bilaterally.

However, in February 2021, the Federal Government of Nigeria stopped the UAE national carrier, Emirates Airline, from subjecting Nigerian travellers to additional rapid antigen tests as against its stipulated negative PCR test at the Lagos and Abuja airports before departure.

The Emirates Airline then shut down flights to and from Nigeria owing to the disagreement between it and the aviation authorities on the propriety of subjecting passengers travelling from Nigeria to an emergency COVID-19 protocol.

After an interface between the authorities of the aviation ministry and Emirates Airline, flights resumed, but the airline continued to conduct tests for passengers before departure from Nigeria, a development the federal government frowned at and thus suspended the airline from flying in Nigeria.

The UAE responded by refusing to renew Nigerians’ work permits, which offends the letters of bilateral agreements to which both countries are signatories to.

This was viewed as a calculated attempt to pressure the Nigerian government into accepting their conditions of service for their national airline that may have lost humongous revenue from the Nigerian route.

The disagreement was, however, resolved, but it is believed that there was still bad blood between the two countries, and when some Nigerians in the UAE got involved in criminal activities, it was very easy for the golf country to wield the big stick again.

It was also reported that some Nigerians were involved in cultism in the Arab country, disturbing public peace in the process.

According to unofficial sources, some Nigerian cultists in Sharjah got into a bloody fight that left more than a dozen people dead.

A footage circulated online showed some men armed with machetes arriving at an apartment in Sharjah, where they forcefully gained entry and attacked its occupants.

Stranded Nigerians

On October 23, 2022, the Nigerian government, through the Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (NiDCOM), announced that a total of 542 stranded Nigerians were evacuated from the UAE.

The commission said via its official Twitter handle, @nidcom_gov that: “A total of 542 stranded Nigerians in the United Arab Emirates evacuated by the federal government arrived at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja on board the @MaxAirLtd Charted flight.

“The plane touched down at 4:29am on October 23, 2022. The evacuees consisted of 79 males, 460 females and three infants,” the Nigerian government stated.

Daily Trust Saturday, however, gathered that those evacuated were just a very small fraction of stranded Nigerians in that country.

Idache, who has been living in Abu Dhabi for four years, told our reporter that, “The situation is very terrible in Abu Dhabi where I reside. Abu Dhabi is the capital of the UAE and it is a very sensitive environment.

“I can tell you for sure that of all Nigerians living in this city, only a few are with valid visas and work permits. Nigerians are being denied the necessary residential documents. There is nowhere you will go that you will be accepted.

“Even when there is a vacancy in a particular company, for instance, they will specifically tell you that they don’t need Nigerians. They will say, ‘All nationalities can apply except Nigerians. We don’t need Nigerians.”

“From what I know, the companies are only obeying instructions. This is a country whose policing is top-notch. If they give instruction and you go against it, the fine that would be allotted to you would be so big that you won’t want to fall victim to it.

“One of the major reasons the ban is on Nigerians is because of a section of boys parading as cultists and displaying some notorious acts by fighting and disturbing the public.”

While agreeing that some Nigerians were found wanting, he argued that their behaviours should not be used as a rubber blanket for every Nigerian in the UAE, adding that many Nigerians are law-abiding and working hard to earn legitimately to cater for their families back home.

Bobby, who moved to Dubai with his fiancée for a greener pasture is not finding it easy as well.

He told Daily Trust Saturday that when he arrived in Dubai he applied for over 200 jobs before eventually getting one, unlike other nationalities in the UAE.

“My girlfriend got five offer letters but she couldn’t proceed with the job because of visa issues,” he said.

He said the racism in Dubai was intense, adding that they easily profile Nigerians and link them to any crime committed by blacks in the city.

“Being an African, especially a Nigerian, there are struggles you have to go through to survive.

“It is difficult to get a job because you are a Nigerian. And even if you do, it is going to be with hard labour and low pay.

“It is difficult to get accommodation as an African. Only a few landlords give their accommodations to Africans, and most of them are very bad and with poor facilities.

“Currently, I am working with an American institute in Dubai as an admission officer/sales representative. I have been working for five months now.

“When you get a job in the UAE, it is the rule for the company to give you a two-year visa, but the visa has been banned for Nigerians.

