One of Europe’s mega airlines, Lufthansa German Airlines, has promised to continue the provision of quality and efficient services to its passengers.
This is coming as the carrier relocated its Nigerian head office in Lagos from Victoria Island to Ikoyi, according to a statement from the airline.
The German Airline, which was formerly located at Plot PC 30, Churchgate Street, 2nd Floor, Churchgate Towers, Victoria Island, now operates from the modern state-of-the-art British American Tobacco Building on Olumegbon Road, Off Alfred Rewane Road in Ikoyi poised to offer unrivalled customer experience while providing better proximity to customers.
Speaking on the development during a special event hosting top clients and partners at the new office last week, Lufthansa Group General Manager Sales, Nigeria and Equatorial Guinea, Adenike Macaulay, reiterated the airline’s commitment to quality and efficient service.
“We have been operating in Nigeria since 1962 and have become renowned for our quality and efficient services, which our customers have come to expect. I am assuring our clients and partners that we will continue to uphold that fine tradition here at our new office which is open to all,” she said.
Macaulay said the event was an opportunity for the airline to bond and interact with its clients and partners, as well as foster networking opportunities amongst those present. She expressed pride at the cordial relationship between the airline and its stakeholders, particularly its trade partners, since its debut in the country, noting that such support has helped the airline to deliver an excellent level of service to her customers.
Mr. Bismarck Rewane, MD/CEO Financial Derivatives Company Limited, one of the airline’s long-standing passengers and corporate clients, commended the airline for its diligence, and efficiency.
“I have been flying Lufthansa for over 20 years and my experience has been pleasant and delightful. It is a pleasure to visit Lufthansa in the new ambience and modern office in the up-market Ikoyi location. Lufthansa is an airline that is really committed to the Nigerian route, and in my mind remains a classy and super well deserving airline,” he said.
S’African Airways shunned by insurers as financial doubts grow
Two big travel insurance companies in South Africa have stopped covering tickets issued by South African Airways (SAA) against insolvency as doubts grow about whether the struggling state-owned airline can survive.
While the move is unlikely to push SAA into liquidation by itself, it will hurt ticket sales and exacerbate a cash crunch that left the airline unable to pay salaries on time this month, analysts said.
SAA has not made a profit since 2011 and has been struggling with an unprofitable network, inefficient planes and a bloated workforce, despite bailouts of more than 20 billion rand ($1.4 billion) over the past three years, reports Reuters.
Its financial position worsened dramatically after Nov. 15, when two of its largest unions began an eight-day strike over pay that forced SAA to cancel hundreds of flights.
Banks want additional guarantees from the state before they lend SAA more money but Finance Minister Tito Mboweni has refused, leaving the airline’s finances on a knife edge.
Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan still wants to save SAA, which says it needs to more than 2 billion rand ($136 million) quickly to stay afloat.
President Cyril Ramaphosa has stayed out of the tussle so far but the longer Mboweni refuses to sign off on guarantees, the more likely it is that SAA will shut down – an outcome an SAA board member said last week was a possibility.
Santam’s Travel Insurance Consultants (TIC) said this week it had stopped its travel supplier insolvency benefit for SAA flights then Australian agency Flight Centre Travel Group said it would stop selling SAA tickets.
The company that administers Hollard Travel Insurance told Reuters on Friday it had also excluded SAA from its travel supplier insolvency coverage, citing the airline’s finances.
Bryte Insurance’s head of travel Anrieth Symon said on Friday it had reversed its position on SAA and would cover its flights against insolvency.
SAA spokesman Tlali Tlali declined to comment when called by Reuters on Friday and did not respond to emailed questions.
Neither Mboweni’s spokeswoman nor Gordhan’s spokesman answered their phones when called by Reuters.
SAA said in a memo to staff on Friday seen by Reuters that its board and executives were in intense discussions with the government and that the airline’s leaders were exploring “all options regarding SAA’s future”.
Guy Leitch, an aviation analyst who edits the SA Flyer magazine, said the decisions by the insurers and Flight Centre to drop the airline were hugely significant.
“No one managing SAA, from Minister Gordhan downwards, anticipated the flight of confidence that the strike would have,” Leitch said.
In a letter to clients dated November 28, Flight Centre said its preferred travel insurance provider was no longer willing to cover SAA due to doubts about its long-term viability.
TIC said its reinsurers had instructed it to exclude SAA from its insolvency coverage. It did not disclose the names of its reinsurers.
Ramaphosa’s government has taken a harder line on SAA recently, saying repeated bailouts must come to an end. He is trying to preserve the country’s last investment-grade credit rating and revive growth in Africa’s second-biggest economy.
