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Minister: Air transport pact execution begins next year



Minister of State for Aviation, Hadi Sirika said the Single African Air Transport Market (SAATM) would take a year or two for full implementation. He disclosed this to New Telegraph in Lagos.

The minster urged Nigerian airline operators to key into the policy rather than grumbling over what he said would bring prosperity to the African continent. He explained that Nigeria was among the first 11 countries that endorsed the Yamoussoukro Decision and took a decision to open the skies for Africa sector and liberalised the industry.

He reiterated that the full execution of the pact means more jobs, development, security and more connectivity, adding that arising from that, Nigeria is a signatory to the pact.

The African Union Commission launched the first AU Agenda 2063 Flagship project, the Single African Air Transport Market (SAATM), in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, on January 28, 2018 as a historic event at the African Union Summit, nearly two decades after the adoption of the 1999 Yamoussoukro Decision.

Sirika stated that aviation industry currently supports eight million jobs in Africa and hence SAATM was created with the aim of enhancing connectivity, facilitating trade and tourism, creating employment, and ensuring that the industry plays a more prominent role in the global economy and significantly contributing to the AU’s Agenda 2063.

His words, “The single African air transport market became an issue and Nigeria is among the 23 countries to make that solemn declaration on single aviation market and Nigeria with its population of about 173 million people will be the greatest beneficiary. By the time Nigeria was pushing for it, you and I know that we had Nigeria Airways and we thought we would take advantage of that. Now that we don’t, for one reason or the other, our airlines have not grown to such capacity”.

“We should set in motion a robust carrier that will take the advantage of this single African market to the benefits of the Nigerian people.

I believe we are on the right course believing that these private sector driven airlines become a dominant carrier in Africa because the market is in Nigeria.

“Nigeria is at a vantage position. Nigeria’s travel almost for nothing. If you talk of advantage, Nigeria is at a very vantage position to take advantage of this SAATM. As soon as it is signed, implementation begins. It will take one to two years to be operational”, he added. The minster carpeted the country’s carriers for their poor health, stressing that he was not sure they were financial healthy.

His words, “ I am not sure they are financially healthy. NCAA to my knowledge are conducting audit round the airlines at the moment and I am sure the result is not something we want to go the press with.

They refused to grow and the challenges are not government caused. It is their own making. Very soon, there will be a stakeholders meeting where themselves will be present”. He explained that the stakeholders’ meeting would afford him and the carriers the opportunity to dialogue on the situation they found themselves.

The minister stated that he would make them get their acts to focus, to re-organise, re-engineer and take advantage and be futuristic.

“They need to look at the bigger picture and bigger pie and organise themselves to take advantage of SAATM rather than to seat here while the train is moving”, he added.

On the huge debts owed by airline, the Minister disclosed that a particular airline owes one of the agencies N13 billion, adding that another had its operations grounded as a result of debts running into over N500 billion, which necessitated the Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON) taking it over.

He however, gave assurance that no airline would be allowed to pile up debts again because of the belief that the debts could be written off because of the people airline operators know at the corridor of power.

“Since it is over time and it was in those years of impunity that must be changed.

Those things were allowed but under this administration, it is not going to happen at all – to allow them to continue to owe debts and someone allows the debts to be waved off. No airline can call the Villa. There is no door or window that is opened in the villa for any entrepreneur to break the law and go there and get it resolved. He cannot come to the office of the Minister of DG NCAA with unclean hands to get anything resolved”.

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Long road to new terminal completion



Nigerians have long waited for the completion of four of the new airport terminals. WOLE SHADARE writes that despite many assurances, the completion date remains uncertain



Fresh hope
Last week, the Managing Director, Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), Saleh Dunoma gave assurance that the new airport terminals at the Lagos and Abuja airports would be commissioned July 2018.
He said that the Ministry of Aviation and Federal Capital Territory are working on integration of the Abuja light rail project with the terminal when completed.
Dunoma stated these at an interactive session with journalists at the Murtala Muhammed Airport, Lagos.

