American carrier, Delta Airline, has disclosed arrangements to air Nigerian movies, popularly known as Nollywood, on-board its international flights, including those between the United States and Nigeria. 

In a statement issued by its media consultant in Nigeria, the airline revealed that Nollywood movies would soon be rolled out across Delta’s inflight entertainment system, Delta Studio, adding that the process would be completed by April.

According to the statement, the first set of films to be shown are ‘Bambitious’ and ‘A Place Called Happy’ while more titles would also be aired later in the year. The movies would be available on 339 aircraft flying both internationally and on U.S. domestic routes, including Delta’s daily service between Lagos and Atlanta.

Delta’s Commercial Director for East and West Africa, Mr. Bobby Bryan, noted that as a global carrier, the airline listened to its international customers to shape the carrier’s product and services to offer what they wanted. “We already offer African menus and the introduction of Nollywood films shows our commitment to this region and offering local customers popular local entertainment,” he added.

Ayo Makun, producer and lead actor of ‘30 Days In Atlanta,’ which is named in the Guinness World Records 2017 as Nollywood’s highest domestic grossing film said: “I applaud Delta for bringing Nollywood to a new global audience. Our films are already popular in Africa but I’m looking forward to more film fans becoming lifelong Nollywood fans too.”

Delta’s in-flight entertainment system, Delta Studio, showcase more than 1,000 hours of entertainment, including up to 300 movies, 750 TV shows, 100 foreign film titles, 2,400 songs, 18 channels of live satellite TV on select aircraft and a selection of games, podcasts, and audiobooks. Entertainment can also be watched in the palm of your hands thanks to on-demand Wi-Fi available on all flights, enabling a selection of films to be streamed to laptops as well as mobile and tablet devices.

Delta flies to four cities in four African countries, Accra, Ghana; Dakar, Senegal; Johannesburg, South Africa, and Lagos, Nigeria. The airline also has sales offices in a number of additional markets, including Kenya and Uganda.

Aviation Round Up: Arik Can’t Afford N1.6b Fuel Cost To Sustain International Routes—AMCON MD
Ahmed Kuru, the Managing Director of Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON), has revealed that his agency was seriously contemplating suspending international flights by debt-plagued Arik Air, which was last week taken over by AMCON. Speaking to members of the Senate Committee on Banking, Insurance and other Financial Institutions in Abuja, Mr. Kuru revealed that the beleaguered airline could no longer afford the N1.6 billion it spent on aviation fuel in order to run 12 regional and international routes.

Mr. Kuru told the senators that AMCON had determined that Arik Air lacked the capacity to operate international flights.

“We are thinking of suspending international flights. Arik Air needs about N1.6 billion to buy fuel for regional and international routes. We cannot do that right now. By the time we manage it for about six months and the airline can now survive, then we can sit down and talk about where to go from there,” he told the Senate committee.

Mr. Kuru added, “Based on what we have achieved in just one week, we are hopeful that in the next three weeks, the issue of delayed or canceled flights will be things of the past.

According to him, AMCON’s seizure of the management of the airline was part of the Federal Government’s “responsibility to ensure that it intervenes whenever there is any threat to national interest. Within the next 30 days, we will be going to places we have not been to in the last three years.”

The AMCON MD also revealed that the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) was prepared to support moves to ensure the turnaround of Arik Air. He stated that the airline had in 2011 acquired total loans of N85 billion from two banks, N71 billion from Union Bank Plc. and N14 billion from Keystone Bank Limited. He disclosed that Arik obtained the loans to purchase additional aircraft and refinance existing loans, adding that the airline’s default in repaying the loans “posed systemic threat to the banks and indeed the Nigerian economy.”

He said Arik’s major shareholder, Johnson Arumemi-Ikhide, and the embattled airline were indebted to AMCON as well as several commercial banks, including Standard Chartered, Zenith Bank, Ecobank and Access Bank, to the tune of N165 billion. “N26 billion is owed to the aviation agencies and regulations. $11million is owed to European aviation agencies and service providers. $20 million owed to Lufthansa Technique.”

He disclosed that AMCON had also “acquired three other non-performing loans of companies in which the principal promoter is Sir Johnson Arumemi-Ikhide.