South Africa’s sovereign debt is rated “junk” by S&P Global and Fitch Ratings but Moody’s still ranks it as investment grade, helping to prevent a spike in borrowing costs typically sparked by a downgrade from all three agencies.
Leitch said SAA’s liabilities exceeded its assets by a huge amount and the recent loss of confidence in the airline would force the government to decide whether to rescue it.
“This is a high-stakes game.”
BA flight heading to Abuja loses engine mid-air
…Returns to Heathrow
A British Airways flight heading to Abuja from London on Tuesday returned to Heathrow Airport after the plane lost one of its engines mid-air.
The airline confirmed that BA 083 flight returned to Heathrow and was met by the emergency services as a precaution measure after what it called “a minor technical issue.”
In a mail sent to THISDAY, the airline said, “For your information, the aircraft experienced a minor technical issue and our pilots elected to return to Heathrow. In terms of the emergency services meeting the aircraft, this is standard practice.
“Our aircraft returned to Heathrow and was met by the emergency services as a precaution after experiencing a minor technical issue. Our teams looked after our customers last night, providing them with overnight accommodation. We’re sorry to our customers for the delay to their travel plans. (sic)”
Air rage: Coping with unruly passengers
Indeed, air rage has become a global problem. Such unruly behaviour threatens safety and security, adversely affects travel experience of compliant passengers, and disrupts operations that may result in flight delays, cancellations or diversions, writes WOLE SHADARE
The global statistics for unruly passengers is alarming. Before proceeding, there is need to look at global statistics on unruly passengers and the work the industry is doing to prevent incidents and to ensure a stronger international legal deterrent. The 2017 global statistics comes from reports submitted by airlines to the International Air Transport Association (IATA) STEAD database. Not every airline is a member of IATA and not every member of IATA submits data. So, it is likely that the statistics significantly underestimate the extent of the issue. Assistant Director, External Affairs, IATA, Tim Colehan, at the IATA Media Day held in Geneva, Switzerland, said when they look at the incident rate, there was one incident every 1, 053 flights in 2017, adding that this means the frequency of reported incidents has increased versus 2016 where there was an incident every 1, 424 sectors.
According to IATA, there were 8, 731 reports in 2017, which is a reduction of 1, 106 versus the previous year. He stated that the total number of reports submitted could be affected by changes in the number of airlines submitting data to Safety Trend Evaluation, Analysis and Data Exchange System (STEADS). For example, some airlines change their reporting systems during the year and so may not submit data. According to him, “when we look at the intoxication, we see that 562 out of the 2, 454 relate to consumption of own alcohol-for example duty free brought on to the aircraft. We know that the remaining amount relates to mostly to alcohol consumed prior to boarding. “So, what we can conclude from these figures? Well, they show that unruly passenger incidents remain a significant issue. We know that they are committed by a tiny minority of our customers, but like we heard in the example I gave at the start, they have disproportionate impacts on other passengers, crew and the operation.”
IATA members agreed a resolution in 2014, which set out the strategy and approach-one element of that work with other stakeholders to try and improve prevention and to share best practices internationally. One market, which has seen a significant rise in reported incidents, is the United Kingdom. In the period 2013-2017, there was a 325 per cent increase, with alcohol intoxication identified as a trigger in many of these cases. Many of the cases were focused in the key summer months and on flights to particular destinations. The UK Air Navigation Order already makes it illegal to board an aircraft when drunk or to be drunk when onboard. The penalties are a GBP5,000 fine or two years in prison. But the industry itself has been proactive in trying to prevent incidents. IATA said it was part of a10-week government-endorsed public information campaign called, ‘One Too Many” during summer 2018 that aimed to raise awareness of the need to fly responsibly,
No one knows how many unruly passengers cause flight diversions each year or how many are ordered to pay restitution. However, in some of the most egregious incidents, unruly passengers can face large financial restitution penalties. The fines carry a dual purpose. They help airlines recoup the cost when a flight is cut short and serve as a deterrent to others to think twice before behaving badly on a flight. Unruly passengers have been a problem airlines have grappled with for decades. But in an era with increased focus on safety and security, tighter seating and packed planes, the airline industry feels a sense of urgency to identify potential problems and prevent incidents. The restitution penalties are federal prosecutors’ efforts to put a dent in the problem.
