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Hard times for passengers as airlines raise fares by 100%

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This is not the best of times for air passengers in Nigeria as domestic airlines have hiked their fares by about 100 per cent, with a one-way economy ticket selling for over N50,000.

This is coming barely 24 hours after airline operators issued a statement detailing the operational challenges responsible for flight delays and cancellations.

Among the challenges listed by the operators under the aegis of Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON) were unavailability and the ever-rising cost of aviation fuel (Jet A1); unavailability of forex for spare parts and maintenance; delays from customs in the clearing of safety-critical spare parts; poor air traffic flow and inadequate check-in counters.

The AON had said, “Jet A1 today costs above N410 in Lagos, N422 in Abuja and Port Harcourt, and N429 in Kano per litre and has continued to rise fast and steadily. On top of the continuous rise in the fuel price, fuel supply is at best epileptic at several airports thereby causing delays.”

24 hours after, the airlines across board jacked up their fares, with a one-way economy base fare selling for N50,000.

By implication, the busiest Lagos-Abuja route now goes for N100,000 return. It was less than N55,000 a week ago, and on the same flight, there are fears that passengers may pay as much as N80,000 to N100,000 for a one-way economy seat if they are booking on the day of travel.

A random check on the websites of major airlines shows that the economy ticket costs between N50,200 and N53,000 for a Lagos-Abuja trip 72 hours before the travel date.

Lagos-Abuja; Lagos-Port Harcourt; Lagos-Benin; Lagos-Enugu, as well as Abuja-Port Harcourt; Abuja-Kano and Lagos-Ilorin, on Air Peace is N50,000 as a base fare. Lagos-Abuja on Arik Air is between N50,250 and N54, 750.

Also, Dana Air’s Lagos-Abuja one-way ticket costs between N50,000 and N54,000; also Port Harcourt-Lagos on Dana costs N50,000 to N58,000.

Abuja-Kano on Max Air is N50,000 one-way as the base economy fare, Ibom Air for Lagos-Abuja was sold for N80,000 as of yesterday, while its base economy fare was N53,000.

However, the airline owned by the Akwa Ibom State Government has retained its fare for Lagos-Uyo or Abuja-Uyo to between N28,000 and N33,000 ostensibly to encourage more people to come to the state.

Also, Abuja-Bayelsa on Ibom Air goes for the same N50,000 as base fare.

The development has cost air passengers groaning, describing the hike as too exorbitant and seeking a downward review.

A passenger, Niyi Odutayo, said he booked N52,000 on Arik Abuja-Lagos flight on Saturday, disclosing that he booked the same ticket three days ago for N27,000, and said, “It is damn too exorbitant.”

Other passengers lamented that they should have booked earlier if they had prior knowledge of the fare hike.

AON met last week where a decision was reached to effect the fare hike while all members agreed to the proposal.

A member of AON who spoke with our correspondent yesterday blamed the development on the high cost of aviation fuel, foreign exchange and the general inflationary trend in the country.

A member of AON, Barr Shehu Wada, said, “Airlines are seriously bleeding. We are just like cashiers. People see us collecting money but at the end of the day, everything goes out. We buy fuel for N400 plus, how do we break even? The bitter truth is when you have other means of income, you will be losing that to sustain another one.”

Commenting on the development, aviation analyst, Mr Olumide Ohunayo, said the increase was justified going by the hike in price of Jet A1 and foreign exchange side.

He, however, said the hike would affect other sectors like tourism, noting that people would only travel when it became extremely important for business.

He further said, “If N50,000 is the base fare, you can be sure that on that same flight, you might still get passengers paying as much as N90,000 as for economy if they want to travel that day or they come to the airport on the day of travel.”

The Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) was yet to comment on the development as at the time of filing bthis report.

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Organ harvesting: Dino Melaye reacts to arrest of Ekweremadu, wife

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Dino Melaye

Former Kogi West Senator, Dino Melaye has expressed his support for ex-Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu amid controversy of alleged organ harvesting.

Melaye said he stands with Ekweremadu because there was no wrongdoing by the Senator.

Ekweremadu and his wife, Beatrice were arrested in London for allegedly plotting to harvest the kidney of a Nigerian minor.

The UK metropolitan police had arrested and charged Ekweremadu and his wife to court, but the duo pleaded not guilty to the charges at the Uxbridge Magistrates’ Court.

“These are serious allegations and these matters are now adjourned until 7 July back here at Uxbridge,” Magistrate Lois Sheard said.

Ms Sheard remanded both defendants in custody ahead of their hearing next month.

Sharing Ekweremadu’s letter via his Twitter handle, Melaye wrote: “Sen. Ike Ekweremadu notified the British authorities on his trip with the said boy. I stand with Ike.”

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Supreme Court set to rule on controversial Electoral Act on Friday

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The Supreme Court of Nigeria will on Friday deliver judgment on the legality or otherwise of the controversial section 84 (12) of the Electoral Act 2022 .

The apex Court is set for its verdict in the suit instituted against the National Assembly by President Muhammadu Buhari and the Attorney General of the Federation AGF and Minister of Justice.

