- Operators Kick as Nigeria Opens Skies to More African Airlines
More airlines from African countries are expected to begin frequent flights into Nigeria in the coming months following the inauguration of the Single African Air Transport in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
Industry sources stated that the restrictions on frequency of flights, capacity, route and ports of entry, and the 5th Freedom Traffic Right had been lifted.
“These are some of the areas that were negotiated before under normal bilateral agreements but as soon as a country signs the open skies agreement, the restrictions are reviewed,” the source explained.
Under the frequency clause, airlines of member states will no longer be restricted as long as they have traffic on their chosen routes, while the restrictions on capacity, which placed emphasis on the type of aircraft that should be used on certain routes, have been lifted.
On route and ports of entry, member states airlines’ now have the freedom to fly into one another’s countries through any viable city.
The 5th freedom traffic, on the other hand, means that within Africa, member state airlines can fly into one another’s countries and proceed to another without much restriction. For instance, a Nigerian airline can fly from Lagos to Accra, Ghana and proceed to Abidjan, Cote D’Ivoire if it finds traffic.
SAATM was inaugurated on the margins of the 30th African Union Summit and under the treaty, member states are expected to abolish any provisions in their Bilateral Air Services Agreement for intra-African air services that are contrary to the provisions of the Yamoussoukro Decision, and will operate without the need for such agreements to enhance the objectives of the treaty.
“The Yamoussoukro Decision had its own template, which member states are now implementing under SAATM; they are about 18 articles. For those 23 champion states, that template has become the automatic template, especially those integrating clauses such as unrestricted freedom,” an industry source stated.
“This will encourage competition and help the airlines to grow, although there will still be designation if there was no airline operating on a particular route. And despite these unrestricted movements, there will still be eligibility criteria for airlines through diplomatic channels,” another source explained.
SAATM is a flagship project of the African Union Agenda 2063, an initiative to create a single unified and liberalised air transport market on the continent.
It was adopted by the AU Assembly in 2015 as a way of implementing the Yamoussoukro Decision of 1999 that provides for full liberalisation in terms of market access between African states, the free exercise of traffic rights, the elimination of restrictions on ownership and the full liberalisation of frequencies, fares and capacities.
Nigeria was among the champion states that declared their solemn commitment to establish SAATM upon the adoption of the declaration by the Assembly of Heads of State and Government of the AU.
The 22 other states are Benin, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Cape Verde, Congo, Côte d’Ivoire, Egypt, Ethiopia, and Gabon.
Others are Ghana, Guinea, Kenya, Liberia, Mali, Mozambique, Niger, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Swaziland, Togo and Zimbabwe, while Burundi and Uganda are also reportedly gearing up to becoming members.
The Minister of State for Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika, had noted before the inauguration that the full implementation of the Yamoussoukro Decision through SAATM offered Nigeria and the continent in general an opportunity to enhance traffic connectivity and significant growth in passengers’ volumes over the next few years.
According to him, as part of the Federal Government’s solemn commitment to the implementation of SAATM this year, it has constituted a national implementation committee to review all the subsisting BASAs to be in consonance with the Yamoussoukro Decision, while the process of domesticating the decision is ongoing.
The Director-General, Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority, Capt. Muhtar Usman, said the liberalisation would create more jobs in the aviation and tourism sectors of the continent, increase member states’ annual Gross Domestic Products and revolutionise interconnectivity within the continent, among others.
The Regional Director, Member and External Affairs, International Air Transport Association, Africa and Middle East, Adefunke Adeyemi, had before the inauguration, stated that it would increase Africa’s current two per cent share of the global passenger traffic by an additional five million people as well as help passengers save between 25 and 35 per cent on fares.
Airline operators in the country are, however, opposed to the idea, saying that Nigeria’s aviation industry had many unresolved issues that would not enable the operators to get the benefits of SAATM.
According to the Chairman, Airline Operators of Nigeria, Capt. Nogie Meggison, Nigerians still require over 34 visas to travel within Africa alone.
This, according to him, is an issue that should be addressed before opening up the skies.
He also urged the government to come out with a clear policy that would position Nigerian airlines to take full advantage of the open skies.
“Nigerian airlines are at a disadvantage to other African airlines that are largely government-owned and heavily subsidised. For instance, South African Airways got on the average about $350m yearly in the past decade; Kenya Airways got about $600m in 2016, while RwandAir has never published its financial results for over a decade. Yet they will be competing against Nigerian airlines with private finance at 28 per cent,” Meggison stated.
He also pointed out that Nigeria was the only country in Africa with eight entry points, while most of the other nations had only one entry point.
“Nigeria is simply not ready to handle the level of unfair competition that the full implementation of SAATM will bring upon the country.
“ A full implementation at this time will lead to massive capital flight, huge loss of jobs for our youths and mortgaging of our beloved children’s future, as well as a further collapse of the already failing Nigerian aviation system,” he added.
Industry sources, however, stated that there would be no going back on the open skies agreement.
“Once you sign, it is a confirmation that you accept the provisions of the treaty and Nigeria was one of the first 11 countries to sign. We should focus on its benefits. SAATM will help to integrate cultures and businesses, and a lot of countries are already responding by reviewing their visa issuing policies. It will create a healthy competition for airlines too,” one of the sources stated.
