NiMet,TAHMO Ink Agreement On Network Expansion Of Weather Stations

Mohammed Shosanya

The Nigerian Meteorological Agency (NiMet), has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the Trans-African Hydro-Meteorological Observatory (TAHMO), a non-governmental agency, to expand NiMet’s network of weather stations across Nigeria.

A statement on Wednesday by NiMet said that while signing the MoU on behalf of NiMet, the Director General, Chief Executive Officer of NiMet, and Nigeria’s permanent representative with World Meteorological Organization (WMO), Professor Charles Anosike said;
“On behalf of NiMet, I am proud to be associated with the TAHMO project. NiMet wishes to further the engagement by extending it to the marine sector as well”.

Els Veenjoven and Prof. Ahmed Balogun signed on behalf of the TAHMO project.

FAAN Strategizes On Improved Airport Operations

Mohammed Shosanya

The Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN),is working on strategies to bring about innovations and upgrades that would lead to improvement in airport operations and management.

Mrs Obiageli Orah, Director, Public Affairs and Consumer Protection, FAAN, disclosed this when she received the new executives of the League of Airport and Aviation Correspondents (LAAC) in Lagos.

According to her, FAAN had gone through changes with the upgrade in the Directorate of Public Affairs and Consumer Protection, creation of Special Duty and the Cargo Development Services, among others.

She explained that the changes were all geared toward meeting global standards in the management of airports under FAAN.

According to her, the vision of President Bola Tinubu is contained in the Renewed Hope Agenda.

She reasoned that this underscored the vision of the Minister of Aviation and Aerospace Development, Mr Festus Keyamo (SAN), to create new directorates that would ensure that travellers are offered the best services across airports in the country.

She added:“FAAN has gone through tremendous changes in the past few months.We have added some new directorates to the existing ones; I will start with my directorate which is public affairs and consumer protection.

“It is relatively a new one because we had corporate affairs but now christened public affairs and consumer protection.

“We also added a directorate of cargo development and services which deals with everything regarding cargo and hajj operations.

“We also have a special duty directorate, one I will describe as an interventionist directorate that helps the agency intervene in any situation as the case may be,” she said.

According to her, the authority’s managing director and other directors are all poised to ensure Nigerians get the best.

She commended the minister’s vision for FAAN, noting that it would engender the desired growth and global competitiveness the industry strived to achieve.

Orah said that passengers passing through the airports deserved better, after paying taxes, buying tickets and all that.

“We feel and know that they deserve the best. So, that is why security, safety and comfort of all our passengers are paramount to our operations,” she said.

Orah also assured pilgrims that there would be changes in how FAAN handled hajj operations in the airports.

She said that a new system would be employed to ease movement of passengers and goods and address long queues that pilgrims experienced in the past.

The newly elected LAAC Chairman, Mr Suleiman Idris, who led the new team, pledged the support of the association in achieving the vision of the new administration.

He said that they would play their part in turning the fortunes of the country’s aviation industry around.

NCAA Warns Domestic Airline Operators Over Poor Service

Mohammed Shosanya

The Acting Director General of the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA),Chris Najomo,has read riot act to domestic airline operators, expressing displeasure at the alarming reports of incessant delays, flight disruptions, and schedule changes without adequate notice to passengers.

He reiterated the need for airlines to improve their services as the Honourable Minister of Aviation and Aerospace Development, Mr. Festus Keyamo (SAN) is determined to enforce his 5 point agenda as mandated by the president.

He stated that the current record of flight disruptions, poor customer experience and poor handling of passengers is unacceptable and must be improved upon.

He said that airlines must rejig their flight scheduled to match their number of serviceable aircraft and that airlines are all aware of the airports which have sunset operations.

He added:”Airlines must consider scheduling flights into sunset airports early in the day so as to minimize cancellations as a result of airport closure at sunset”

He emphasized that NCAA will ensure that airlines fulfil their obligations to passengers or face sanctions.

“Airlines must handle persons with reduced mobility properly, with dignity and without discrimination as airlines are mandated to provide facilities for the movement of Persons with reduced mobility and by virtue of the provisions of Nigeria Civil aviation regulations part 19, airlines are required to provide on their ticket portal a mandatory field for special needs assistance and require their agents to actively ask customers during ticket purchase if they will require assistance” he reiterated.

