Thursday, May 21, 2009

Johannesburg - Lagos flights

The Managing Director, of the Arik airline, Mr. Mike McTighe, said at a press conference in Lagos that it had secured all approvals necessary for the commencement of the flights.

On Monday, said it would commence a non-stop daily flights between Lagos, Nigeria and Johannesburg, South Africa, its second long haul international destination, by June 1.

He said, “This is a particularly exciting development for all travellers between Lagos and Johannesburg. Our service will be operated with a newly acquired Airbus A340-500 aircraft. This allows us to offer our on-board guests the very highest levels of in-flight service.

“The airline’s first A340-500 is proving popular on its daily service between Lagos and London Heathrow. This second new airbus is configured in the same spacious layout with 36 seats in premier class and 201 seats in economy class.”

According to him, the flights will depart from the Murtala Muhammed International, Airport, Lagos, at 21.35pm local time and arrive Oliver Tambo International Airport, Johannesburg, at 04.50am the following morning.

McTighe said that the return flight would depart Johannesburg at 1.45pm local time, and arrive Lagos at 7.00pm local time on the same day.

“With our attractive on-board product, Arik is very proud to be able to now offer our service to customers wishing to travel between Lagos and Johannesburg.

“Guests in premier class will enjoy luxurious leather-upholstered seats that convert into fully flat 75-inch long beds, a state-of-the-art personal video- and audio-on-demand entertainment system and a wide 17-inch personal TV screen. Guests will also have their own in-flight bar area in which to relax,” he stated.

McTighe said its economy cabin’s seat-back entertainment, which comes in a 2-4-2 seat layout provides each guest with up to 50 per cent more legroom than competitors, saying, no passenger would be more than one seat away from the aisle.

The Arik boss also exuded confidence that the airline’s schedule would prove popular with its future customers in South Africa .

Arik will be competing against Bellview and South Africa Airways currently operating on the route. Virgin Nigeria suspended flights on the route early this year, citing economic reasons.

renting out flights to foreign carrier

Kingfisher Airlines going to rent out at least two of its five long-haul A330-223 aircraft to Nigerian carrier Arik Air Ltd for two years from the third quarter of 2009.

This indicates that the Mumbai-based carrier’s expansion plans into Europe and the US remain uncertain. It sold two of its long-haul, Airbus SAS-made A340s to Arik Air late last year when it was scheduled to take deliveries of 10 other aircraft to start international operations.
Kingfisher Airlines, India’s largest private carrier by passengers, launched only a few international flights with five of the A330s deliveries it accepted.
“All it says is that Kingfisher will not expand in the long-haul sector for at least two years,” a London-based analyst said on condition of anonymity. “It will continue to expand in the region and I expect flights to start to Singapore, Bangkok, Kathmandu and the Middle East in the next 18 months.”

The Arik Air lease will start almost a year after the two A330s, valued at list prices of $180.9 million (Rs862 crore) each, have been grounded.
Rival domestic carrier Jet Airways (India) Ltd has given nine wide-body aircraft on lease to West Asian carriers but for much shorter time.

The analyst added that the leases were an indication that Kingfisher may expand regionally unless there are drastic changes in the international market.
This year, Kingfisher has started flights to Colombo and Dhaka using its domestic fleet of ATR planes. It also has government approval to fly to Chittagong, Hong Kong, Singapore, Bangkok and plans to start an all-economy service between Bangalore and Dubai from 25 June using an Airbus A320.

On the back of a slowing economy, India’s airline firms have been facing tough times and on 13 May reported a drop of around 15% in passenger traffic in April from the year ago, showing that a contraction in air travel that began end-2007 is nowhere near ending.
At least 2,500 airline employees are expected to lose their jobs in the next four-six months from domestic carriers that are set to post a combined loss of $2 billion in 2008-09, according to airline executives and analysts, Mint reported on 3 May. This is about 8% of the total workforce employed by private carriers.
Lagos-headquartered Arik Air, which began operations in 2006, started its first intercontinental flights between London and Lagos in December using the two A340s it bought from Kingfisher. The airline is yet to make up its mind whether to buy another of Kingfisher A340s but said it would rent the A330s.
“At present we are confirmed taking two of the Kingfisher A340s. We are still considering (buying) the third aircraft,” an Arik Air spokesperson said by email.
Typically, an airline earns $2-2.2 million a month on leasing a wide-body aircraft on wet lease. A wet lease is an arrangement where one airline provides an aircraft, complete crew, maintenance and insurance to another airline, which pays by hours operated. The latter provides fuel, covers airport fees and any other duties and taxes.
If a deal is a dry lease, usually for 18-24 months, the rent is typically $1-1.2 million a month.
The wet lease will mean that Kingfisher-trained pilots and cabin crew, in conjunction with Arik Air cabin crew, will help run the new flights that will be launched by the Nigerian carrier, the Arik Air spokesperson said.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Economic Meltdown effects

The brand management industry has been touched by current world economic recession in Nigeria on a positive note. This was the view of brand experts at a press conference held by Orange Academy recently in Lagos to mark the second anniversary of the organization.