“So, it is not possible for you to get a work visa issued by the company. What most companies do now is to go for a three-month renewal visa, but that is also banned for Nigerians, both in the country and outside the country.

“The last option is the three-year partnership visa, which the company took upon itself to do for me based on the value I am adding to it. They started the process, and along the line, after getting my trade licence and all the necessary documents, the Dubai government has restricted approval on the residence visa, which currently makes me be in an ‘overstay’ situation, which has been reading for the past one month because my visa expired in September,” he said.

Bobby said Nigerians were being milked dry by the government of Dubai as a result of heavy fines imposed on them because of overstay.

“In overstay, you get charged. On the first day, you get charged 100 Dirham, which is around N20,000, and it keeps increasing.

“On October 3, the Dubai government said it was going to bring in new visa upgrades and we thought it was going to be better for us and we would be free from all these visa issues, but it became worse.

“The only good thing they did was to slash the overstay charges. At the time, I had about 2,500 overstay, which was close to N500,000, but they slashed it to 1,000, which is approximately N2000. So, as at now, I am close to half a million naira charge, if not more,” Bobby added.

He said there were many limitations to working in an overstay situation, adding, “You can’t open an account, you can’t get things online, you always need to have cash.”

Idache further said, “The situation is terrible. My visa expired last month. After the expiration of a visa you are given a two-month grace period to search for another job.

“My grace period will soon be over and I am as confused as any other person in the UAE now without a job.”

He also said that all these notwithstanding, Nigerians were not willing to return home, adding, “Most people have spent their money feeding and paying bills, hoping that the issues would be resolved soon.

“Most people will not even have the money to pay for the overstay fines. For each day you stay out of the visa period, you are paying 50 Dirham, which is around N9,000 to N10,000. A person who has been here a month after his visa period will be owing a very huge amount.”

Idache, who hails from Benue State, expressed dismay that the Nigerian Mission in the UAE had abandoned them.

“The Nigerian embassy is not a place to seek help as far as this situation is concerned. They will not even give you a listening ear or access to the embassy.

“Immediately they notice that you are coming to complain, they will send you out. It is the last place to go. That is the situation we have found ourselves.

“We are pleading with the federal government to come to our aid. Very soon you will be hearing that Nigerians are committing suicide here because the situation is terrible.

“The danger of it is that when you harm a man to an extent and there is no escape route for him, the next bet will be to resort to crime.

“For me, survival has been difficult and I have no plans than to send my wife back home so that I can struggle to see how I would join her soon,” he said.

He condemned the decision of the federal government to repatriate Nigerians, saying that is not the solution.

“Do they have a job waiting for them (repatriated Nigerians”? The government is just complicating the situation instead of resolving issues with the UAE,” he added.

On his part, Bobby said, “This visa issue is causing depression for a lot of Nigerians here. Without a visa you can’t get a job, and without a job you don’t have money, and without money you can’t get accommodation.”

We are responding – FG

All efforts by Daily Trust Saturday to get the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to comment on what the government is doing about the situation of Nigerians in the UAE proved abortive as the spokesperson of the ministry, Franca Omayuli, was not in office when our reporter visited. She also did not pick up her call when our correspondent called her known mobile line.

However, the chairman of the Nigerians in Diaspora Commission, Abike Dabiri-Erewa, had in a statement earlier, advised Nigerians stranded in the UAE to desist from media blackmail.

She explained that the Federal Government of Nigeria had swung into action to ensure that stranded Nigerians in the UAE were repatriated to the country safely.

“Despite several warnings by the Federal Government of Nigeria through its relevant agencies on consequences of illegal migration to the UAE and other countries, it is regrettable that some Nigerians still find themselves as victims of this irregular act,” a statement signed by the agency’s spokesman, Abdur-Rahman Balogun, quoted her as saying.

The statement added, “In line with its citizens diplomacy, the federal government approved the evacuation of over 300 Nigerians stranded in the UAE. Regrettably, many of those affected have not been totally cooperative as they refused to follow the laid down procedures.”

Dabiri-Erewa said that rather than comply with the directives of the Nigerian consulate in Dubai, some Nigerians were busy pursuing a media blackmail against the federal government, as well as the UAE government.

