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Ibom Air in Talks to Acquire 10 Airbus A220 Jets

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The management of Ibom Air, an Akwa Ibom State Government-owned Airline in Nigeria, is in talks to acquire at least ten A220 jets from Airbus, a European plane manufacturer.

Ibom Air delegates to Dubai Airshow said on Sunday.

A source familiar with the deal said it could extend to 20 aircraft.

The airline commenced operations on June 7 2019 when a Bombardier CRJ900 aircraft marked Ibom Air took off from Victor Attah International Airport (IATA: QUO), Uyo, with government officials on board, en route to Muritala Muhammed International Airport in Lagos. Akwa Ibom is the first state in the country to own an airline.

In May 2021, the Airline also signed Nigeria’s first domestic codeshare agreement with Dana Air. Dana Air COO Obi Mbanuzuo said the agreement is “the first of its kind for domestic airlines in Nigeria”.

Mr Mbanuzuo added: “We do hope that this partnership… will set a positive precedent for the greater good of the industry”

Is the CEO/Founder of Investors King Limited. A proven foreign exchange research analyst and a published author on Yahoo Finance, Businessinsider, Nasdaq, Entrepreneur.com, Investorplace, and many more. He has over two decades of experience in global financial markets.

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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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Airlines Celebrate Lower Fuel Costs Amid Dangote Partnership

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The Airlines Operators of Nigeria (AON) have confirmed a reduction in the price of aviation fuel, following the commencement of operations at the Dangote Refinery.

This breakthrough came after AON met with the Dangote Group’s management to address the bottlenecks that had been driving up the cost of the essential commodity, subsequently causing a spike in airfares.

For over a year, the end of Nigeria’s fuel subsidy regime had seen petroleum product prices soar, with aviation fuel reaching a critical high of N1,300 per litre by February.

Airline operators voiced their concerns, highlighting the urgent need for government intervention to prevent operational collapse.

The situation was exacerbated by fluctuating forex rates and the escalating cost of aviation fuel, which disrupted operational planning and stability within the sector.

However, in a move aimed at alleviating these challenges, Dangote announced a reduction in the prices of diesel and aviation fuel in April.

According to Dangote, the price of aviation fuel was cut to N940 per litre for customers purchasing five million litres and above, and to N970 per litre for those buying one million litres and above.

Anthony Chiejina, the Head of Communication at Dangote, emphasized the company’s commitment to easing economic hardship on Nigerians.

“Dangote Petroleum Refinery has entered a strategic partnership with MRS Oil and Gas stations to ensure that consumers can buy fuel at affordable prices, whether in Lagos or Maiduguri. You can now purchase one litre of diesel at N1,050 and aviation fuel at N980 at all major airports where MRS operates,” he said.

This partnership is expected to expand to other major oil marketers, ensuring that retail buyers do not face exorbitant prices.

Prof. Obiora Okonkwo, spokesperson for AON, confirmed the price reduction, acknowledging the positive impact of their discussions with the Dangote management team.

“We understand that prices fluctuate due to the naira-to-dollar exchange rate and coal value. However, we have noticed a reduction compared to when we were buying from other marketers,” he said.

Despite this optimism, there remains some dissent within the industry. Ado Sanusi, Managing Director of Aero Contractors, stated he was unaware of any price reduction, maintaining that his airline continued to purchase aviation fuel at prices ranging between N1,000 and N1,200.

“I am not aware of any reduction in our fuel prices. We still buy between N1,000 and N1,200. Please, quote them and quote me that I am not aware of any price reduction,” he asserted.

Nevertheless, the general sentiment within the aviation sector is one of cautious optimism. The recent collaboration between Dangote and AON represents a promising step toward stabilizing fuel prices and, by extension, airfares in Nigeria.

As the partnership develops and more oil marketers join the initiative, the industry hopes for sustained relief from the high costs that have plagued it for the past year.

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