By Dipo Olowookere
All is now set for the inaugural flight of United Nigeria Airlines as the management has confirmed that the company will begin operations on Friday, February 12, 2021.
According to the organisation’s Head of Corporate Communications, Mr Achilleus-Chud Uchegbu, the inaugural flight will be conducted with an EMB145 aircraft.
He further disclosed that the flight will depart Lagos through the domestic wing of the Murtala Mohammed International Airport (MM2), Ikeja and then land at the Akanu Ibiam International Airport Enugu.
Mr Uchegbu further said the aircraft will thereafter leave Enugu to the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport in Abuja before making a return to Lagos.
He said adequate preparations have been made for a smooth journey through the different routes, noting that the company was ready to put a smile on the faces of passengers.
The image-maker of United Nigeria Airlines expressed confidence that the company will transform the way people fly, assuring that they will get value for their money and trust in the firm.
He said, for now, the airline will carry out regular daily flight operations to Lagos, Abuja, Asaba, Enugu, with Port Harcourt and Owerri to follow very soon.
United Nigeria Airlines, after fulfilling all mandatory regulatory requirements, was issued an Air Operators Certificate (AOC) by the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), enabling it to begin flight domestic operations.
Business Post gathered from reports that United Nigeria Airlines is owned by a billionaire businessman, Mr Obiorah Okonkwo. The airline is operated by Private Airlines Services Limited.
The company aims to become the most efficient airline operator in Nigeria and increase its assets and investments to support the development of its services for regional and international operations and then build good reputation in the aviation sector and become a strategic player in the industry, globally.
United Nigeria Airlines is coming on board at a time the aviation industry is struggling to get back on its feet as a result of the devastating blow it was dealt with by COVID-19, which forced governments across the globe to restrict the movement of people.
CopterJet to Position Nigeria’s Aviation Sector as Global Powerhouse
By Dipo Olowookere
If all things go well as planned, Nigeria’s aviation sector will soon become a global powerhouse with the entry of CopterJet, a specialist service firm, into the aviation value chain.
Last Thursday, the company launched its operations in Nigeria at an event held at the Murtala Mohammed International Airport (MMIA), Ikeja, Lagos, with several important persons in the sector in attendance.
The Chief Executive Officer of Copterjet International, Captain Toluwa Olorunyomi, the organisation has put in place strategies aimed to shoot the nation’s aviation industry to the top.
However, he called for strategic collaboration with stakeholders because the country has the number and strength to propel the aviation industry to the fore of global competitiveness with innovative solutions.
“At Copterjet, our vision is premised on a resolute mandate to transform the aviation industry in Nigeria and beyond.
“We have drawn a detailed roadmap with back-end strategy geared towards driving major initiatives that would herald a new era of opportunities to position Nigeria’s aviation industry as a global powerhouse.
“Our coming marks the beginning of a new dawn and also a historic event in the aviation industry,” the respected stakeholder in the sector disclosed at the unveiling ceremony.
Mr Olorunyomi, who said CopterJet was fully prepared to step into the aviation industry from the top end of the market, stated that with the right initiatives, support and collaboration with key players, the Nigerian aviation industry would drive economic prosperity and sustainability.
He emphasised that the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the global aviation ecosystem and its fallout on the tourism and hospitality businesses created an opportunity for stakeholders, including his company, to identify strategies and innovative solutions that would change the narratives in the business space, especially with the right partnership.
“I call on captains of industry to rise to the occasion and make Nigeria the hub of aviation in Africa. We have the number, we have the strength and so it is high time we leveraged on our strengths. We must be as competitive as possible in the industry given the necessary support,” he said.
On his part, the president of the National Association of Aircraft Pilots and Engineers (NAAPE), Mr Abednego Galadima, lauded Copterjet for its commitment to taking aviation to an enviable height, noting that the company’s services would not only help airline operators but also other aviation stakeholders.
“Copterjet will provide solutions to aircraft and equipment leasing where there has been a huge gap for years. With greater cooperation in the industry, Nigeria will experience newness and that will spur a new impetus in the industry. They have come and are here for the good of all,” Mr Galadima stated.
Back-Catering: NLC Threatens Action Against Foreign Airlines
By Adedapo Adesanya
The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has alleged that some foreign airlines engage in back-catering, a situation where they bring in food from their countries instead of from Nigeria.