She added that the allegation that Nigerians were abandoned in Dubai is completely untrue and misleading as the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Nigerian Mission had been working assiduously with the UAE authorities to assist Nigerians stranded in the country for various reasons, ranging from overstay, lost passports, lack of documentation, especially in the case of infants, to pending cases with the Emirati Police.

FG needs to do more – Migration experts

However, Mr Jide Olatuyi, the executive director of Policy Consult, Abuja, said repatriation of Nigerians from any country should be the last option for the Nigerian government.

“I think there are other options to be explored by the government before arriving at the option of repatriating migrants.

“You can repatriate when you realise that there is a risk for them to continue staying in that country, in this case, the UAE. They can repatriate them if there is insecurity regarding their lives and property. They can repatriate them when there are emergencies, but if it is just about their statuses, probably changing from being regular migrants to irregular migrants, or maybe there is a need for them to regularise their stay, maybe their work permit has expired and they need to renew, I think there are processes the Nigerian government can take to help them extend or regularise their stay.

“I don’t know the content of the bilateral agreement between Nigeria and the UAE but Nigeria can work towards making the UAE respect the agreement they have with Nigeria. But if there is no bilateral agreement, I think there are channels of diplomacy to explore,” the migration expert said.

While frowning at the news that Nigerians were engaging in cultism and other criminal activities in the UAE, he said Nigerians needed to be law abiding in their country of destination.

“There is no point in you leaving your country for another country to start exhibiting criminal behaviours. If there are situations of infractions when the Nigerians are unable to protect themselves legally, that is where I think the Nigerian Mission in the country should step in. I think that most of the time this is what is usually lacking. This legal protection is lacking and I think that is why we still have this high rate of allegation of crime.”

On his part, Ogaba Ogabidu, the executive director of DevTrain, who is an expert in migration, with an interest in migration data, said to move and find work in other countries was a right of an individual.

He, however, said the Federal Government of Nigeria should ensure that Nigerians migrate and work elsewhere properly, saying irregular migration is a problem worldwide.

Ogabidu said that notwithstanding, Nigerian workers in other countries should be protected.

“Unfortunately, most of the workers who leave Nigeria leave on very spurious and unverifiable circumstances. Sometimes, the recruiters in the UAE give them very beautiful conditions, but once they get there, the rules of engagement change and can be tantamount to slavery and inhumane condition of work.

“Again, the government of Nigeria should see that their workers are protected in the receiving countries.

“To that extent, Nigeria has signed various United Nations (UN) and International Labour Organisation (ILO) ratifications on migration. Convention 181, 123, 124 was just passed some weeks ago by the Federal Executive Council, which is protecting migrant workers from Nigeria to other countries,” Ogabidu, who has been working with government agencies in the last 10 years on various policies on migration said.

He also advised Nigerians to follow the proper recruitment channel, urging them to go to the Federal Ministry of Labour when they have an attractive offer, saying that way, the federal government can step in to protect them whenever there are infringements.

Kenya Airways Flights Disrupted as Pilots Begin Strike - BLOOMBERG

NOVEMBER 05, 2022

BY  Eric OmbokBloomberg News

(Bloomberg) -- Kenya Airways Plc pilots started a strike Saturday over working conditions, prompting the national carrier to issue a 24-hour return-to-work ultimatum.

After that, the pilots will be considered to have absconded from duty, Chief Executive Officer Allan Kilavuka said in a briefing from the main airport in the capital, Nairobi. About 9,000 passengers have been affected so far, he said.

Kipchumba Murkomen, Kenya’s roads and transport secretary, said the government respects the concerns of the pilots, but that striking is the “wrong way” to achieve their objectives.

“The company and the government of Kenya is willing to listen to the issue they are raising,” Murkomen said. “But let’s listen to it through the law by first stopping the strike and coming to the table and we negotiate.”

The union issued a 14-day strike notice on Oct. 19 in its pursuit of better working conditions, including lifting a suspension of payments to the staff provident fund. Kenya Airways, which is 48.9% state-owned, normally transports more than 250,000 passengers a month on an average of 60 to 70 flights daily.

No Kenya Airways flights have departed Jomo Kenyatta International Airport flown by a member of the union since 6 a.m., according to a statement from the Kenya Airline Pilots Association. “The strike is fully in force; KALPA members are exercising their right to withdraw their labor,” it said.

