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Africa’s Aviation Sector Faces $1.68 Billion Fund Lockdown: IATA Urges Government Action

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The International Air Transport Association (IATA) disclosed that as of September $1.68 billion of airlines’ funds are locked in Africa.

The impact of this financial entanglement is viewed as detrimental to connectivity, raising significant concerns about the sustainability of the aviation sector on the continent.

Kamil Alawadhi, the Regional Vice-President for Africa and the Middle East at IATA, addressed this issue during the African Airlines Association 55th Annual General Assembly in Uganda.

Alawadhi emphasized the association’s ongoing efforts to provide value to its members in navigating the challenging financial landscape.

Nigeria accounts for a substantial portion of these blocked funds, totaling $783 million, with only about 10% cleared despite recent efforts.

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has initiated steps to clear the forex backlog, but challenges persist in disbursing the funds effectively.

Alawadhi stressed the urgency of liberating blocked airline funds and advised governments on best practices to clear backlogs.

He highlighted the broader repercussions, extending beyond the airlines to negatively impact the economies of the countries involved.

The consequences include reduced connectivity, diminished investor confidence, and damage to the countries’ reputations.

Recognizing aviation as a pivotal economic enabler, Alawadhi urged governments to prioritize sustainable solutions for clearing blocked funds, particularly as the industry seeks to recover from pandemic-induced losses.

IATA cautioned against imposing additional financial burdens on the sector, such as higher fees, levies, carbon taxes, or new taxes on air transport, trade, or tourism, which could exacerbate existing challenges.

As Africa’s aviation industry grapples with ongoing financial constraints, finding solutions to unlock these funds becomes crucial for sustained recovery and growth.

The IATA’s call for coordinated efforts to address this issue underscores the importance of a collaborative approach between governments and the aviation sector in navigating the complexities of the current economic landscape.

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Air Peace to Launch Direct Flights to London, Sets March 30 for Inaugural Journey

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Nigeria’s leading airline, Air Peace, has unveiled plans to commence direct flight operations to London, with the inaugural flight scheduled for March 30, 2024.

The announcement came during a prelaunch forum organized by the airline, engaging travel agencies and partners involved in the upcoming London flight operations.

The Chief Operating Officer of Air Peace, Oluwatoyin Olajide, assured stakeholders that the London operations would be daily and conducted with Boeing 777 aircraft and Boeing 787 Dreamliner aircraft, known for their modernity and efficiency.

Olajide emphasized the direct, non-stop nature of the flights, without layovers, and the airline’s commitment to providing unbeatable fares.

Air Peace Chairman, Allen Onyema, disclosed that the airline had received approval from the Federal Government, facilitated by the Federal Ministry of Aviation, for flights to New York, USA.

Onyema also declared a unified commission for all airline agents, regardless of size or status.

With commendations from industry leaders and associations for Air Peace’s nationalistic drive and dedication to the country, the airline is poised to connect Nigeria with London and further enhance its international presence.

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Nigeria to Implement Biometric Clearance Gates at International Airports by March 2024

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Nigeria is gearing up to introduce a significant upgrade to its airport security measures with the implementation of biometric clearance gates at international airports by March 2024.

This move aims to streamline passenger processing and bolster national security efforts.

Under the plan, five major international airports across Nigeria, including the Murtala Muhammed International Airport in Lagos, Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport in Abuja, Mallam Aminu Kano International Airport, Port Harcourt International Airport, and Akanu Ibiam International Airport in Enugu, will be equipped with biometric clearance gates.

These gates will utilize advanced technology to provide seamless clearance services for passengers entering the country.

Minister of Interior, Olubunmi Tunji-Ojo, emphasized that the installation of biometric gates reflects Nigeria’s commitment to enhancing border control management and adhering to global best practices.

The gates are expected to significantly reduce clearance times, with a passenger clearing in just 30 seconds.

Tunji-Ojo highlighted the gates’ dual purpose: expediting passenger processing while also enhancing national security by allowing for quick identification of persons of interest.

The initiative aligns with President Bola Tinubu’s Renewed Hope Agenda, aiming to provide quality services to Nigerians while ensuring national security.

This modernization effort is poised to address long-standing issues of delays and improve the overall travel experience for passengers at Nigeria’s international airports.

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Foreign Embassies Given Two Weeks to Settle $5.36M in Ground Rents

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The Nigerian Government has issued a firm ultimatum to 43 foreign embassies and diplomatic houses in Abuja, the nation’s capital, demanding the settlement of outstanding ground rents totaling $5.36 million within two weeks.

In an official advertorial published by the Federal Capital Territory Administration in the Newspaper, the government emphasized the urgency of the matter.

Failure to comply within the stipulated period could result in the revocation of the rent titles held by the diplomatic entities.

The notice serves as a final warning to embassies, including prominent ones like the British High Commission, South African High Commission, Royal Embassy of Saudi Arabia, and the Embassy of Japan, among others.

These embassies and diplomatic entities have been identified as defaulters in the payment of their ground rents.

This directive underscores the Nigerian government’s commitment to ensuring compliance with legal obligations and financial commitments within its jurisdiction, regardless of the status of the entities involved.

The ultimatum is reminiscent of a similar notice issued last September to organizations in Abuja, emphasizing the importance of timely payment of annual rents.

The consequence of non-compliance, as stated in the notice, is the potential revocation of land titles.

The deadline creates a sense of urgency among the affected diplomatic missions, as failure to meet the payment deadline could lead to diplomatic tensions and logistical challenges for the embassies involved.

As the clock ticks, attention is focused on how these foreign embassies will respond to the Nigerian government’s ultimatum and whether they will meet the financial obligations within the stipulated timeframe.

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