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Onyema, Demuren, Akinkuotu, Mbanuzo   Task FG On Financial Intervention For Airlines

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… Massive Investment In Technology Also

As the Nigerian aviation industry continues to grapple with the ravaging effect of COVID-19 pandemic, critical stakeholders in the aviation sector have called on the Federal Government to assist airlines financially by way of making it possible for them to access zero or single digit interest loans as well as invest massively in infrastructure development, most specifically in technology to achieve the best result in the sector now and post Coronavirus.

They made the call today at a virtual online  conference with the topic , “COVID – 19: The Challenges and Opportunities for Nigeria’s Aviation Value Chain During and Post COVID -19”, organized by Aviation Safety Round Table Initiative (ASRTI), a  group of aviation professionals.

Speaking, Chairman, Air Peace, Allen Onyema called on the Federal Government to intervene financially, adding that the workforce in the sector is critical to the economy.

Hadi Sirika
Aviation Minister

This is just as he supported the investment in technology,

He pointed out that airlines are the worst hit, adding that the challenges have become much that apart from other means, ‘airlines are looking up to government for assistance.

According to him, “We are not asking for free money or to buy aircraft, we have to present our case. My paramount concern is the workforce, we have over 3, 000 staff, their livelihood is in danger, we need to do everything possible to protect jobs, we need money to pay salaries not buy airplanes.

He continued, “Every airline needs to think out of the box, we are rolling out some measures to encourage passengers to fly. There are so many things we cannot do on Zoom meetings, but just as we defeated 9/11 menace, we will defeat Covid-19.″

On his part, Former Director General of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), Dr, Harold Demuren said that government should support airlines in the country and at the same time invest in infrastructure development.

“We also talk about economic stimulus, access to FOREX and sustainable interest rates,” he added .

Dr Harold Demuren
Former DG, NCAA

The former NCAA boss stated that there was need for agencies and airlines to enlighten the travelling public on the need for passengers to know that when they get to the airports and onboard airplanes, they are safe.

He pointed out that the biggest competition is now comes from online meetings, adding that to make aviation attractive again, there is need to embrace technology and invest in other infrastructure that will make the sector boom again.

In his words, ‘How do we make passengers trust us again that they can fly. The biggest competition is now between online meeting and the sector. We have now see that those meetings they go for in Abuja and London can now be done online.  Most business travellers go for these meetings and their companies pay for them, how do we get them back? How do we handle family vacation, I have seen online Weddings, they need to be assured of safety.  Religious tourism is still with us but it may not be the same number.”

Allen Onyema
Chairman, Air Peace

“We have seen that online can be in 3D form, the President did Federal Executive Council meeting online recently, Governors’ forum same. So we have a great challenge ahead of us, we need to improve ourselves in the sector like the banking sector has greatly improved technologically. Airlines have not improved with technology, we can’t continue on this level we are now and we are supposed to be a high-tech sector. By now, we should be able to do almost everything that has to do with a flight on our phones. We should be able to book for flights, buy tickets, process boarding g on our phones so that contact with people will be minimised, “ he added.

Accountable Manager, Dana Air, Obi Mbanuzo posited that NCAA has given out a very concise document and that airlines are ready to abide by the protocols.

Nigeria, he contended needs to look inward in terms of training, adding that Simulator training can be done locally if government equips the only training school in Nigeria with Simulator.

“We have been dependent on training abroad; may I advocate that airlines or government can get Simulator in Nigeria for themselves to reduce cost of re-currency. There must also be cooperation among airlines, mergers may not be the way forward because of different goals but in the area of Aero – politics and passenger aggregation, we have to cooperate so that customers don’t suffer. Why can’t Dana Air sell Akure ticket to passengers for other airlines, I believe we are up to the challenges. We overcame SARS and 9/11, we will overcome this”, he said .

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Relief For Dubai Travellers, as UAE Succumbs To Nigeria’s Conditions

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* Emirates resumes Services June 23rd

After months of despair, relief may have come the way of travellers on Lagos/Abuja-Dubai routes as the United Arabs Emirates (UAE), on Saturday, succumbed to Nigeria’s position on COVID-19 travel protocols and relaxed its COVID-19/travel requirements for Nigerians.

As a result, Emirates airline has said it will resume lifting passengers from Niger on June 23, 2021.

