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IMPOSITION OF VACCINE PASSPORTS FOR AIR TRAVEL NOT IN AFRICA’S INTEREST, AFRICAN MINISTERS OF AVIATION TELL ICAO, SAY THE PROPOSAL IS AGAINST CHICAGO CONVENTION

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African Ministers of Aviation have described the much-touted proposal to impose vaccine passports for air travelers as unacceptable as it is tantamount to discrimination against certain groups of population, especially on the African Continent which still has considerable number of its citizens who are yet to receive the vaccines.

They also described the proposal as going against the intent of the Chicago Convention on the need to preserve friendship and understanding, reduce threat to general security and establish international air transport based on equal opportunity, operated soundly and economically.

A statement by Dr James Odaudu,  the Director of Public Affairs,  Ministry of Aviation said the African Ministers Delegation’s position was made known on Wednesday in a presentation to the ongoing International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) High Level Conference on Covid-19,  by Nigeria’s Minister of Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika.

Rather than imposing vaccine passports, the African delegation recommended that States party to the Convention on international civil aviation should continue to minimize the risks during travel by ensuring compliance with existing multinational treaties, international frameworks, guidelines, and recommendations.

Sirika, on their behalf, also recommended that Human rights, regional/continental/global health security, economic growth, social cohesion, and good international relations, and use of innovation and technology worldwide to harmonize requirements should be promoted, while transmission of critical information across borders related to public health issues such as COVID-19 and coordination among key players should also be considered.

Senator Hadi Sirika
Minister of Aviation, Nigeria

He also stated that African nations frowned at States imposing unilateral measures of global nature related to public health and asked such states to refrain from such practices and instead take measures that would facilitate the reopening and reconnection of the world.

“There is a clear onus on both public and private stakeholders, to take full measure of the dire circumstances now facing the air transport sector, and to ensure sufficient operational sustainability. These actions are critical to make sure that the world is adequately reconnected, as aviation plays a critical role in the global economic recovery and achieve the realization of the goals of both AU Agenda 2063 and UN Agenda 2030 for sustainable development”.

On the general strategies for recovery, Sirika said: “the global distribution of emergency and humanitarian supplies including the vaccines will no doubt depend on an economically viable aviation system. Aviation is also capable of stimulating recovery and growth of global economy by acting as an enabler and multiplier of economic activity”.

“Considering that the global aviation industry operates as an interconnected ecosystem, it is therefore imperative that all the States of the world implement the ICAO Council Aviation Recovery Taskforce (CART) recommendations and guidance, which are based on the latest development of the COVID-19. ICAO, in collaboration with relevant stakeholders, is required to bring to maturity in short term a consensual modality for establishment and deployment of a global health passport as well as the specification of infrastructure (soft/hard) and training of professionals”.

“As well captured by the Preamble of the Convention on International Civil Aviation (Chicago Convention, 1944), there is an important need to develop international civil aviation to preserve friendship and understanding, reduce threat to general security and establish international air transport based on equal opportunity, operated soundly and economically.

“It is worth noting that the WHO Strategic Advisory Group of Experts on Immunization (SAGE) Roadmap for Prioritizing use of COVID-19 Vaccines in the Context of Limited Supply, acknowledges that there is still a limited supply of vaccines and puts forward seven key assumptions regarding vaccines. This further strengthens the fact that vaccines are still not widely available to all world regions, particularly Africa”.

“It is also important to note that the African Union-led initiative of Safe Reopening of Borders to Save Lives, Economies and Livelihoods in Africa has conducted detailed work including a call to action that recognizes that the COVID-19 vaccine rollout will be uneven in all its Member States, while conscious of the progress made in science on the same’.

He also disclosed that two continental joint meetings of African ministers responsible for health, ICT and transport have been so far organized, with the second joint meeting rolling out the African campaign Against COVID-19: Saving Lives, Economies and Livelihoods endorsed on 20 August 2020 by the Bureau of the Assembly of the African Union Heads of State and Government with chairpersons of the Regional Economic Communities of the African Union.

The meetings, according to him, charged African countries to work together towards harmonizing travel entry and exit requirements, and to increase mutual recognition and cross-border information exchange for enhanced surveillance.