This claim was made by the Chairman of the Lagos State Chapter, Mrs Funmi Sessi in Lagos. She pointed out that Egypt Air, Ethiopian Airlines and Rwanda Air were the culpable operators involved in the alleged act.
Mrs Sessi said that preventing local suppliers from providing catering services for the airlines had reduced employment opportunities for the Nigerian populace.
“As part of building the economy and trying to boost the aviation sector following the COVID-19 pandemic, labour through NLC Lagos has discovered that foreign airlines are now in the habit of back-catering,” she said.
The NLC chairman said that some of the companies certified by the federal government to provide catering services had already retrenched some of their workers and lost percentages of their turnovers.
She listed the companies to include Newrest ASL Nigeria; Pan African Catering Services; Servair Nigeria, and LSG Sky Chefs.
“Servair Nigeria has over 200 workers; Newrest ASL over 600 workers, both in Lagos and Abuja; Servair Nigeria has already retrenched about 80 workers since the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Also, Newrest ASL has retrenched 122 workers, because these airlines are not patronising them.
“Newrest ASL has lost 58 per cent of its turnover, while Servair Nigeria lost 66 per cent,” the labour union leader said.
She then read out that labour would be forced to take decisive action if the practice does not stop.
She urged stakeholders in the aviation sector, including the government, to intervene and urgently address the issue.
“Other countries do not allow this practice, so why should ours be different; this means there will be job losses for the workers,” she said.
FG Considers Aerotropolis at Nigerian Airports
By Adedapo Adesanya
The federal government has conceived the idea of building an aerotropolis in the country’s airports which will showcase Nigeria’s rich cultural heritage and tourism potential while boosting businesses and investment.
This was made when the convener of the EnjoyNigeria Expo 2021, Mr Isa Yusuf Sago, paid a visit to the ministry of aviation to seek collaboration ahead of the exposition.
The Minister, Mr Hadi Sirika, said the ministry had introduced and collaborated on many programmes to showcase Nigeria’s rich cultural and tourism heritage and potential.
Mr Sirika, represented by Mr Shehu Mohammad, who pledged his cooperation and support to the success of the event, said one of the programmes introduced was aerotropolis, which means “eco-city.”
Explaining further about the concept of aerotropolis, he said: “If you go India, Singapore, Dubai, or Qatar, their airports are surrounded with international hotels, recreational centres, tourism industry.
“This is what we want to establish in the international airports in Abuja, Lagos, Port-Harcourt and Kano.”
On his part, the convener, EnjoyNigeria Expo 2021, Mr Sago, said the trade and cultural exhibition being organised by the Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment (FMITI) is designed to benefit the nation’s Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) sub-sector.
He said the international exhibition would go a long way to showcase Nigerian products and entry to the world.
He explained that MSMEs operators and entrepreneurs in the country have not been given enough platform to showcase their products both locally and internationally, hence there was an urgent need to bridge the existing gap.
As part of efforts to boost the activities of MSMEs operators and Entrepreneurs, he said, they would be trained on best business practices as well as get support and networking from other big-time business operators and investors during the Expo.
“We are here to help businesses to grow. Ours is a calling to help Nigeria.
“We had identified these gaps and we must close them for the benefit of our people and Nigeria.”
He underscored the need to promote Nigeria’s creative, entertainment, cultural and tourism industries, adding that these sectors of the economy are multi-billion dollar industries that should be explored for employment creation and revenue generation.
Speaking further, the convener pointed out that food, fashion, music, creative, art and culture, creative performance and tourism sector would feature during the week-long event that starts on December 6-12, 2021, in Abuja.
He, therefore, called on the government to create an enabling environment for SMEs to thrive, adding that government needs to look inward and empower the SMEs operators and entrepreneurs in the country.
Mr Sago further revealed that already the Federal Ministries of Women Affairs and Social Development, Information and Culture; Youth and Sports have thrown their weight behind the Expo.
Therefore, he sought support and collaboration with the Ministry of Aviation in the facilitation of the movement of prospective investors during the programme.
Also speaking, the Director of Investment in the Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment, Mrs Funke Ajayi, said the forthcoming Expo would help to unite Nigeria, as many SMEs operators and Entrepreneurs from across the length and breadth of the country would participate actively and network among themselves during the expo.
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