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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.

Is the CEO/Founder of Investors King Limited. A proven foreign exchange research analyst and a published author on Yahoo Finance, Businessinsider, Nasdaq, Entrepreneur.com, Investorplace, and many more. He has over two decades of experience in global financial markets.

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Kenya Airways Set to Boost Presence in Nigeria with Plans for Abuja Hub

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Kenya Airways, the East African aviation giant, is gearing up to significantly expand its footprint in Nigeria by establishing a new operational hub in Abuja, as part of its broader strategy to enhance connectivity across the African continent.

In an exclusive interview with journalists at the airline’s office in Lagos, Julius Thiarus, the Customers Commercial Manager of Kenya Airways, revealed the company’s ambitious plans.

Thiarus emphasized the importance of Nigeria as a key market for Africa and highlighted Kenya Airways’ commitment to establishing its presence in major cities across the continent.

“We want to be in every significant city in Africa. We want to fulfil that mandate by coming into Abuja, which is part of our strategy aligning with what we see as growth in travel,” Thiarus stated, underlining the airline’s strategic vision.

Kenya Airways aims to capitalize on the burgeoning market size and economic significance of Nigeria by bolstering its operations in Abuja. Thiarus highlighted the importance of cargo transportation for the airline, emphasizing the need to reduce reliance on external sources for essential supplies to Africa.

To this end, Kenya Airways recently added two cargo freighters to its fleet, doubling its capacity to meet the growing demand for cargo services across the continent.

Addressing the issue of low passenger traffic from Nigeria to Kenya, Thiarus outlined plans to increase the airline’s daily frequencies to Lagos from one flight per day to two flights.

He also revealed that Kenya Airways is strongly considering establishing a new route to Abuja, with plans to commence operations next year.

“We are looking at Abuja and probably sometime next year to establish that flight to Kenya and beyond Africa,” Thiarus remarked, highlighting the airline’s commitment to enhancing connectivity between Nigeria and other African countries.

Despite Nigeria’s vast population and potential as a tourism market, Thiarus acknowledged that the current number of Nigerian visitors to Kenya is relatively low.

He stressed the importance of collaborative efforts between airlines, tourism boards, and government agencies to promote travel and tourism between Nigeria and Kenya.

“Nigeria is important for Africa, and Africa will never prosper if Nigeria is not prosperous,” Thiarus emphasized, underscoring the significance of Nigeria’s economic growth for the overall development of the continent.

Kenya Airways’ ambitious plans to establish a hub in Abuja signal a new chapter in the airline’s expansion strategy, aiming to strengthen its presence in Nigeria and enhance connectivity across Africa.

As the aviation industry continues to evolve, Kenya Airways remains poised to play a pivotal role in shaping the future of air travel on the African continent.

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Safety Concerns: UK CAA Reports Air Peace to Nigerian Aviation Authority

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The United Kingdom Civil Aviation Authority (UK CAA) has raised concerns over alleged safety violations by Nigerian carrier Air Peace.

This revelation comes merely three months after Air Peace commenced its Lagos-London route.

According to reports, the UK CAA forwarded two mandatory occurrence reports to Nigeria’s Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), highlighting alleged breaches of aviation safety regulations by Air Peace.

These reports, titled ‘United Kingdom SAFA Ramp Inspection Report’ and ‘NATS Management System Safety Report,’ highlighted specific operational irregularities observed by UK aviation inspectors.

The crux of the issue revolves around the operational approval of Electronic Flight Bag (EFB) functions and it is critical for ensuring the safe operation of aircraft.

The UK CAA purportedly flagged the absence of a mounting device for EFB, charging points, or backup battery, raising concerns about navigational practices onboard Air Peace flights.

In response to the UK CAA’s communication, the NCAA swiftly initiated correspondence with Air Peace, seeking clarification on the reported safety lapses.

The letter, signed by the NCAA General Manager of Operations, Capt. O.O. Lawani, underscored the urgency of addressing the alleged infractions to uphold aviation safety standards.

Air Peace, which recently expanded its operations to London Gatwick from the Murtala Muhammed International Airport in Lagos, operates under the Bilateral Air Services Agreement between Nigeria and the UK.

The airline’s foray into international routes had been hailed as a significant milestone in Nigeria’s aviation industry, promising enhanced connectivity and convenience for travelers.

However, the safety concerns raised by the UK CAA cast a shadow over Air Peace’s international operations, prompting calls for swift remedial action and heightened regulatory oversight.

As stakeholders await Air Peace’s response to the allegations, questions loom over the potential impact on the airline’s reputation and operational integrity.

Efforts to reach Air Peace’s spokesperson, Stanley Olisa, for comment were unsuccessful at the time of reporting.

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Aliko Dangote Calls for Visa Reforms Across Africa to Boost Investment

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Aliko Dangote, the President of Dangote Group and Africa’s wealthiest individual, has embarked on a campaign for reforms in visa policies across the continent.

His impassioned plea comes as he addresses the pressing obstacles these policies pose to investors and business leaders looking to navigate the African landscape.

Speaking at the Africa CEO Forum Annual Summit in Kigali, Dangote shared his personal frustrations while expressing unwavering optimism for Africa’s future.

He took the opportunity to shed light on the challenges he has encountered due to restrictive and inconsistent visa policies that hinder intra-African travel and investment.

“As an investor, as somebody who already wants to make Africa great, I have to now apply for 35 different visas on my passport and I really don’t have time to go and drop my passport in embassies to get a visa. But you see, the most annoying thing is that if you are treating everybody the same, then I can understand but I can assure you, some people don’t need 35 visas,” lamented Dangote.

Highlighting the urgency of the matter, Dangote revealed that even Nigeria’s influential political figures are voicing their dissatisfaction with the current state of affairs.

He disclosed that President Bola Tinubu has expressed similar concerns and is committed to initiating reforms to streamline visa processes into Nigeria.

“On Monday, there was a cabinet meeting, President Tinubu was not happy about this same visa issue and I can assure you that in the next couple of weeks, you will see a massive reform in terms of visas going into Nigeria,” assured Dangote.

Dangote’s clarion call for visa reforms resonates with growing sentiments across the continent as African countries recognize the imperative of fostering a conducive environment for investment and economic growth.

Restrictive visa policies not only deter potential investors but also impede the free movement of talent and resources vital for Africa’s development agenda.

Expressing his unwavering commitment to Africa’s potential, Dangote said, “I am very excited because the growth going forward in the future is Africa. We have whatever it takes to make Africa great and that is why I am not only putting in my own money, I am putting my soul and life in Africa to make it great.”

Dangote likened Africa to a scratch card, symbolizing its untapped potential. “Nothing is impossible in Africa, it is like a scratch card. Unless you scratch it, you won’t know what number it is or be able to use it,” he remarked, underscoring the need for concerted efforts to unlock Africa’s vast opportunities.

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