Archive | April 2012

Minister of Aviation backs down on airlines ban threat

Minister of Aviation, Stella Oduah, will not enforce a ban on British Airways, Virgin Atlantic and other foreign airlines if they fail to lower their first and business class ticket fares. A thirty-day ultimatum given to the airlines to this end last month expires today.

The special Assistant on Media to the Minister of Aviation, Mr. Joe Obi, [said] that the ban can no longer take effect because the matter is now beyond the Aviation Ministry, adding that today has not yet ended. “Today has not ended. But, it is no longer a Ministry of Aviation matter as the Senate has intervened and it will be very disrespectful and prejudicial to the institution of the Senate to enforce the ban while they are still investigating the matter,” he said.

Meanwhile, the NCAA has released new guidelines for both domestic and foreign airlines:

  • Every airline shall file every tariff, whether seasonal, discounted, promotional or otherwise and provide within the tariff, the different specific classes or type of passenger service (that is first class, business class, economy or whatever other class or type of service, the availability, the type of aircraft and the seating configuration used on such aircraft for each class or type of passenger service.
  • The filed tariffs shall, in all cases, include all booking classes, available within the different travel classes or cabins and the specific fare for that booking class including all applicable terms and conditions.
  • Every airline shall immediately remove any distinction between surcharges and base fare on their tickets and cargo sales (excluding any third party fees or taxes) and have one single integrated fare.
  • Other than approved statutory taxes, which are collected only on behalf of appropriate regulatory authorities, every other component of the cost of travel shall be included in the single integrated fare.
  • Every airline shall provide within its tariff in relation to the different specific classes or types of passenger service, the integrated fare applicable, its availability, the existence of special or promotional fares, and the general fare basis code and lastly that-
  • Every airline shall file with the Authority, its tariffs in the form prescribed (to be provided by NCAA) and may publish, sell, implement, enforce or otherwise market the said tariffs upon the approval of the Authority.
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Asaba Airport not ready for the presidential jet

Large aircraft can still not land safely at Asaba Airport, despite the fact that Delta State awarded a N7.4 billion project to demolish the hills surrounding the runway. This means that the Nigerian president cannot use his BBJ (NAF 001) to visit the state this week. The hill demolition project has been criticised from various quarters:

“From the outset, that airport has been a problem in terms of funding…. It started with N12 billion to N17 billion to N24 billion. As I am talking to you now, over N40 billion has gone into that airport. (…) Now the issues that are there is that the viability of the airport is still under contention…. Talking about whether there are rocks or hills around the airport requires a lot of experts to determine. Flights have been coming and going out of the airport but the issue of hills disturbing flight did not come up until at a time the President is coming, that means the project is meant to satisfy the president. We are talking about N7.4 billion even when there are countries in the West African sub-region like Gambia, Sierra-Leone and Liberia that the GNP (Gross National Product) in a year within that range they are talking about. So, why should a state government earmark N7.4 billion to demolish a hill? Which hill and what is in that hill? You said you were at the airport, did you see any hill? I think that amount is outrageous.”

Asaba Airport still has to pass an airport safety certification process.

Update: clarification from the State Governor.

Ground work at Asaba Airport in 2009

Ground work at Asaba Airport in 2009

Camair-Co plans Douala-Lagos service from June 2012

Camair-Co plans a three weekly Douala-Lagos service per 12 June 2012. Schedule as follows (flights on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday):

  • QC361 DLA-LOS 09:40-11:05
  • QC362 LOS-DLA 11:35-13:10

Air Nigeria offers daily flights from Lagos to Douala.

Update: Camair-Co has postponed this service till late July 2012.

Federal Government in new legal tussle with Bi-Courtney

The Federal Government has gone to court again to have the concession given to Bi-Courtney to operate the MMA2 Terminal at Lagos reduced from 36 to 12 years. Bi-Courtney was awarded the concession in 2003 to design, build and operate the domestic terminal for an agreed number of years to recoup its investment.

The move comes after the much criticised and controversial ejection of Maevis, another concession holder, from Lagos and Abuja airports by the FAAN. Meanwhile, it is reported that the current MD of FAAN, George Uriesi, spent N228 million on the reparation of three generators at Abuja Airport in 2009, against all financial rules. The FAAN is also accused of several other fraudulent transactions.