Rockson Engineering (N107 billion), Ojemai Farms Limited (N8.6 billion), Ojemai Investment Limited (N1.9 billion).” He stated that Mr. Arumemi-Ikhide owes AMCON N263.7 billion in debt.

In September 2011, AMCON had restructured Arik’s debt from N85 billion to N70 billion as a nine-year term loan running at 12 per cent per annum. Mr. Kuru explained that Arik had paid only N4.6 billion of its debt obligations, representing 3.2 per cent of its current debt exposure, adding that the airline had over the last 12 months paid only N50 million only.

As at December 2016, Arik’s debt to AMCON stood at more than N146 billion due to mounting interests and unpaid principal. Mr. Kuru revealed that, in addition to the airline’s huge debt to AMCON, Arik also owed more than N165 billion to commercial banks. He estimated the airline’s foreign debt portfolio at $81 million.

Mr. Kuru also stated that the carrier owed between six and seven months’ salary arrears to more than 2000 workers. He said the airline frequently relied on a collection of fares from passengers to buy such basic things as aviation fuel. He said the airline’s incessant flight cancellations and delays resulted from its inability to buy aviation fuel.

Ahead Of Closure Of Abuja Airport, NAMA Upgrades Kaduna Airport 

With the Abuja Airport scheduled for closure in March 2017 for major rehabilitation, the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA) has commenced the upgrade of navigational facilities at the Kaduna Airport.

NAMA explained that the upgrade would enable the Kaduna Airport to absorb the increased volume of traffic after the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja is closed on March 8, 2017 for the repairs of its runway.

In a statement, NAMA’s acting General Manager in charge of Public Affairs, Olajumoke Adetona, said the agency was deploying both equipment and personnel to strategic areas of need to ensure a seamless flow of traffic at the Kaduna Airport during the six-week closure of the Abuja Airport. Ms. Adetona’s statement quoted General Manager, Safety Management Systems/Quality Assurance, Mathew Lawrence Pwajok, as saying that the agency had commenced the installation of a digital Instrument Landing System (ILS) at the Kaduna Airport.

NAMA disclosed that the ILS would undergo flight calibration along with the Very High-Frequency Omnidirectional Radio Range (VOR) already installed in order to ensure their accuracy.

“NAMA is also currently conducting a safety assessment of the entire Kaduna airport to ensure that it conforms to international safety standards, just as new equipment is being procured for the control tower under construction while a mobile control tower is to be deployed to the airport to support the old control tower already in use,” NAMA stated.

The agency disclosed that the Abuja Airport radar would also be used to provide radar surveillance of traffic moving in and out of Kaduna to provide safety and efficiency of flight operations, adding that new generating sets would be installed to provide secondary power supply to the navigational aids.

According to NAMA, other facilities already installed in Kaduna include a low-level wind shear alerting system and cooling systems. The agency added that Performance Based Navigation (PBN) procedures for satellite-based navigation capability had been published for certain aircraft to use for approach and landing rather than the ground aids.

NAMA revealed that various categories of additional personnel would be deployed to the airport to complement the available manpower throughout the duration of the Abuja airport closure. These include those to handle Aeronautical Information Services (AIS), communications, air traffic control and engineers.

NAMA explained that its Managing Director, Captain Fola Akinkuotu, recently inspected the facility upgrade in Kaduna, expressing satisfaction with the level work and stating that the sophisticated nature of facilities being installed would make Kaduna an excellent alternative for the Abuja airport.

Qatar Airways Hit By Bird Strike, But No Burst Tire—NCAA 

The Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) has clarified that Qatar Airways last Thursday at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport (MMIA), Lagos recorded a bird strike incident in one of its engines, adding that the airline did not sustain a burst tire as some media had reported.

According to NCAA, the moment the pilot in command of the Airbus A330 noticed the strike, he made an air return to MMIA in accordance with industry standards.

NCAA’s spokesman, Sam Adurogboye, said the aircraft, which was on a scheduled flight from Lagos to Doha, received a push back to take off again at 2.45 a.m. with 256 passengers and 10 crew on board. According to NCAA, the bird strike hit the number one engine, stressing that on the aircraft’s safe return to Lagos Airport, diligent inspection was carried out on it. He stressed that the checks found no damage to any part of the aircraft.

