Abuja Airport Finally Closed At Midnight Yesterday For Runway Repair

The Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport [NAIA], Abuja, finally closed at midnight yesterday for six-week rehabilitation work on its runway.

It was learnt that the repair exercise and logistics would cost N5.8bilion according to Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed and his counterparts in Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi as well as that of Aviation, Hadi Sirika announced yesterday to put an end to weeks of speculations, debates and apprehension on a likely postponement of the closure date given the state of preparedness at the Kaduna Airport.

Mohammed said the airport, which would be closed for six weeks would be officially shut from 12 a.m. today.

Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, said the Federal Government had fulfilled its promise to make the Kaduna Airport available and ready as an alternative.

However, workers still need to fit electricity, seating and toilets to a new terminal at the Kaduna Airport, which will handle the capital’s air traffic but lacks capacity.

Most floor and ceiling tiles have been fitted and all air conditioning units have been installed, but electrical fittings remain work-in-progress, chairs for the arrival and departure areas lie strewn about and a car park expansion is incomplete.

This situation runs contrary to the statement of the Managing Director of FAAN, Saleh Dunoma, who said in Abuja, the Kaduna Airport is now set for international operations.

According to Dunoma, “All the things we need for international operations are on ground. What is important actually is the safety equipment for the landing of the aircraft. We have seen the runway is good, the Instrument Landing System [ILS] has been installed and the terminal building is ready.

He added: “I think this is one of the luckiest airports. They have five generators as standby power supply. So we have more than enough. Also, Fola Akinkuotu, Managing Director of the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency [NAMA], told the News Agency of Nigeria [NAN] that once the Abuja Airport was closed, NAMA would deploy the mobile tower from the airport to Kaduna to complement what is already on ground.

Akinkuotu said: “As far as this [Kaduna] airport is concerned, NAMA management is very satisfied that we have done a good job.

Meanwhile, Ethiopian Airlines has signalled its readiness to commence flight to the Kaduna Airport despite the contrary position taken by most Western Airlines; like British Airways, Lufthansa among others.

Unveiling Nigeria’s Youngest Hotel General Manager

At just 29 years of age, Emmanuel Pascal is today the youngest Nigerian general manager of international brand [franchise] of any hotel in the country.

Born and schooled at Loral Primary School, Festac Town, Command Secondary School, Ojo Military Cantonment all in Lagos State, later spent over a decade studying hospitality and working in the industry in the United Kingdom.

On his arrival in the United Kingdom, Pascal studied at Colegsirgar in Wales where he received a Level 3 Certificate in Professional Cookery as well as Food and Hospitality Management.

Thereafter, he went on to the University of Bournemouth in England where he specialised as a Chef; mastering French, English and Asian Cuisines.
Having perfected his first call, Pascal switched to management, honing his leadership skills in bars and restaurants with hotels in southwest and central England.

This young and soft spoken Nigerian also gained much knowledge from his diverse experience in retail trade for large supermarket chains and mixology.

One of the high points of his career was the openingof a bar in Bath, UK with a business partner after University.

According to him, it was an enjoyable experience though it was hard work with no cushions figuratively speaking.

Before returning home, Pascal worked for boutique hotel groups like Devere in Bournemouth as a chef, Devere in Southampton and as Food and Beverage Supervisor, Cavendish in London as Conference and Banqueting Supervisor, Loch Fyne in Winchester as a Chef, Umix in Dorset as the General Manager, and Brugada later called Ace Cocktail Bar as Director/co-owner. Then he moved to Nigeria where he served Wyndham in Abuja, Barcelona and now Best Western down South.

He has had interest in flying and he promised to get back to it eventually one way, it’s the reason why he studied sciences. He also has interest in designs like auto and architectural. He loves keeping abreast of the latest technology such as the hyperloop and the expansive application of drones.

He has passion for cooking with next project to run a TV show with class, exploring culinary delights in Nigeria and bringing his experience from world cuisines to give the young ones the inspiration they need to explore their world.

Pascal also has passion for Travelling and seeing new places, culture and people. According to him, there is so much out there to see but there is also so much to see in a Nigeria.

While growing up from a humble background, Pascal soon realised that the world was bigger than where he found himself.

