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Aviation Stakeholders Warn of Flight Disruption as Fuel Scarcity Persists

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Arik Airplane - Investors King

The Airline Association of Nigeria (AON) alongside other aviation stakeholders has warned of flight disruption due to the scarcity of aviation fuel otherwise known as Jet A1, the association noted in a statement released on Tuesday. 

According to the statement released by the spokesperson of AON, Prof. Obiora Okonkwo, the association fear that flight rescheduling or cancellation ahead of the Yuletide celebration seems very inevitable.

Prof. Obiora Okonkwo noted that prevailing indications are showing that the scarcity is already affecting the operations of airlines in the country.

The statement which warned against the recurrence of previous experience partly read ” The Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON) wish to inform the public of impending disruptions in scheduled flight operations due to the scarcity of aviation fuel, otherwise known as JET-A1, which reared its ugly head again in the past few days. The scarcity will no doubt force airlines to reschedule flights leading to late operations and, or, cancellations”. 

Investors King gathered that air passengers both local and international have increased ahead of the December festival. The increase in air traffic has however led to the hike in ticket fares. While air tickets From Abuja to Lagos on Airpeace have skyrocketed to an average of N70,000, fares to cities in the south-south states are as high as N120,000.

This increase in air tickets has often been credited to the scarcity of aviation fuel (Jet A1). In an almost unbelievable circumstance, two years ago, Jet A1 was sold for N200 per litre while the price currently stood at N800 per litre. 

Despite the challenging times ahead, AON however promised that the operators would do their utmost best to manage the situation and ensure safe flight operations, but pleaded for the understanding of the travelling public in the present circumstance. 

In addition, Prof Obaira also appeals to all necessary authorities including aviation fuel importers and marketers to resolve the issues surrounding fuel scarcity in the interest of public users. 

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International Students in UK May Work Ten Extra Hours as Job Shortages Worsen

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The United Kingdom is facing the challenge of job shortages that is already berthing economic losses to institutions and organisations, Investors King has learnt.

The situation is fuelling inflation in the country, especially in the area of offsetting wages of the shrinking labour force.

It was gathered that most companies and organisations had to pay higher for workers who have had to work more and spend more time on duties.

Accordingly, Investors King can report that the situation of decline in manpower is affecting the country’s productivity and rendering of services.

To tackle the challenge, the government of the United Kingdom might be planning to review upward the number of hours international students can work during their studies.

It’s expected that when the extension is done, widening job vacancies across the country would be filled and inflation would be abated.

The nation’s ministers, after due diligence and planning, might extend the work hour limit for international students from 20 to 30 hours per week or to remove it completely.

Chancellor Jeremy Hunt was said to have indicated desire to boost the workforce in order to prevent employers from spending heavily on the existing workers.

It was gathered that the policy, if considered, would afford the students opportunity to work more and meet up with the financial needs even as they are contributing t the economic growth of the country.

The employment gaps were created following increasing economic challenge and the withdrawal process of the United Kingdom from the European Union.

Meanwhile, the consideration of the extension of the work hours for international students have been greeted with mixed feelings from stakeholders.

While some said the students would benefit in it if it is eventually adopted in terms of fetching them more money and boosting their job experience, others have expressed concerns that the development may affect the academic performance of the international students.

Some Nigerians were of the view that their relations schooling in the UK wouldn’t be affected negatively as it would encourage more people to study in the country.

For them, working longer hours while studying can help address the hike in the cost of living owing to the effects of inflation in the UK.

“If it can be done, I believe it will help a lot of us studying here in UK. We can strike a balance between our studies and work and I can assure you that there won’t be problem in either our work or studies.

“Due to the expensive prices if things here, we will be happy to over more sources whereby we can make legitimate income and this planned work extension would be a welcome idea to us studying here,” a Masters student in UK who simply identified himself as Wumi told Investors King.

However, others contended that the policy would make students to struggle with making good grades in their careers.