He maintained that “it is no longer business as usual as errant airlines will be sanctioned appropriately without fear or favor” noting that NCAA has stepped up its surveillance to monitor compliance with a view to fish out violators.

He reemphasized that the Authority will not relent in its commitment to ensuring pleasurable travel experience and comfort for air transport passengers. The Airlines present committed to work on all issues raised and make adjustments where necessary.

Forex Backlog:CBN Clears Payment of All Verified Claims By Airlines

Mohammed Shosanya

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), has cleared the backlog of foreign exchange owed foreign airlines in the country.

The Acting Director of Corporate Communications at the CBN, Mrs. Hakama Sidi Ali, who confirmed the payment,said the apex bank has concluded the payment of all verified claims by airlines with an additional $64.44 million to the concerned airlines.

In a statement,she noted that the apex bank cleared with the latest amount paid to the airlines which brought the total verified amount paid to that sector to $136.73 million.

She added that all the verified airline claims had now been cleared.

She said,the Governor, Olayemi Cardoso, and his team were doubly committed and would stop at nothing to ensure that the verified backlog of payments across all other sectors was cleared and confidence was restored in the Nigerian foreign exchange market.

She assured that the CBN was working with stakeholders to ensure liquidity improves within the forex market, thereby reducing pressure on the Naira.

Expressing optimism that the market would respond positively with the latest injection of over $64 million, she admonished actors in the foreign exchange market to guard against speculation as such actions could hurt the Naira.

She urged the public to support the reforms in the foreign exchange market, adding that the CBN would continue to promote orderliness and professional conduct by all participants in the Nigerian Foreign Exchange Market to ensure market forces determine exchange rates.

FG Promises Increased Support For Local Airlines

Mohammed Shosanya

Minister of Aviation and Aerospace Development, Mr Festus Keyamo SAN, has declared that the Federal Government of Nigeria would always support Nigeria’s Airlines to grow and flourish as well as break new grounds in order for them to remain in business.

Keyamo stated this on Friday while holding discussions with the management of NORSE Atlantic Airways led by its CEO, Mr Ben Boiling in London,United Kingdom.

A statement by the Ministry’s Head of Public Affairs,Odutayo Oluseyi,on Saturday in Abuja,said the discussions centered on the partnership of NORSE Atlantic Airways with the leading Nigeria’s domestic carrier, Air Peace Airline. NORSE Atlantic Airways is a major carrier in the UK and Europe.

“The Minister at the meeting gave credence to the spread of Air Peace on regional and international routes, and stated that NORSE Atlantic Airways partnership with Air Peace Airline is the right step in the right direction.”

He emphasised that one of his Key Performance Indicators [KPI] and presidential directive was ensuring the growth and development of Nigeria’s domestic airlines, as Aviation is one of the key components of the Renewed Hope Agenda trust of the current administration under the leadership of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, GCFR, in reviving Nigeria’s economy.

Mr Boiling on his part thanked the minister for being part of the discussions and that NORSE Atlantic Airways was ready to start the partnership with Air Peace Airline the moment the final authorisation is granted to Air Peace Airline for the commencement of direct flights into Gatwick Airport in London from Lagos, Nigeria.

Nigeria Aeronautical Authority officials from the Ministry of Aviation and Aerospace Development and the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority [NCAA] were in London to discuss with the officials of Department for Transport of the UK on how to surmount the issue of slot allocation to Air Peace Airline to fly into Gatwick Airport in London. Also at the meeting were top executive management team of Air Peace Airline led by its Chief Operating Officer, Mrs. Oluwatoyin Olajide and Ms Nnenna Onyema, Executive Director.

Since securing its authorisation to fly into the UK, after satisfying allbb the requirements, the issue of slot allocation at Gatwick Airport has been the major obstacle preventing the Airline from commencing the direct flight into London.

Though, the officials of the Department for Transport at the meeting made it known that the Government of the UK had no authority over allocation of slots at the eight primary airports in the UK, they agreed to raise the concern of the Federal Government of Nigeria to the relevant authorities on the three major issues presented on behalf of Air Peace Airline which were- the staggering departure time; restrictive turn around time; and approval for the 2024 summer schedule. It is hoped that the fall out of the meeting would achieve its purpose to enable Air Peace Airline to commence its flight operations into the United Kingdom, which Nigerians have been yearning for.

