The Federal Government has announced that upon resumption of flight operations at the airports, international passengers are expected to get to the airport at least 5 hours before departure, while domestic passengers would be expected to get to the airports at least 3 hours before departure.
This is to ensure that all protocols, including safety markings, social distancing, hand sanitizing, baggage decontamination, scanning of personal items and so on are complied with going forward.
This was disclosed by the Minister for Aviation, Hadi Sirika, on Saturday, June 27, 2020, during the dry test run simulation exercises which were carried out at the domestic terminals of Murtala Muhammed Airport, Lagos and the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja.
The simulation exercise was aimed at assessing the readiness of the airports for reopening after the shutdown due to the coronavirus pandemic. It started in Abuja on a Boeing 737 Aerocontractors flight as the passengers were taken through the post COVID-19 departure protocols and ended at the General Aviation Terminal, Lagos at about 1200 hours.
Apart from Sirika, the exercise was also witnessed by Information and Culture Minister, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, Minster of State for Health, Dr, Olorunnibe Mamora, Minister of State for Education, Mr. Chukwuemeka Nwajiuba, the National Coordinator, Presidential Task Force (PTF) on Covid-19, Dr. Aliyu Sanni, Director General, Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority, Capt. Musa Nuhu, Managing Director, Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria, Capt. Rabiu Yadudu, Chairman Air Peace, Allen Onyema and several other stakeholders.
The Aviation Minister said that the number of seats at the departure lounge of the Murtala Muhammed International Airport had been reduced to 50 from 500 in line with the social distancing policy. He said all passengers must comply strictly with the directive on wearing of face masks before entering the airport terminals while the aviation authorities will provide alcohol-based hand sanitizers at the airports.
Sirika, also expressed his delight at the level of facilities on ground, while adding that going by the measures put in place, the airports are about 90% ready for reopening.
Other Ministers and the National Coordinator of PTF that were present, took turns to comment on their impression on the level of preparedness of the airports for reopening. They expressed satisfaction at the measures taken so far and were optimistic that the airports were ready for reopening.
Aviation Unions threaten to shut airspace on Monday, as NLC insists on strike
All aviation workers are directed to withdraw their services at all aerodromes nationwide on 28th September 2020.
Major aviation unions in Nigeria have threatened to shut the nation’s airspace in support of the Organised Labour nationwide industrial action expected to commence on Monday, September 28, 2020.
The unions are the National Union of Air Transport Employees, National Association of Aircraft Pilots and Engineers, Air Transport Services Senior Staff Association of Nigeria and the Association of Nigeria Aviation Professionals.
This was disclosed by the General Secretary of the National Union of Aviation Employees, Aba Ocheme, in a statement, according to Vanguard.
The unions reportedly asked their members to withdraw services from all aerodromes nationwide indefinitely.
He said, “As such all workers in the aviation sector are hereby directed to withdraw their services at all aerodromes nationwide as from 00hrs of 28th September 2020 until otherwise communicated by the NLC/TUC or our unions. All workers shall comply.”
Meanwhile, the Nigeria Labour Congress on Friday also insisted that it will go on with its planned mass action scheduled for Monday, September 28.
In a communique by its General Secretary, Comrade Emmanuel Ugboaja, the NLC asked its members across the nation to come out in large numbers to protest the increase in fuel and electricity prices.
The order was given despite a fresh court order obtained by the Federal Government, barring the NLC and the Trade Union Congress from embarking on their planned strike scheduled to commence on Monday.
Ugboaja explained that the NLC has asked all National Leadership of affiliates in Abuja to mobilise at least 2,000 of their members to Unity Fountain, Abuja for the mass rally which takes off at 7am.
Also, affiliates are expected to mobilise the same number of members to the NLC Sub-Secretariat, 29, Olajuwon Street, Yaba, Lagos, which is the take-off point for the Lagos action at 7am also.
