From the maintenance of its aircraft in-house, the Federal Government has saved over $800,000 (N228 million) as Nigeria’s flag carrier airline, Aero Contractor, said it handled the repairs of its two Boeing 737- 500 by deploying its facilities. Besides, the airline, which is at the verge of stabilisation, has equally extended its technical capacity to other airlines. Disclosing this to New Telegraph at the weekend, the Managing Director of Aero Contractors, Capt. Ado Sanusi, said that the in-house maintenance of its aircraft saved the airline over 60 per cent of the cost of doing same maintenance overseas. Aero’s first successful Ccheck on a Boeing 737-500 aircraft late last year has become a game changer for the aviation industry.
The development will save local carriers at least N9.2 billion from the N36 billion operators spend yearly taking their airplanes overseas. The slash (N305 million per aircraft) offers a lifeline to struggling airlines. And with repairs done locally and paid for in naira, pressure would be eased off foreign exchange. A C-check is a complex exercise that strips an airplane bare for detailed inspection of most of its parts and lasts three to eight weeks. Commercial planes are mandated to undergo the procedure every 18 months.
The absence of a functional Maintenance Repair and Overhaul (MRO) facility in the country, at least in the last 17 years, was responsible for between N14.3 and N28.6 billion being spent by local airlines on yearly repairs overseas. Speaking on efforts to bring back six of the airline’s grounded aircraft, the airline chief disclosed that there were six airplanes owned by the carrier.
His words: “We have managed to bring back two. We managed to get rid of two of them. We had a meeting today with Jeraco to finalise the last two. We have three aircraft; two are operational, one is under C-check. One is coming in from France in the next four weeks. “I believe that towards May, we shall have four aeroplanes fully functional. We are going to bring them back into the country.
We will condition them and ferry them back into the country. We have three aircraft; two are operational, one will be operational in the next three weeks and one is under C-check now and one is coming in from France in the next three, four weeks. We should have four aircraft operational, three Boeing and one Q3- 400,” he added. Asked if venturing into MRO won’t be a distraction to the carrier, Sanusi stated that it was not, describing it as it is complimentary.
“Why I said so is this. I have an airplane that needs maintenance and I have maintenance organisation. That was what I was saying at the conference. Because I have built my infrastructure based on the maintenance organisation not based on number of aircraft, so, I would have a lot of staff that would be redundant if the airplane is only one or two. But if I now put them to work for third parties, they would make money and they are kept in employment, meaning that my airplane would be serviced all the time.
It is actually complimentary and not distraction.” Sanusi stated that Nigeria would be saving a lot of foreign exchange, time and creating jobs by repairing their equipment in the country, stressing that it would also help by contributing to the economy. “I just gave 70 Nigerians jobs. Next week or next month, by the time we now solidify six C-checks that we know that will happen in a year, I will give 40 more work to people. If I know that in the entire year am going to have 12 C-Checks, I can take up to 120 engineers and they work 24/7. That means I am creating jobs to people and contributing to the economy of the nation,” he added.
Tincan Customs chief to implement 48-hour cargo clearance
Customs Area Controller (CAC), Tin Can Island Port Command, Musa Baba Abdullahi has reiterated the command’s unshaken commitment to achieve 48hour cargo clearance from the port without compromising revenue collection and national security.
The customs chief said efforts are being put in place to maximise benefits of technology and build the command’s manpower to meet with the growing challenges of modern trade.
While addressing maritime journalists in his Apapa office, Musa identified swift dispute resolution as a key component to facilitate trade. He said the command has put in place a faster mechanism to address any area of disagreement in interpretations of guidelines for duty collection and other related matters.
He added that a committee put in place for disputes resolution meets as soon as any dispute arises to avoid port users incurring costs caused as a result of delays in resolving such disputes.
According to him, there is a quicker process of bringing issues to his attention and contacting the headquarters where necessary to avoid delays associated with such disagreements. He said the command has stepped up efforts at keeping officers and relevant stakeholders abreast with the use of technology for the purpose of customs operations.
The Controller disclosed that senior officers and licensed customs agents are being trained at the command’s Information Communication Technology (ICT) Centre on the latest Nigeria Customs Information System (NICIS 2) in batches.
Musa said the training and retraining of customs personnel and stakeholders will continue with a view to getting as many persons as possible knowledgeable in the workings of the system.
He also stressed the need for all stakeholders to increase their levels of compliance with rules and improve on their knowledge as ways of achieving seamless flow of trade thereby achieving faster clearance of goods from the port.
The Controller also advised the maritime media to uphold the ethics of their profession and be fair and truthful in all they do.
Early rainfall to boost Nigeria’s cocoa mid-crop
Nigeria’s mid-crop cocoa output for 2017/18 could rise by 15 per cent from last season, helped by a mix of rainfall and sunshine in the main growing regions which has helped the trees, President of Cocoa Association of Nigeria (CAN) Sayina Riman said in a recent interview with Bloomberg.
Drought cut last season’s mid-crop harvest by 40 per cent. The dry weather continued into the main crop of the new season.
Riman said the drought affected the trees, reducing output of between 300,000 tonnes and 320,000 tonnes projected at the beginning of the 2017/18 season.
He said that early rains in March and April have helped boost the mid-crop, which could see the season’s output close at around 290,000.
Riman farms on a 170 hectare cocoa plantation in Nigeria’s second-biggest region of Cross Rivers.
The cocoa season in Nigeria runs from October to September, with an October-to-February main crop and a smaller light or mid-crop that begins in April or May and runs through September.
“Despite the drought of last year which affected cocoa we believe we would be close to 290,000 tonnes for 2017/18 season,” Riman told Reuters.
The International Cocoa Organisation (ICCO), however, gives much lower estimates of Nigerian cocoa output. It forecast last season’s production at 225,000 tonnes.
Riman did not give a reason for the discrepancy. Nigerian government production figures are also significantly higher than ICCO estimates.
Nigeria has recently emerged from recession and a currency crisis which caused a chronic dollar shortage, forcing exporters to under-invoice their goods in order to use the foreign exchange black market to get premium for their hard currency.
The action caused the West African country slip to the sixth producer of cocoa in the world at the peak of the crisis. Riman said Nigeria was getting back to number four grower as exporters now use the official currency markets.
Riman said Nigeria was working on improving its bean quality especially with renewed demand from Europe.
However, bean count, a measure of the number of beans needed to produce 100 grams of cocoa, reached as high as 140 for the main crop.
Rising Nigerian bonds drags yields down
Nigeria’s local-currency bonds are on a roll, rising for the last eight days and driving their yields below Turkey’s for the first time in more than two years.
The average rate on Nigerian government bonds has fallen around 400 basis since an August-peak to 13 per cent. Yields are now 100 basis points below the Central Bank of Nigeria’s benchmark interest rate of 14 per cent, where its been held since July 2016.
Investors have piled into the naira market thanks to slowing inflation, a stable currency and rising Brent crude prices, which climbed about 25 per cent in the past six months to more than $70 a barrel. In contrast, they’ve turned bearish on Turkey, which has the worst-performing local bonds in emerging markets this year, because of accelerating inflation and loose monetary policy.
Central Bank Governor, Godwin Emefiele, may be tempted to commence his long-touted easing cycle and help revive the economy that has faltered since the 2014 oil crash. While that would reduce the attractiveness of naira assets, Nigerian yields are still high relative to other major emerging markets. Aside from Turkey, Argentina and Egypt’s bonds are the only ones to yield more in the Bloomberg Barclays EM Local Currency Index.
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