Air Passengers Drop as Domestic Airlines Resume Operations
Number of Air Passengers Drop as Domestic Airlines Resume Operations
The number of air passengers dropped despite Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu lifting the curfew imposed to address looting and destruction of properties in the state.
The busiest airport in the country, Murtala Mohammed Airport, resumed full operations on Monday, however, passengers are cautious about flying, especially because of the tense situation across the nation.
Some of the officials of the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria as well as those of domestic airlines confirmed that domestic passenger volume had been on a slow start since they commenced full operations.
Okwudili Ezenwa, the spokesperson for Dana Air, said “We are hoping that by next week, everything should have settled down because right now, people are still trying to be sure of their movements.
“Passengers are being cautious before they come out. So, things have not balanced. People are not leaving Lagos as such from the airport now; rather, they are being careful.”
He added, “In locations where no curfew was announced, other places will still have to feed such locations. So since we have curfews here and there, ultimately it affects areas where we don’t have curfew.
“But we hope everything settles down well before next week.”
Similarly, Stanley Olisa, the spokesperson, Air Peace, explained that even though domestic flight operations had resumed, passengers were still wary of flying.
“Yes domestic flights have resumed out of the Lagos airport but it is something that is only picking up gradually,” he said.
333,000 Artisans: FG Commences One-Time Payment of N30,000
FG Begins One-Time Payment of N30,000 to 333,000 Artisans
The Federal Government on Monday said it has commenced a one-time payment of N30,000 to 333,000 artisans under the Micro Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) Survival Fund.
In a statement issued by Laolu Akande, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Office of the Vice President, disbursements were being done to verified beneficiaries of the Artisan Support Scheme.
The statement read in part, “In the first stream of payments starting today, beneficiaries are being drawn from the FCT, Lagos, Ondo, Kaduna, Borno, Kano, Bauchi, Anambra, Abia, Rivers, Plateau and Delta States. They form the first batch of applications for the scheme submitted between October 1 and October 10.
“The MSMEs Survival Fund scheme is a component of the Nigerian Economic Sustainability Plan, NESP, which was developed by an Economic Sustainability Committee established by President Muhammadu Buhari in March 2020.
“The President asked his deputy, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, SAN, to head the committee which produced and is overseeing the implementation of the plan. “Under the ESP, the Survival Fund is generally designed to among other things, support vulnerable MSMEs in meeting their different obligations and safeguard jobs in the sector.”
Absorb Exited Npower Beneficiaries, N-power Youths Congress Tells FG
Absorb Npower Beneficiaries of Batches A and B, N-power Youths Congress Tells FG
The N-power Youths Congress (NYC) has pleaded with the Federal Government to absorb the 500,000 exited Npower beneficiaries of Batches A and B and pay their outstanding allowances.
The National Coordinator, NYC, Comrade Joseph Enam Maga, stated this in Maiduguri during a press briefing held on Saturday at the NUJ Press Center.
He said thousands of exited beneficiaries are yet to be paid since the month of Match.
He, therefore, called on the Federal Government to offset all the outstanding allowances of Batches A and B and create a permanent job for them.
He said “It is a fact undisputable that thousands of beneficiaries have not been paid since the month of March.
“Promises upon promises have been made on this, but yet no positive result has been recorded. Sometimes I wonder what it takes for the data base manager of Npower to rectify this! Something that can be rectified in a couple of hours has lasted for seven good months now.
“Worst still, this is happening within this period of hunger and starvation because of Pandemic. We call on the minister of humanitarian affairs and disaster management to be human enough to respond to our request and give prompt attention to them.
“We equally wish to bring to the notice of Mr. President that Batch B Beneficiaries have not received their devices as was promised and signed at the commencement of the program.
“It is very sad that up to the disengagement of Batch A and B, nobody has come out openly to tell us what happened to our devices.
The coordinator paused to ask why are Nigerian youths being treated like nobody in their country? What have we done to be neglected like this?
“When the Humanitarian Minister was asked why we were disengaged at this critical time in historical epoch that corona virus is terrorizing the whole world, she responded that we were disengaged because it’s a two years programe that we signed.
“Then comes the question: why did Batch A stayed 4years? And if we signed for two years contract that warranted our disengagement, didn’t we equally signed to be given a device that would help us in our different places of primary assignment and equally increase of knowledge? Please we need answers ma. We need answers.
“We, the 500,000 batches A and B of Npower beneficiaries are calling on our government to respond to our demand. We don’t want to believe that it’s only a state of violence anarchy and doom will make a sane government to listen to her Youth’s grievances.
“Look at the Endsars protest for instance, after many lives have been lost and properties destroyed, our government decided to speak up. Niger delta militants were attended to when they resort to arms.
“The insurgents were given amnesty because of their terrorism. But we the innocent 500,000 graduates have been innocently complaining to our government but they paid deaf ears. We are law abiding citizens and we will continue to be law abiding citizens.
“We want Mr. President to understand that a hungry man is an angry man. We have really endured a lot. We need a quick response to our requests. We can’t be used and dumped like refuse. We refused to be used and dumped”, the National Coordinator added.
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