“It is worthy to also note that at Regional level Nigeria hosted on the 17th of March 2021 Nigeria hosted a virtual High- Level Ministerial meeting on Enhancing Air Transport Connectivity and Growth in West Africa. The event, which was organized with support from International Partners for Aviation Development, Innovation and Sustainability, (iPADIS) ICAO Dakar Regional Office and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) was meant to reimagine, revitalize and retool the aviation system in region to meet present and future challenges, within the contest of the impact of COVID-19 pandemic”.

According to Sirika, the outcome of this high-level Ministerial meeting in Nigeria, which also reassessed the role and contribution of civil aviation to the region’s economic growth, social progress, and integration, as well as the overall sustainable development, was the development of a Plan of Action.
He therefore called on ICAO to support the African region in the implementation of this Plan of Action.

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Aviation

NIMET RECEIVES ISO AWARDS FOR AERONAUTICAL METEOROLOGY AND CAPACITY BUILDING

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The Nigerian Meteorological Agency (Nimet) has been awarded the quality management services ISO 9001: 2015 and ISO 29990: 2010 for aeronautical meteorology services at the airports and capacity building at its regional training centre in Lagos.

A statement by the Special Assistant to the Minister of Aviation, James Odaudu stated that the certification award,  which is valid for one year, follows the successful completion of the 2022 maintenance audit process.

Presenting the ISO certifications to the Minister of Aviation Senator Hadi Sirika, the Director General of Nimet, Professor Mansur Matazu said the certification will promote the relevance and visibility of the agency in Nigeria, and Nigeria in the international community.

Professor Matazu presenting one of the awards won by NiMet to the Minister

He told the minister that “the International Standard Organization (ISO) requires that all services providers and training institutions in the world should subject themselves to periodic auditing to qualify for issuance of the appropriate certificate. This is to ensure effectiveness and excellence in the quality of service rendered to all relevant clients”.

“Based on that Nimet invited ISO through CERTECH for the certification exercise by subjecting its service across the nation’s airports and regional training centre in Lagos to a rigorous audit process” he said.

The Director-General appreciated the Minister and the Federal Government for providing the resources, guidance and support that enabled the agency to successfully attain the certification. He pledged that with continuous support, the agency will remain committed to achieving excellent service delivery.

Reacting, the Minister congratulated the agency for the great feat it has achieved.

He said the credit for the achievement goes to the present administration that provided all the support needed resources to Nimet to ensure effective service delivery and well-trained meteorologists as well as meteorological technicians.

Sirika promised to formally present the awards, and those won by other agencies of the Ministry, to President Muhammadu Buhari at a convenient time.

According to him, the planned presentation to the President is to appreciate his unalloyed support for the Aviation sector and to know that the support has been yielding dividends.

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FEC Approves N707 Million For Aviation Accident Investigation Equipment

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The Federal Executive Council has approved N707. 9 million for the procurement of investigation tools for the Accident Investigation Bureau of the Nigerian Aviation Sector.

The Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika made the disclosure while briefing State House Correspondents at the end of Wednesday’s Cabinet meeting, chaired by President Muhammadu Buhari.

He said the tool, when procured,

Aviation Minister, Senator Hadi Sirika (file photo)

would aid investigations, whenever an aircraft is involved in an accident in any part of the country.

“The memo was for the deployment of an investigation tool by the Accident Investigation Bureau (AIB). That tool permits the AIB to be able to record going-ons in flights; God forbid, should there be a need to investigate an accident, or a serious incident and the tool will help them to do so.

“That procurement is in the sum of N707, 962, 854. 83, an equivalent of 1, 506, 285.70 Euros, inclusive of 7.5 percent value-added tax at the Central Bank’s exchange rate of N470 to a Euro, with a delivery period of 11 months,” he stated.

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Nigeria Air: FG Approves Lease of 3 Aircraft

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The process for the establishment of a new national carrier, Nigeria Air, got a boost on Wednesday with the Federal Government approving the lease of three aircraft for initial operations.

According to the approval by the Federal government,  the national carrier would begin operations with domestic routes the aircraft to .be procured from Airbus and Boeing

A statement by the Special Assistant on Public Affairs to the Minister of Aviation James Odaudu said the Minister, Senator Hadi Sirika, made the disclosure while briefing journalists after the Federal Executive Council (FEC)  presided over by President Muhammadu Buhari.

Sirika announced that the airline would begin with domestic routes, then expands to regional and intercontinental routes. He was not specific with the actual date for the take-off of the airline operation.

On the likely date  for the commencement of operations Sirika said the announcement will be made soon. “We will announce commencement soon,”

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