Air Peace, on Monday, said it has stopped flight operations to Johannesburg, South Africa effective from August 22, 2022, due to delayed issuance of South African visas to travellers, worsening forex crunch and the increasing cost of aviation fuel as well as its scarcity.
The carrier in a statement on items official Twitter handle said the development was regretted but has become inevitable, saying the situation may improve in 60 days.
According to the airline, they have informed the South African High Commission in Lagos of the effects of the difficulty in getting SA visas by Nigerians, which consequence is the abysmally low passenger loads o flights to and from Johannesburg.
The statement read, “Passengers whose flights are affected have the option of rescheduling to fly before August 22, 2022, or from October 9, 2022. Passengers can also request a refund via firstname.lastname@example.org and our team will attend to it promptly.
The carrier apologised for the inconveniences caused, stressing that it would keep the public updated while it hoped the situation improves.
The sudden stoppage of operations by Nigeria’s airlines has further reinforced the precarious situation of carriers in the country and globally as airlines are extremely finding it difficult to operate profitably because of the crisis that has hit the sector, particularly on the skyrocketing prices of Jet fuel.
The foreign exchange (FX) liquidity crisis is eating deeper into the daily operations of the local airlines, causing airlines’ capacity to dwindle and hitting up airfares.
With aviation fuel at its all-time high and foreign exchange unavailable to meet obligations on schedule, local air travellers should brace up for tougher days ahead.
Operators have warned that the dire situation, now feasting on airlines’ operations, would worsen flight delays and cancellations, further reduce frequencies and routes, and push airfares higher as more carriers battle to stay afloat.
With 10 local airlines suddenly down to eight, the effects are telling on local travels. On the one hand are the stranded travellers on less viable routes. On the other are high-frequency routes that are now affected by high fares.
Emirates airline suspends operations in Nigeria over $85m trapped funds
From September 1st, 2022, Emirates airlines will cease to operate flight operations in and out of Nigeria.
It could be recalled that Emirate airline had cut down on its weekly number of flights into Lagos from 11 to seven over US$85 million of funds awaiting repatriation from Nigeria.
The airline said the figure has been rising by more than $US10 million every month, as the ongoing operational costs of our 11 weekly flights to Lagos and 5 to Abuja continue to accumulate.
They, however, said that the trapped funds are urgently needed to meet operational costs and maintain the commercial viability of their services to Nigeria.
“We simply cannot continue to operate at the current level in the face of mounting losses, especially in the challenging post-COVID-19 climate. Emirates did try to stem the losses by proposing to pay for fuel in Nigeria in Naira, which would have at least reduced one element of our ongoing costs, however, this request was denied by the supplier,” the airline had said.
However, with no considerable improvement and headway in repatriating the trapped fund, the airline, on Thursday, announced the suspension of its operations in Nigeria indefinitely.
The statement reads, “Emirates has tried every avenue to address our ongoing challenges in repatriating funds from Nigeria, and we have made considerable efforts to initiate dialogue with the relevant authorities for their urgent intervention to help find a viable solution.
“Regrettably there has been no progress. Therefore, Emirates has taken the difficult decision to suspend all flights to and from Nigeria, effective 1st September 2022, to limit further losses and impact on our operational costs that continue to accumulate in the market.
“We sincerely regret the inconvenience caused to our customers, however, the circumstances are beyond our control at this stage. We will be working to help impacted customers make alternative travel arrangements wherever possible.”
“Should there be any positive developments in the coming days regarding Emirates’ blocked funds in Nigeria, we will of course re-evaluate our decision. We remain keen to serve Nigeria, and our operations provide much-needed connectivity for Nigerian travelers, providing access to trade and tourism opportunities to Dubai, and to our broader network of over 130 destinations.”
FAAN debunks rumours of Lagos plane crash
The Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) on Wednesday debunked viral news that a plane had crashed in the Ikeja area of Lagos State.
In a short statement posted on its verified Facebook page, the airport authority said that the plane was sold by the owner and was being transported by the new buyer.
“The Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria would like to inform the general public to disregard the news making the rounds on social media about an alleged crash at Ikeja Airport.
The aircraft was sold by the owner to a buyer, who was taking it to its final destination.”
This clarification came after a wingless plane was seen being transported on a flatbed trailer on the road at Ikeja- along bus stop axis, Lagos, causing gridlock and panic among road users.
Russia bans flights from Bulgaria, Poland, Czech Republic
In a retaliatory move, Russia said it was closing its airspace to flights from Bulgaria, Poland and the Czech Republic in tit-for-tat punitive measures following Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.
“Air carriers of these states and/or registered in them are subject to restrictions on flights to destinations on the territory of the Russian Federation, including transit flights through the airspace of the Russian Federation,” the federal air transport agency Rosaviation said on Saturday.
The measure is set to go into effect from 3 pm local time.
Several countries, including Bulgaria, Poland and the Czech Republic, have closed their airspace to Russian carriers.
Meanwhile, Estonia, Latvia and Slovenia on Saturday also said they would ban Russian flights.
“We invite all EU countries to do the same,” Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas tweeted, adding, “There is no place for planes of the aggressor state in democratic skies”.
Slovenian Prime Minister Janez Jansa quoted Kallas’s tweet saying, “Slovenia will do the same”.
Latvian Transport Minister Talis Linkaits also said on Twitter that “Latvia will close its airspace to Russian-registered airlines for commercial flights,” adding that the decision would be formally approved at the next cabinet meeting.
The United Kingdom has banned Russian flagship carrier Aeroflot from flying over the UK.
Russia on Thursday had announced the closure of its airspace for civilian flights on the western border with Ukraine and Belarus, while Ukraine closed its airspace to civilian flights and Europe’s aviation regulator also warned against the hazards of flying in areas bordering Russia and Belarus.
The moves came after Russian President Vladimir Putin launched a full-scale military invasion of Ukraine days after recognising two rebel-controlled areas of the eastern Donbas region as independent entities.
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