Dashed hope?
Thrice, FAAN had promised to deliver the project for use, thrice the promise had gone unfulfilled because of circumstances surrounding the project, which range from citing the facility in Abuja airport wrongly, blocking the control tower and other structural defects that are being rectified.
Dunoma’s assurance would have elicited joy among airport users and stakeholders. But that seems not to be as the latest assurance makes it about the third or fourth time that a target date would be set for the completion of facilities that started in 2014 but yet to be completed.
Dunoma, it would be recalled last year, said the two terminals in Abuja and in Lagos will come on stream because these are where we are experiencing upsurge in traffic.
“So since we have the same contractor handling the five terminals, we are asking the contractor to concentrate on Lagos and Abuja for now. When they are completed it will alleviate some issues as far as traffic growth is concerned in these two airports. Now, the other effort that we are making to get them on stream in good time is to make sure that other technical issues that are affecting or that will affect the operation of the terminal building are quickly handled.”

Brick wall
The $500 million terminal buildings in Abuja, Lagos, Port-Harcourt and Kano Nigeria were said to have stalled in their initial plan of completion of the facilities in 18 months, but lack of coordination by the last administration, coupled with delay in Nigeria’s little financial commitment led to delay, according a source who is conversant with the entire project but pleaded that his identity be shielded.
Since 2015, several completion dates had been set for the terminals’ completion for the Lagos and Abuja aerodrome, being the two airports with the biggest passenger traffic.
While the Abuja facility has reached 80 per cent completion stage, that of Lagos is said to be within 75 and 80 per cent stage.
Nigeria and China had, five years ago, signed a $500 million loan pact for the construction of the four new international airport terminals in Abuja, Lagos, Port-Harcourt and Kano.
The 20- year, 2.5 per cent interest loan for the project has a grace period of seven years before payment.
The other three locations for new terminals are Lagos, Port Harcourt and Kano. Chinese construction giant, China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation (CCECC), which is handling the contracts, gave assurance that it would deliver the four new terminals in March 2015.

The project was expected to have been completed a year ago, but Nigeria’s default in paying her own counterpart funding had delayed the project.
The loans reflect the deepening economic ties between oil-rich Nigeria and China, which already is involved in building major roads and railway projects in the country.
Last November, members of the Joint Aviation Committees of the country’s Senate and House of Representatives, who inspected the airport, expressed satisfaction with the on-going work at the new terminal and have assurance to air travellers that the facility would be ready for use by next year.

Senator Adamu Aliero, who led the team, said: “The ministry is already aware of the power and water challenges and I think that they are doing something about it. Once they bring it to the notice of the legislature, we will do the needful and give them the necessary support, because we need this building to be put to use immediately after completion.
Aliero confirmed that the building is 80 per cent completed and what is left to be done is the finishing and the pieces of equipment to be used are already on ground.
He said: “The project manager also said that the control tower and fire station have to be relocated and that is why they are giving us till next year. If those things are relocated, maybe we will inaugurate it earlier than the end of next year.”
Chairman, House of Representatives Committee on Aviation, Nkeiru Onyejiocha, at the inspection of aviation facilities with her committee last year, stated that with the snail speed at which the project is going on, she doubted if the contractor would be able deliver the project to the Federal Government in December 2016 as earlier planned, urging the contractor to make haste so as to meet the deadline.

Facilities in airport terminals
Nigeria urgently needs to work speedily on the completion of the terminals to ease congestion at the ones in use that are overstretched.
Most of the airport terminals in Nigeria have inadequate and poorly maintained cooling systems. Whenever the airport is jam-packed, you see people sweating. Passengers have collapsed on several occasions while waiting at the arrival or departure terminals. Most airports make use of standing fans instead of air conditioners and many of the toilets at the airports are in horrendous conditions.