A twitter message from the Dubai Media Office said passengers from Nigeria are expected to have received a negative result for a PCR test taken within 48 hours before departure.

It added that passengers are also expected to present a negative PCR test certificate with a OR code from laboratories approved by the Nigerian government, while also undergoing the same test upon arrival at the Dubai airport.

The two countries had been at loggerheads, and have suspended flights, over travel requirements for travellers as part of measures to contain COVID-19 spread.

The country’s airline, Emirates Airline had directed that Nigerian travellers at the Lagos and Abuja airports must conduct rapid COVID-19 tests before departure. This led to a ban on Emirates flights in Nigeria. The ban was lifted after the airline agreed to stop the rapid antigen tests.

But the federal government reintroduced the ban on March 15, explaining that Emirates had continued to conduct rapid antigen tests for passengers before departure from Nigeria.

Meanwhile, an Emirates airline spokesperson in Lagos said: Emirates welcomes the latest protocols and measures announced by Dubai’s Supreme Committee of Crisis and Disaster Management to allow the safe resumption of passenger travel from South Africa, Nigeria and India to Dubai and onwards. We look forward to facilitating travel from these countries and supporting various travelers’ categories. We will resume carrying passengers from South Africa, Nigeria and India in accordance with these protocols from 23rd June. We thank the Supreme Committee for their continuous efforts in monitoring the development of the situation and announcing the appropriate guidelines and protocols to protect the community and safeguard travel sector.”

(With reports by Travelport)

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Hopes Rise For Vaccinated Travelers In Europe, But Global Restart Still Stalled Says IATA

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The International Air Transport Association (IATA) said it has welcomed the relaxation of COVID-19 border measures for vaccinated passengers, and the broader use of affordable antigen testing adopted by Spain and France this week. This is tempered by ongoing disappointment at the failure to implement harmonized measures across Europe and deep frustration at the lack of coordination among governments worldwide for a data-driven risk-managed approach to re-establishing the freedom to travel.

As of 7 June, Spain opened its borders to most vaccinated travelers from around the world and allowed EU travelers to enter the country with a negative antigen test. Furthermore, passengers coming from low-risk countries (including the UK) can enter without any restrictions, IATA said.

IATA also added that from 9 June France opened to vaccinated travelers from all but those countries assessed as “high risk”. Vaccinated travelers from “medium-risk” countries will need to provide proof of a negative COVID-19 antigen or PCR test, and unvaccinated people must still self-isolate for seven days.

“It’s encouraging to see more European countries taking steps to reopen borders. They recognize the opportunity created by vaccination and are making travel more affordable with the use of antigen testing. But this approach is not universal across the continent. Many European states have yet to significantly relax borders at all. This fragmentation should be replaced with a unified approach that is consistent with the recommendations of the EU to which they belong. People, businesses and economies would all benefit from greater alignment across Europe in relaxing measures and restoring the freedom to travel,” said Willie Walsh, IATA’s Director General.

A consistent approach across Europe is required if the EU Digital COVID Certificate is to be implemented effectively by 1 July. And around the world, governments need to allow digital certificates to be integrated in passenger applications such as IATA Travel Pass, in order to relieve pressure on airports and at borders from more complex passenger processing as the number of travelers ramps up.

IATA Urges a More Global Approach

These moves by Spain, France and other European states are a step in the right direction, but restoring global connectivity requires far more than regional or individual state initiatives. The G20 endorsed a data-driven approach to managing the risks of COVID-19 while re-opening borders. The upcoming G7 Leaders’ Summit on 11-13 June provides an important opportunity for these governments to use their leadership to kick-start a data-driven coordinated approach to re-establishing global air connectivity, IATA stated.

“Connectivity needs countries at both ends of the journey to be open. Many of the world’s largest air travel markets, such Australia, China, the UK, Japan, and Canada remain essentially closed with no clear plans to guide a reopening. Data should help these and other countries to introduce targeted policies that keep populations safe while moving towards a normality in world with COVID-19 for some time to come. The G7 has an opportunity later this month to set a risk-managed framework for re-establishing the freedom to travel in a way that is both affordable and practical. It’s critical that they take up the challenge,” said Walsh.

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NIGERIA RECORDS ANOTHER MILESTONE, AS NIMET GRADUATES GAMBIAN TRAINEES

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Senator Hadi Sirika with the Gambian President HE Adama Barrow during the Minister's visit

The Federal Government through Nigerian Meteorological Agency (NiMet) will continue to support Gambia and other needy nations in the training of meteorological technicians to highlight the importance attached to the contribution of meteorology to sustainable socio-economic development, as well as safety of citizens.

