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Destruction of Enugu Airport Fence: Sirika Promises Full Wrath Of The Law on Perpetrators

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Following the destruction of a long stretch of the perimeter fence of Akanu Abiam International Airport Enugu on Wednesday by one Architect John Emejulu, the Minister of Aviation Hadi Sikira who visited the destruction scene said Federal Government won’t allow the action to go free as it was wilfully done and on purpose.

According to the Minister President Muhammadu Buhari, having looked at the centrality of the Enugu airport and its importance, provided funding for the emergence procurement to rehabilitate the airport, but regretted that “while we were glad that the airport will be opened on 30th August, someone comes from nowhere with bulldozers, with thugs, and destroyed this national asset”.

Minister, emphasizing the importance of the airport said “airports are national security assets. They are no longer just point of landing and taking off for planes and conducting business. We are jealous of these national assets and we are determined to protect it and we will continue to protect them”

Aviation Minister Hadi Sirika leads others to inspect the destruction

Hadi Sirika said “In the course of the delivery there were components of the project which was securing the airport having known its importance as national security assets, a certain individual while the project was ongoing come with touts well-armed and destroyed more than two kilometres of the fencing. He said ‘’ this is certainly unfortunate and unbecoming and has given government opportunity to show how not to wickedly destroyed public assets belonging to two hundred million people’’.

“I’m sure he will regret doing this and of course this is opportunity for government to show that no one can take the law into his hand and wilfully destroyed national assets. As there is a government in place and it is the wrong time to test our resolve, the individual will certainly be dealt with maximally”, the Minister stressed.

Expressing his sadness, the Minister said ‘’It is very sad that because here is the region we are all proud of for entrepreneurship and this airport which will add value to what they are doing to recreate the economy and contribute to national GDP is being sabotaged by a member of the community who claims that airport fence was built on a land belonging to him.

He thanked Mr. President who out of his wisdom to rejig the economic configuration of the country decided to provide funding for the infrastructure at the airport which has been abandoned for decades in order to bring back the glory of the airport to contribute to trade and commerce which is the culture and tradition of the region.

Hadi Sirika said, already Inspector General of Police, Chief of Airstaff and DG, SSS have been directed to do the needful and bring those that have been involved in this kind of arrangement to book.

He however assured that the deliberate attempt to sabotage the good intentions of the government will not affect the planned reopening of the airport by the end of August.

The Minister also commended the Enugu State government, the Nigerian Air Force and other Security Agencies for their commitment and cooperation towards seeing to the completion of the project.

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Aviation

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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Aviation

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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