From the olden days: Nigeria’s first air traffic controllers

Nigerian Air Traffic Controllers learning Australian methods of air traffic control inside Perth Airport control tower in 1964. They are in Australia under the Special Commonwealth Assistance to Africa Plan. From left: Mr Joeseph Okinedo, Mr Samuel Imasuen and Mr Hugh Bolton, the air traffic controller at Perth airport.
(Photo: R Woldendorp, via National Archives of Australia - Image no: A1501, A5456/1)

See for more information: Nigerian Air Traffic Controllers’ Association and the Air Traffic Services and Communication School.

This week’s update

Short updates:

  • Air Nigeria will use an A330-200 (24/244 configuration) for its three weekly service to London Gatwick and Johannesburg in May. Service to London will become daily in June after the arrival of a second aircraft. The schedules are now available and flights can be booked online.
  • CAPA made an analysis of the available seats from Lagos to London and Johannesburg.
  • Maintenance Centre Malta now offers EASA line maintenance capabilities for Bombardier, Dornier, and Cessna products at Lagos Airport with its partner Evergreen Apple (EAN).
  • AeroMechanical Services has signed a contract with the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority to provide a Safety Management System Dashboard.The SMS Dashboard will expand the current tracking and real-time alerts for the NCAA to monitor all Nigerian registered aircraft equipped with satellite based tracking solutions and data collection hardware.
  • Benin Airport recorded 348,906 passengers in 2010 and 323,545 passengers in 2011. The number of aircraft movements also fell from 7,081 to 6,791 in this period, after Air Nigeria cancelled its flights to Benin and Associated Aviation and Aero decreased their frequencies.
  • British Airways and Virgin Atlantic were questioned by the Nigerian House of Representatives about the ‘regional price disparity‘ and alleged tax evasion. The Punch had an excellent commentary on the ‘Controversy over foreign airlines’ excessive charges‘.
  • The Airlines Operators of Nigeria have asked the Federal Government to investigate how aviation agencies spent their Internally Generated Revenue. They argue that the various airport taxes being charged at the local and international airports are not justifiable and that the charges are high compared to the services the agencies are offering.
  • The Saab 340 (N340SS) previously operated for Fresh Air and Overland Airways is now stored at Rand Airport.
  • Enugu Airport is currently closed for reparation works.

KLM cancels Abuja and Kano per June 2012

KLM is cancelling its three weekly Amsterdam-Abuja-Kano-Amsterdam flight per 1 June 2012. This leaves Kano Airport without a direct air link to Europe after decades of uninterrupted service. MEA Air Liban, Saudi Arabian Airlines, Sudan Airways and Egyptair are currently the other international airlines flying to Kano.

Nigeria Police Air Wing

The Nigeria Police recently acquired a Cessna 560XLS Citation Excel + (5N-HAR). In the 1990s the Police already operated a Cessna Citation I (5N-APN), a Cessna Conquest II (5N-APZ), both stored at Lagos Airport, and a Cessna Citation II (5N-NPF). The latter aircraft was later transferred to the Nigerian Air Force and re-registered 5N-AYA.

After retiring at two Bell 47Gs, two Bell 412s, and Bell 222s in the 1990s, the Police Air Wing now operates the following fleet of helicopters:

A fourth Bell 427 (5N-POL) crashed at Rukuba near Jos on 14 March 2012.

In 2005, the Federal Capital Authority also donated a Robinson R44 (5N-BKF) to the Nigeria Police, but the chopper never entered service because there was no pilot nor suitable fuel. In November 2007, two Mi-17 aircraft were acquired from/donated by Ukraine for the Police Air Wing, but the two helicopters mysteriously went missing as part of the Police Equipment Fund-fraud, led by Kenny Martins. The Police Force was attempting to sell a Schweizer 269C (5N-BAD) and a Bell 47G (5N-APF) in February 2012. Both choppers are stored at Lagos and haven’t flown since 1991.

In October 2010, the Federal Government announced that it would acquire five Bell 429 helicopters for the Police Force, and the President declared the intention to purchase a police helicopter for each state. It is interesting to know that all recent acquisitions for the Police Air Wing were conducted by Manyatta Engineering Services, a company owned by the former Kaduna State governor and present Vice-President Namadi Sambo. This company also acquired two Bell 427s for the Nigeria Customs Service, which were accepted in April 2012 (one is registered 5N-NCS).

Meanwhile, Lagos State Government has acquired two Bell 412s in 2009 for security operations, even though the helicopters are now operated by Caverton Helicopters for the oil and gas industry. In September 2011, Ondo State Government also announced the acquisition of helicopters for surveillance tasks. It plans to establish a helicopter company at Lagos Airport in cooperation with an ex-Caverton staff member.