Officials of the Nigerian Aeronautical Authority at the meeting were Capt. Chris Najomo, Acting Director General of NCAA; Mr Hassan Ejibunu, Director, Air Transport Management of the Ministry of Aviation and Aerospace Development; and Mrs Olayinka Babaoye-Iriobe, Director, Air Transport Regulations of NCAA.

Ibadan Excursion: NCAA Suspends Mattini Airline’s Aircraft

Mohammed Shosanya

The Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) has suspended the operations of the PNCF of Mattini Airline Services Limited with immediate effect over the Ibadan runway excursion involving its Challenger CL 601 aircraft, with registration marks N580KR at Ibadan Airport on Friday.

NCAA said it has also commenced an economic investigations into the operation of the aircraft viz-a-viz the terms and conditions of the PNCF as detailed in its Annexure

According to NSIB, the aircraft, with 12 passengers and three crew members onboard was en-route Ibadan from Abuja the incident occurred. .

The aircraft, on final approach to landing Runway 22, Ibadan Airport overshoot the runway.

A statement signed by Michael Achimugu,Director, Public Affairs and Consumer Protection of NCAA on Friday night reads in parts;
“While the NSIB is conducting the safety investigation, the NCAA has initiated an economic inquiry into the operation of the aircraft viz-a-viz the terms and conditions of the PNCF as detailed in its Annexure.

“In the meantime, and in accordance with Sec 32 (4) of the Civil Aviation Act 2022, the NCAA has suspended the PNCF of Mattini Airline Services Limited with immediate effect.

“The suspension will subsist until determination is made that the conditions of the PNCF have been adhered to.

NCAA has further initiated a safety and economic audit of all private jet operations in Nigeria.
NCAA wishes to assure the travelling public of its utmost commitment to safety and the entrenchment of global best practices.

“Mattini Airline Services Limited holds a valid Permit for Non-Commercial Flight (PNCF).In line with statutory provisions, the Nigerian Safety Investigation Bureau (NSIB) has launched an investigation into the occurrence.”

Also, confirming the commencement of investigation into incident in a statement on Saturday in Abuja, Director Public Affairs and Consumer Protection
NSIB,Mrs Bimbo Olawunmi Oladeji said;” The Nigerian Safety Investigation Bureau (NSIB) has been notified and commenced investigation into a serious incident involving a Challenger 601-3R aircraft with Nationality and Registration Marks N580KR operated by Mattini Air which occurred at about 1055am (Local Time) on 26th January, 2024.

“The NSIB has deployed a Go Team to investigate the incident. As the investigating agency, NSIB needs and hereby solicits for your assistance. We want the public to know that we would be amenable to receiving any video clip, relevant evidence, or information any members of the public may have of the serious incident; that can assist us with this investigation.

“The Bureau will appreciate that the general public and press respect the privacy of the people involved and NOT assume the cause of the serious incident until formal report is released.

” The Bureau will release the preliminary report as soon as possible.”

Tinubu Fires FAAN,NAMA Bosses

President Bola Tinubu has approved the suspension, removal, and replacement of some Chief Executive Officers under the Federal Ministry of Aviation and Aerospace Development:

Those affected includes Managing Director of the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), Mr. Kabir Yusuf Mohammed removed from office and replaced with Mrs. Olubunmi Oluwaseun Kuku as the substantive Managing Director of the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria.

The Managing Director of the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA), Mr. Tayib Adetunji Odunowo was removed and replaced with Engr. Umar Ahmed Farouk as the substantive Managing Director of the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency.

Others are;Director-General of the Nigerian Safety Investigation Bureau (NSIB), Engr. Akinola Olateru also sacked and replaced with Mr. Alex Badeh Jr. as the substantive Director-General of the Nigerian Safety Investigation Bureau.

The Director-General of the Nigerian Meteorological Agency (NIMET), Prof. Mansur Bako Matazu replaced with Prof. Charles Anosike as the substantive Director-General of the Nigerian Meteorological Agency.

The Rector of the Nigerian College of Aviation Technology (NCAT), Capt. Alkali Mahmud Modibbo removed replaced with Mr. Joseph Shaka Imalighwe as the Acting Rector of the Nigerian College of Aviation Technology (NCAT), pending the appointment of a substantive Rector, in accordance with Section 13(2) of the Nigerian College of Aviation Technology Act, 2022.