The Honourable Minister of Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika stated this at the inaugural graduation ceremony of middle level meteorological technicians trained by the Nigeria Meteorological Agency (NiMet) held in Banjul, The Gambia.

He noted that “Aviation is a serious business with critical safety requirements and socio-economic impacts. Hence, personnel working on this sector must be highly skilled and competent”.

A statement by the Director, Public Affairs, Ministry of Aviation, James Odaudu quotes the Minister as saying that one of the instruments of the partnership was through the World Meteorological Organization Regional Training Centres and affiliated training institutes which W.M.O. encouraged member countries to close the gap through increased cooperation and collective partnership such as the ongoing one between Nigeria and Gambia.

Hadi Sirika disclosed that the Niigerian Meteorological Agency (Nimet) has done this due to huge support from Federal Government of Nigeria through the Ministry of Aviation via robust budgetary provisions. As most of the operational funding for the Agency were derived from allocation from the contributory service basket provided to the Aviation Industry by the Agencies under the ministry.
Sirika gave kudos to the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) fir championing and supporting countries to effectively engage in Public Private Partnerships (PPP).

“This is because the future of service provision and user interface should effectively move from a linear type of value chain to an interactive environment where systems, data, solutions, and end users are iteratively engaged, and users are contributing significantly toinformation management and weather & climate service-level products. These will contribute to capabilities towards meeting global targets of the sustainable development goals”.

“This vision is realisable where regular meetings with vulnerable sectors to promote interaction and strengthen the provision and utilisation of meteorological services exist. As a strategy to further strengthen the expansion of weather and climate services to vulnerable sectors and the user community, NiMet therefore realizes that partnerships and engagement with the private sector cannot be overemphasized”.

The Nigerian Government, the Minister said, has the appropriate Legal Framework that enables the NiMet to participate in collaborative and effective Public-Private-Engagements (PPEs).

“In the phase of dwindling revenue by Governments worsened by the COVID￾19 pandemic, the importance of PPE cannot be overemphasised. Once, Trust has been established with appropriate legal document such as Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) that is clear on the role of individual parties and sharing formula of all expected benefits, PPE is the way to go. This is another area; Nigeria can be of help”.

He equally commended the Government of The Gambia for taking the initiative to conceive the concept that led to the graduation ceremony, and the Minister of Fisheries and Water Resources for making excellent arrangements to ensure the success of the capacity development initiative.

“The presence of dignitaries here today is a testament to the critical value of the training programme and its impacts on the people and the developmental process in The Gambia. This goes to highlight the importance attached to contributions of meteorology to sustainable socio-economic development, as well as safety of citizens
of this great Country”

Senator Sirika, Prof Matazu (DG NiMet) and other members of the Nigerian delegation during a courtesy visit to President Adama Barrow in Banjul

On his part, the Minister, Ministry of Fisheries and Water Resources, Gambia Hon. James Furmus Peter Gomez, commended the Federal Government of Nigeria, saying the training partnership will further strengthen the cordial and fruitful bi-lateral ties that exists between the Department of Water Resources and NiMet and by extension the two countries.

“The challenge of improving the resilience of communities to climate vulnerabilities, risks and disasters is a key element in the strategies and solutions envisioned by the Government of The Gambia, as stated in the National Development Plan(NDP) as well as in both the Agriculture & Natural Resources and National Climate Change Policies. While the answer seems to be the existence of dedicated structures with an organizational system, the provision of adapted sectoral services to cope with extreme weather and climate risks is becoming increasingly important”

He added that Gambia authority noted the efforts Nigeria was making towards the capacity development of its personnel in fundamental aspects of meteorological observations and forecasting, as well as quality management system, all geared towards meeting the standard set by WMO and ICAO.

“On behalf of the Government and People of the Republic of The Gambia, I once again extend our sincere appreciation and gratitude to the Government of Federal Republic of Nigeria for the bi-lateral assistance it has been rendering in many ways to help improve the standard of the Meteorological servicesin The Gambia. We particularly note the efforts you have been making towards the capacity development of our personnel in fundamental aspects of meteorological observations and forecasting, as well as quality management system, all geared towards meeting the standard set by World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO)”.

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