Aviation Fuel Coming To N1,000/L, Operators Warn - DAILY TRUST

NOVEMBER 07, 2022

By  Abdullateef Aliyu

There is panic in the aviation industry over the sharp fall of naira against the foreign currencies, with some operators warning that aviation fuel which has risen by over 400 per cent in 2022 may hit N1,000 per litre.

When this happens, they warned, it could disrupt operation and force them to make further adjustments on airline tickets.

The naira has faced a drastic fall against dollars and pounds in the parallel market in recent times.

There were concerns over the weekend as the British Pound exchanged for N1,005 at the parallel market.

“One thousand pounds is actually a million naira. The country is going to crash,” wrote a twitter user Salami Azeez.

There are fears that the dollar which has also been on a steep rise in value against the naira may cross the N1,000 threshold.

The current black-market rate which is though not recognised by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has almost doubled the official rate and is said to be accessible by Nigerians.

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) had last week raided some Bureau De Change (BDC) operators in Lagos, Abuja and Kano to curb the rising exchange rate but the naira has continued to depreciate.

In the aviation sector, operators said the jet fuel price, which has risen to over N800 due to exchange rate issues, could go further.

“Don’t forget the dollar closed at N895 on Friday while the pound closed at N985 but as I am talking to you, the pound was exchanged for over N1,000 and before you know it the dollar would also rise to N1,000. This would portend a serious crisis for us as operators,” one operator said.

An airline executive, Barr. Shehu Wada said, “From what we are seeing, the aviation fuel is also going into that and ticket fare may also be affected.”

Israeli carrier El Al to start Dublin route to connect tech hubs - REUTERS

NOVEMBER 07, 2022

JERUSALEM (Reuters) -El Al Israel Airlines said on Monday it will launch nonstop flights between Tel Aviv and Dublin early next year, connecting Israel's and Ireland's robust high-tech sectors and encouraging Christian pilgrimage to the Holy Land.

El Al will operate three flights a week on the route beginning March 26, the Israeli flag carrier said.

"A large Israeli community lives in Dublin, mainly high-tech workers who work in international tech companies that are based in Dublin to serve Europe and the Middle East," noted chief executive Dina Ben Tal Ganancia.

She added that Ireland has a large Catholic population, making it a potential source of inbound tourism for pilgrims and clergy.

Israeli tech executives have been pushing for a direct Tel Aviv-Dublin route for years. In 2015, the Ireland-Israel Business Network had petitioned both El Al and Irish carrier Aer Lingus to start the route, given Dublin's position midway between Tel Aviv and New York and site of the European headquarters for many tech giants.

El Al in 2019 had said it would fly to Dublin as of May 2020 but that plan was scrapped due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In September it said it would start nonstop flights to Tokyo next year while hoping to soon launch a Tel Aviv-Melbourne route as travel has rebounded from a slump during the pandemic.

To meet demand on long-haul routes, El Al said it planned to add a 16th Boeing 787 in 2023.

(Reporting by Steven Scheer, Editing by Louise Heavens)

Germany Urges Italy to Rescue All Migrants as Tensions Escalate - BLOOMBERG

NOVEMBER 07, 2022

(Bloomberg) -- Germany responded to new Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni’s tougher line on migrants by calling on her government to allow access to all refugees arriving by boat.

Meloni’s right-wing administration denied entry at the weekend to some passengers aboard two ships carrying hundreds of migrants, fueling tensions with Italy’s European Union partners. The vessels -- one of which was under German flag -- had docked at Catania on the island of Sicily.

Andrea Sasse, a spokeswoman for Germany’s foreign ministry, said Monday that the rescue of civilians from the sea is a moral and legal duty. The government in Berlin is currently in talks with counterparts in Rome over the legal status of the refugees, Sasse added.

A hard-line stance on illegal migration was a key part of Meloni’s election platform before she was installed last month as the country’s most right-wing premier since World War II.

Many migrants from Africa arrive in Italy by boat in an attempt to enter the EU. The government in Rome argues that the countries under whose flags the ships are operating are responsible for the passengers.

Kenya Airways cancels 'most flights' over pilots' strike - AFP

NOVEMBER 07, 2022

Kenya Airways cancelled most flights  Monday as a pilots' strike entered its third day, with thousands of travellers stranded and the government threatening disciplinary action if staff don't return to work.

