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FG to Sanction Airlines Selling Tickets in Dollars

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The Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, yesterday, promised it would sanction foreign airlines selling tickets in dollars to Nigerian passengers, emphasizing that the action violates the country’s law.

Hadi revealed this while addressing reporters after the weekly Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting headed by President Muhammad Buhari, in Abuja, at the Presidential Villa.

He said the aviation administration has received reports that some foreign airlines operating in Nigeria are refusing Naira and insisting on selling tickets in dollars, while others have denied local travel agencies access to their websites.

Hadi said the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) officials have been charged to secure the interest of affected Nigerians, adding that the violators will not be handled softly.

He said, “That is a violation of our local laws. They will not be allowed. The high and the mighty among them will be sanctioned if they’re caught doing that.

“NCAA had been directed to swing into action. And once we find any airline violating this, we will deal with them. They blocked travel agents from access. They also made only expensive tickets available.

“Our regulators are not sleeping. We have a very vibrant NCAA. Once they find any airline guilty, that airline will be dealt with because we need to protect our people. It is according to our agreements; what we have signed, and this is according to international convention.”

He further stated that “They should also desist from writing us and putting things on social media. They should go through diplomatic channels if they want a response from the Federal Government.

Hadi noted that foreign airlines have made over $1.1 billion from Nigeria since 2016, which could have been secured in the country if they were local airlines.

He recalled that the airlines remitted over $600 million to their home countries in 2016, while over $265 million out of about $484 million was also released to them this year.

He said the Government is doing everything possible to keep the airlines happy and assuring that their money does not accumulate again, including that it will be a win-win situation if everything proceeds well because the country needs their services and the airlines also need the Nigerian market.

The minister refuted an allegation that the Nigeria Air project has expended over N14.6 billion of government funds, despite having only a five percent investment in the airline.

He clarified that the government only spent N651 million (N352 million and N299 million) for what he referred to as transactional advisory services approved by FEC, but yet to be paid, as the specialists are yet to complete their work.

Including that, “There’s also accusation as to secrecy in what we’re doing. Nigeria, I’m very proud to say, is the first country, and perhaps the only, to put up a portal where all public-private partnership activities are being uploaded on daily basis. People should not be pen lazy, not research, and not ask questions given the Freedom of Information Act.

“Every single query to me on my desk, using Freedom of Information Act, I have always obliged. There’s nothing secret about government work anymore. And we’re not keeping anything in secrecy.”

Meanwhile, travel agents under the auspices of the National Association of Nigerian Travel Agents (NANTA) kicked against the plan by the government to sanction foreign carriers, disagreeing that the carriers were not selling tickets in dollars as alleged by the minister.

Susan Akporiaye, President, NANTA, said, “the minister has forgotten that the same Central Bank of Nigeria has placed restrictions on our debit card, if there was no restriction on naira debit card that is how people would have been buying tickets; but because of that restriction we can’t buy it like that.

This means people will have to go and get a dollar card and load it. That is why it looks as if foreign airlines are selling tickets in dollars.  So he has forgotten the policy that was made and that policy is biting us now.

“So if he goes to look for airlines selling tickets in dollars, he won’t see them because they are not on their website. Good luck to the minister if he finds any of them. Technically they’re not selling in dollars.”

However, it can be recalled that Dr. Harold Demuren, the former director general of the NCAA, had previously urged the Federal Government to give access to foreign airlines to sell tickets in dollars as it would help the foreign airlines recover their funds and ease their operations in Nigeria.

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Qatar Airways Leads Top 20 Airlines For 2022

Qatar Airways emerged as the world’s best airline at the recently concluded Skytrax World Airline Awards 2022

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Qatar Airways emerged as the world’s best airline at the recently concluded Skytrax World Airline Awards 2022. 

Investors King learnt that 20 airlines across the globe were picked for their outstanding services. While Qatar Airways top the list, Singapore Airlines and Emirates Airlines were ranked in second and third place, respectively. 

It should be noted that Qatar Airways won the prestigious award for a record seventh time in a ceremony held at Langham Hotel in London, United Kingdom. 

The Group Chief Executive of Qatar Airways, H.E Mr Akbar Al Baker said: “To be named as the World’s Best Airline was always a goal when Qatar Airways was created, but to win it for the seventh time and pick up three additional awards is a testament to all the hard work of our incredible employees”.

According to the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Skytrax, Edward Plaisted, “Qatar Airways was the largest airline to have flown consistently throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, with their network never falling below 30 destinations,”. He stated. 

The best airlines were determined from a pool of hundreds of airlines operating along different routes. 

Between September 2021 and August 2022, Skytrax conducted an online customers survey in various languages which include English, French, Spanish, Russian, Chinese and Japanese to determine the top 20 from a list of 350 airlines that featured in the final result. 

Meanwhile, Skytrax further breakdown the award into subcategories. For instance, Singapore Airlines won the best first-class cabin award, while Qatar Airways grabbed the best business class service.  

Virgin Atlantic was awarded the best premium economy while Emirate Airlines won the best economy cabin. Singapore Airlines was also awarded the best Cabin Staff while All Nippon Airways (ANA) won the best cabin cleanliness. 