NCAA stated that since no damage was detected, the aircraft was cleared to recommence its operation. “It is pertinent to point out that the aircraft pilot adhered to the Standard and Recommended Practices (SARPs) in undertaking an air return. This was to carry out an assessment of the impact of the bird strike before continuing the flight,” NCAA said.

The aviation agency assured all stakeholders in the sector that it would continue to ensure robust safety oversight of the industry for safe and secure air transportation.

New Aviation Union Attracts Over 2,000 Professionals

More than 2000 professionals have enlisted as members of the newly registered Association of Nigeria Aviation Professionals (ANAP). 

The disclosure was contained in a statement jointly signed by the union’s President General, Kabir Gusau, and General Secretary, Abdul-Rasaq Saidu. The statement disclosed that the membership cut across all agencies in the aviation industry.

Some of the agencies whose staff registered in the union include the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA), Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), Nigerian College of Aviation Technology (NCAT) and the Nigerian Meteorological Agency (NIMET).

The new union remarked that members had submitted their individual voluntary declaration forms in line with its constitution and Trade Unions (Amendment) Act, 2005.

“A general meeting will soon be called where more genuine information will be given to members as we are aware of the blackmails being spread by disgruntled and sell out people,” the union stated. It added, “ANAP shall not disappoint you. We shall protect your interest in all its ramifications.”

In 2016, the Ministry of Labor and Productivity registered ANAP as one of the unions in the aviation industry after the union had gone through registration processes for more than seven years. Before its registration, the union was formerly known as Nigerian Aviation Professionals Association (NAPA).

Lufthansa Opens New Application For Nigeria, Others Event Agents

German carrier, Lufthansa, has backed the sales of its tickets by online event agents through the Lufthansa Open Application Programming Interface (API).

The airline disclosed that, through its platform, online event agents who want to spare their clients unnecessary effort would now be able to offer suitable Lufthansa flights directly from their websites or apps in combination with the event tickets.

This is the first time any major airline around the world would offer such service to air travelers through event agents.

In a statement, the airline’s media consultant in Nigeria disclosed that agents from Nigeria would also benefit from the innovation, saying that the era of searching for suitable flights, trains or hotels could now be a thing of the past. The statement revealed that the Lufthansa Group had made standardized data available to developers in a controlled manner through the API.

“From now on, developers anywhere—including Nigeria—will be able to use the interface to integrate direct booking links for offers from Lufthansa, Eurowings and Austrian Airlines into their web- and app-based offers,” said the statement. It added, “They will be able to increase the appeal of their services by incorporating Lufthansa products and will also receive compensation for the prominent display of Lufthansa products on their websites whenever the API integration generates bookings on lufthansa.com.

“With Open API, the Lufthansa Group is implementing a strategy of open innovation with the purpose of securing access to untapped online marketplaces and expanding ticket sales in future. Lufthansa is the first airline to upgrade the Open API to a fully-fledged sales channel.”

Commenting on the development, Lufthansa’s Senior Vice President in charge of Sales, Heike Birlenbach, said that the airline was taking the increasing importance of digital sales platforms into account. He explained that, more than ever before, today’s travelers expected a user experience from their preferred apps and websites that is as simple as possible.

The opportunity to seamlessly integrate booking for flights with Lufthansa, Eurowings and Austrian Airlines through the Open API, he emphasized, added an additional channel to the sales and distribution portfolio of the Lufthansa Group.

“In the end, the customers, the platform providers and the Lufthansa Group will all benefit equally,” he said.

The developers of the previously mentioned online ticketing platform, he maintained, would be able to use the Open API to link their event calendars with the booking information of the Lufthansa Group airlines and offer their customers package deals, which included concert tickets and flights.

Combining a reason for travel with flight booking is one of many new digital solutions made possible by the Lufthansa Open API. Other conceivable solutions include booking platforms that correlate weather information with flight information and only recommend destinations for short trips where good weather has been predicted.

The airline also indicated that it would be possible to smoothly integrate flight offers for different needs and contexts into third-party channels. The airline disclosed that the solutions to be created would depend on what the developers want to experiment with. 

 

 

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