The pilots launched the strike at Nairobi's Jomo Kenyatta International Airport at 06:00 am (0300 GMT) on Saturday, defying a court order against industrial action and leaving thousands of passengers stranded.

"Due to the ongoing unlawful industrial action by Kenya Airline Pilots Association (KALPA), most of our flights have been cancelled," the carrier said in a statement, which came hours after the country's transport minister threatened the protesting staff with disciplinary action.

The strike has exacerbated the woes facing the troubled national carrier, which has been running losses for years, despite the government pumping in millions of dollars to keep it afloat.

The airline, which is part owned by the government and Air France-KLM, is one of the biggest in Africa, connecting multiple countries to Europe and Asia.

On Sunday, Transport Minister Kipchumba Murkomen urged the pilots to return to work, warning them against "defying a court order".

"Considering the defiance of KALPA and their total disregard for the existing court order –- which is at the heart of the rule of law -- the Ministry of Labour now has to activate the procedures governing industrial relations," the newly-appointed minister said.

KALPA has not responded to the government warning but said earlier on Sunday that the strike would continue for the foreseeable future.

"The public should expect major flight disruptions t continue," it said on Twitter, blaming the airline's management for failing to resolve the stalemate.

On Sunday, the airline said 56 flights had been cancelled due to the strike, disrupting 12,000 passengers' plans.

The protesting pilots, who make up 10 percent of the workforce, are pressing for the reinstatement of contributions to a provident fund and payment of all salaries stopped during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Last week, the airline won a court injunction stopping the strike, but an official at KALPA, which has 400 members, told AFP the pilots "were acting within the provisions of the law" and that they were yet to be served with a court order.

The carrier has warned that the strike would jeopardise its recovery, estimating losses at $2.5 million per day if the pilots went ahead with their plans.

The airline was founded in 1977 following the demise of East African Airways, and flies more than four million passengers to 42 destinations annually.

It has been operating in large part thanks to state bailouts following years of losses.



NOVEMBER 08, 2022

In September, Nigeria’s Federal Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, announced a consortium led by Ethiopian Airlines as the preferred bidder for shares in Nigeria Air, the national carrier the country seeks to receive. The mission happens to be one of President Muhammadu Buhari’s campaign promises. It has been on the top burner for the president, who has barely 7 months in office.

According to Reuters, Sirika said that Ethiopian Airlines will own a 49 per cent stake in the new airline deal. Whereas, the Nigerian Sovereign Fund will take 46 per cent and the federal government will keep the remaining 5 per cent. 

The minister added that Nigeria Air would have an initial capital of $300 million with plans to have 30 aircraft within four years. “We are going to bring in 6 Boeing 737 aircraft initially and between the third and fourth year the airline will be able to acquire up to 30 aircraft,” Sirika said.

For a country whose second attempt to own a national carrier (Virgin Nigeria) officially failed on 10 September 2012, this ought to be a piece of great news. But that is not the case as stakeholders and airline operators fault the agreement as inadequate.

“Ultimately, I feel this is an exercise in futility. Creating an airline requires really long-term planning, and this initiative definitely falls short in that respect,” said James Daniel, Managing Director at Omni Blu Aviation, a business jets and helicopters operator in Nigeria.

Speaking with Ventures Africa, Daniel noted that aircraft acquisition is the easiest part of this deal. However, it is saddled with other challenges like human capital development, the lack of a clear understanding of customers’ needs, poor engagement of other stakeholders (both internal and external), etc.

“Time is not in the government’s favour, and rest assured, Ethiopia Airlines is not doing this out of the kindness of their hearts. I feel it’s a needless trap and will lead to further embarrassment for Nigeria, as things will inevitably fall apart,” he added.

A few weeks have passed since the government approved this deal and there has been a lot of fuss by airline operators. Despite the clamour on the Nigerian aviation scene, the Federal government has kept a straight face, keeping up with the plan. 

Recently, local news reported that the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association of Nigeria (AOPAN) had rejected the deal. “We do not think this is the best thing happening. It is not genuine. We reject it. Nigeria Air will not suffer any fate different from what befell the defunct Virgin Nigeria that could not go to the United States. This is clear in the Bilateral Air Services Agreement regulations,” said Alex Nwuba, AOPAN President.