Nigeria Police Air Wing - Bell 412 (5N-LEH)

Nigeria Police Air Wing – Bell 412 (5N-LEH)

Air Nigeria returns to London Gatwick and Johannesburg

Air Nigeria announced it will start flights from Lagos to London Gatwick per 16 May 2012 and to Johannesburg on 17 May, using two leased A330-200s (24/244 configuration) for its long-haul operations. The airline will initially offer a three weekly service to London and Johannesburg. The London service will become daily from 16 June 2012.

Flight schedule for the Lagos-London route (outbound flights on Monday, Wednesday and Friday, inbound filght on the following day):

  • VK293 LOS-LGW 23:50-06:50
  • VK292 LGW-LOS 10:50-17:50

Flight schedule for the Lagos-Johannesburg flight (outbound flights on Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday, inbound flight on the following day):

  • VK303 LOS-JNB 23:50-06:50
  • VK302 JNB-LOS 09:15-14:15

This will be a return to routes the airline abandoned in January 2009, when it was still operating under the Virgin Nigeria name.

The airline further disclosed that Paris and Rome will be added as destinations in June, while routes to Kinshasa, Freetown, Ouagadougou, Point-Noire and Malabo will be opened later this year. Air Nigeria will acquire two B737NGs to enable this expansion. In the past months, the airline has scaled down its domestic operations, cancelling its flights from Lagos to Kano and Benin as well as those from Abuja to Enugu, Owerri and Port Harcourt.

Quits Aviation Services

A new FBO facility has opened its doors at Lagos Airport. Quits Aviation Services has built a large maintenance hangar at the airport and will operate a charter airline too. The company owns at least one BAe 125-800SP (5N-QTS; ex-N270HC). The frontman of the company is Samuel Iwuajoku, a business partner of several prominent Nigerian politicians and entrepreneurs.

Quits Aviation Services - Lagos hangar

Quits Aviation Services - Lagos hangar

Next to the new Quits Aviation hangar in Lagos are located: Caverton Helicopters, Evergreen Apple Nigeria (managed by Segun Demuren, a son of the Director General of the NCAA) and the hangar of Dominion Air (owned by David Oyedepo).

The number of private and business jets in Nigeria is steadily growing: a Learjet 45, 5N-LDM, and a Hawker 800XP, 5N-IZY, were added to the registry recently.

This week’s update

Short updates:

  • The Nigerian Air Force inaugurated a helicopter maintenance hangar for its fleet at Lagos Airport.
  • Nigeria has successfully concluded a pilot project to change to satellite based navigation system.
  • A ring road and an additional car park will be constructed at Abuja Airport.
  • Akwa Ibom State Government has awarded a contract worth about N12 billion for the construction of a taxiway at Uyo Airport.
  • Delta State Government has approved a N7.4 billion contract for the demolition of hills surrounding Asaba Airport to allow for bigger aircraft to land. The airport has still to pass the necessary safety audits.
  • Kebbi State Government has disclosed that it will upgrade the Ambursa Airstrip to an international airport.
  • Nasarawa State approved a N1 billion budget to carry forward with plans to build an cargo airport at Kwandere, near the state capital Lafia.
  • A nice report on the numerous unused state airports in Nigeria can be found here, but it seems that Zamfara State and Ogun State abandoned plans to construct cargo airports.
  • The Nigerian-owned Challenger 300 (ex 3B-SSD) has been repainted and is now registered VQ-BMJ. Officially, the aircraft is owned by Churchill Finance Services, but it was put up for sale in 2012.
  • Air Nigeria signed a deal with EgyptAir to train its A330 crews, so it seems the airline is still planning to introduce two A330-200s to its fleet this year.
  • The January 2012 Nigeria Aviation Fact Sheet of the US Embassy in Nigeria.
  • The NCAA has published its Passengers’s Bill of Rights aimed at protecting airline customers in Nigeria.
  • Reportedly, Prince Arthur Ikpechukwu Eze acquired a second GIV (M-PZPZ); he already owns 5N-PZE.
Expansion work at Yola Airport, March 2012 (copyright NAN)

Expansion work at Yola Airport, March 2012 (copyright NAN)

AMCON ‘takes over’ Arik Air

The Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON) has taken control over Arik Air on yesterday according to reports. The six-year old airline is already struggling for years to meet its financial obligations and is said to be indebted for over N20 billion.