Pay the fine
In a case in July 2018, passenger Bolutife Olusegun Olorunda was ordered to pay Delta Air Lines $9,118 for the cost of a diversion to Tulsa after he verbally assaulted a flight attendant on his flight from Portland, Ore to Atlanta. The issue of misbehavior in the air has gained greater focus in recent years, with IATA pushing for countries to adopt a global legal framework and enforcement policy for unruly passengers, since gaps in governance can mean some people are never punished for misconduct. Association of Flight Attendants union spokeswoman Taylor Garland said a lot of people take prescription drugs to feel more comfortable flying, and they don’t realize the [different] effect that alcohol or drugs can have when you’re up in the air. If an issue with one problematic passenger isn’t tackled quickly, it could escalate into a conflict involving more people and become “a much bigger incident,” Garland said — which is why the captain may decide to divert.
Globally, airlines are doing their bit to control the menace. Some airlines had requested airports to limit customers to two-drinks before boarding flights and not to serve alcohol in the airport before 10 am. But aviation experts aver imparting and upgrading training to cabin crew and airline staff is the only way out.
Qantas urges rapper will.i.am to withdraw racism accusation against staffer
Australia’s flagship airline, Qantas, said on Monday it stood ready to offer legal assistance to a member of its flight crew named in a racism accusation by Black Eyed Peas rapper will.i.am on social media.
The U.S. singer had taken a flight about 1-1/2-hours long to Sydney, Australia’s most populous city, from northeastern Brisbane to play at a concert on Saturday, but was met by Australian federal police at the arrival gate.
He said on Twitter he was racially targeted by an airline attendant, whom he identified by name, after failing to put away his laptop as the flight prepared to land, because he had put on noise-cancelling headphones to “make beats”.
Qantas, which called the incident a “misunderstanding”, has requested the rapper to retract his statement, reports Reuters.
“Absent a retraction, and if the crew member wanted to take the matter further, we’d certainly be willing to provide legal support for them to do this,” a spokesman told Reuters in a statement.
Police confirmed they spoke to crew and passengers at the airport, but said no further action was required. “The Australian Federal Police considers this matter finalised,” they said in a statement.
On Saturday, will.i.am said in a post on Twitter, “Is calling the police on a passenger for not hearing (the) P.A. due to wearing noise-canceling headphones appropriate?”
He added, “If didn’t put away my laptop ‘in a rapid 2min time’ I’d understand. I did comply quickly & politely, only to be greeted by police. I think I was targeted.”
As of Monday, will.i.am had not made any retraction on social media, even as other commenters pointed out that the crew member he identified had received threats on social media as a result.
He pointed out that if he were rude to a fan or journalist, he would be publicly named.
“This is what Twitter is for…we are supposed to call out wrongdoings so we can have a safer, more compassionate world,” will.i.am said.
Reuters was not able to contact the rapper through his agency, and he did not immediately respond to a request for comment on social media.
Last remains of Ethiopian plane crash victims buried, families say little notice given
The last remains of 157 people killed aboard an Ethiopian Airlines plane in March were interred at the crash site, farmers and families told Reuters, but some relatives were upset they had been unable to take part in the ceremony.
Nadia Milleron, whose daughter Samya Stumo was killed, said an email was sent to some families — but not all — notifying them of the burial just two days before it happened.
“By the time the burial took place I was just wiped out; I was just glad they were doing it. I was tired of it not being done,” said Milleron. “But a lot of people didn’t feel like that. They hadn’t been aware of what was happening.”
Ethiopian Airlines did not return calls seeking comment about why some families were not told in advance.
Families have been begging the airline to fill in the crater left by the March 10 crash, which still contained remains too small to be recovered.
Milleron said on Saturday that locals had been burying remains exposed by rains in small mounds of earth. She herself found a bone at the site when she visited Ethiopia to collect her daughter’s remains in October, which she told the airline about in an email.
The force of the impact meant no complete bodies were recovered; partial remains were tested for DNA and finally returned to families last month.
As the burial took place on Thursday, a U.S. embassy representative present kept Milleron updated by text: “Now they’re laying the coffins down, now they’re putting earth on them …”
“I became a blubbering mess,” she said.
Milleron said the lack of notice of the burial ceremony had raised tensions between the families and Ethiopian Airlines.
“We are looking into taking legal action against EA – not of course to exhume and re-organise the burial, that’s done – but to make sure we secure a leading role in planning for a future memorial,” said Adrian Toole, a British father whose daughter Joanna was aboard the plane.
“EA are clearly on a corporate strategy to ‘tidy up’ the remaining issues so as to get the whole episode out of the public eye.”
Representatives of the airline and of Boeing and some embassy employees were there. The Boeing representatives were on a prearranged trip to discuss community projects, Milleron said.
Boeing manufactured the 737 MAX 8 plane, which nosedived shortly after take-off. A preliminary investigation pointed to a malfunctioning anti-stall system known as MCAS, which was also implicated in the crash of a Lion Air plane in Indonesia five months earlier. All 189 people onboard that flight were killed.
