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Post COVID-19: Air Peace To Reconnect Routes to Gambia and Senegal

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Air Peace has mapped out plans to return to Banjul (Gambia) and Dakar (Senegal) from its base in Lagos, two of the regional routes it suspended in the wake of the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic, which crippled global activities in most parts of 2020.

The airline also said that it would commence flight services to Gombe Airport on August 9, 2021.

A statement by Stanley Olisa, the Spokesman for the airline on Wednesday, said that Air Peace would recommence Lagos-Banjul and Lagos-Dakar routes on July 23, 2021, in order to provide more options for regional connectivity.

Olisa explained that Banjul and Dakar flight services would operate thrice a week; Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays.

Olisa expressed delight at the reinstatement of the Lagos-Banjul-Dakar flight operations, adding that daily Gombe flights from Lagos and Abuja would also be launched on August 9, 2021.

He said: “Dakar and Banjul routes will be operated with our ultramodern Embraer 195-E2 aircraft, and we shall resume more routes and increase frequencies to other destinations as we take delivery of more brand new E195-E2s as well as other aircraft undergoing maintenance abroad.”

Olisa, who said that customers can now book for the resumed routes on the airline’s website- flyairpeace.com or its mobile app, restated Air Peace’s resolve to continue providing peaceful, strategic, and affordable connections while observing the highest standards of safety.

Air Peace had suspended its regional routes consequent upon the outbreak of COVID-19 and the lockdown that ensued last year. But, the airline is now resuming these routes, the first being Accra, which was restored in March 2021.

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Nigeria and UAE Reach Agreement on Visa Access for Nigerians

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The Nigerian Federal Government announced on Monday that it has reached an agreement with the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to facilitate visa access for Nigerian citizens.

This announcement came following the weekly Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting, presided over by President Bola Tinubu.

Mohammed Idris, Minister of Information and National Orientation, made the announcement while briefing journalists after the FEC meeting.

He highlighted the importance of this agreement in strengthening the bilateral relationship between Nigeria and the UAE, and in fostering greater economic and cultural exchange.

“After extensive negotiations, we are pleased to announce that an agreement has been reached with the UAE that will enable Nigerians to access UAE visas,” Idris stated.

“This development is a testament to the commitment of President Tinubu’s administration to improving the mobility and opportunities for Nigerian citizens globally.”

The agreement is expected to streamline the visa application process, making it easier for Nigerians to travel to the UAE for business, tourism, and other purposes. This move comes as a relief to many Nigerians who have faced difficulties in obtaining UAE visas in recent times.

In addition to the visa agreement, the FEC also directed the Ministry of Budget to propose amendments to the 2024 budget.

This directive aims to address emerging fiscal challenges and align the budget with current economic realities.

Idris further announced that President Tinubu will meet with labor leaders on Thursday to finalize discussions on the new minimum wage.

This meeting is part of ongoing efforts to ensure fair wages for Nigerian workers without triggering inflationary pressures.

“The President is committed to delivering a minimum wage that is both fair and sustainable. After thorough consultations, the proposed figures will be submitted to the National Assembly,” Idris explained.

The FEC’s deliberations on the wage increase focused on balancing the need for higher wages with the potential impact on the economy.

“We are determined to provide wages that improve the standard of living for Nigerians while maintaining economic stability,” Idris added.

This week’s FEC meeting also discussed various national issues, including infrastructure development, security, and public service reforms.

The council reiterated its commitment to pursuing policies that promote growth and improve the welfare of all Nigerians.

The agreement with the UAE and the forthcoming minimum wage proposal are seen as significant steps in President Tinubu’s broader agenda to enhance Nigeria’s international standing and address domestic economic challenges.

As the government moves forward with these initiatives, citizens and stakeholders are hopeful for positive outcomes that will benefit the nation.

In the coming days, further details of the UAE visa agreement and the new minimum wage proposal are expected to be disclosed, providing more clarity on the government’s plans and their implications for Nigerians.

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IATA Reports 14.1% Growth in African Airline Demand for May 2024

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The International Air Transport Association (IATA) reported a 14.1% year-on-year increase in passenger demand for African airlines in May 2024.

Capacity for African airlines also rose by 8.2% year-on-year, demonstrating a healthy expansion to accommodate the increased demand.