Defunct Virgin Nigeria came into commercial operations in 2004, the year after Nigeria Airways finally ceased operations. Virgin Nigeria was a partnership between the government of President Olusegun Obasanjo and Virgin Atlantic, owned by British billionaire Richard Bradson. 

He had made a similar deal with the then government. But, he later decried high levels of corruption among government officials, a hint to what led his business out of the country.  A report quoted Brandon saying, “….We fought a daily battle against government agents who wanted to daily make fortune from us, politicians who saw the government 49 per cent as a meal to seek for all kinds of favour…watchdogs (regulatory body) that didn’t know what to do and persistently asking for bribes at any point…Nigerian people are generally nice but the politicians are very insane…that may be ironic because the people make up the politicians…”

Nigeria has not allowed foreign airlines operating in its airspace to repatriate their funds. This has led foreign airline operators to suspend operations or exit the country’s airspace. As of July ending, trapped funds of over 20 foreign airlines had risen above $600 million and stakeholders speculate that it could get to $1 billion by the year’s end. What’s in it for Ethiopia Airlines?

‘NPA charges dues in dollars’ — oil marketers lament poor access to official FX market - THE CABLE

NOVEMBER 09, 2022

The Depots and Petroleum Products Marketers Association of Nigeria (DAPPMAN) says access to dollars at the official investors and exporters (I&E) window has been a great challenge.

Winifred Akpani, DAPPMAN’s chairman, said this at a news conference in Lagos on Tuesday.

TheCable had reported that the naira dropped to a new low of N885 per dollar at the parallel section of the FX market, also called black market.

The continued depreciation of the naira has been consistently linked to increased demand, while supply remains low.

Akpani, at the press briefing, begged the federal government to give petroleum marketers access to foreign exchange at the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) official rate, to enhance the supply and distribution of petrol across Nigeria.

She added that the burden of sourcing forex through the parallel market for transactions domiciled in Nigeria had left petroleum marketers in a dire situation. 

“Accessing dollars for our operations has been an insurmountable hurdle for petroleum marketers, Akpani said.

“The difference between CBN exchange rate and the parallel market exchange rate continues to get wider by the day.”

Akpani also said in addition to core operational expenses denominated in dollars, petroleum marketers also contended with sourcing funds from the parallel market to pay for fees and levies — some unauthorised — also charged in dollars.

“For example, to charter a vessel to convey 20,000 MT of petrol within Nigeria for 10 days, freight charges are denominated in dollars, that comes to about N220 million at official forex rate of N440,” she said.

“And a whooping N440 million for petroleum marketers who have to source forex from the parallel market at N880.

“This implies an additional cost of N11 per litre for this transaction due to the forex official and parallel market differential.”

For the same transaction, she said jetty fees, also charged in dollars, amounts to N15.4 million at official forex rate and N30.8 million at the parallel market.

“In addition, jetty berth is charged in dollars and comes to N2.2 million at official forex rate and N4.4 million at parallel market rate,” she added.

“While port dues, charged in dollars by the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) and Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), come to N71.51 million at official forex rate and N142.796 million for marketers who source forex from the parallel market.

“DAPPMAN, hereby calls on the government to establish a level playing field in the sector by giving petroleum marketers access to forex at the CBN exchange rate for their operations.”

Akpani further said accessing forex through the I&E window would enhance capacity and facilitate seamless supply of petrol.

She added that it would also birth a regime of sustainability in terms of storage, distribution, and supply across the country.

“The Nigerian National Petroleum Company (NNPC) Ltd, which historically served as the supplier of last resort, is now the major oil downstream company in Nigeria with the acquisition of OVH and has full access to dollars at CBN’s official rates,” she said.


“The NNPC also has access to products through swap arrangements.”

The association’s chairman decried the absence of a level-playing field that guarantees access to dollars for all marketers at official rates.

She said having the NNPC as the sole importer of petrol was not sustainable, considering the huge consumption of the product.

According to Akapni, strategic decisions must be made in the industry to ensure Nigeria takes full advantage of expected growth in oil products demand across Africa.

“For us in Nigeria, this will include full deregulation of the sector and a deliberate strategy geared towards creating an enabling environment for all petroleum marketers to add value, alongside the NNPC,” she said.


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