The restructuring also affected the Director-General of the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), Capt. Musa Shuaibu Nuhu who got suspended from office to enable the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to conduct an unfettered investigation into the activities of the suspended Director-General and other senior officials in the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority. Capt. Chris Najomo assumes office as the Acting Director-General of the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority immediately.

Tinubu also approved the commencement of a diligent process to be conducted by the Minister of Aviation and Aerospace Development to recruit a substantive Vice-Chancellor and other principal officers of the African Aviation and Aerospace University (AAAU).

The President said he anticipates that the new leadership across this critical sector will uphold the safety, convenience, and comfort of the Nigerian people as primary and sacrosanct in all of their administrative activities.

Due to the high cost of underperformance in the sector, the President demands the immediate establishment of world-class policy design, implementation, and regulatory frameworks to reposition the sector in alignment with his Renewed Hope Agenda.

Keyamo Threatens To Name Airlines Guilty Of Canceled Flights

Mohammed Shosanya

The Minister of Aviation, Festus Keyamo, had assured that a list of airlines that delayed or canceled flights will be published in the media on a weekly basis as part of a compensation scheme .

He also said that regulators of the aviation sector will begin to compel airlines to compensate passengers for delayed or canceled flights by January 2024.

He disclosed this on Tuesday when he appeared before the Joint National Assembly Committee on Aviation to defend his ministry’s budget for 2024 fiscal year.

He said: “I have called the customer’s satisfaction commission regarding the treatment of Nigerians. In fact, I have gone back to the committee, that is how much I am concerned.

“And I have said at the last address that I gave during our stakeholders meeting in lagos and our retreat in Warri. I said on a weekly basis, please publish the list of airlines that they do not fly as at when due, canceled flights, delayed flights, how many hours it was delayed, were there compensation, actions they took as regulator against these airlines. We are starting that in January.”

He proposed that a discount should be deducted from the flight tickets of airlines that delayed passengers as part of the compensation.

“For every delay, there is a report, an actual report by the regulator, what did they do? Did they pay compensation?

“And if they didn’t pay compensation we have said that the other way to get compensation if they can return cash is that once the passenger is buying the next ticket it must be given a rebate.

That passenger must be given a 50 percent rebate or 40 percent rebate because they must be a rebate”.

On the concession of the Airports, Keyamo said the best option to develop Nigerian airports is through concessions to investors.

“Private Partnership must come to the fore. It is not even negotiable, we don’t have the funds to do so.

“In concession , we will give the people what we want , not what they want. We have to decide what we want. It is the nature, the quality of the concession that all of us will agree on.

“We want to go ahead but I want everyone of us to sit down , look for the best hands, we should go to the end of this world to look for the best and the best thing for Nigeria and raise our offer to tier one, not tier two. Tier one investors to come to Nigeria and build our gateway for us”.

Nigeria,Saudi Arabia Move To Strengthen Hajj Operations

Mohammed Shosanya

The Minister of Aviation and Aerospace Development, Festus Keyamo met with the President of the General Authority of Civil Aviation (GACA) of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al-Duailj as part of efforts to promote seamless Hajj operation.

The meeting took place at the ongoing 15th International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) Air Services Negotiation (ICAN2023) holding in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

Besides,in order to deepen the implementation of the subsisting Bilateral Air Services Agreement (BASA) between the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the Republic of Seychelles, Keyamo also met with his counterpart, Mr. Anthony Derjacques, the Minister of Transport of Republic of Seychelles.

The meeting provided countries and participants a forum to learn about current industry trends and issues, and exchange experiences, in addition to negotiation of agreements with respect to air services on direct flight connectivity between countries for the purpose of promoting commerce, trade and tourism.

It had officials of the Aeronautical authorities of both countries in attendance, including representatives of airlines from Nigeria and Saudi Arabia where they discussed critical issues with respect to the performance of Nigerian Air Carriers during the 2023 Hajj operations; challenges of Hajj operations during the 2023 Hajj season; outstanding of Nigerian Air carriers; recommendations for 2024 Hajj season; and the preparation for 2024 Hajj season.

The countries discussed extensively on all the issues and resolved that concerted efforts be made by the Nigerian side to ensure flawless and seamless Hajj operations in the interest of the pilgrims.