A notice for the judgment delivery has just been sighted, indicating that the apex Court will make its position known this morning.

The notice was served on Buhari and the National Assembly on Thursday, inviting them to appear before the court today for their judgment.

Our correspondent further observed that the suit is the only one for determination today.

Buhari and Abubakar Malami had filed the suit at the Supreme Court, seeking an interpretation of the controversial clause in the Electoral Amendment Act 2022.

In the suit filed on April 29, Buhari and Malami, who are the plaintiffs, listed the National Assembly as the sole defendant.

Section 84 (12) has been a subject of intense litigation and political debate in Nigeria since President Buhari signed the amended Electoral Act 2022 into law in February this year.

Shortly after signing it into law, Buhari had asked the parliament to delete the controversial clause in the Electoral Act, but the National Assembly declined the president’s request.

According to Section 84 (12) of the legislation, “No political appointee at any level shall be a voting delegate or be voted for at the convention or congress of any political party for the purpose of the nomination of candidates for any election.”

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World’s most livable cities: Vienna climbs back to its No. 1 spot. These are the biggest decliners

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World’s most livable cities: Vienna climbs back to its No. 1 spot
The Stephansplatz is a square at the geographical centre of Vienna. It is named after its most prominent building, the Stephansdom, Vienna's cathedral and one of the tallest churches in the world.

After two years, Vienna has overtaken Auckland as the world’s most livable city, according to a report by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU).

Vienna ranked first in 2018 and 2019, but was overtaken by Auckland, New Zealand, during the pandemic and slipped to 12th place in 2021, according to the Global Liveability Index 2022.

The EIU said that Auckland’s position on the index dipped to the 34th place this year because of higher Covid-19 infection rates and strict border controls in 2021. Although lockdowns ended in New Zealand in December, well-vaccinated cities in Europe and Canada had begun easing restrictions earlier.

However, it’s unlikely that Auckland would’ve clinched the top position in this year’s ranking even without a pandemic, according to the EIU.

“Other cities falling was why Auckland was top last time. Without Covid, it would likely be top 10, but not number one,” said Simon Baptist, global chief economist at the research and advisory firm.

Five other European cities — Copenhagen, Zurich, Geneva, Frankfurt and Amsterdam — also made the top ten. Canada’s Calgary and Vancouver took the third and fifth spots respectively. Japan’s Osaka and Australia’s Melbourne shared 10th place — the only two “Asian” cities that made it to the top 10.

The 172 cities that were included in the rating were assessed on these categories: stability, health care, culture and environment, education and infrastructure.

Biggest decliners
Cities in New Zealand and Australia were the biggest fallers in the EIU’s livability ranking.

New Zealand’s capital Wellington dived by 46 places, while Australia’s Adelaide and Perth lost their 2021 positions in the top 10. They are now in the 30th and 32nd place respectively.

Australian and New Zealand cities snagged six of the top 10 spots last year, but were “much, much lower down” on this year’s list as their partial reopening coincided with the spread of the more contagious omicron variant, Baptist told CNBC’s “Street Signs Asia” on Thursday.

But the EIU is optimistic that these cities would bounce back.

“We can expect to see Australian and New Zealand cities moving up the rankings next year, when we do the next round of the survey. And this will be because they will have relaxed more of their Covid restrictions,” said Baptist.

Other cities in the region saw their rankings slip as well.

Singapore fell three spots to 37th place this year, while Hong Kong dropped to 62nd place from 49th last year.

“This is a long term change, it’s not just about Covid. That is part of it. But Hong Kong’s loss of connectivity is likely to be permanent,” said Baptist, citing the decline of cultural and political freedom in the city.

Russian cities plunged
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine saw Moscow’s livability ranking fall by 15 places, while St. Petersburg dipped by 13 spots, the EIU reported.

“Both cities record a fall in scores owing to increased instability, censorship, imposition of Western sanctions and corporates withdrawing their operations from the country,” the report said.

The war on Ukraine also affected the rankings of other Eastern European cities that have been facing political standoffs security threats, food and energy insecurities, and rising inflation, EIU said.

For example, Poland’s Warsaw and Hungary’s Budapest saw their stability scores slip as a result of rising diplomatic tensions, the EIU added.

Ukraine’s capital Kyiv was also excluded from this year’s report, and 33 new cities — 11 of them in China — were added.

The top 10
These are the world’s most livable cities and their scores, according to The Global Liveability Index 2022:

  1. Vienna, Austria (99.1)
  2. Copenhagen, Denmark (98.0)
  3. TIE — Zurich, Switzerland (96.3)
  4. TIE — Calgary, Canada (96.3)
  5. Vancouver, Canada (96.1)
  6. Geneva, Switzerland (95.9)
  7. Frankfurt, Germany (95.7)
  8. Toronto, Canada (95.4)
  9. Amsterdam, Netherlands (95.3)
  10. TIE — Osaka, Japan (95.1)
  11. TIE — Melbourne, Australia (95.1)

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