Canada invites another 4,200 Express Entry candidates for permanent residency
Canada has invited 4,200 immigration candidates to apply for permanent residency.
As countries around the world commence relaxation of ban on international travels, the Canadian government has issued another round of invitation to 4,200 Express Entry Candidates, to apply for its permanent residency.
Canada held its 163rd Express Entry draw, inviting 4,200 immigration candidates to apply for permanent residence on September 16, being the second draw this month, with a comprehensive ranking system (CRS) score of 472. This is three points less than the previous draw held earlier in the month.
This draw matches the 4,200 ITAs issued in an Express Entry round on September 2, which ties it for the second-biggest draw ever. The biggest draw issued 4,500 ITAs on February 19, 2020. The large number of invitations being issued by Canada is a strong indication that it remains committed to welcoming high levels of immigrants in 2021 and beyond.
The recent round of draw brings the total number of invitations issued this year to 74,150; a new record for this date, indicating an 86.4% success rate.
IRCC used its tie-break rule in this draw. The timestamp used was March 9, 2020, at 13:03:40 UTC. This means that all candidates with a CRS score above 472, as well as those candidates with scores of 472 who entered their profile in the Express Entry pool before the selected date and time, received an ITA in this invitation round.
This rule is used to rank candidates, who have the same CRS score. A candidate’s CRS score remains the primary factor in selecting candidates to be invited to apply for permanent residence. Factors that can affect the cut-off CRS score include the size of the draw (larger draws can produce a lower minimum CRS score), and the time between draws (shorter periods between draws can help to lower the CRS score).
How it works
Express Entry, is the application system that manages the pool of candidates for Canada’s three main economic immigration classes — the Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSWP), the Federal Skilled Trades Program (FSTP), and the Canadian Experience Class (CEC). The highest-ranked candidates in the Express Entry pool are issued ITAs in regular invitation rounds.
A set number of the highest-ranked candidates are invited to apply for Canadian permanent residence, through regular draws from the pool. These invitation rounds typically take place every two weeks, and the vast majority involve candidates from all three Express Entry-managed categories.
Eligible candidates for each program are issued a score under Express Entry’s CRS, which awards points for factors such as age, education, skilled work experience, and proficiency in English or French.
While a job offer is not required in order to be eligible under the Express Entry system, the CRS does award additional points to candidates who have one. It is worth noting that the Government of Canada has a processing standard of six months for permanent residence applications, filed through the Express Entry system.
Nigerians trooping to Canada
According to the report, Nigeria was the fifth highest country, that migrated into Canada in the month of July 2020, behind India, China, Philippines, and Pakistan. This is an indication, that Nigerians are taking every opportunity possible to move into other countries of the world, perceived to give better opportunities in terms of education, career growth, sufficient earnings, amongst others.
A recent report published by CEOWorld Magazine, reveals that Canada is the third world’s best country to start a career in 2020, which is why many people around the world would troop in numbers, seeking to migrate to the country, while Nigeria on the other hand ranks bottom four, with the likes of Libya, Syria, and Yemen.
Hotels in Nigeria are on the verge of collapse
Hotels in Nigeria are on the verge of collapsing following rising operating costs
Big hotels in Nigeria are facing an existential crisis that could force some of them to collapse on the weight of rising operating expenses, without any revenue to absorb.
Reports from four of the major listed hotels on the Nigerian Stock Exchange, reveals a revenue decline of nearly 90%, due to a fall out of the COVID-19 induced lockdowns. The dire state of their financials has forced some of the hotels to consider massive job cuts, and cost reduction measures in a bid to survive. For most of them, it is either they take drastic actions, or face the consequences associated with piling losses and unpaid debts.
Since the breakout of COVID-19 in March 2020; the FG approved lockdown in Abuja and Lagos State, forced all the major hotels to shut down, a bitter sacrifice by the hospitality sector, as the government sought to contain the spread of the virus.
