FG Assures Kick-off of Nigeria Air Operations Before Buhari’s Administration Ends
The Federal Government has reiterated its readiness to commence the operation of the national carrier, Nigeria Air before the expiration of President Muhammadu Buhari’s tenure.
The Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika gave the assurance during the 2023 National Aviation Stakeholders Forum in Abuja.
Investors King recalls that in November 2022, a Federal High Court in Lagos issued an order of interim injunction directing the federal government to discontinue the establishment of the national carrier. However, in February, Sirika said in an interview that he was not aware of such a court injunction, noting that the Nigerian Air had come to stay
Sirika stated that efforts have been intensified and consultations made to deliver the national carrier for use before May 29, 2023.
He said, “Operation of local and international flights will commence soon. Before the end of this administration, before May 29, we will fly.
“Negotiation meetings with the Ethiopian Airlines Group Consortium and the Federal Government of Nigeria is ongoing. Next step: Federal Executive Council approval of the Full Business Case.”
The minister noted that the Nigeria Air will reduce capital flights and improve the nation’s aviation industry.
According to him, the national carrier will also increase the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of the industry. The impact would also be felt in tourism, agriculture and economic sectors as it will expand its shores, aid smooth transportation and provide more jobs.
Speaking on the development so far, Sirika said that the federal government had begun transactions to foreign airlines’ whose ticket sales funds were held up by insufficient dollars.
He said Qatar Airlines had $201 million trapped while for IATA airlines, $216 million was held.
He however, assured that efforts are ongoing to get the money released, adding that some of Emirates Airline funds have been returned and now left with $35 million.
Nigeria’s Aviation Industry Records Significant Growth in Recent Years Despite Challenges
Nigeria’s aviation industry has recorded significant growth in recent years, with an increase in the number of aircraft, despite several challenges that have plagued the sector.
While maintaining a growth trajectory, reports reveal that the total number of aircraft in Nigeria has surged by 100% in 8 years, while the country’s number of airports has also increased significantly, currently numbering up to 40.
Speaking on the growth of Nigeria’s aviation sector, Director General and Chief Executive Officer NCAA, Capt. Musa Nuhu while speaking at the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) National Aviation Conference (FNAC) with the theme: “Sustainability of the Aviation Industry In Nigeria”, stated that despite the challenges the industry has faced in recent years, ranging from regulatory, institutional and structural challenges, especially the breakout of the Covid-19 pandemic, aviation in Nigeria has so far been on a growth trajectory.
Mr. Nuhu further disclosed that when the Buhari administration came on board in 2015, there were only 34 Air Transport Licenses (ATL), but today, the number has increased to 73. He added that commercial certificates were just 196 but skyrocketed to 320 at present. Also, airstrips across the country had moved from 77 to 92, indicating an increase of 15 within the last 8 years.
Investors King understands that the aviation sector in Nigeria is one of the most rewarding for investors. The growing demand for aviation services in the country has encouraged many airlines to establish or plan to establish operations in Nigeria.
In 2022, the industry experienced a lot of developments as it worked to overcome various challenges it faced. A very notable development is the assent of the Civil Aviation Act 2022 by President Muhammadu Buhari.
The president stated that the implementation of the civil aviation act which is a critical aspect of ICAO will further strengthen the sector for improved safety.
Experts have disclosed that the adoption of the Civil Aviation Policy which centered on liberalization and Public Private Partnership (PPP) initiatives by the current administration had resulted in significant growth of the industry, including huge investments in the Nation Airports and has increased capacity of the airports and growth of the domestic airline industry.
They, therefore, emphasized that it is necessary for Nigeria’s aviation sector to remain sound, harmonized, and remain in compliance with the standards and recommended practices in the sector, noting that it is 100 percent regulated and Nigeria must comply with global practices.
International Airfares Surge in Nigeria as IATA Exchange Rate Jumps 37.5%
Travelling by air from Nigeria to other parts of the world has become significantly more expensive in recent weeks as the International Air Transport Association (IATA) has approved an exchange rate of N634/dollar for flight tickets sold in Nigeria.
This represents a 37.5% increase over the official exchange rate set by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), which is pegged at N461.06/dollar.
This latest increase in the IATA exchange rate has led to a corresponding rise in airfares on the Nigerian route, which is set to worsen the financial burden on travellers ahead of the peak summer travel season.
It has also compounded the existing problem of foreign airlines being unable to repatriate their ticket sale proceeds out of Nigeria, due to a shortage of dollars from the CBN.
To mitigate the impact of blocked funds, international airlines in Nigeria have reportedly closed their low-price ticket inventory, further pushing up airfares.
A few months ago, foreign airlines sold tickets at N444/dollar in line with the CBN official exchange rate. However, in recent weeks, the IATA has reviewed the exchange rate for ticket sale in Nigeria to N462/dollar, N551/dollar, N582/dollar, N610/dollar and currently N634/dollar, even though the CBN official exchange rate has remained around N461/dollar.
While IATA officials justified the exchange rate increases, saying they were in line with the spot rates the CBN has been selling foreign exchange to foreign airlines in Nigeria for the repatriation of their ticket sale proceeds, travellers are likely to feel the pinch of the rising airfares.
Despite the significant increases in the IATA exchange rate, the amount of trapped funds in Nigeria has yet to reduce, according to the report.
As the summer travel season approaches, it remains to be seen how the situation will evolve and whether alternative solutions will emerge to address the challenges facing the aviation industry in Nigeria.
World Bank Report Reveals Low-Skilled Nigerian Migrants Earn 1,500% More in the US
According to a recent report released by the World Bank, low-skilled Nigerians who migrated to the United States have experienced a significant increase in their earnings by 1,500 percent.
The World Development Report 2023: Migrants, Refugees, and Societies, which was released on the World Bank’s website on Tuesday, sheds light on the potential gains from migration for people who move from low to high-income countries.
The report suggests that although the absolute gains are larger for high-skilled workers than for low-skilled workers, low-skilled workers experience a multifold increase in their income as well. The report further notes that the potential gains are highest for people who move from low- to high-income countries.
The labor demand at the destination also shapes outcomes, and gains depend on migrants’ skills, gender, age, and language ability.
Nigeria is a major origin and destination for migrants, and the report notes that Nigeria is home to almost 1.3 million immigrants and is the origin of 1.7 million emigrants. The report also reveals that in Nigeria, households that receive remittances invest more in agrochemicals and planting materials, and their farms have larger yields.
However, the report also highlights some challenges that low-skilled migrants face. Migrants incur a range of expenses before their departure, from job information and job matching fees to regulatory compliance or documentation fees.
For low-skilled migration, these costs tend to be borne by the workers, thereby contravening the principles of fair recruitment. These costs tend to increase with the duration of contracts, and they limit the ability of many low-skilled workers to benefit from migration opportunities.
The report further notes that Nigeria and nine other countries account for more than two-thirds of the 59.1 million internally displaced persons, with about 3.2 million IDPs in Nigeria. The report highlights the need for policies that address displacement and forced migration, which can lead to significant social, economic, and political costs.
Despite the challenges faced by low-skilled migrants, the report underscores the potential gains from migration for individuals and societies. The report urges policymakers to address the root causes of displacement and forced migration and to create opportunities for safe, orderly, and regular migration.
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