It was learnt that the takeover was as a result of the Arik’s inability to pay back several billions of naira it owed banks. AMCON had in April last year given the airline a N4.5bn lifeline. The capital injection, it was learnt, followed the acquisition of most of Arik’s debts from two Deposit Money Banks in December 2010. Sources said Arik’s debts were part of the non-performing loans purchased by AMCON in the first phase of its rescue programme in the banking sector. Arik had reportedly been struggling to meet its financial obligations in the last few months. The development is coming barely six years after the airline was established. AMCON had recently vowed to use all means possible to recover all its debts.

However, it now seems that AMCON gave Arik Air extension of payment till July after yesterday’s meeting. The airline also risks losing its IATA-membership because of its indebtedness.

Update:

Both AMCON and Arik Air deny the reports of a takeover.

‘The decay in Nigeria’s aviation sector’

In its ongoing tussle with the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), Maevis challenged the agency to account for N42 billion revenue remitted to it between August 2008 and January 2012. Maevis also brought a charge of contempt against FAAN, claiming that the agency breached the court’s order by forcefully ejecting Maevis from Lagos airport.

This article gives a few examples of the mismanagement and fraud in the Nigerian aviation sector by ministers and various agencies over the past years.

Most Nigerians have (…) observed that for years now, substandard services seem to have become ideal in Nigeria’s aviation industry as the country cannot boast of most of the things that are normal in aviation sectors across the world. (…) Street Journal’s findings revealed that the aviation sector is in its present state mainly because of the many frauds that have bedeviled almost every agency in the ministry over the years.

Arik Air may take delivery of four A330-300s

Arik Air is expected to take delivery of four A330-300s. The aircraft were originally destined for the Indian carrier Jet Airways, which would lease them from Intrepid Aviation. The first aircraft (line number 1351) may arrive in September this year, if the deal is confirmed. Arik Air already operates two A340-500s, which were originally ordered by Kingfisher Airlines. The airline also briefly operated an A330-200 that was leased from Amentum Capital.

New tasks for NAMA

Last month, new responsibilities were given to the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA) to manage Nigeria’s airspace. The agency now also oversees the airfield lighting and bird harzard control at all airports. NAMA took over the calibration unit otherwise known as Navigational Aids Flight Inspection and Surveillance (NAFIS) from the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) too. This weekend, the NCAA transferred its HS 125-700 calibration aircraft (5N-AVK) to NAMA. The Federal Government has also concluded plans to acquire an additional calibration aircraft. Nigeria still depends on ASECNA, the Senegal-based regional equivalent of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) in the Francophone West African countries to have its navigational aids (NAVAIDS) calibrated.

Installation of new airport lighting at Umaru Musa Yar'adua Airport, Katsina, in 2011

Installation of new airport lighting at Umaru Musa Yar’adua Airport, Katsina, in 2011.

Fuel scarcity hits Nigerian airports

Since this weekend, many domestic flights have been cancelled as airlines can not meet up with their scheduled flights, due to aviation fuel scarcity.

The Assistant Secretary General of Airlines Operators of Nigeria (AON), Mohammed Tukur condemned the situation saying “this is the time airline operators should be wary of what is sold to them as aviation fuel…this is the period kerosene could be sold to unsuspecting carriers in the name of aviation fuel.”

Some foreign airlines headed to Accra to refuel their aircraft, where the commodity is also cheaper.

House of Representatives directs BA to reduce ticket prices

Nigerian government and aviation agencies tumble over each other to condemn the high fares charged by British Airways and Virgin Atlantic Airways on the Lagos-London route. The Aviation Committee of the House of Representatives yesterday also joined the chorus of disapproval:

“Our people are suffering and they are complaining. Reduce your fares or quit; it is either you tell us that you will reduce them or you quit”, Chairman of the House committee, Mrs. Nkiruka Onyejeocha, told the BA’s Country General Manager, Mr. Kola Olayinka, in Abuja on Monday.

Meanwhile, ordinary Nigerian customers are also criticising the government and aviation agencies for their arbitrary attack on the British airlines, in what is now called ‘faregate’, on the webpage of the minister of aviation. They blame the high airport charges in Nigeria, the lack of infrastructure, the lack of a viable national carrier, as well as the hypocrisy of Nigerian politicians who take pride in flying First Class on foreign airlines.

Jos Airport to be remodelled

Yakubu Gowon Airport, Jos, is currently undergoing renovation work. The terminal building will be expanded, the car park moved further away from the terminal building, and several other technical improvements will be made. Security measures will also be implemented, as the movement of passengers through the airport fell from 82,393 in 2010 to 50,612 in 2011 due to political and civil unrest. Arik Air is the only airline that operates scheduled flights to the airport.

Jos Airport (copyright S.R. Lee)