Below is a list of the top 20 airlines for the year 2022

  1. Qatar Airways
  2. Singapore Airlines
  3. Emirate Airlines
  4. All Nippon Airways (ANA)
  5. Qantas Airways 
  6. Japan Airlines 
  7. Turkish Airlines
  8. Air France
  9. Korean Air
  10. Swiss International Airlines 
  11. British Airways
  12. Etihad Airways
  13. China Southern 
  14. Hainan Airlines 
  15. Lufthansa
  16. Cathay Pacific
  17. KLM
  18. Eva Air
  19. Virgin Atlantic
  20. Vistara

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Nigeria Air to Commence Operations Soon; Air Service to Start With Abuja-Lagos Route

Nigeria Air will soon begin operations, starting with the Abuja – Lagos route, the Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika had stated.

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The country’s National Carrier, Nigeria Air will soon begin operations, starting with the Abuja – Lagos route, the Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika had stated.

According to the minister, the National Carrier, “Nigeria Air” will be launched with three Boeing 737-800 aircraft. Hadi Sirika further disclosed that the aircraft are configured to adapt to the Nigerian market. 

It will be recalled that in 2015, President Muhammadu Buhari had promised a National Carrier as part of his campaign manifesto. While preliminary work begins, the government however suspends the plan in 2018 with no defined explanation. 

The Minister also disclosed that Ethiopian Airlines Consortium has been selected as the preferred partner for Nigeria Air with a stake of 49 percent. The Federal Government will hold a stake of five percent while a group of three investors ‘MRS, SHACO and Sovereign Wealth Fund will retain 46 percent. 

Speaking during a press conference in Abuja, Hadi Siriki noted that the bidding process was subjected to due process and due diligence. Nigeria Air has an ambitious plan to reach a size of 30 aircraft and begin International operation within the next two years. 

Meanwhile, Nigeria Air Limited has commenced recruitment of qualified crew members ahead of its launch. A memo posted on the verified Twitter handle of the Ministry of Aviation read 

“Nigeria Air is now recruiting qualified crew for the following positions: Experienced, and current B737 Captains; Experienced, and Current B737 First Officers; Experienced, and Current B737 Senior Cabin Crew and Cabin Crew Experienced, and Current B737 Engineers (B1/B2 preferred),” the memo noted.

Interested and qualified candidates are advised to forward their Curriculum Vitae (CVs) to recruitment@nigeriaair.world

Nigeria previously had a national carrier, “Nigeria Airways” which was founded in 1958 and wholly owned by the government. It ceased to operate in 2003 due to corruption and mismanagement. 

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N1.2 Billion Debt: Azman Air Signs MoU With NCAA; Begins Operations

Azman Air has now signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) on how it will be paying the said amount.

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Following the suspension of its operating license over N1.2 billion debt which accrued from non-remittance of ticket sale charge and cargo sale charge (TSC/CSC), Azman Air has now signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) on how it will be paying the said amount.

The local airline disclosed in a statement made available to the press on Friday.

On Thursday, NCAA had suspended the renewal of the airline license and forced management to cancel all flights scheduled for operations on Thursday and Friday over its non-remittance of over N1.2 billion TSC/CSC. Passengers already scheduled to travel on Azman were forced to return home or in some cases join other airlines to their destinations.

On Friday, Azman Air announced it has signed an MoU with NCAA and other affected parties. The NCAA, therefore, renewed the company an operating license.

“A Licence to operate scheduled and non-scheduled passenger and cargo air services within and outside Nigeria is hereby granted, pursuant to Sections 18.2.2.3 and 18.2.2.4 of the Nigeria Civil Aviation Regulations 2015 to:
Messrs: AZMAN AIR SERVICES LIMITED 1, Zaria Road, Kano for a period of five (5) years Date issued: 16th September, 2022 Expiry Date: 15th September, 2027. The utilisation of this Licence shall be in compliance with all relevant Civil Aviation Regulations,” the Director-General of the NCAA, Capt. Musa Nuhu, disclosed in the letter forwarded to the airline.

According to the details of the MoU, Azman Air agreed to be remitting N50 million monthly from the 5% of all its ticket Sales Charge and Cargo Sales Charge.

The formalities of the MoU signing was finalised on Friday at the NCAA headquarters in Abuja, but the regulatory agency had already lifted the sanction on the airline following its compliance with the various agreements reached.

The 5% TSC/CSC is shared among five aviation agencies; NCAA, Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA), Accident Investigation Bureau (AIB) Nigerian Meteorological Agency (NiMET) and the Nigerian College of Aviation Technology (NCAT), Zaria.

NCAA gets 58% from the total 5% of charges, which is the major revenue earning for the agency, while the other four agencies share the remaining 42 percent in different proportions.

Besides, it was gathered that the airline had also submitted its tax and security clearance forms to the NCAA, after its initial reluctance to do so for about 10 months without any basic reason.

Tax and security clearance forms are two of the requirements for issuance of ATL or Air Operators Licence (AOC) or their renewals by NCAA.

Since the operations of the airline were suspended on Thursday, its management had held a series of meetings with the NCAA.

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