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HADI SIRIKA RECEIVES AWARD OF EXCELLENCE IN PUBLIC SERVICE

The Honourable Minister of Aviation, Sen. Hadi Sirika has received the ‘Excellence in Public Service Award 2019’ given by the Businessday Newspaper in Abuja.

Director General of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority, Capt Musa Nuhu receiving the Business Day award on behalf of the Minister

According to the newspaper, the award was based on the outstanding performances of the Hon. Minister and was determined through painstaking selection process which saw the emergence of the award by the newspaper’s award committee.

Among the achievements of the Minister which qualified him for the award, as listed by the organisation, included; the rehabilitation of the Abuja airport runaway, the certification of the Murtala Muhammed International airport , Lagos and the Nnamdi Azikiwe International airport Abuja by the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO).

Other achievements, according to the newspaper, are the completion and commissioning of the terminal buildings of Murtala Muhammed International airport Lagos, the Nnamdi Azikiwe International airport Abuja, the soon- to- be- commissioned Mallam Aminu Kano International airport Kano, and the ongoing rehabilitation of the Akanu Ibiam International airport Enugu.
Receiving the award on behalf of the Hon. Minister, the Director General, Nigerian Civil Aviation Authourity (NCAA), Captain Musa Nuhu said the award was in recognition of the Minister’s achievements being recorded in aviation sector under his leadership.

It will be recalled that the barely a week before the Business Day awards, the Aviation Minister was also honoured by the Independent Newspapers as its Minister of the Year.

The newspaper had listed, among other things, the ongoing implementation of the Aviation Sector Roadmap developed by the Ministry of Aviation under his leadership, the impeccable safety and security record of the Aviation industry in Nigeria which has won the nation global recognition and awards.

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Airline Operators Suspend Planned Withdrawal of Flights

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The body in two statements issued between Friday last week and today, hinged their decision on the high cost of aviation fuel popularly called Jet A1 at N700 per liter.

The decision to suspend the planned flight disruption according to the AON is government assurance to wade into the matter with a view to finding lasting solution.
“AON hereby wishes to notify the general public that the earlier announced shutdown of operations on May 9, 2022 is hereby suspended in good fate (sic) pending the outcome of hopefully fruitful engagement with government”.

Before the suspension over five airlines had renounced their participation in the planned disruption of flight operations tomorrow.

Reacting to AON’s suspension, the Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika in a statement applauded the body for heeding government’s call.
He says, the Ministry has always made conscious efforts to assist members of the Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON), some of which includes facilitating a meeting between the Association and Mr. President, during which the Association got several concessions, including duty-free importation of aircraft, engines, spare parts and components.
“It should also be recalled that members of the Association were also considered for, and given Bail-out funds to the tune of N4 billion during the COVID-19 pandemic to ensure that they remained afloat.  This was without prejudice to the fact that most of them were heavily indebted to Aviation agencies (as they still are)”.

The statement which was signed by the Minister’s Special Assistant on Public Affairs, Dr James Odaudu added that, in the past efforts were made to ensure the operators get forex to cater to their operations from the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN as well as on the vexed issue of aviation fuel.

“The Honourable Minister at various times personally took members of the Association to engage with Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to sort out issues of access to Foreign Exchange (FOREX) for their operations, and also the NNPC to exploit ways of ensuring the availability of Aviation fuel (JET A1) through importation or from the major Marketers”.

The Minister also assured foreign airlines operating in the country that all logistics and services for their operations remain in place as usual and that no disruptions whatsoever should be envisaged.
He added that, as a government, reiterated it commitment to the continued growth of the aviation industry where airlines and other service providers operate in a profitable and competitive environment.

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Flight Shutdown: We’ve Never Abandoned Airline Operators- Aviation Ministry

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…. Commends Some Airlines for Opting Out of Planned Action

In reaction to the insistence of the Airline Operators of Nigeria to carry out the threat to withdraw flight services from Monday, the Ministry of Aviation has explained that it has always acted to protect the interests of their members, even as it has clarified that the Association was not planning a strike against government.

