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Nigeria set to lose on latest Bilateral Air Service Agreements

Experts have explained why Nigeria is at the losing end of yet another Bilateral Air Space Agreement.

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Nigeria set to lose on latest Bilateral Air Service Agreements, United States announces changes to work permit visas that could affect Nigerians

It is no longer news that Nigeria signed Bilateral Air Service Agreements (BASA) with the United States, India, Morocco and Rwanda. However, who benefits more from the agreements has been a topical discussion amongst Nigerian stakeholders. Some of them, who spoke with Nairametrics in separate interviews, argued that the development would favour the partner countries more than Nigeria.

They argued that Nigeria has signed this deal with over 80 countries across the world, but has turned out to be disadvantageous to Nigeria. Most of the agreements are only beneficial to the countries and their foreign carriers, without any reciprocal benefits to Nigeria. This is allegedly due to the failure of the Nigerian representatives to put Nigeria’s interest first at the BASA negotiating table.

READ: CBN to sanction exporters who default on export proceed number

In most cases, Nigeria does not really benefit from the deal, especially with no National carrier or a domestic airline that has the required equipment to compete with their foreign counterparts.

Managing Director, Starburst Aviation Limited, Capt. David Olubadewo, who was once Nigeria’s youngest pilot, admitted that he has not seen the agreements. However, he told Nairametrics that the nation does not have the capacity/equipment to compete favourably with the countries it signed the deal with.

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Capt. Olubadewo said, “In most cases, BASA entails specific agreement between two partners, where parties involved will agree on exchange of flights. It could be 10 flights weekly from Country A and same from the other Country.

“So, if US for instance, has done 10 flights to Nigeria as agreed and Nigeria has not, it will not affect US in anyway.”

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In his own case, Muyiwa Lucas, another stakeholder in the industry, claimed that the aim of the international carriers and their countries is to make sure that indigenous carriers do not rise to compete with them on those lucrative routes like Lagos-London, Abuja-London, Lagos-Dubai, Lagos-Paris, Lagos-Amsterdam, and Lagos-Johannesburg.

READ: Nigeria, India to conclude Bilateral Air Services Agreement deal

In an interview with Nairametrics, he said that the partners are always quick to choose a favourable destination in Nigeria (Lagos and Abuja), while they dictate to Nigeria the airport to land its aircrafts in their countries.

Lucas said, “Nigerian flights are only allowed to drop passengers at Gatwick, which handled 46.1 million passengers in 2018. They don’t allow such in Heathrow airport, which is London’s main hub and also one of the world’s busiest airports with 80.1 million passengers in 2018.

“Arik Air was stopped from operating from Abuja to London, unless it paid for slot allocation, which cost a huge amount of money.

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“But, while British Airways was and is still flying to Abuja, enjoying grandfather rights; Arik Air was paying for slots and when the Nigerian airline deemed that operation unprofitable, it stopped, leaving only British Airways to be operating to Abuja from London with minimum load factor of 85%.”

Lucas argued that while some of the countries introduced clauses to jeopardise Nigerian airlines operation to their countries, Nigeria rarely retaliated in the spirit of diplomatic principle of reciprocity.

READ: Just in: FG bars Air France, KLM and other foreign airlines

However, Pranjal Pande, an Indian Aviation Expert, sees the development from a different angle.

According to him, Nigeria is home to a substantial Indian expatriate population, and India sees thousands of yearly visitors from Nigeria but noted that the lack of direct flights has meant passengers fly mostly with Middle East carriers.

Pande said, “Popular routes from Delhi and Mumbai to Lagos are over 4,100 nautical miles, putting them out of the range of the current generation of narrowbody aircraft. This means that, from India, only Vistara and Air India, the only airlines with widebodies, could start flights to Nigeria. Neither airline has signalled intentions of doing so soon.

READ: Nigeria @ 60: The Aviation sector and its travails

“It’s most likely that Air Peace will be the first to start flights to India. However, the timing remains up in the air due to the current crisis.”

Backstory: On October 6, 2020, Nairametrics reported that the Federal Government announced the signing of Bilateral Air Service Agreements (BASA) with the United States, India, Morocco and Rwanda.

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A copy of the agreement showed that it was signed in Abuja by President Muhammadu Buhari on September 30, 2020.

The disclosure was made by the Minister for Aviation, Hadi Sirika, through a tweet on his official Twitter handle on Tuesday, October 6, 2020.

What they are saying

The Minister said, “The agreement is the instruments of ratification of the bilateral air service agreement between Nigeria and USA, India, Morocco, as well as Rwanda.”

He added that Nigeria will take advantage of the agreement to strengthen economic, social and cultural ties with the US.

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Abiola has spent about 14 years in journalism. His career has covered some top local print media like TELL Magazine, Broad Street Journal, The Point Newspaper. The Bloomberg MEI alumni has interviewed some of the most influential figures of the IMF, G-20 Summit, Pre-G20 Central Bank Governors and Finance Ministers, Critical Communication World Conference. The multiple award winner is variously trained in business and markets journalism at Lagos Business School, and Pan-Atlantic University. You may contact him via email - [email protected]

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Hospitality & Travel

Aviation contribution to GDP drops by 38.86% in Q3 2020 – NBS

A recently released NBS report indicates that air transport contracted by 38.86% in the third quarter of 2020.

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Aviation contribution to GDP drops by 38.86% in Q3 2020 - NBS, uae, Hadi Sirika, Minister of Aviation lists

The GDP report recently released by the National Bureau of Statistics indicates that air transport under the transportation and storage sector contracted by 38.86% in the third quarter of 2020.

