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Arik passengers in chaotic scene at Lagos airport

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Passengers, who were scheduled to travel out of the country with Arik Air on Tuesday but could not do so due to the strike action by aviation unions in solidarity with workers of the carrier, on Wednesday morning created an ugly scene at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport in Lagos following the resumption of flight operations.

Many of the passengers billed to travel on Wednesday joined those of the previous day, creating chaotic situations at the check-in counters of the airline at both the General Aviation Terminal of the local airport and at the international terminal.

The situation persisted until noon when the airline was able to clear the backlog of passengers.

One of our correspondents, who was at the departure hall of the airport at around 8.40am, observed that passengers in their hundreds besieged the check-in counters of the airline trying to get boarding passes for the carrier’s Lagos-London bound flight.

Arik Air officials at the scene were overwhelmed by the surge in crowd, with some of the desperate passengers resorting to verbally abusing the officials, while some vowed never to patronise the airline again.

A passenger, who gave his name simply as Tunde, said, “I am really upset about the situation. I am a regular flyer of Arik to London and I can say without fear of contradiction that the airline is notorious for flight delays and cancellation, as well as poor treatment of its customers.

“I was supposed to have flown to London on Tuesday and have a meeting with some of my clients this morning, but through the airline’s carelessness, I have lost that opportunity.”

Another passenger, who refused to give his name, said he was at the check-in counter to demand a refund of his airfare, having missed the opportunity to be in London at the scheduled time.

“I had to look for money to buy another ticket of Med-View Airline to take me to the United Kingdom in two weeks’ time. However, that is coming at a great cost, because the new ticket is expensive because of the Christmas/New Year rush and because Med-View will land at Gatwick airport, which is farther from where I am going instead of Arik taking me to Heathrow,” the frustrated passenger said.

While some officials of the airline were struggling to appease the angry passengers, others resorted to hauling insults back at the intending travellers.

The Public Relations and Communications Manager, Arik Air, Adebanji Ola, said the airline had put in place extra flights to various destinations within the country that would operate between Wednesday and Saturday, and had also upgraded the aircraft on certain routes to bigger capacities to cope with the backlog of passengers whose flights were affected by the strike action.

He said passengers whose flights were affected by the disruption on Tuesday were given priority on Wednesday.

“Additional capacities have been allocated throughout this week from both Lagos and Abuja to destinations such as Enugu, Asaba, Owerri, Port Harcourt, Benin, Warri, Uyo and Yola to also enable many of our customers to get to their destinations for the Yuletide season,” he said.

Meanwhile, Med-View Airline has announced that it has expanded its operations into the West African sub region with the commencement of flight services to Monrovia, Liberia and Freetown, Sierra Leone via Accra, Ghana.

The airline said the expansion was in fulfilment of its promise to use its Accra operations as a stepping stone to other countries in the West Coast.

According to a statement by the airline, the inaugural flight to the two countries took off from Lagos via the Kotoka International Airport, Ghana to the Roberts International Airport, Liberia and Freetown International Airport, Sierra Leone.

“The outbound flight headed straight to Kotoka in Ghana before going back to Nigeria. It was with delight and ecstasy that the two countries, Liberia and Sierra Leone, welcomed the airline, describing the operation as a giant step towards strengthening regional integration among ECOWAS countries,” the statement read in part.

The representative of the President of the ECOWAS Commission in Liberia, Ambassador Tunde Ajisomo, was quoted to have described the new operation as a courageous move by Med-View to fill the vacuum created by the absence of African airlines plying the West African routes.

He said the development aligned with the vision of the Economic Community of West African States to deepen trade and economic relations between African countries and their peoples.

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Aviation

Ozow partners FlySafair to improve air travel access for millions of South Africans

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Thomas Pays, Co-Founder and CEO of Ozow

A new partnership between digital payments company Ozow and leading local airline FlySafair is making it easier than ever for South Africans to purchase flight tickets.

According to Ozow co-founder and CEO Thomas Pays, the vast majority of South Africans have no credit cards and require alternative means of purchasing goods and services online. “There are more than 49 million bank accounts but only eight million active credit cards in South Africa. This poses the threat of locking millions out of digital and financial services. As an impact-driven and market-led company, Ozow is at the forefront of developing products, services and partnerships that enable greater digital and financial inclusion for all consumers and businesses. The partnership with South Africa’s most innovative and consumer-friendly airline is one more step toward this goal.”