The position of the Ministry was contained in a statement by the Special Assistant to the Minister of Aviation, Dr James Odaudu released to newsmen Sunday evening.

Full text of the statement:

“From the time the Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON) issued notice of withdrawal of flight services as a result of rising cost of Jet A1 (Aviation fuel), and in spite of the initial statement by the Ministry detailing efforts to address the knotty issue while soliciting more understanding from AON, enquiries have continued to flood in with some under the erroneous impression that the planned withdrawal of flight services was directed against the government.

“We wish to state that the decision of the Association is purely a business one as they are private businesses reacting to market forces while appealing for government interventions to enable them carry on with their operations.

The Ministry has always made conscious efforts to assist and promote the operational interests of AON, some of which includes facilitating a meeting between the Association and Mr President, during which it got several concessions, including duty-free importation of aircraft, engines, spare parts and components.

“The Honourable Minister at various times personally took members of the Association to engage with Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to sort out issues of access to Foreign Exchange (FOREX) for their operations, and also the NNPC to explore ways of ensuring the availability of Aviation fuel (JET A1) through importation or from the major Marketers at affordable prices.

“It should also be recalled that members of the Association were also considered for, and given Bail-out funds to the tune of N4 billion during the COVID-19 pandemic to ensure that they remained afloat. This was without prejudice to the fact that most of them were heavily indebted to Aviation agencies (as they still are).

We believe that members of the Association are patriots who have continued to bear the brunt of unfavourable global oil market dynamics for which we salute their doggedness.

“It is gratifying that members of the Association have started reviewing the decision to withdraw flight services from tomorrow, with Ibom Air, Green Africa Airlines, Arik, Dana and some others having given indications that they will carry on with their normal flight schedules. We hope and believe that a few hesitant members will consider the dire implications of the planned action for businesses and individuals and review their decision likewise.

We also wish to assure foreign airlines operating in the country that all the requisite logistics and services for their operations remain in place as usual and that no disruptions whatsoever should be envisaged.

“As a government we reiterate our commitment to the continued growth of the aviation industry where airlines and other service providers operate in a conducive, supportive and profitable business environment.

“We therefore, call on the members of AON to commit to undisrupted flight services nationwide while the Ministry of Aviation, with other relevant stakeholders, continue with ongoing efforts at finding a lasting solution to the perplexing issue of aviation fuel availability and affordability, in the overall interest of the industry and the economy at large” the statement concluded.

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Sirika Appeals to Airline Operators to Shelve Plans to Shut Down Operations

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Minister of Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika has appealed to members of the Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON) to shelve plans to shut down their operations from Monday,  even as engagements are ongoing to resolve the problem of aviation fuel scarcity.

Sirika who made the appeal in a statement by his Special Assistant on Public Affairs, Dr James Odaudu, assured that the Buhari administration remains committed to the development of the aviation industry in a way that creates an environment of competitiveness and profitability for the airlines.

“As the Ministry charged with the management of the industry, we are greatly concerned about the difficulties being faced by the airline operators in the country in procuring aviation fuel which has resulted in spiraling costs in Air transportation in the immediate past” the statement said.

“We also acknowledge that the airline operators are in the business to make profits, while servicing the very critical sector that is not only the preferred mode of transport for most Nigerians, but also the main international gateway to the nation.

“Unfortunately the issue of fuel supply is not within the purview of the Ministry and so the much it can do in the present situation is to engage with agencies, institutions and individuals in positions to provide succour to the airlines. This is already being done by the relevant team led by the Honourable Minister.

“While the efforts to assuage the situation are on, we wish to appeal to the airline operators, even in the difficult situation, to consider the multiplier effect of shutting down operations, on Nigerians and global travellers, in taking their business-informed decisions and actions.

“We also assure Nigerians, especially stakeholders in the sector, that the Buhari administration remains stoic in its commitment to the creation and sustenance of an environment that promotes the growth of the aviation industry where major players like the airlines can operate in a profitable and competitive market”

Members of the Airline Operators of Nigeria had on Friday expressed their inability to continue operations, going by the high cost of Jet 1 which according to them, accounts for about 95% of their operating costs.

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