By Adedapo Adesanya
The fourth richest man in the world, Mr Bill Gates, will take control of the Four Seasons Hotel chain after his investment firm agreed to acquire a stake from Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal’s Kingdom Holding Co, in a bet that luxury travel will rebound from a pandemic-induced slump.
Mr Gates’s Cascade Investment LLC will pay $2.2 billion in cash to boost its stake in Four Seasons Holdings to 71.25 per cent from 47.5 per cent, according to a statement last week.
Kingdom Holding, which will retain 23.75 per cent of the hotel chain, plans to use proceeds from the transaction for investments and to repay debt.
Four Seasons founder and chairman, Mr Isadore Sharp, through Triples Holdings Limited, will retain his 5 per cent stake.
Mr Sharp founded Four Seasons in 1960 and set the company on its path toward global expansion. Four Seasons now manages 121 hotels and resorts, and 46 residential properties in 47 countries complemented by a strong pipeline of more than 50 projects at various stages of development.
Four Seasons shareholders took the company private in 2007, when it managed 74 hotels, with Mr Gates and Mr Alwaleed leading the deal. The new owners expanded the company’s footprint to more markets in a bid to capitalise on what was then a booming market for luxury travel.
It has also expanded efforts to attach its brand to luxury homes, as real estate developers realised that affluent buyers would pay more to live in a condominium or residential community associated with the hotel brand.
The sale is expected to close in January 2022, pending regulatory approvals and the satisfaction of other customary closing conditions.
Speaking, Four Seasons CEO, Mr John Davison, stated that, “As we mark our 60th anniversary and look back on the profound impact that Four Seasons has had on luxury hospitality we also look forward with tremendous excitement and confidence in the future of the industry.
“The unwavering support and partnership of our shareholders has and continues to be critical as we capitalise on growing opportunities to serve luxury consumers worldwide.
“Our company is at yet another key moment in its storied history and the confidence of our shareholders in Four Seasons and our strategic vision help position the iconic Four Seasons brand for continued success.”
FG Lifts Suspension on Emirates Airlines
By Adedapo Adesanya
The federal government has lifted the ban it placed on Emirates Airlines from flying into Nigeria without conditions.
This was disclosed over the weekend by the Minister of Aviation, Mr Hadi Sirika, in Abuja in a statement signed by Mr James Odaudu, the Director of Public Affairs in the Ministry of Aviation.
Business Post had reported that the federal government barred Emirates from flying into Nigeria over discriminatory policies on Nigerians as regards COVID-19 protocols by the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
According to Mr Sirika, the move came in response to the yearnings of Nigerian travellers and after painstaking negotiations with the UAE, the Emirates Airlines home country.
The Minister further said that the UAE had also removed all travel restrictions on Nigerians.
“We have received communication from UAE removing some of the conditions of travel of which we had concerns about. Having done so, we feel we should lift the ban on the suspension of Emirates Airlines.
“All the impediments on Emirates have been lifted and that the airline can now operate in Nigeria,” he said.
Mr Sirika lauded the understanding of Nigerians in spite of the hardships experienced as a result of the spat between the two countries.
Also speaking, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr Geoffrey Onyema, noted that Nigeria recognised that UAE had a responsibility to protect the lives of its citizens.
He added that whatever measures the UAE had taken was for the best interest of her citizens.
He said that the negotiation that led to the renewed relationship was a balanced one and was a win-win for both countries.
Mr Onyema, who reiterated that though Nigeria had always had an excellent relationship with UAE, added that the negotiations had made the relationship even stronger.
On his part, the National Incidence Manager of the Presidential Steering Committee on COVID-19, Mr Muktar Mohammed, commended the leadership provided by members of the Committee in ensuring resolution of the impasse.
Mr Mohammed also disclosed that the committee was watching closely the developments within the Southern African regions with regards to the discovery of a new variant of the virus.
He added that necessary measures to prevent its entrance into Nigeria would be done.
