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IATA Urges Quick Intervention as Foreign Airlines Trapped Funds Rises to $743m

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The International Air Transport Association, IATA has decried the continuous and drastic increase in the trapped funds of international airlines operating in Nigeria.

Investors King reports that in January 2023, the data had grown to $743,721,097 which is a 12.4 percent increment from the $662 million recorded in the corresponding period last year.

This was contained in a letter signed by the Area Manager of West and Central Africa, Dr. Samson Fatokun, on Tuesday which was addressed to the Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika.

In the letter, the association appealed to the Minister to urgently intervene and resolve the recurring matter of airlines’ blocked funds in the country.

Dr. Fatokun lamented that Nigeria has been marked as the country with the highest airline-blocked funds in the world amongst other countries for more than a year now.

According to him, foreign airlines trapped funds in the nation were $662m and $549m in January 2022 and December 2022 respectively but suddenly rose to $743m.

Enumerating the effects of the situation on the nation’s economy, Fatokun noted that foreign direct investment will be affected due to the massive backlog of funds.

He explained that the overlapping trapped funds contradict the Bilateral Air Service Agreement which should be looked into.

On arresting the unpleasant situation, Fatokun disclosed that the airlines have taken some actions like cutting down the number of seats put out for sale in the market in order to reduce the number of passengers and cargoes’ access to the country.

“Going by the law of demand and supply, the reduction of airline inventories in the Nigerian market will lead to the ticket fare increase, which will further burden average Nigerians,” he said.

However, the Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika held a meeting with the IATA team, foreign airlines and travel agents on Tuesday to address the matter.

He promised the international airlines of prompt action as the issue will be tabled before the presidency and the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN for a solution.

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Ethiopian Airlines Group Celebrates 78 Years of Excellence and Innovation

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Ethiopian Airlines Group, Africa’s leading airline organization, commemorated its 78th anniversary with a tribute to its rich history of resilience and innovation since its inception in 1946.

Led by its Group Chief Executive Officer, Mr. Mesfin Tassew, and Chief Commercial Officer, Mr. Lemma Yadecha, the airline marked this significant milestone with a special flight to Cairo, retracing its inaugural international service route.

Reflecting on the occasion, CEO Mesfin Tasew emphasized the airline’s enduring commitment to passenger service and servant leadership.

He highlighted Ethiopian’s journey from modest beginnings to becoming a pioneering force in African aviation, introducing numerous innovations along the way. Tasew’s sentiment encapsulated the airline’s ethos of prioritizing passenger satisfaction and continuous improvement.

In keeping with its tradition of community engagement, Ethiopian Airlines distributed Seasons Greeting Packages and Happy Fasting Messages to passengers, embracing the diverse cultural backgrounds of its travelers.

This gesture underscored the airline’s dedication to fostering unity and inclusivity among its passengers, transcending geographical boundaries.

Chief Commercial Officer, Lemma Yadecha, emphasized the airline’s mission to go beyond transportation, aiming to create a sense of belonging for all passengers.

By assuming roles typically held by ground and flight crew members, Ethiopian Airlines honored its dedicated staff and the countless individuals who contributed to its success over the past 78 years.

As Ethiopian Airlines celebrates this historic milestone, it reaffirms its commitment to service excellence and innovation in the aviation industry, promising to continue leading Africa’s skies with distinction and pride.

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Global Air Travel Surges by 21.5% in February, IATA Reports

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Global air travel increased by 21.5% in February, according to the latest report from the International Air Transport Association (IATA).

This surge represents a significant improvement from January’s 16.6% growth and reflects increasing confidence in air travel despite ongoing challenges.

The latest report from IATA revealed that the surge in demand was accompanied by a notable rise in capacity, which grew by 18.7% compared to the same period in 2023.

This surge in capacity underscores airlines’ efforts to meet the growing demand for air travel worldwide.

One of the most encouraging aspects of the report is the notable increase in the February load factor, which soared to 80.6%.

This represents a substantial increase of 1.9 percentage points compared to the previous year, indicating a higher utilization of available capacity.

International demand for air travel saw a particularly robust growth, surging by 26.3% compared to February 2023.

This surge was matched by an increase in capacity, up by 25.5% year-on-year, leading to an improved load factor of 79.3% for international flights.

Willie Walsh, the Director-General of IATA, expressed optimism about the industry’s prospects in 2024, citing airlines’ accelerated investments in decarbonization and the resilience of passenger demand in the face of geopolitical and economic uncertainties.

However, he cautioned against new taxes that could destabilize the positive trajectory and make travel more expensive, particularly in Europe.

Industry experts have lauded the aviation sector’s resilience in attracting more passengers and expanding its capacity amidst challenges. Despite currency devaluation and soaring aviation fuel prices in countries like Nigeria, air travel demand remains robust.

Susan Akporiaye, President of the National Association of Nigerian Travel Agencies, emphasized the sustained high traffic levels despite the challenges faced by travelers.

The global aviation industry is still on the path to recovery from the negative impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to the Ministry of Aviation, the industry lost about N21 billion monthly during the COVID-19 lockdown. Analysts project that it may take until the end of 2024 for the industry to fully recover to pre-pandemic levels.

As air travel continues to rebound, stakeholders remain cautiously optimistic about the industry’s future trajectory. The surge in demand observed in February underscores the resilience of air travel and its importance in facilitating global connectivity and economic growth.

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Emirates Airlines Set to Resume Nigeria Operations by June 2024, Confirms Aviation Minister

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Emirates Airlines is on track to resume its operations in Nigeria by June 2024.

The news was confirmed by the Minister of Aviation and Aerospace Development, Festus Keyamo, during an interview on Arise Television on Monday.

Keyamo revealed that the Emirates’ return to Nigeria follows extensive negotiations and resolution of longstanding issues between the Nigerian government and the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

He highlighted the pivotal role played by President Bola Tinubu in facilitating diplomatic efforts to mend relations between the two countries.

“The resumption of Emirates flights is almost happening. I just received a letter from Emirates confirming their readiness to come back,” stated Keyamo during the interview.

He further explained that Emirates Airlines had completed all necessary processes and was now awaiting the finalization of operational details before announcing the exact date for its first flight back to Nigeria.

The minister expressed gratitude for the collaborative efforts that led to this breakthrough, emphasizing President Tinubu’s proactive engagement in resolving the bilateral issues.

“Mr. President was the showman here. He made my job easy because he went there and had a diplomatic shuttle to resolve all the issues,” Keyamo noted.

The suspension of Emirates’ flight operations to Nigeria in October 2022 had left travelers and businesses grappling with limited connectivity options.

The airline attributed the halt to challenges in repatriating funds held in Nigeria, amounting to $85 billion.

However, following sustained diplomatic engagements and concerted efforts by both nations, the impasse has been successfully resolved, paving the way for Emirates’ return.

Keyamo’s announcement comes after a series of discussions with Emirates representatives, indicating significant progress toward the airline’s comeback.

 

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