According to the report, the subsector contracted Q-o-Q by 57.38% and 15.23% Y-o-Y.

READ: Non-Performing loans hit 4-year low as Banks recover N496 billion

The transportation and storage sector comprising road transport, rail transport and pipelines, water transport, air transport, and transport services experienced growth of 35.06% in nominal terms (year-on-year), as it sought to gradually recover from the restricted movements of passenger and goods.

According to the report, “In real terms, the transportation and storage sector contracted by -42.98% in Q3 2020. This rate represented a slightly better performance than the preceding quarter when it recorded -49.23%, an increase of 6.25%. Year on Year, growth was 18.24%.”

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(READ MORE: IGR: States generate N612.9 billion in H1 2020, dips by 11.7% )

What you should know

All activities under transport and the storage industry recorded negative growth rates, except for post and courier services.

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Part of the report read, “All activities under the transport and storage industry recorded negative growth rates except post and courier services. Quarter on quarter, growth stood at 29.69%. Transport activities contributed 1.28% to nominal GDP in Q3 2020, a decline from the 2.03% recorded in the corresponding period of 2019, but higher than 1.13% recorded in the second quarter of 2020.”

READ: Nigerian economy slips into recession as GDP contracts by 3.62% in Q3 2020

READ: Debt burden of the least developed nations rises to $744 billion – World Bank

The subsector suffered, owing to the COVID-19 pandemic pay cuts and job losses.

Several pilots were sacked and as well some Ground handling companies also took a beating, as Skyway Aviation Handling Company Plc and the Nigerian Aviation Handling Company Plc saw their combined revenue for nine months ended September 30, dip by N2.7bn to N10.1bn from N12.8bn in the same period of 2019 – representing 21.2% reduction in revenue in the period under review, according to the financial statements of the companies listed on the Nigerian Stock Exchange.

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Hospitality & Travel

US imposes $15,000 visa bond on 15 African countries, others

The US has issued a visa rule requiring tourist and business travelers in some countries to pay a bond of up to $15,000 in addition to the visa fees.

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US imposes $15,000 visa bond on 15 African countries, others, Berger Paints' improved margins ride on the back of cost efficiency

The outgoing administration of US President, Donald Trump, on Monday, November 23, 2020, issued a new temporary visa rule that requires tourist and business travelers from 15 African countries and others to pay a bond of up to $15,000 in addition to the visa fees, which ranges from $16 to $300, in order to visit the United States.

According to TheCable, the US State Department said the visa bond pilot programme, expected to take effect from December 24 and end on June 24, 2021, is targeted at countries whose citizens have higher rates of overstaying B-2 visas for tourists and B-1 visas for business travelers.

READ: Update: No one will take our democracy away, not now, not ever- Biden

The Trump administration said the six-month pilot program aims to test the feasibility of collecting such bonds and will serve as a diplomatic deterrence to overstaying the visas. Hence, overstay places significant pressure on Department of Justice and Department of Homeland Security.

The visa bond rule will permit U.S. consular officers to request tourist and business travelers from countries whose nationals had an overstay rate of 10% and above in 2019 to pay a refundable bond of $5,000, $10,000, or $15,000.

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READ: COVID-19: IMF Chief predicts $345 billion financing gap in African countries 

The countries whose tourist and business travelers fall into this category and subjected to the bond requirements are 24 countries, including 15 African countries. While these nations had higher rates of overstays, they sent relatively fewer travelers to the United States.

The countries include Afghanistan, Angola, Bhutan, Burkina Faso, Burma, Burundi, Cape Verde, Chad, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (Kinshasa), Djibouti, Eritrea, the Gambia, Guinea-Bissau, Iran, Laos, Liberia, Libya, Mauritania, Papua New Guinea, Sao Tome and Principe, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen

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Nigerian travelers escaped paying the temporary visa rule, as their overall score was below the threshold of 10% and above overstaying rate.

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Hospitality & Travel

KLM, Air France to resume flight operations in Nigeria from December 7

KLM Royal Dutch Airlines and Air France have announced they will gradually resume flight operations to Abuja and Lagos.

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KLM, Air France to resume flight operations in Nigeria from December 7

KLM Royal Dutch Airlines and Air France have announced they will gradually resume flight operations to Abuja and Lagos from December 7.

According to a report by Punch, the airlines in a statement on Monday disclosed that international passengers can now fly Air France and KLM from Nigeria (Abuja and Lagos) to Paris and Amsterdam, with the possibility of further transfers to other European and North Atlantic destinations.

READ: Nigerians pay heavy price as laptop scarcity bites harder

In a piece of travel advice, the airline asked customers to ensure they are well prepared for their trip and check the entry and travel requirements for their destination and transit countries in line with travel restrictions and governmental authorizations before making any travel plans. This is as the entry requirements may change with short notice.

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General Manager Air France KLM Nigeria and Ghana, Michel Colleau, was quoted to have said, “Flights to and from Lagos and Abuja will be operated in strict compliance with the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority and international health protocols, adhering to the highest standards of health and hygiene.”

READ: N5billion bailout fund underway for the Aviation sector – Minister

What you should know

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It can be recalled that in September 2020, the Federal Government barred Air France and KLM airlines and some other foreign airlines from flight operations into the country.

The Aviation Minister, Hadi Sirika, said that Air France and KLM were not granted approval for flight operations because tourist visa holders were not allowed entry into their countries.

READ: Arik Air’s operation shut by Aviation Unions

Nairametrics also reported about a week ago that the Federal Government had given go-ahead to Lufthansa, Air France/KLM, and Qatar Airways to resume flight operations into the country.

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