Kirby Gordon, Chief Marketing Officer at FlySafair, says: “We’ve always respected the need to offer customers without credit cards various options to make payments both online and offline. We’re pleased to have partnered with Ozow who offer a safe, reliable and easy-to-use option for our customers.”

Also Read Interview with Ava Airways CEO, Olivier Arrindell

While airlines have been grounded and air travel limited since lockdown was first implemented in March 2020, South Africans generally love to fly. In 2017 alone, the Airports Company of South Africa tracked more than 40 million passengers traveling through the country’s nine largest airports.

Pays adds that the two companies share a commitment to ensure their services are accessible to all South Africans. “As a business, we work to break down barriers that keep more consumers from enjoying the benefits of digital payments. Cash remains the most expensive and least secure method of payment, but most South Africans still rely on cash payments for most of their purchases. By partnering with likeminded, consumer-led businesses such as FlySafair, we can accelerate the decashing of the South African economy and bring digital and financial empowerment to all South Africans.”

Issued by Design Communications

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iFly Aviation Takes Young Aviators And STEM Program To Uganda

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Kampala, Uganda: iFly is an aviation enterprise which is dedicated to bridging the gap between industry and community through inclusive youth empowerment programs. Our core focus is social innovation in Aviation, Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics (STEM) and driving our initiatives alongside key stakeholders in order to facilitate and enable the next generation.  

Our purpose is to elevate learners by empowering them, motivating and giving insight into opportunities that exist within the aviation industry and educating them along the way. As part of our efforts to drive our initiatives across Africa as to create a pan African movement, we have recently launched our programs in Uganda, this being the second country after South Africa. 

We hosted our first event at Nakasero secondary school in Uganda, to the delight of over 200 students. They were exposed to motivational talks including insights into aviation and its various opportunities. We had a flight simulator session where the students got exposed to a computer based flight simulator in order to see and learn first hand what happens in the cockpit during flight. 

The event was also complimented by a first of its kind engine building project,  an initiative of the Rolls Royce STEM program. Through this workshop, students got to build a 3D model Trent engine, the likes of which powers the Boeing 787 Dreamliner and Airbus A350, 2 of the most popular wide body airliners in the world. 

Also Read: Meet The First Female Military Pilot In Botswana Advancing Girls In STEM And Entrepreneurship

Our goal a to have such programs running across the continent and we would Like to invite any like minded and passionate people across Africa to join us as ambassadors and adopt iFly STEM under our blue print in their respective countries. We sincerely appreciate our ambassadors in Uganda for pulling off a successful first event. David Ssenkungu, Derrick Talemwa, Peter Mwesigwa and Hosea Datari. 

More Event Pictures:

Email derek@ifly-global.com

Visit: iFly

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SAA to address CEO Vuyani Jarana’s resignation, outline future plans

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Picture: ANA/Ayanda Ndamane.

JOHANNESBURG – The board of South African Airways (SAA) and its executive management will on Friday take the nation into their confidence about the state-owned airline’s current and future plans in light of Vuyani Jarana’s resignation as CEO.

In a terse statement on Thursday, the leadership of the airline said it would like to put certain matters into perspective and assure its customers, the markets and stakeholders about business continuity and commitment to the implementation of the airline strategy.

Jarana tendered his resignation last week as group chief executive, citing the airline’s mounting debt due to uncertainty about funding and lack of support from government as a shareholder in implementing the airline’s long-term turnaround strategy.

In his leaked resignation letter, Jarana said that a big chunk of the R5 billion bailout SAA received from government for the 2018/19 financial year had been used to pay creditors up to the end of March 2018, to the point that the airline on three occasions was on the brink of not paying salaries.

“We have not been able to obtain any further funding commitment from government, making it difficult to focus on the execution of the strategy,” Jarana said.

Also Read From Cape To Cairo on a plane built by teens

“I spend most of my time dealing with liquidity and solvency issues. Lack of commitment to fund SAA, is systematically undermining the implementation of the strategy, making it increasingly difficult to succeed.”

The board of SAA accepted Jarana’s resignation, saying that he had spearheaded the implementation of the long-term strategy to return the airline to financial and operational sustainability and position it to deliver effectively on its mandate since he joined the airline in November 2017.

But workers under the SA Cabin Crew Association have slammed the airline for making Jarana’s life difficult, saying that  he had, through consultation and transparency, managed to get the buy in of cabin crew at SAA into the long term turnaround strategy and his clear plan to revive the carrier’s fortunes.

The workers have even threatened to go on strike to have Jarana reinstated as SAA chief executive.

African News Agency (ANA)

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