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FG Approves Resumption Of Domestic Flights, As Fare Hike Expected

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…Allows Inter-state Movement Within curfew Hours..

The Federal Government has approved the resumption of domestic flights in the country and has said a hike in flight fare was inevitable in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic contrary to the Minister of Aviation’s declaration a week ago that there would be no fare increase.

This is as government has also lifted the ban placed on interstate travels with effect from July 1, provided such journeys are made outside curfew hours.

Chairman of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 and Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha, made these known while responding to a question during the daily briefing of the task force in Abuja

Mustapha said those in the aviation sector are in business for profit explaining that with the protocol on social distancing, airlines will be expected to fly fewer number of passengers.

He noted that operators will have to share the cost in view of present situation with their passengers.

Aviation Minister Hadi Sirika with some members of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 during their inspection of the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport Abuja and the Murtala Muhammed International Airport Lagos on Saturday

National Coordinator, Presidential Task Force on Covid-19, Dr. Sani Aliyu had earlier announced domestic flight operations is now allowed to open in Nigeria after a satisfactory assessment of the industry’s readiness for restart.

According to him, domestic operations are allowed to open as soon as practicable but in line with existing international and local guidelines on covid-19.

He emphasized that passengers must arrive the airport 3 hours before flights to observe all the health protocols put in place by the airport authority.

“You must observe social distance, wear a face masks, wash your hands, sanitize it, your luggage must be disinfected, temperature taking and so on.”

It would be recalled that the Aviation Minister Hadi Sirika, on company of some members of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19, and officials of the Ministry of Aviation and the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) and other agencies, conducted a restart simulation at both the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport Abuja and the Murtala Muhammed International Airport Lagos on Saturday where they all expressed satisfaction with the level of preparedness to resume services.

On the lift of the ban placed on interstate travels with effect from July 1, Chairman of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19, Boss Mustapha, disclosed that movement was possible provided such journeys are made outside curfew hours.

Mustapha, who is also the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, disclosed that the latest developments were contained in the task force’s fifth interim report which was submitted to the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), earlier in the day.

Mustapha said, “I am pleased to inform you that Mr President has carefully considered the 5th Interim Report of the PTF and has accordingly approved that, with the exception of some modifications to be expatiated upon later, the Phase Two of the eased lockdown be extended by another four weeks with effect from Tuesday, June 30, 2020 through Midnight of Monday, 27 July, 2020.

“Specifically, however, the following measures shall either remain in place or come into effect:

“Maintaining the current phase of the national response, for another four weeks in line with modifications to be expatiated by the National Coordinator; Permission of movement across state borders only outside curfew hours with effect from 1st July, 2020;“Enforcement of laws around non-pharmaceutical interventions by States, in particular, the use of face masks in public places.”

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Emergency Landing: NAHCON, Max Air Assure of Smooth Continuation of Hajj Movements

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The National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON) has reacted to the near mishap involving Max Air Plane conveying Jigawa Pilgrims to Saudi Arabia which went through emergency landing in Kano.

The aircraft which conveyed 554 pilgrims and 21 crew members had departed the Dutse International Airport at exactly 4:45 pm on Wednesday.

The Boeing B747 5N-HMM aircraft however diverted to the Mallam Aminu Kano International Airport, Kano on emergency landing, few minutes after take-off.

NAHCON in a press statement signed by its Asst Director, Public Affairs, Fatima Sanda Usara, on Thursday acknowledged that a technical hitch affected one of the Commission’s contracted air carriers conveying Jigawa State pilgrims to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for the 2023 Hajj.

“The hitch, which was caused by uncontrollable natural circumstance; turbulence as a result of heavy rainfall, forced the aircraft to land temporarily in the Aminu Kano International Airport in Kano.

