Sudan crisis: Four Airlines Decline to Sign Agreement with NAHCON
Four Nigerian airlines on Thursday declined to sign an agreement with the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON) to transport the 2023 Hajj intending pilgrims to Saudi Arabia due to the ongoing crisis in Sudan.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the airlines are: Max Air with 16,326 allocation, Air Peace with 11,348, Azman Air with 8,660 and Aero Contractors with 7,833.
However, only the Saudi Arabian designated airline Flynas that will transport 28,515 intending pilgrims to Saudi Arabia signed the agreement.
Briefing newsmen at the venue of signing of the agreement at Hajj House in Abuja, the Chairman, NAHCON, Zikrullah Hassan, said that flynas would transport about 40 per cent of the Nigerian pilgrims.
Hassan, however, said that the commission adjourned till Tuesday, May 9, to deliberate further with the Nigerian airlines that declined to sign the agreement.T
He sad: “Their representatives did inform me that they will be coming to discuss with us, with their Chairmen or Chief Executives Officers where we intend to have more in-depth discussions before we come to agreement.
“The reason why it is delayed is because of the Sudan crisis. We have been told that the Sudan airspace has been shutdown.
‘The airlines will have to go through another route which from all indications is longer than passing through Sudan.
“We are hopeful that the Sudan conflict will abate and if it does, it means that we will go back to where we are.
“We have planned our agreement prior to the Sudan crisis and we know that as we speak, there is a ceasefire in Sudan.”
According to Hassan, although it is not however known how soon the crisis will end.
“We will keep on working with the understanding that the the ceasefire will work and the crisis will come to an end so pilgrims from all over the world will able to transit through Sudan to Saudi Arabia,”he added.
Earlier, the NAHCON’s Commissioner of Operations, Alhaji Abdullahi Magaji-Hardawa, said that President Muhammadu Buhari had approved a waiver of 65 per cent of all aviation related charges on the Nigerian airlines approved to transport pilgrims to Saudi Arabia
This, according to him, is to cushion the effects of eventualities for the airlines.
He said: “Nobody canvassed for that but as an organisation, we made the suggestion to the president and he graciously approved it.
“Now the challenges of crisis in Sudan is confronting us and it is threating the success of hajj operations.
“The airlines are business entities and they are partners in this dispensation.
“We want them to happily participate in the hajj operation and profitably.
“We have seven airlines approved by Buhari for this year’s hajj. Two airlines are dedicated to the pilgrims under the Tour Operators.”
According to Magaji-Hardawa, five airlines were for the 36 states and the FCT quota pilgrims.
“Among the five, there is a Saudi accredited airline. They are here with us and they are under bilateral air service agreement.
” Therefore, their position is distinct in the agreement and different with the other Nigeria airlines.
“We had a discussion with them and they are conscious of there diplomatic status, they listen and cooperated with us and they signed the transportation agreement,”he added.
NAN reports that no fewer than 95,000 pilgrims from Nigeria are expected to perform this year’s pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia. (NAN)
Four Missing Children Believed to be Alive, 17 Days After Plane Crash
Colombian authorities were believed to have found three children and a baby alive 17 days after a plane crashed with them on board in the jungle in the south of the country.
President Gustavo Petro made this known on Wednesday evening.
“After arduous search efforts by our Military Forces, we have found alive the 4 children who had disappeared due to the plane crash in Guaviare.
`A joy for the country,’’ Petro tweeted.
Colombian armed forces were still to confirm they had located the four minors – aged 13-years-old, 9-years-old, 4-years-old and 11-months-old.
On Wednesday morning, they found an improvised shelter built with sticks and branches in the jungle.
The Colombian government deployed more than 100 soldiers, sniffer dogs and local indigenous people to find the children.
The children were on board a Cessna C206 light aircraft when it crashed in the Amazon in the southern Caquetá department on May 1.
The three adults on board died in the crash. (dpa/NAN)
Senate Urges CBN to Release $717.4m Trapped Airlines Funds
The Senate, on Wednesday, urged the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to release 717, 478, 606 dollars airlines funds trapped in the country.
The upper chamber also called on the CBN to allocate 25 million dollars to airlines operating in Nigeria at its forth-nightly dollar auction.
These resolutions were reached sequel to the consideration of a motion titled: “Current Issues on airlines blocked funds in Nigeria” sponsored by Sen.Biodun Olujimi (PDP-Ekiti) on Wednesday at plenary.
Olujimi chairs the Senate Committee on Aviation.
Vice Chairman of the Committee, Sen. Bala Na’Allah (APC-Kebbi ) presented the motion on behalf of Olujimi.
The upper chamber also called on the Federal Government to urgently reverse the current trend of increasing airlines blocked funds in Nigeria.
It called on President Muhammadu Buhari to direct the CBN Governor,Mr Godwin Emefiele to pay up the blocked funds to the affected airlines.
The upper chamber further appealed to the airlines operating in the country not to withdraw their services while efforts were on-going to resolve the issue.
Moving the motion, Na’Allah said that since Jan. 2021, Nigeria had been the most challenged country in the world for the airlines to repatriate their funds to support their operation.
In Feb. Nigeria alone accounted for 44 per cent of total airlines blocked funds in the entire world.
The total airlines blocked funds in Nigeria as at March amounted to 717,478,606, dollars comprising matured bids that the CBN was yet to deliver, bids yet to mature and cash balances in airlines’ accounts for repatriation.
The matured bids not delivered by CBN amounted to 186.5 million dollars accounting for 26 per cent of total blocked funds while three stakeholders (IATA, Qatar Airways, and Ethiopian Airlines) accounted for 57 per cent of total blocked funds.
A review of airlines’ blocked funds in Nigeria in the last six months shows an average month-on-month increase of 49.3million dollars.
The consequences of these blocked funds are: Cheap tickets are not available in Nigeria because taxes and inflation will have eroded the profit when the funds are kept for a very long time.
This makes tickets very expensive and limited because neighbouring countries get the cheap tickets because of prompt payments due to prompt repatriation of funds.
Senators in their contributions supported the motion and voted to approve the prayers when
they were put to voice vote by Senate President Ahmed Lawan(NAN)
143 Passengers Safe as Max Aircraft Crash-Lands in Abuja
A Flight belonging to Max Air carrying 143 passengers from Yola, Adamawa State has crash-landed at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport Abuja.
An infant was also on board the aircraft.
Confirming the incident in a statement, the management of Max Air says the accident occurred after the aircraft experienced two tyre bursts on landing in Abuja.
“On May 7th, 2023, a Max Air flight with 143 passengers and 01 infant on board, departing from Yola at around 14:05 and was scheduled to arrive in Abuja at 15:00.However, the aircraft experienced two tire bursts on landing in Abuja, and the emergency response team quickly responded at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport,” it said.
“We are pleased to report that all passengers and crew on board the aircraft are safe and sound. The airline has taken all necessary steps to ensure that the passengers are comfortable and are being taken care of during this time,” the statement added.
“They have been conveyed to the arrival terminal with their luggage and belongings.
“The aircraft tires are being replaced and the aircraft will taxi to the ramp for further investigations before being released for future flights.”
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