A statement by the ministry on Thursday in Abuja said that a standing committee was constituted with representatives from the two countries with the mandate to meet weekly to discuss on progress being made by Nigeria towards preparations for the pilgrimage to the Holy Land of Makkah and Medina.

The meeting at the instance of Seychelles discussed on how to further accelerate direct air connectivity between the two countries.

Keyamo commended Mr. Derjacques for initiating the meeting and promised to fast track the implementation of the signed BASA to promote trade and tourism between the two African nations.

He informed the Seychelles Minister of Transport that the Government of Nigeria had taken the necessary step towards the ratification of the BASA as the Ministry of Justice of Nigeria had commenced the process of its ratification.

He stated that he would liaise with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Nigeria Immigration Service to ensure adequate profiling were done on those who had the intention of visiting Seychelles from Nigeria to prevent those with bad intentions from entering the country.

The two countries appointed Focal Officers that would drive the implementation of the decisions reached at the meeting.

Mr. Derjacques who noted that the subsisting BASA between the two countries, signed at the 2022 ICAN meeting which held in Abuja, Nigeria, from 5th-9th December, 2022 had not been made operational said that the signed BASA instrument had been deposited with the parliament of Seychelles for ratification.

He stated that nothing should stop the commencement of direct flight between Seychelles and Nigeria, either through chartered flight or scheduled operations.

He further informed that his country had put in place a robust system that would ensure that those with genuine intentions were allowed into the country known for tourism and her aquatic splendour.

Nigeria Inks Bilateral Air Services Agreement With Kuwait

Mohammed Shosanya

In order to boost trade, tourism and economic relations with the oil rich State of Kuwait, Nigeria at the ongoing International Civil Aviation Negotiation (ICAN) Event of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) holding in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, signed the legal instrument of BASA for the commencement of direct flights, passengers and cargo, between Nigeria and Kuwait.

Signing the BASA on behalf of Nigeria, the Minister of Aviation and Aerospace Space Development, Mr. Festus Keyamo noted that the agreement would enhance the desired economic ties and cooperation between the two countries.

This, he explained was in tandem with the Renewed Hope Agenda of the current administration.

He underscored the important role which the Aviation Sector is positioned to play towards the successful implementation of the Renewed Hope Agenda which is aimed at bringing out over 50 million Nigerians out of poverty.

He urged the different players in the aviation sector of both countries to latch on the opportunities being provided with the signing of the BASA to derive maximum benefits from it.

Keyamo also held bilateral talks with respect to commencement of flight operations for passengers and cargo, between Nigeria and Iran, with the Aeronautical Authorities of the Islamic Republic of Iran led by the President of Iran Civil Aviation Authority, Mr. Mohammadi Bakhsh.

Speaking at the occasion, the Acting Director General of Civil Aviation of the State of Kuwait, Engr. Emad Faleh Al-Jelwi , noted that the signing of the agreement on direct flights between his country and Nigeria signposted the beginning of a strong relationship in the areas of trade, commerce, tourism, education and other areas of socio-economic development which would be to the mutual benefits of the two countries.

He expressed confidence that Nigeria being the most populous and prosperous African nation would provide his country the desired inroad to the continent of Africa.

A statement by the Ministry on Wednesday said the minister urged both countries to maximally utilize the opportunities that are bound to come with the signing of the BASA.

On the Iran bilateral agreement Keyamo alluded to the fact that Iran and Nigeria had come along way and international politics should not be used as a barrier to stifle the harmonious relationship that existed between the two countries, as both countries are members of some international organizations and shared common world views and perspectives.

He assured the Iranians that he would work in concert with other government agencies towards ensuring the commencement of flight operations between the two nations.

Speaking earlier, Mr. Bakhsh had made reference to the exchange of BASA texts between both countries, which were initialed by the representatives of the Aeronautical Authorities of both countries in Tehran in 2021, and called for the operationalization of the Agreement.

He informed the minister that Tehran had designated Mahan Air for the operation of Tehran-Lagos route and requested Abuja to also designate its own carrier on the route.

He said he believed that Nigeria and Iran had a lot to benefit from the direct air service in view of their shared common interests.

He disclosed that Iran’s carrier, Mahan Air, fly to over 100 destinations in the world and that Nigeria could be a hub for cargo coperation for goods emanating from Tehran to Africa.