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AVIATION: Airline Operators Slam FAAN, Reject Fuel Racketing

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The Airline Operators of Nigeria have expressed displeasure about the numerous issues in the aviation industry, adding that the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria is responsible for the flight delays and cancellations.

They said the inadequacy of critical infrastructure at the airport is responsible for the numerous flight delays in the country.

This was disclosed at a press conference on Wednesday in Abuja.

Speaking at the event, the Chairman of Air Peace, Allen Onyema, said when it comes to flight delays and cancellations so many things are involved which many people do not know but rather blame the airlines, adding that no airline in the world would want to delay flights because of the cost implications.

“How would I just wake up and want to delay my flight when I know I am going to incur a heavy cost.”

Further speaking, Onyema said Nigerian airlines are operating in a very hostile environment with limited infrastructure.

“The Airlines are at the mercy of everybody. The owners of airlines in Nigeria are patriotic because it is not profitable. They are doing it as a service to Nigeria and should be applauded, not demonized.

“Nigerian indigenous airlines are performing under certain conditions that we should be applauded for still staying afloat. Is it forex, or fuel infrastructure? How about bird strikes in a good country? the airlines would have gone to court against FAAN for all the bird strikes because we pay for these services. Air Peace alone had had over twenty bird strikes in a year.”

Meanwhile, the Chairman, of United Nigeria Airlines, and Spokesperson for AON, Prof Obiora Okonkwo, said there is huge racketeering in the aviation fuel imports to the detriment of the airlines.

According to him, aviation fuel selling above N800/liter isn’t acceptable as our calculation shows that it shouldn’t be selling above N500/liter.

He said, “the authorities should make forex available and do something about the fuel racketeering. We are paying above the real cost. We are not asking for free money nor subsidy but the right thing should be done as the burden is transferred to the travelers.”

The President/Chief Executive Officer, Top Brass Aviation, Capt. Roland Iyayi noted that the inadequacy of critical infrastructure impacts more on flight delays more than any other thing.

He said that even check-in counters are not enough, the apron area isn’t enough and the airports are mostly sunsets thus unavailable for night operations.

“The truth is, have you gone to Abuja Airport during peak hours? Do you have about ten airlines in one small living room? If you have, for example, if an airline has Owerri, Enugu, Kano, Jos, and Maiduguri flight schedules, those destinations should have individual desks, but it’s not so.”

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JUST IN: 31-Yr-Old Belgium Star, Eden Hazard Quits International Football

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Belgium star Eden Hazard announced his retirement from international football on Wednesday, days after the team crashed out of the World Cup in the group stage.

The Real Madrid forward, 31, made the announcement on social media, saying “a page turns today”.

“Thank you for your unparalleled support,” he posted on Instagram.

“Thank you for all this happiness shared since 2008. I have decided to put an end to my international career.

“The succession is ready. I will miss you.”

Hazard was the standard-bearer of Belgium’s much-vaunted “golden generation”, which reached the semi-finals at the 2018 World Cup in Russia.

The ageing team failed to make it past the first round in Qatar, finishing third in Group F behind Morocco and Croatia.

 

Credit: AFP

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Post-COVID Protest: China Loosens Strict Restrictions 2-Yrs After Pandemic

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China announced Wednesday a nationwide loosening of Covid restrictions following protests against the hardline strategy that grew into calls for greater political freedoms.

Anger over China’s zero-Covid policy, which involved mass lockdowns, constant testing and quarantines even for people who are not infected, stoked unrest not seen since the 1989 pro-democracy protests.

Under the new guidelines announced by the National Health Commission, the frequency and scope of PCR testing — long a tedious mainstay of life in zero-Covid China — will be reduced.

Lockdowns will also be scaled down and people with non-severe Covid cases can isolate at home instead of centralised government facilities.

And people will no longer be required to show a green health code on their phone to enter public buildings and spaces, except for “nursing homes, medical institutions, kindergartens, middle and high schools.”

The new rules scrap the forced quarantines for people with no symptoms or with mild cases.

“Asymptomatic infected persons and mild cases who are eligible for home isolation are generally isolated at home, or they can voluntarily choose centralised isolation for treatment,” the new rules read.

“Mass PCR testing only carried out in schools, hospitals, nursing homes and high-risk work units; scope and frequency of PCR testing to be further reduced,” they added.

“People travelling across provinces do not need to provide a 48h test result and do not need to test upon arrival.”

China will also accelerate the vaccination of the elderly, the NHC said, long seen as a major obstacle to the relaxation of Beijing’s no-tolerance approach to Covid.

Rare demonstrations against the ruling Communist Party’s zero-Covid strategy broke out across China late last month.

They expanded into calls for more political freedoms, with some even calling for President Xi Jinping to resign.

Authorities cracked down on subsequent efforts to protest while easing a number of restrictions, with some Chinese cities tentatively rolling back mass testing and curbs on movement.

The capital Beijing, where many businesses have fully reopened, said this week that commuters were no longer required to show a negative virus test taken within 48 hours to use public transport.

Financial hub Shanghai, which underwent a brutal two-month lockdown this year, announced the same rules, with residents able to enter outdoor venues such as parks and tourist attractions without a recent test.

And once dominated by doom and gloom coverage of the dangers of the virus and scenes of pandemic chaos abroad, China’s tightly controlled media dramatically shifted tone to support a tentative moving away from zero-Covid.

The prevalent Omicron strain is “not at all like last year’s Delta variant,” Guangzhou-based medicine professor Chong Yutian said in an article published by the Communist Party-run China Youth Daily.

“After infection with the Omicron variant, the vast majority will have no or light symptoms, and very few will go on to have severe symptoms, this is already widely known,” he assured readers.

But analysts at Japanese firm Nomura on Monday calculated that 53 cities — home to nearly a third of China’s population — still had some restrictions in place.

Wednesday’s announcement came hours after the government released further data showing the crippling economic impacts of zero-Covid.

Imports and exports plunged in November to levels not seen since early 2020.

Imports in November fell 10.6 percent year-on-year, the biggest drop since May 2020, according to the General Administration of Customs. Exports fell 8.7 percent over the same period.

 

Credit: AFP

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19-Yr-Old Endurance Arrested After Defrauding A British Lady Of £450K And Using The Money To Buy Cars, Gold Chains, Others

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A 19-year-old  man, Iredia Endurance has been arrested by the operatives of Benin Zonal Command of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, for alleged fraud.

According to a statement released by Wilson Uwujaren, spokesperson of the anti-graft agencym says Endurance was recently arrested by the Commission following a petition by one Chrstine Brown, a British citizen, alleging that the suspect defrauded her of £450,000.00.

“Upon arrest, the suspect confessed he received £250,000.00 from the complainant in Bitcoin, FedEx and gift cards. On what he did with the money, the suspect averred that they were expanded on cars, gold chains, and landed properties, among others.

Some of the items recovered from the suspect include mobile  phones, laptops, sim cards and landed property.” He added that the suspect will be charged to court as soon as investigations are concluded.

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