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Govt Policy, Poor Economy Affect Airline Revenue

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L-R: Senator representing Benue South, Sen David Mark, Gov. Olusegun Mimiko of Ondo State and Sen Saidu Kumo during their meeting at the Akure Airport recently.

L-R: Senator representing Benue South, Sen David Mark, Gov. Olusegun Mimiko of Ondo State and Sen Saidu Kumo during their meeting at the Akure Airport recently.

International and local air
lines operating in Nigeria are facing a tough time as the present government policy to limit the use of first class and business class tickets by Ministers, Permanent Secretaries and some heads of parastatals reduces revenues.
This is sequel to government resolve to effect 20 per cent reduction in air travel expenditure, as the figure of N64 billion expended on travels in 2015 by government officials is considered outrageous.
The Minister of Finance, Mrs Kemi Adesoun who disclosed this to select journalists after a special event hosted by the Lagos Business School (LBS) recently stated that government is determined to embark on cost cutting measures that would involve direct bulk purchase of tickets from the airlines, as government plans to re-position the country’s economy through her ministry as the arrow-head.
Adeosun hinted the efficiency unit in the ministry has recorded some giant strides, including reduction of procurement opaqueness within FGN, providing cost savings guidelines to government, saying that additional innovations like online procurement system for travel, basic goods and other services employing vetted suppliers and a clear accounting as well as approval system will be applied.
However, experts in the aviation sector argue that in spite of these innovations and the ones yet to take off, they may affect airlines revenue, especially foreign airlines which charge an average sum of N2 million on their first class section for trips outside the country.
“I noticed that the first class at the Virgin Atlantic, a few days ago were empty, while the business class and the economy class were relatively full, unlike what we had before now, where the first class is usually full”, a frequent traveller on the Lagos-London routes who craved anonymity, told The Tide Aviation Correspondent.
Our source further disclosed the business class of a British Airways flight was likewise virtually empty about three weeks ago, when he travelled on the airline.
British Airways Commercial Manager, Kola Olayinka told The Tide Aviation Correspondent that though the government policy is affecting airlines, especially international airlines, they have to comply with the policy in good faith and see how best to make revenue to cushion the effect.
“Anything that changes the equilibrium of customers will affect us. But this is a government’s decision and we have no choice in the matter. We have to go back to the drawing board and see how else to re-strategise”, Olayinka said.
Chief Operations Officer, Tropical Arctic Logistics Ltd, Femi Adeniji, a helicopter logistics firm told The Tide Aviation Correspondent that government’s policy on reducing travel expenses is a good step, as it will reduce unnecessary expenditure and wastages and will enable the government to raise funds to addressing more pressing issues in the country.
Adeniji, however, explained that if the airlines involved are able to re-strategise properly the effect might just be minimal, “The first class and business class are minimal to the economy class. The business people can still travel first class if they have the money and value the advantages accrued to flying first class”, Adeniji said.
In the same vein, experts in the aviation sector say the current forex policy of government and resulting shortage have caused an unparalled increase in airfares from Nigeria to other countries and the effect may stunt the growth of the industry.

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Commission Unhappy With Expansion Work At Imo Airport

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Fiscal Responsibility Commission (FRC) has expressed dissatisfaction with the level of work done at the ongoing expansion of the Imo Airport Apron project in Owerri.
Director, Policy and Standard of the commission, Mr Alex Elikwu raised the concern last Tuesday when he led a team from the commission and Ministry of Aviation to inspect the phase two and three of  ongoing expansion of the Airports Apron project.
Elikwu said he was not satisfied with the level of work done, considering the amount of money released for the contract.
He said: “We are not satisfied with what we are seeing here today; it fell short of our expectations because out of the N 677million contract sum, a total of N560million has been released to the contractor which constitutes 82 per cent of the total sum.”
According to the director, the quality of the job done so far also fell short of standard.
He also raised worry over the contractor’s absence during the inspection after he was duly informed by the airport manager of their visit.
“We want the ministry of aviation to ensure that the contractor justifies money given to him by the federal government.
“His absence will create a lacuna in our inspection because we need to ask him some technical questions and get direct answer from him but right now that he is not here with us, we will do our report and make recommendations to government,” he said.
The director also expressed regrets on the condition of the runway noting that the spotted potholes made the airport runway fell short of internationally accepted standard.
Elikwu said that this called for urgent attention.
The Airport Manager, Rejoice Ndudinachi said the Apron expansion was an abandoned project when she took over management of the airport.
“This project was abandoned when I came in but I insisted that the contractor must come back to site due to flight increase operations in the airport.
“I don’t supervise the contractor, directly but the ministry of aviation; I also informed him that inspection team from the presidency will visit the site so I don’t know why he is not here,” she said.
The airport manager also appealed to the federal government to help connect the airport to national grid, adding that since she came in, she had been running the airport on a generated power supply.