“While the occurrence caused an inevitable delay, no doubt, the Chairman of the Commission, Alhaji Zikrullah Kunle Hassan, assures Nigerian pilgrims, particularly those affected by the unavoidable development, that the situation has been well managed and will not derail the movement of pilgrims for the Hajj. At the time of writing this release, NAHCON had already concluded arrangements for rescue operation for any delayed or cancelled flight that would hinder the smooth transportation of pilgrims to Saudi Arabia,” the statement read in part.

The Commission also assured that despite minor challenges, the airlifting of pilgrims has been going on smoothly while some states already have all their pilgrims in Saudi Arabia.

“For Plateau, Benue and Nasarawa states, airlift of their pilgrims have been concluded while other states are recording steady progress as well. It would be recalled that National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON), had increased the number of its air carriers to five this year.

“The operation is going on as planned with back-up measures put in place in case of any unforeseen circumstances. Therefore, intending pilgrims are enjoined to remain in a state of readiness at all times for imminent departure to Saudi Arabia.

“NAHCON will keep the public updated with necessary information on the progress of the operation,” the statement added.

Meanwhile, officials of Max Air have also been speaking on the emergency landing in Kano, saying it is no cause for alarm.

A manager with the Airline, Bello Ramadan, said that the reroute was necessitated by thunderstorm and lightening that struck the aircraft.

“The problem is not as much as the passengers are reporting, some of them are panicking and reporting what did not happen, the airplane’s engine and tires are in perfect condition.

“We have provided an alternative plane to continue the journey, the plane is about fueling, and the passengers are okay, even though some of them are panicking but there is no cause for alarm.

“It was a thunder strike that affected the left side screen, thank God it was mere scratch and not broken and the pilot decided to return. Very soon they will continue with the journey,” Ramandan assured.

By PRNigeria

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Nigeria Air, A Private Business Entity – Sirika

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Outgoing Minister of Aviation and Aerospace, Sen. Hadi Sirika has emphasised that Nigeria Air is not merely a law, but an entity comparable to other airlines.

Sirika, who was speaking during the unveiling and reception of Nigeria Air at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport in Abuja expressed his gratitude and acknowledged the efforts of both the Nigerian and Ethiopian governments in bringing the airline alive again after a prolonged absence.

“We have accomplished our goals without any bias,” he stated. “This infrastructure has been missing in the aviation landscape of our nation. Nigeria Air Limited is an airline that corresponds in size and dynamics to Nigeria’s market, geography and fortune. The kind of infrastructure we are witnessing today under Nigeria Air is precisely what we need.”

Sirika

Sirika clarified that Nigeria Air is an independent entity, separate from Nigeria’s laws and is the result of a partnership between Nigerian entrepreneurs and Ethiopian Airlines. He emphasised that there are no legal restrictions preventing the introduction of developmental projects for the benefit of the Nigerian people.

“It is within our rights to undertake endeavours that promote the general well-being of Nigeria and Nigerians. The aviation sector plays a central role in driving our economy and adding value to the GDP. This remains the government’s focus,” he explained.

Highlighting the growth of aviation in Nigeria, the outgoing minister stated that the industry experienced significant expansion before and even during the COVID-19 pandemic. The number of airlines and aircraft doubled between 2015 and the present.

When asked about the commencement of operations, Sirika responded, “Establishing an airline involves fulfilling certain conditions set by the regulators, namely the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA). Once this aircraft is here, we will initiate a demonstration flight to showcase our capabilities. The duration of the demonstration flight ranges from 0 to 48 hours, but it could be shorter, such as 2 or 5 hours, to demonstrate our capabilities. I trust that the NCAA will take the necessary steps to provide a clear date and time for takeoff.”

He further explained the business plan, stating, “Over the next five years, we plan to reach a fleet of 35 aircraft. It will be a gradual process, with aircraft arriving one after another. If everything goes as planned, by the end of the next five years, we will have achieved the target of 35 aircraft. Nigeria Air is a privately-led airline, with the government holding a 5 per cent stake. Eventually, it will be offered to the public for sale. The Boeing 737 Max is the chosen aircraft model.”