The lockdown effect on the results of these companies is reflective in the Q2 results of the main listed companies. According to the data, Ikeja Hotels (Sheraton), Tourist Company of Nigeria (Federal Palace), Capital Hotels (Abuja Sheraton), and Transcorp Hilton Hotel Plc have all lost 90% of their revenue in the three months preceding June 2020.
The hotels earned a combined revenue of N1 billion in the quarter, compared to N10.2 billion in the corresponding period of 2019. They are all wallowing in losses of over N4.7 billion for the quarter alone. Combined, they have about 3,502 employees as of 2019.
The situation in the hospitality sector is not only restricted to these four hotels. The same can be said for tens of other major hotels in Nigeria. In the latest Q2 GDP report published by the Bureau of Statistics; the Accommodation and food services business, which hotels belong to, recorded a GDP contraction of over 40%. Except for transportation and storage, which posted a 49% contraction, it is by far the worst in the country.
The Managing Director, Transcorp Hotels Plc, Mrs. Dupe Olusola, disclosed this during a Press Conference on Thursday, “The impact of COVID-19 on the business is like nothing the company has ever witnessed. The hotel and hospitality industry in Nigeria has never faced a crisis that brought travel to a standstill, including the Ebola Virus outbreak of 2014 or the recession of 2016. The slow pick up of international travels, restriction on large gatherings, the switch to virtual meetings, and fear of the virus, has drastically reduced demand for our hotels and occupancy levels to its lowest – less than 5%.”
Hotels across Africa also face a similar fate, but could likely fair better when the dust settles. Unlike in Nigeria, hotels in Kenya, Egypt, and even South Africa can rely on local tourism to drive occupancy rates. But in Nigeria, locals prefer smaller mushrooms hotels that are cheaper, and often well-furnished to meet their needs. Nigerian hotels, on the other hand, rely on commercial room sales, driven by the influx of business and leisure travels into the country.
With several airlines yet to fully operate due to reciprocal bans, it is highly unlikely that things will improve anytime soon.
How to avoid a collapse
To avoid an imminent collapse, the hotels need to do what is required in times like these. Explore new sources of revenues, and drastically reduce overheads. For starters, furloughing headcount will be top on the table, as services of employees who have no one to serve won’t be currently required.
It is a tough decision to make for these hotels, considering that the employees that will be affected, face an even worse outlook due to the economic crunch, which is likely to remain for years to come. Mrs. Olusola of Transcorp provides a first-hand insight.
“Despite the losses incurred, we have fulfilled our obligations to staff. At the inception of the pandemic, we maintained a 100% salary payment to our over 900 employees in March and April. We also activated various cost-saving initiatives, such as renegotiations of service contracts and restructuring of our loans. We suspended further commitment to buy fixed assets and operating equipment, as well as reduced our energy consumption and maintenance costs. Despite undertaking these, it has become apparent that more fundamental changes need to be made, for the business to survive. To this end, our workforce headcount will be reduced by at least 40%, and our reward system will be optimized.”
Hotels also need to cut down on other overheads. Food costs would have to be reined in, while also renegotiating inefficient pricing on purchase orders. Hotels will also have to renegotiate bank loans and explore capital raising efforts, to avoid further damage to their balance sheets. Lobbying a cash strapped government may seem futile, but hotel owners should push for intervention loans from the central bank, giving them enough buffer and financial stability to weather the storm.
With hotels reopening gradually, there is likely going to be stiff competition among the big brands, tempting them to undercut each other through pricing. Rather than cut prices, the prices should be adjusted on the naira side, to cater to the effect of the recent devaluation. This means foreign visitors will not witness a dollar increase in room rates, whilst the hotels will earn more on the naira side to deal with inflation.
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These are the plausible and painful options available to branded hotel operators, if they are to avoid a collapse. Without bailouts and government support, management of these hotels needs to take urgent action, to reduce the impairments of shareholder valuations.