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FG Promises To Collaborate With IFATCA On Air Safety

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The Federal Government has pledged to collaborate with the International Federation of Air Traffic Controllers Association (IFATCA) and other relevant stakeholders in the aviation industry in a bid to ensure continuous safety and seamless air navigation in Nigeria.
The Minister of Aviation, Sen. Hadi Sirika, who disclosed this during a regional stakeholders forum on air safety in Abuja, yesterday, noted that there has been a deliberate and aggressive efforts by government in the area of manpower training in the aviation industry.
He said that government was prepared to partner with the international body of air traffic controllers in a bid to ensure safe skies both in Nigeria and globally.
Sirika noted that the job of an air traffic controller was both crucial and critical to the overall safety of air travel, pointing out that government in realisation of this, was determined that air traffic controllers are proficient in their job.
According to him, a total of 86 air traffic controllers have been trained and deployed under his watch, while 46 are being trained at the Nigerian College of Aviation Technology in Zaria, adding that another set of 40 air traffic controllers trained by the Kano State government have been absorbed into the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA).
The aviation minister also said that part of efforts to make the job of air traffic controllers more efficient and less cumbersome was the earlier deployment of Automatic Dependant Surveillance / Controller Pilot Data link Communication.
He said that this equipment had been deployed both in Kano and Lagos area control centres, and promised that government would implement the agreement reached at the forum.
He pointed out that IFATCA remains a critical stakeholder in the global aviation family.
He urged the air traffic stakeholders to intensify efforts on achieving unbroken air safety within the region and beyond, adding that this requires collaborative efforts across the borders to ensure seamless, safe and efficient air navigation.
The minister, however, noted that the Africa and Middle East region which has more than 15 per cent global population contributes marginally to the global air travel, saying the time has come for the region to put its act together and take up the challenge.

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FAAN Moves To Curb Pollution At Airports

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The Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) has said that efforts have been intensified to curb pollution at the airports so as to make them safe and healthy.
The Managing Director of FAAN, Capt. Rabiu Yadudu, disclosed this yesterday while speaking to newsmen on curbing pollution emission at airports, in Lagos.
He noted that environmental management studies/environmental audits carried out in all the airports in Nigeria showed that the amount of air pollution arising from the airport operations were all within acceptable limits of the World Bank and federal ministries.
“At the Murtala Muhammed Airport, we are taking a study of carbon emissions and we found out that there are four levels in reducing carbon emissions.
“We are almost through with the first level which is mapping. We have taken statistics and got data of emission that has to do with electricity generating sets and all that. We are keying to that at the airport , we have also completed that of the Abuja airport.
“In our own part in the airport, we have tried to stop the use of pure water and also to discourage water bottles, plastic containers.
“A lot of things have been put in place to reduce plastic usage at the airports. Within our environment, we are also encouraging paper bags instead of plastic and nylon littering in the whole environment “, Yadudu said.
The FAAN boss also explained that air pollution was caused by various gaseous pollutants arising from human developmental and industrial activities and with disregard for best practices with respect to emissions management.
Yadudu reiterated the importance of collaborating with relevant agencies to develop the state action plan for implementation for carbon offsetting and reduction scheme for international aviation in Nigeria in order to ensure a safe and healthy environment.
He also added his voice to the global environment body to identify challenges of air pollution emanating from different human activities.

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