Tesfaye Mulatu, a farmer near the crash site, said he had seen a helicopter arrive and cars bring caskets on Thursday. The crater left by the impact has been filled in, he said.
“Now, the area looks a football field,” he told Reuters by telephone.
Some bereaved families have formed associations and hope to use funds from Boeing to build a memorial. The manufacturer will make $100 million available, with half going to families and half to projects in local communities.
“We continue to offer our deepest sympathies to the families and loved ones of the victims of Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 and Lion Air Flight 610 and we are committed to helping those affected by these tragedies,” Boeing spokesman Chaz Bickers said.
SAA workers start strike that could cripple airline
Workers at South African Airways (SAA) downed tools on Friday in a strike over wages and job cuts that has forced the troubled state-owned carrier to cancel all flights and left its future hanging in the balance.
SAA, which has not turned a profit since 2011 and is without a permanent CEO, says the strike by unions representing around 3,000 of its 5,000-strong workforce will cost it 50 million rand ($3.36 million) per day and threatens its survival.
The unions rejected SAA’s wage offer late on Thursday, and are also striking over the carrier’s plans to cut more than 900 jobs in a bid to stem financial losses and become viable without the state bailouts it has relied on so far, reports Reuters.
SAA’s acting chief financial officer, Deon Fredericks, told the eNCA news channel that the airline, hurt by past mismanagement, could not just close its eyes and carry on.
“We’ll just go deeper down,” he said.
SAA is trying to negotiate much-needed funding from banks, Fredericks told radio station 702, but added the strike would hurt the talks as it would have a negative impact on cash flow. “If we don’t get that funding we will not be able to continue.”
The National Union of Metal Workers of South Africa (NUMSA) and the South African Cabin Crew Association (SACCA) called the SAA strike from 0200 GMT on Friday. NUMSA has said it will continue until the unions’ demands, including for an 8% wage increase and job security, are met.
The action is not an attempt to hurt the airline but force the government to intervene so its board and management make the right decisions, SACCA President Zazi Nsibanyoni-Mugambi said.
“In our eyes this is an attempt to save (SAA) from its current management and board,” she told 702 on Friday.
Two other unions at SAA representing about 2,500 employees mostly in technical and mid-management jobs said they would go to the labour court to block the airline’s plan to cut jobs.
SAA, which cancelled all flights on Saturday, is among a number of state-run firms that are battling tough financial conditions after years of poor governance and so-called ‘state capture’ – widespread corruption involving billions of rands worth of state contracts during Jacob Zuma’s presidency.
President Cyril Ramaphosa has staked his reputation on turning them around.
Direct Qantas flight completes non-stop journey from London to Sydney
A non-stop flight from London to Sydney has landed, 19 hours and 19 minutes after take-off.
The Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner is believed to have set a long-distance record for a passenger jet, reports standard.co.uk.
It left Heathrow around 6am (local time) on Thursday and touching down at Sydney Airport at 12:28pm on Friday (1.30am UK time).
The flight was conducted to research the effects on crew and passengers of ultra-long-haul services which are under consideration by the airline.
It was carrying 40 people, many of them Qantas staffers.
Those on board witnessed two sunrises, the first to the right of the aircraft as it headed north-east after takeoff, and the second to its left as it flew over Indonesia.
Aside from research, the flight kicked off a year of celebrations for the centenary of the airline, which will officially turn 99 on Saturday.
Qantas Chairman, Richard Goyder said the flight continued the airline’s history of helping Australia engage with the rest of the world.
“Qantas is a national icon because it’s been such a big part of Australian life for so long,” Goyder said in a statement.
“Our founders talked about overcoming the tyranny of distance and through the years we’ve moved from bi-planes, to single wing, to jets to help bring things closer.”
S’African Airways cancels flights, offers striking employees new wage increase
South African Airways (SAA) has canceled flights scheduled for Friday and Saturday because of a pending strike by a majority of employees but said on Thursday it hoped its revised wage offer would avert the walkout at the state-run carrier.
SAA has failed to turn a profit since 2011 while relying on state bailouts to fund a growing financing gap.
The airline is also without a permanent chief executive and has yet to file annual results for the two most recent financial years because of concerns about its viability as a business, reports Reuters.
Unions representing about 3,000 of its 5,000-member workforce said on Wednesday that cabin crew and other workers would strike over wages and plans to the cut more than 900 jobs.
The carrier said on Wednesday it might never recover if the strike went ahead.