Airports infrastructure
Nigeria has 26 airports, 22 are owned by the federal government and managed by FAAN, which is actually a huge mark in the aviation sector because several African countries don’t have these number of airports.
However, the major challenge in the sector is the lack of maintenance and no developmental policy to help improve the sector. Most of the airports lack the basic equipment and facilities such as passenger facilitation equipment like flight information display system, perimeter fencing, adequate fire cover and airfield lighting. It is worth noting that without airfield lighting, airplanes cannot land in an airport at night.
The greatest achievement FAAN record this year when it will open the five new terminals at the Lagos, Abuja, Port Harcourt, Kano and Enugu airports.
According to FAAN management, it is expected that when the terminals would come on stream there would be increase in passenger movement by 25 per cent in the next three years.

Last line
So it is projected that there would be overall passenger traffic from the current 15 million per annum to 22 million and international passenger traffic will increase from the current 4.2 million to seven million.

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Cronos Airline launches direct P’Harcourt-Accra flights



…introduces discounted fares


Cronos Airlines has launched Malabo-Port Harcourt-Accra flights in a bid to offer its passengers more options and strengthen its presence on the West Coast.
The Port Harcourt-Accra service is introduced one year after the airline entered the Nigerian market with Lagos-Douala-Malabo flights, a statement from the career said.
The new service, due to commence March 16, 2018, will operate twice weekly on Mondays and Fridays, and comes with special discounted fares across cabins.
According to a statement, business and pleasure travelers will have the opportunity to access the three oil-rich countries of Equatorial Guinea, Nigeria and Ghana with style and in an uninterrupted manner. The flights will connect passengers in a direct flight between Malabo, PH and Accra.
Cronos Airlines said with the new PH-Accra flight, it was bringing to bear its upscale service by giving passengers the best of flight services.
“This flight will give intending passengers opportunity to enjoy world-class in-flight services, on-time departure, peace of mind and efficient connectivity. This is regardless of whether an intending passenger is on business or pleasure trip,” the statement said.
Chairman of Peacock Group, Aare Segun Phillips. Ladded: “Our interest is to connect people by air to every destination. We want to facilitate business and pleasure and enhance economic growth in Nigeria and Africa in general. We have been moving business travellers and tourists comfortably and efficiently to all our destinations. This new Port Harcourt –Accra service presents a unique opportunity for us to continue to excel in that regard.”
To ensure seamless travel for intending passengers, Peacock Aviation, Cronos Airlines’ Passenger Sales Agent in Nigeria, he said, has opened modern ticketing offices across major cities in the country. These include ticketing offices at Peacock Lagos Mainland Travel Centre, Peacock Lagos Island Travel Centre, Peacock Port Harcourt Travel Centre and Peacock Aba Travel Centre.

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Is biofuel still alternative to Jet A1?



With skyrocketing cost of Jet A1, is biofuel still considered an alternative to aviation kerosene? WOLE SHADARE asks


Virgin Atlantic lead the way
February 26, 2018 marks the 10th anniversary of the first demo flight on biofuel, which was executed by Virgin Atlantic.
Since that day, over 100,000 commercial flights have used low carbon fuels.

This is especially amazing since in 2006 when experts were told over and over that biofuel flight would never be possible commercially; with many saying, “we aren’t gonna fly anything other than kerosene”.

To date, the industry has focused on reducing greenhouse gases mainly by reducing overall fuel usage and increasing fuel efficiency through new plane technology and operational improvements.
Aviation fuel is central to the operations of an airline, as it constitutes between 35-40 per cent of an airline’s cost. The price of the commodity – laden with taxes – in the West African sub-region, is the highest in Africa.

Cost of Jet A1 in Nigeria
While the specialised fuel is sold for about $2.30 cents per gallon in Nigeria, $2.30 in Benin and $1.94 cents per gallon in Cameroon, it is sold for close to $3.14 cents in Ghana, which also produces oil. In Luanda, Angola (also an oil producing country), it costs $3.75 per gallon; Libreville $2.05 per gallon; Khartoum, Sudan $2.44 per gallon.