Orange Academy, the first practically oriented advertising school in Nigeria, was established in 2007 by some advertising experts in the country to train university and polytechnic graduates in areas of copy writing, graphic design, strategic media planning among others. The academy, with foreign and local industry collaboration, has graduated more than 400 students and given a sizable number of awards to corporate organizations in Nigeria since its inception.

Speaking to journalists, the Chief Imagination Officer of the academy, Mr.Kenny Badmus noted that the economic meltdown has made brand managers across the globe recognize that advertising is not the only means of marketing communication. " The economic meltdown has brought us to the point where brand mangers have begun to notice that advertising is not the only solution to brand communication. As a result of the economic meltdown, companies' budgets are becoming smaller. And because budget is small, brand managers have been forced to think more creatively and inwardly to generate results," Badmus said.

The managing director of the academy, Mrs. Chinwe Badmus, however, noted that the recent re-branding project of the Minister of Information and Communications, Prof.Dora Akunyili is a good initiative that would not only change the way Nigerians are viewed abroad, but also encourage more foreign investment into the country. She called on the federal government to involve experts from the private sector in implementing the re-branding strategy.

The registrar of the academy, Mr. Chisom Ohuaka observed that brand management has contributed to national development in the country. He argued that apart from employing thousands of Nigerians in the industry, the brand sub-sector of the economy has changed the consumption pattern of many Nigerians for the better. To this end, he noted that the academy would continue to train local experts in the field of brand advertising to avoid capital flights that resulted during bank recapitalization period as most of the experts that designed the communication strategy then were foreigners.

swine flu drug Nigeria

Twelve people have reportedly died of the disease in Mexico, while the death of a 23-month-old child was recorded in the US on Thursday.

“The Federal Government has begun the process of emergency procurement of additional doses and stockpile in case we have human cases.We are anticipating to have two million doses of the drug (Tamiflu),” Ojuolape, who answered initial enquiries by email, said. Later when our correspondent requested for further clarifications by telephone, he confirmed that government had indeed placed an order for the drug, saying, “Yes, we have placed an order for it.” He, however, did not give the cost of the drug.

He said Nigeria only had about 100,000 doses of the drug at the moment. According to him, government does not envisage that the outbreak of the disease will be massive, if it gets to Nigeria..He said, ”In countries that the disease has occurred, the total number of cases that have been recorded has not exceeded 500.”

The Federal Government has placed an order for 2million doses of a drug that will be used to tackle the rampaging swine flu pathogen in the event that it enters Nigeria, Saturday Punch has learnt. The disclosure was made exclusively to Saturday Punch after the paper made specific enquiries about Nigeria’s preparednes at the Federal Ministry of Health on Friday. The Minister of Health, Professor Babatunde Osotimehin, who spoke through his Special Assistant on Communication, Mr Niyi Ojuolape, also reiterated that there was no case of the flu in Nigeria. As of Friday, about 500 confirmed cases of the flu had been recorded in the United States; Mexico; Canada; New Zealand; Spain; United Kingdom; Germany; Israel; Austria; Costa Rica; Peru; Switzerland and The Netherlands.

Ojuolape said the country’s present stock of Tamiflu was procured last year for treating the bird flu, which recorded only one human victim in the country.

”The drugs are already in the states, but if there is any state requiring additional stocks, we have machinery with which we can get the drug to such a state.” According to him, Tamiflu, which is manufactured by a Swiss pharmaceutical company, Roche, has been distributed to 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory. He added that the drugs were stored at federal and states‘ ministries of health stores as well as some hospitals in all the states.

When asked how many people could be treated with 100,000 doses of the drug, the minister stated, ”We should remember that for Avian Flu, we had only one confirmed human case so far. We think from the past experience and lessons learnt from other outbreaks, we will not have a lot of cases.”

According to him, if a lot of cases are recorded, more procurement will be made within a very short time.

Meanwhile, as governments all over the world rush to equip their airports with thermal scanners, the Federal Government is yet to do so.

This situation is contrary to government‘s promise, at the beginning of the week, that scanners would be installed at all entry points to screen people coming into the country. Saturday Punch‘s findings showed that, rather than the sophisticated scanners, health officials are using unrealiable disposable thermometers.

Our correspondent, who paid a visit to the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos, on Thursday, did not see any thermal scanner at the arrival lounge of the country‘s foremost airport.

The thermal scanners are special scanners that screen passengers as they disembark from an aircraft, showing their body temperatures on screens monitored by health officials.

For example, some of the thermal scanners deployed in some Asian countries are configured in such a way that passengers with temperature above 37C are quickly identified and isolated.

Since high bodily temperature is one of the symptoms of the swine flu the thermal scanner is considered as one of the important first line preventive measures of stemming the spread of the flu.