FAAN Moves to Curb Extortion at Airports With Stiffer Sanctions
By Ashemiriogwa Emmanuel
The Managing Director of the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), Mr Rabiu Yadudu, has said that the authority will execute stiffer sanctions against violators to curb the issue of extortion by airport officials.
Mr Yadudu disclosed this on Monday, November 8, 2021, in Abuja, after the authority`s management meeting, noting that such a miscreant act is detrimental to the integrity of the nation`s airports and Nigeria’s reliability.
The action also responded to the concerns raised by stakeholders, passengers, and others over extortion at airports from officials and some agencies.
He disclosed that, henceforth, any official caught would lose his or her On Duty Card (ODC), which means such personnel will no longer have the privilege to access the airport terminal.
“And we agreed that once you lose your ODC at the airport, you will not get it back. If it is a company, we will advise them to get a new staff. If it is an agency, we will advise them to get another personnel,” he said.
According to him, the management further agreed to instruct all personnel working in the airport to have their name boldly written on the chest of the uniform in such a way that it can be easily seen.
He said a new number would be disclosed soon where airport users can send messages of reports in any event of extortion or wrong action, providing the name of the violator and other credible information of the situation.
“If you see the name of the person (violator), put his name and the act of violation. We will get back to you through your number.
“The sanction will be permanent. This is just the beginning of our strategy. If anyone loses their job I, think they will not try evil again,” he said.
Mr Yadudu said that the implementation of these measures by the management is immediate as it plans to meet with the airports’ regional managers and the Head of Departments (HODs), after which they will meet with their stakeholders and then the agencies.
Recently, an American vlogger known as Sabbatical described the Murtala Muhammed International Airport (MMIA) in Lagos as “extremely corrupt” because some officials were asking him for bribes.
Delta Airlines Resumes Direct Lagos-New York Flights
By Ashemiriogwa Emmanuel
A leading airline in domestic and international travel, Delta Airlines, has disclosed that it would be restoring its direct flight services from Lagos to the John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York in December this year.
The Airline’s Commercial Director Africa, the Middle East, and India, Mr Jimmy Eichelgruen, who disclosed this in a statement, added that the resumption of the popular route was timely as the festive season is fast approaching.
According to him, the operation of the flight service between Murtala Muhammed International Airport (MMIA) and New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport would be nonstop and three times a week which is set to go underway from December 8, 2021.
Business Post understands that this is coming as United Airlines, on the other hand, is also resuming direct flights on the Lagos-Washington route on November 29.
According to Delta Airline’s official, “The flight DL214 would depart MMIA at 11:25 on December 8 and arrive at the New York-JFK Airport at 17:15, while its Flight DL215 would leave New York-JFK at 23:55 and arrive at the MMIA at 16:00 on December 9.”
He added that the re-entry will also connect Lagos to Atlanta daily with connections to 46 cities at Delta’s JFK hub.
“Pre-pandemic, the U.S. was one of the most popular destinations for Nigerians and we don’t see any signs of this slowing down.
“We are proud to be the only airline connecting Nigeria nonstop to two destinations in the United States, offering more choice and award-winning service whether travelling for business or leisure.
“Therefore, Delta has scheduled an Airbus A330-200 aircraft on the JFK route, which features a choice of Delta One, Delta Comfort, and Main Cabin seats,” he stated.
He added that personal seatback entertainment screens, along with on-demand Wi-Fi for purchase with free mobile messaging will be made available to passengers throughout their flight, while passengers on Delta One can pre-order their in-flight meal and enjoy complimentary lounge access before they fly
While this will reconnect with family and friends across the United States, Mr Eichelgruen said that the airline continually develops its layers of protection to ensure a safer travel experience, even amid the face of the pandemic.
To aid this, its integrated digital health credential platform, Delta FlyReady, already makes it possible for most customers travelling to the United States to upload a negative Covid-19 test result prior to travel, and vaccination credentials as well.
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