Despite economic recession and attendant effect on both local and international air travel business, Country Manager of RwandAir, Ibiyemi Odusi, in this interview said the Kigali-based airline is expanding its services as a mark of dedication to the Nigerian market. Excerpts:
With the recession in Nigeria, how has it been with RwandAir operating in the country?
RwandAir has been in the country for about five years. And for us, it has been interesting, if I have to reflect on the whole of five years. We all know that Nigeria is a major market in Africa; it is one of our cash cows at RwandAir.
How do you mean?
It is one of the most profitable routes for the company; the Lagos or Nigerian route and it has been interesting. We all know that there is recession in the country. But we believe in Nigeria and know that the economy will rebound. Despite the recession, we are still much interested in Nigerian market and know that things will get better with time.
Has there been changes in the passenger traffic accrue to the airline lately?
There has been a decline in traffic in the aviation industry as a whole. It is not a RwandAir thing. But it is understandable and due to the present situation of the country, which we are all hopeful to overcome with time.
What measure are you taking against the general drop in traffic?
For us, we have decided to dwell more on our core values as an airline, so that the challenges do not impact on us negatively. Despite that, we make sure that our on-time performance is key; we don’t cancel flights. We are very interested in operating in this market and not making unnecessary dying minutes changes.
Our safety is very important and we hold it in high esteem. Our customer service and retention are held in high loyalty to ensure that customers give us repeat patronage. Remember that it is all about the customers. If you don’t make them happy, they don’t come back to you. Integrity and Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) are also key to us. We are continuing with this to still associate with the Nigerian market that people may know that we are still very much here.
One recalls that the new Airbus 330-200 came into Nigeria last September, with the plan to bring in another in November? Why has the second not been delivered?
The second Airbus actually came in about a week ago. We now have the Airbus330-300. Both are part of our expansion plans. We received it with a lot of awareness through the Social Media.
These two aircraft by quarter one of 2017, will be deployed to serve major upcoming market. Places like Mumbai in India, London-Gatwick in Europe, Gwangzhou in China, Kuala-lumpur in Malaysia, New York, Lilongwe, Harare,Conakry and Bamako, Mali and so on. Kotonu and Abidjan-route have actually started this year. They were part of the new routes we have been promoting this year. We also have more expansions plan for the coming year.
The A330-200 currently runs on the Lagos-Kigali route, Mombasa and Dubai. The A330-300 has been coming to Lagos too, serving the Kigali and Dubai market. So, we are expanding and have no plans to withdraw whatsoever. We will always tailor the needs of the market to suite the need of the present realities in any country we found ourselves.
There are claims by some foreign airlines that they have not been able to repatriate their funds. What is it like in RwandAir?
Repatriation of funds is ongoing for all airlines in the country. It is been managed presently by the International Air Transport Association (IATA) (on behalf of all the airlines, including us) and the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).
Where do you see RwandAir taking Nigerian air travellers in the nearest future?
We are going to consolidate on the routes we already have and make them better. There are plans to go deeper into Asia, Middle East, more African countries and the plans to go into major cities in Europe as well. But because we don’t have some permits yet. There are big time plans for expansion, especially in the first quarter of 2017.
What drives RwandAir at a time most notable African carriers are groaning?
I must give it to the government of Rwanda. The airline is supported by a robust governance system. The government of Rwanda is investing 100 per cent in us and the government is very interested to see the RwandAir carrier become the giant of Africa. We are almost there.
Gold Gained Ahead of Joe Biden Inauguration 2021
Gold price rose from one and a half month low on Tuesday ahead of President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration on Wednesday.
The precious metal, largely regarded as a haven asset by investors, edged up by 0.2 percent to $1,844.52 per ounce on Tuesday, up from $1,802.61 on Monday.
He said, “The key factor appears to be the (U.S.) currency.”
As expected, a change in administration comes with the change in economic policies, especially taking into consideration the peculiarities of the present situation. In fact, even though Biden, Janet Yellen and the rest of the new cabinet are expected to go all out on additional stimulus with the support of Democrats controlled Houses, economic uncertainties with rising COVID-19 cases and slow vaccine distribution remained a huge concern.
Also, the effectiveness of the vaccines can not be ascertained until wider rollout.
Still, which policy would be halted or sustained by the incoming administration remained a concern that has forced many investors to once again flee other assets for Gold ahead of tomorrow’s inauguration.
Crude Oil Holds Steady Above $55 Per Barrel on Tuesday
Brent Crude oil, against which Nigerian crude oil is priced, rose from $54.46 per barrel on Monday to $55.27 per barrel as of 9:03 am Nigerian time on Tuesday.
Last week, Brent crude oil rose to 11 months high of $57.38 per barrel before pulling back on rising COVID-19 cases and lockdowns in key global economies like the United Kingdom, Euro-Area, China, etc.
While OPEC has left 2021 oil demand unchanged and President-elect Joe Biden has announced a $1.9 trillion stimulus package, experts are saying the rising number of new cases of COVID-19 amid poor vaccine distribution could drag on growth and demand for oil in 2021.
On Friday, Dan Yergin, vice-chairman at IHS Markit, said in addition to the stimulus package “There are two other things that are going with it … one is of course, vaccinations — in the sense that eventually this crisis is going to end, and maybe by the spring, lockdowns will be over.”
“The other thing is what Saudi Arabia did. This is the third time Saudi Arabia has made a sudden change in policy in less than a year, and this one was to announce (the) 1 million barrel a day cut — partly because they are worried about the impact of the surge in virus that’s occurring,” he said.
Also, the stimulus being injected into the United States economy could spur huge Shale production and disrupt OPEC and allies’ efforts at balancing the global oil market in 2021.
Crude Oil Pulled Back Despite Joe Biden Stimulus
Crude oil pulled back on Friday despite the $1.9 trillion stimulus package announced by U.S President-elect, Joe Biden.
Brent crude oil, against which Nigeria’s oil is priced, pulled back from $57.38 per barrel on Wednesday to $55.52 per barrel on Friday in spite of the huge stimulus package announced on Thursday.
On Thursday, OPEC, in its latest outlook for the year, said uncertainties remain high in 2021 with the number of COVID-19 new cases on the rise.
OPEC said, “Uncertainties remain high going forward with the main downside risks being issues related to COVID-19 containment measures and the impact of the pandemic on consumer behavior.”
“These will also include how many countries are adapting lockdown measures, and for how long. At the same time, quicker vaccination plans and a recovery in consumer confidence provide some upside optimism.”
Governments across Europe have announced tighter and longer coronavirus lockdowns, with vaccinations not expected to have a significant impact for the next few months.
“The complex remains in pause mode, a development that should not be surprising given the magnitude of the oil price gains that have been developing for some 2-1/2 months,” Jim Ritterbusch, president of Ritterbusch and Associates, said.
Still, OPEC left its crude oil projections unchanged for the year. The oil cartel expected global oil demand to increase by 5.9 million barrels per day year on year to an average of 95.9 million per day in 2020.
But also OPEC expects a recent rally and stimulus to boost U.S. Shale crude oil production in the year, a projection Investors King experts expect to hurt OPEC strategy in 2021.
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