It is no longer news that aviation fuel, until recently, dealt a huge blow to the aviation industry in Nigeria. Aside the scarcity of the commodity, price of Jet A1 has also skyrocketed to an all-time high of between N220 and N260 per litre from N140 per litre that prevailed two yeara ago.

This situation is giving airline operators sleepless nights as Jet A1 gulps over 35 per cent of their revenue at a time fares have remained static or at best increased by less than five per cent, coupled low income of many Nigerians that have seriously affected the travel patterns of Nigerians.

Aviation fuel costs more in Nigeria and other oil producing countries than their counterparts that do not produce oil.
For instance, in Nigeria, despite the stability in the lifting of aviation fuel across the country and the deregulation of the commodity, JET A1 is considered very expensive.
Vice-President for Africa, International Air Transport Association (IATA), Raphael Kuuchi, said recently that on the average, they notice that fuel price is 21 per cent more expensive in Africa than the world average.
He lamented that in most of the oil producing countries; aviation fuel is mostly expensive, adding that it is baffling.

The alternative
If airlines in the continent and particularly in Nigeria are groaning, isn’t it time for them to explore alternative to the reliance on Jet A1. Biofuel readily comes to mind as alternative source of energy for airlines, but how realistic is this for Nigerian carriers and the aviation industry in the country?

Nigeria is yet to develop the level where biofuel can be as alternative to the ethanol type of fuel considering that there are no research and preparation into that field of technology. If the airlines are to import biofuel, will it be cheaper than biofuels?
If the answer is in the contrary, it becomes nonsensical for the operators to rely on it. Would passengers be willing to travel by air if they find out that aircraft are being powered by fuel from plants or wood waste?

Making biofuels at large, commercial scale is difficult and dozens of companies have gone belly up trying. The logistics of securing a steady, cheap supply of whatever the fuel is to be made from can take years. Financing a plant is expensive because lenders know the risks and demand generous terms.
A sharp drop in the price of crude oil has made competing with traditional fuels on price more difficult. Aside the cost implications for carriers, airlines are seriously considering the option to reduce gas emission.

Aviation biofuel is a biofuel used for aircraft. It is considered by some to be the primary means by which the aviation industry can reduce its carbon footprint. After a multi-year technical review from aircraft makers, engine manufacturers and oil companies, biofuels were approved for commercial use in July 2011. Since then, some airlines have experimented with using of biofuels on commercial flights.

The focus of the industry has now turned to second generation sustainable biofuels (sustainable aviation fuels) that do not compete with food supplies nor are major consumers of prime agricultural land or fresh water.

Aviation biofuel is a biofuel used for aircraft. It is considered by some to be the primary means by which the aviation industry can reduce its carbon footprint. After a multi-year technical review from aircraft makers, engine manufacturers and oil companies, biofuels were approved for commercial use in July 2011. Since then, some airlines have experimented using biofuels on commercial flights.

African airlines take the plunge
How popular is this concept for African airlines? It’s no secret that commercial aviation is not all that great for the environment. And while some airlines are better than others in reducing their carbon footprint, advances in the industry have taken time. Hoping to do their part, South African Airways recently completed a flight using biofuels from nicotine-free, energy-rich “Solaris” tobacco plants cultivated by farmers in South Africa’s Limpopo Province, which borders Botswana, Zimbabwe and Mozambique.

The one-way flight, operated on July 15 from Johannesburg to Cape Town, carried 300 passengers and used 6,300 liters of biofuel. It is a turning point for Project Solaris, a partnership between biochemists Sunchem SA, jet-maker Boeing, fuel specialists SkyNRG and South African Airways.

“This is very significant as it proves we can use this biofuel,” Ian Cruickshank, South African Airways Group Environmental Affairs Specialist, said.
“It shows the industry is really changing. Four or five years ago biofuel was seen as futuristic, and today it’s here.”

Last line
The call for biofuels is resonating all over the globe, occasioned by the number of global fliers. It is expected to more than double in the next two decades. In order to carry all those extra passengers, airlines are turning to a technology a very few can make work on a large scale: converting trash into fuel.

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