Unions are demanding an immediate 8% increase, and on Thursday SAA after late night negotiations said it would offer a 5.9% raise from April when it hopes to have secured the necessary funding.
“The increase is not immediately available. We can only implement it once we have secured funding,” SAA spokesman Tlali Tlali said during a live interview on television news channel eNCA.
“We have a meeting scheduled for today at 2 o’clock and we are hopeful we will be able to resolve the issue … It will include all the unions … and if the meeting yields positive results we will then activate some contingency plans that will allow us to reinstate flights,” said Tlali.
Only flights directly operated by SAA would be affected. Flights by subsidiaries Mango, SA Express and SA Air Link, as well as those of private operators, would not be affected, SAA said.
The airline said it expected unions to respond at an emergency meeting at 1200 GMT.
Unions said the strike would begin at 4 a.m. (0200 GMT) on Friday and go on indefinitely. They are calling on SAA’s check-in, ticket sales, head office, technical staff and ground staff to take part.
Zazi Nsibanyoni-Mugambi, president of the South African Cabin Crew Association (SACCA) that is leading the strike with the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA), said the offer was unacceptable.
“They really need to get serious, 5.9% simply won’t cut it. It’s just over 1% more that we are asking for and we think its attainable, so last night we asked SAA (negotiators) to go and get a fresh mandate from management,” said Nsibanyoni-Mugambi.
Numsa spokeswoman Phakamile Hlubi-Majola said the union was still consulting its members on whether to accept or reject the revised wage offer.
SAA airline flies around 6.8 million passengers annually to six continents with routes to New York, London and Hong Kong among its eight international offerings.
Qantas flight from London to Sydney with no stops takes off
A Qantas aeroplane has set off on an ultra-long haul flight from London to Sydney as part of a trial for a potential commercial route.
The test flight, as part of Qantas’s Project Sunrise, will see a Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner carry just 40 people – including crew – to the other side of the world in approximately 19 hours.
The flight was scheduled to leave London at 6am and arrive into Sydney around lunchtime on Friday, a Qantas spokesman said.
A Dreamliner can usually carry between 230 and 300 people, depending on its interior set-up, reports metro.co.uk.
Currently it is impossible to fly an aeroplane at full capacity of both passengers and cargo from cities on the east coast of Australia to London without stopping to refuel.
It is possible to fly non-stop from London to the city of Perth in Western Australia as it is 1,600 miles closer.
Despite vowing to slash carbon emissions and reach net zero by 2050, the Australian airline is testing the viability of the London to Sydney route as a regular commercial flight.
The airline said all carbon emissions from Thursday’s take-off will be fully offset.
Those on board will be mostly Qantas employees and will be fitted with monitors to track their sleep patterns, food and drink intake, lighting, physical movement and in-flight entertainment.
The data will be assessed by researchers from the Charles Perkins Centre – a medical institute at the University of Sydney – to assess the impact of the flight on their health, wellbeing and body clock.
A team from Melbourne’s Monash University will work with pilots and crew to monitor melatonin levels before, during and after the flight. Melatonin is the hormone that regulates sleep cycles.
Pilots will wear a device that tracks brainwave patterns and monitors alertness, Qantas said, to gather data on the best work and rest patterns for long-haul services.
The airline said the data on crew wellbeing and alertness will be shared with Australia’s Civil Aviation Safety Authority to inform future regulations for ultra-long haul flights.
Qantas will also gather general feedback from passengers on food choices, stretching and wellbeing zones and in-flight entertainment.
The airline’s Chief Executive Alan Joyce said previously: “Ultra-long haul flying presents a lot of common sense questions about the comfort and wellbeing of passengers and crew.
“These flights are going to provide invaluable data to help answer them.”
It will be the second aircraft to fly the route non-stop – the first touched down in August 1989.
Qantas did fly a Dreamliner non-stop from New York to Sydney last month as part of Project Sunrise, although the route is around 1,000 miles shorter.
It is due to make a final decision on the viability of Project Sunrise as a commercial flight route by the end of the year.
SAfrican Airways workers to go on strike Friday
Cabin crew and other workers at South African Airways (SAA) will go on strike on Friday over the struggling state airline’s plan to cut more than 900 jobs, unions said on Wednesday.
“We are left with no choice but to resort to this drastic action by withdrawing our labour and going on strike,” Zazi Nsibanyoni-Anyiam, president of the South African Cabin Crew Association, told a joint press briefing with the National Union of Metal Workers of South Africa (NUMSA), reports Reuters.
The strike would continue indefinitely, the unions said.
SAA said on Tuesday it could cut more than 900 jobs as it restructures to stem severe financial losses.
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