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NAHCO Says Strike Didn’t Cause Major Business Loss, Plans Salary Increment Dialogue With Workers

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The Nigerian Aviation Handling Company Plc (NAHCO) has stated that the industrial action recently embarked on by airport workers did not cause a great loss in the sector.

It assured that negotiations on the agitation for salary increment for workers would begin on Wednesday, January 25, 2023 to Saturday, January 28th, 2023.

Investors King recalls that in the early hours of Monday, January 23, 2023, both local and international airports were shut down and flights grounded due to the strike of some aviation workers but at about 3pm that same day, the strike was called off and work continued. 

In a press statement obtained by Investors King on Wednesday, signed by the Company Secretary, Dikko & Mahmoud Solicitors, Bello Abdullahi, clarifications were presented on what transpired.

Abdullahi explained that the industrial action was embarked on by some members of staff of the National Union of Air Transport Employees (NUATE) and Air Transport Senior Staff Services Association (ATTSSSAN) to request for salary increase and protest NAHCO Management as touching their demands.

According to him, their action was in violation of the pronouncement by the National Industrial Court on 20th January 2023.

“The withdrawal of services by the striking workers led to NAHCO Plc’s inability to provide service to our client airlines. The resultant effect was that scheduled flights were unable to operate from our airport stations across the country, thereby leaving passengers stranded across the various airports,” he stated.

Abdullahi disclosed that a meeting was held by the NAHCO Plc management, the affected unions, the Federal Airport Authority (FAAN), the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), the Department of State Security (DSS) and other stakeholders at NAHCO Plc Head Office in Lagos on Monday.

He highlighted the resolutions enacted at the meeting as:

  1. The discontinuance of the suit filed against the NUATE and ATTSSSAN unions at the National Industrial Court.
  2.  Issuance of a counteroffer to the Union’s demands by the NAHCO Plc Management before close of business of Monday, January 23, 2023.
  3.  Commencement of negotiations on salary increment on Wednesday, January 25, 2023 and conclusion by Saturday, January 28th, 2023.
  4.  The immediate resumption of all staff to work.
  5. Non-victimization of staff due to participation in the strike action.

The Company Secretary then assured the public and shareholders of the organisation’s commitment to quality delivery of aviation services.

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Passengers Stranded as Local, International Airports Officials Embark on Strike

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In the early hours of Monday, aircraft commuters were stranded as the Nigerian Aviation Handling Company Plc (NAHCO) commenced industrial action over workers’ salary increase.

Investors King reports that several local and international airports were closed down leaving the passengers outside and unattended to.

This was observed at Murtala Muhammed Airport Terminal Two, (MMA2) Lagos, Murtala Muhammed International Airport, (MMIA), Air France/KLM, Qatar, Ethiopian Airlines, Delta Airlines, Virgin Atlantic, Turkish Air and some others where NAHCO handles check-in, boarding and ramp services.

Passengers have lamented the situation, saying that no information, notice nor emails were sent to them to inform them ahead.

One of the international airport customers, Alex Nwuba who already booked a flight to Qatar, said he was disappointed when a member of NAHCO staff told them that they will not attend to any passenger because they are on strike.

He said the Qatar flight he ought to board already landed in the morning but has flown to Doha since there is no body to handle it.

Travellers whose flights have been delayed or rescheduled called for urgent attention to forestall further grounding of flights.

Investors King learnt that the NAHCO management had a meeting with its staff on Sunday before embarking on the strike action on Monday. 

According to an aviation analyst, Daniel Young, the situation will result in enormous financial losses by passengers if not solved timely.

“These individuals who pepertrate these actions are obviously oblivious of the long term efffects of some of those insensitive decisions they take. This behaviour by NACHO staff portrays the company as one whose self distruct code is activated. Even more so, it affects the overall perception of the country and the aviation industry,” he said.

Young urged the federal government to intervene before the matter gets out of hand as the country is currently going through a lot.

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