The chief commercial officer of Ethiopian Airlines at Bole International Airport, Lemma Gudete expressed his belief that Nigeria Air will become a billion-dollar company within five years.

“Strengthening ties between these two nations will enhance business relations and people-to-people connections. We are committed to sharing our expertise in aviation and supporting Nigeria’s economic growth. We thank the Nigerian government for choosing Ethiopian Airlines as a reliable partner, as we have consistently stood by the people of Nigeria, regardless of the circumstances,” he added.

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Buhari Renames Airports After Awolowo, Okadigbo, Usman Danfodio, Constitutes Boards of Aviation Agencies

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President Muhammadu Buhari on Friday approved the renaming of some airports after some prominent Nigerians in recognition of their individual contribution to the development of the nation in different sectors.

He also approved the constitution of Boards for the Agencies which are mostly institutional representations in line with the Acts setting them up.

The new development is contained in an official statement issued weekend from the office of Head, Press and Public Affairs Ministry of Aviation, Odutayo Oluseyi.

According to the document, Akure International Airport will now be named Olumuyiwa Bernard Aliyu International Airport; Benin International Airport to Oba Akinzua 11 International Airport; Dutse International Airport to Muhammad Nuhu Sanusi International Airport; Ebonyi International Airport to Chuba Wilberforce Okadigbo International Airport; Gombe International Airport to Brigadier Zakari Maimalari International Airport; Ibadan International Airport to Samuel Ladoke Akintola International Airport; Ilorin International Airport to General Tunde Abdulkari International Airport.

Dr Olumuyiwa Bernard Aliu, former ICAO Council President, has Akure Airport named after him

Others are: Kaduna International Airport to Gen Hassan Usman Katsina International Airport, Maiduguri International Airport to President Muhammadu Buhari International Airport; Makurdi International Airport to Joseph Sarwuan Tarka International Airport; Minna International Airport to Mallam Abubarka Imam International Airport and the Nasarawa International Airport to Sheikh Usman Danfodio International Airport..

Also Osubi Airport has been changed to Alfred Diete Spiff; Port Harcourt International Airport to Obafemi Jeremiah Awolowo International Airport and Yola International Airport to Lamidi Aliyu Mustapha International Airport.

The Boards of the Agencies, as approved by President Muhammadu Buhari are as follows: For NCAA, the Board Chairman is Lai Are, DG NCAA, Capt Musa Nuhu (member ) and member representing Federal Ministry of Aviation and Ministry of Defense.

For FAAN , the Board Chairman is Capt Fola Akinkuotu with Board members representing Federal Ministry of Aviation and Ministry of Defense, Ministry of Tourism and the Nigerian College of Aviation Technology (NCAT). Also there are two persons outside the public service with requisite experience in Aviation. They are Capt Mukhtar Amim and Mr Chris Aligbe.

For NSIB , the Board Chairman is Engr Ezekiel Danboyi Zang; Engr Siraj Andulwahab, Engr Ita Awal, Mallam Nasir Anas, Alhaji Sani Maida; Engr Pantani Esugo; Lawrence Fubara Anga and Engr Akin Olateru, the Director General of NSIB.

NiMet now has Board members as Dr Imoro Kubor (Chairman); Member representing FMA; Ministry of Agriculture and Natural Resources;Ministry of Environment; Ministry of Transportation; Ministry of Power Resources; Dr Adebayo Yinka; Prof Aliyu Umar Tambuwal and the Director General of NiMet, Prof Mansur Bako Matazu.

For NCAT, the board members include: Capt Jonathan Ibrahim (Chairman); representative of FMA, representative of the community, Hajiya Binta Aminu Iya; representative of NCAA; Nigeria’s ICAO representative; representative of Aviation Sector, Engr Bashir Sa’ad; Deputy Rector of College; representative of NBTE; representative of academic board of College; representative of the College elected from the congregation who should be a non-teaching staff of the College and the Chief Executive of the Agency, Capt Alkali Modibo.

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