Experts say that the non-deployment of the scanners could defeat the strenuous efforts that the Minister of Health, Professor Babatunde Osotimehin, has made in the last days to combat the flu. However, the minister tried to play down the importance of scanners insisting that government‘s efforts were adequate. ”There are no machines with which you can scan and identify viruses at the ports. If such scanners exist, the United States and Mexico would have installed them. It will take laboratory tests for us to identify and isolate viruses.

”What was meant was the fact that we are going to mount surveillance, through our officials at the airports so that we can detect as soon as possible the entry of anybody with the virus. Note that it is carried by humans and not necessarily airborne per se. Further to this, government has directed that all aircraft arriving the country be checked and cleaned up to ensure that both passengers and luggage have no trace of the influenza in them. Also, starting from today (Friday), port health authorities are to board planes arriving to try to identify anyone with flu with a view to clinically testing them in order to track down the entry of the flu by anyone.”

Aviation and medical experts have said that Nigeria would have to be vigilant since its people travel a lot and is a country that is visited by people from different countries. The Head, Public Affairs, Murtala Muhammed International Airport , Lagos, of the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria , Mr. Ola Ogundolapo, said that there were flights coming into the country from the various countries the flu had affected, on a daily basis. There are seven weekly flights from United Stated of America into Nigeria through Delta Airlines. There are about 60 weekly flights from various parts of Europe to Nigeria through British Airways, Air France, KLM, Turkish Airline, Lufthansa and others. However, he said that all agencies working at the airport had been put on alert by the Federal Ministry of Health through the Public Health Department‘s Port Health Services at the Lagos and Abuja airports, and that masks, gloves and thermometer had been made available to them.

Officials of Port Heath Services at the Lagos airport, who refused to speak on record, confirmed to our correspondent that the equipment had not been installed but that they were presently using disposable thermometers to measure passengers‘ temperature. They also said that no case had been discovered yet. Experts have, however, said that using thermometers to measure passengers‘ temperatures may lead to a situation where impatient health staff may overlook those that ought to be checked. Our correspondent observed that due to the volume of passengers, it is difficult for PHS workers to test every passenger with the disposable thermometer.

The Port Health Services, which had issued an alert on the swine flu to airport managers and immigration, now has two stands located ahead of the immigration desk arrival hall, an arrangement that makes them passengers‘ first contact point.

Apply To ICF and Thomson Reuters Foundation Training Course in Zambia

The Investment Climate Facility (ICF) for Africa and the Thomson Reuters Foundation have today launched a call for applications to their groundbreaking business journalism training course being held in Zambia next month. Participants have until Tuesday 19 May to apply for the Zambian course that will be delivered in English in Lusaka from 25 – 29 May 2009.

Media organisations are invited to recommend applicants, or journalists can apply themselves, for the intensive five-day workshop which will be delivered by the Thomson Reuters Foundation. The course will broaden reporting focus and skills, as well as deepen understanding of economic and business issues of relevance to the continent and internationally.

Participants will have the opportunity to put theory into practice through numerous practical exercises and timed writing tasks. Detailed briefings, expert guest speakers, group discussions and a field reporting trip are core elements of each course. There will also be the opportunity for a select number of participants who demonstrate high potential in the introductory courses to attend an advanced two week course at a later date in either London, Paris or Lisbon.

This second of six training courses is part of Africa’s most ambitious journalist training programme, which aims to improve business, financial and investment journalism across the continent. Both ICF and the Thomson Reuters Foundation believe that greater scrutiny of investment and business issues, more timely and accurate reporting and a culture of delivering impartial news will help increase investor confidence across the continent.

ICF’s Chief Executive Officer, Mr Omari Issa, explains: “This is the third course in an important project that will increase domestic and foreign confidence and ensure more of the continent’s financial and business reporting is ‘by Africa for Africa’. The journalists who attended the first two courses have since told us that their reporting has benefitted from what they learnt and they were able to put their learnings into practice immediately after the course. We hope that business journalists from across East Africa will apply for this course. “

Lenny Njau, journalist for Kenya’s The People Daily Newspaper, who participated in the inaugural training course in Nairobi, explains: “The course was a brilliant idea and the timing could not have been much better. At a time when the world is engulfed in financial crises, nothing is more important than giving people the most accurate information. As a budding journalist, I feel much more knowledgeable and open minded in making judgements having taken part in ICF and the Thomson Reuters Foundation’s inaugural course.”

Application forms are downloadable from: and and must be received by 19 May 2009. ICF will fund all training programme fees and accommodation and media organisations will be required to cover the costs of journalists’ flights and allowances. The selection of suitable journalists will be conducted by the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

Applications will also be considered for further training sessions which will be held in Lagos Nigeria, June 22-26; Abidjan, Ivory Coast, July 27-31; and Maputo, Mozambique, August 24-28.