The load factor for May stood at 72.3%, a 3.7 percentage point improvement compared to the same period in 2023. Despite this growth, Africa has the lowest load factor overall.

Globally, the total demand for air travel, measured in revenue passenger kilometers (RPKs), rose by 10.7% compared to May 2023.

Total capacity, measured in available seat kilometers (ASK), increased by 8.5% year-on-year. The global load factor reached a record high of 83.4%, up 1.7 percentage points from May 2023.

Willie Walsh, IATA’s Director General, said “Strong demand for travel continues with airlines posting a 10.7% year-on-year increase in travel for May. Airlines filled 83.4% of their seats, a record for the month. With May ticket sales for early peak-season travel up nearly 6%, the growth trend shows no signs of abating.”

International demand rose by 14.6% compared to May 2023, with capacity up 14.1% year-on-year and the load factor improving to 82.8%, a 0.3 percentage point increase.

Domestic demand also saw a rise, with a 4.7% year-on-year increase, while capacity remained relatively flat at a 0.1% increase, and the load factor climbed to 84.5%, up 3.8 percentage points from May 2023.

However, Walsh highlighted ongoing challenges, particularly in air navigation service providers (ANSPs), which have faced significant delays.

“With 5.2 million minutes of air traffic control delays racked up in Europe even before the peak season begins, it is clear that Europe’s ANSPs have unresolved challenges,” he noted. “Airlines are accountable to their customers; ANSPs must be as well.”

Breaking down the data by region, Asia-Pacific airlines led the way with a 27.0% year-on-year increase in demand, maintaining their position as the largest contributor to industry-wide growth.

European carriers saw an 11.7% increase, while Middle Eastern airlines posted a 9.7% rise.

North American carriers experienced an 8.1% increase, and Latin American airlines saw a notable 15.9% growth in demand.

Despite the global uptick, the focus on Africa’s significant growth is a testament to the region’s potential. The impressive increase in demand and capacity highlights the resilience and opportunity within the African aviation market.

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FG Pays $850m Debt to European Airlines

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The Federal Government of Nigeria has cleared a backlog of debts amounting to $850 million owed to European airlines.

This development was announced by Samuela Isopi, the European Union Ambassador to Nigeria and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), during the 9th edition of the Nigeria – EU Business Forum held in Abuja on Tuesday.

Ambassador Isopi praised the Nigerian government for its decisive intervention in resolving the debt issue, which had long been a point of contention between Nigeria and European carriers.

The repayment is expected to foster better relations and trust between Nigeria and European airlines, potentially leading to enhanced air travel connectivity and economic cooperation.

In addition to addressing the debt, the Nigerian government has also removed foreign exchange restrictions on the importation of forty-three items.

This policy shift is seen as a step towards liberalizing the economy and making it more attractive for foreign investments.

The move has been lauded by various stakeholders as it is expected to ease business operations and improve the overall economic landscape of the country.

“Nigeria remains the EU’s largest trading partner in Africa, with trade relations amounting to approximately 35 billion Euros last year,” Isopi noted.

She also highlighted Nigeria’s status as the EU’s biggest foreign investor on the continent, with a stock estimated at 26 billion Euros, which constitutes one-third of Nigeria’s foreign direct investment.

Over 230 EU companies currently operate in Nigeria, providing substantial employment opportunities for the youth and women, thereby contributing to the nation’s economic growth.

Themed ‘Investing in Jobs and Sustainable Future,’ the forum was attended by prominent figures, including Myriam Ferran, the Director General at the EU; Atiku Bagudu, the Minister of Budget and National Planning; and Nura Rimi, the Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment.

The event served as a platform for dialogue between the public and private sectors, underscoring the role of government in supporting businesses to achieve inclusive development.

The forum’s discussions centered on enhancing investment in Nigeria, fostering sustainable economic growth, and creating jobs.

The stakeholders emphasized the importance of robust economic policies and the need for continued collaboration between Nigeria and the EU to achieve shared economic objectives.

The repayment of the $850 million debt is expected to bolster Nigeria’s reputation as a reliable partner in international trade and finance, paving the way for future investments and stronger economic ties with European nations.

This development marks a significant milestone in Nigeria’s efforts to stabilize its economy and create a conducive environment for business growth and development.

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