He therefore, started exploring and noticed that limitations abound in the society both home and away. So, he studied hard and worked hard to prove that anyone can achieve what they set their hearts to. When someone says no he doesn’t fight, but just proves them wrong.

In addition, Pascal has learnt so much which he wants to give back to young ones in Nigeria to inspire them in a field that use to be practiced by mostly the female gender. “But now both genders are doing well in the field and more can be done to improve our tourism sector to start generating revenue from all the rich cultural heritages and history of this part of the world”, he said.

Looking ahead, Pascal informed that lots of work still needs to be done. He admits that it’s an enjoyable ride and would want to occupy the front sit; that’s what is motivating him.

Today, Pascal is the general manager of Best Western Wetland Hotel, Warri Delta State, Nigeria.

Bulgaria’s HM King Simeon II declared Special Ambassador Of International Year For Sustainable Tourism For Development

Simeon II received from the Secretary-General of the World Tourism Organization [UNWTO] the certificate accrediting him as an ambassador of the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development, which is being observed globally throughout 2017.

The figure of Ambassadors of the International Year was presented last January at the launching of the Year that took place in the context of FITUR in Madrid.

Speaking at the ceremony held at the UNWTO headquarters in Madrid, UNWTO Secretary-General Taleb Rifai emphasized: “When designating 2017 as the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development, the United Nations recognized tourism’s contribution to the development agenda, to peace, equality and prosperity.

I am very touched to see that King Simeon II shares this same vision on the power of tourism and I truly thank him for his commitment to spread this important message across the world.”

Simeon II expressed gratitude for his appointment as ambassador of the International Year and stressed the importance of tourism in moving towards a more sustainable and fairer world. “One of the most important objectives of the Year is to raise awareness among the international population as well as institutions about the potential of tourism to promote culture, exchanges or the elimination of prejudices,” said the newly appointed ambassador of the Year.

In addition to Simeon II, the UNWTO has appointed the following ambassadors of the International Year: H.E. Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, President of Liberia; H.R.H. Shaikha Mai bint Mohammed Al Khalifa, President of the Bahrain Authority for Culture and Antiquities; Talal Abu-Ghazaleh, Chairman of the Talal Abu-Ghazaleh Organization; Michael Frenzel, President of the Federal Association of the German Tourism Industry [BTW]; and Ge Huayong, Chairman of China UnionPay.

NANTA Welcomes AMCOM Take Over Of Arik Air

The National Association of Nigeria Travel Agencies [NANTA] has thrown its weight behind what it termed quick intervention of Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria [AMCON] in Nigeria’s troubled flag carrier airline, Arik Air from total collapse.

Speaking on the side-line of announcement on its forth coming 41st non elective Annual General Meeting [AGM] to be held in Sheraton Hotels, Lagos on March 21, 2017, NANTA President, Bankole Bernard said the damage the new management of the carrier met on ground was more than what they anticipated, adding that the carrier was heading for total collapse before the rescue.

In his word, “NANTA had a meeting with the new management of Arik. I can say to you that the damage they met on ground is far higher than what they were expecting and I am sure you know that it is not easy to fix a situation that has been damaged so badly like what we have in Arik.

Thank God, the government intervened that it did not turn out to be a complete embarrassment. Can you imagine what it would have been if Arik’s aircraft had dropped from the sky?

“It could have happened because it was getting that bad because they were running out of funds. Their London office had gone into liquidation even before AMCON got there. It is a good thing that AMCON has gone in. They will restructure the whole place and whatever they come up with and we are willing to work with them.”

He said NANTA was really concerned about the airline, considering its status then as the biggest carrier in West Africa, adding that it would have been very embarrassing for the country if the airline had gone under without the quick intervention of government.

He said, “We are glad that the government went in and I think the steps they have been taking would help to save the airline. We hope that in a matter of months, we will see them go back to what they used to be.”

He lauded the Minister of State for Aviation, Hadi Sirika and AMCON for taking a proactive step to rescue the airline he said was heading for the rocks because of over N500b debts the airline is enmeshed in.

The airline is reported to owe virtually all its creditors including another $78 million it is yet to remit to the International Air Transport Association [IATA] and other creditors.
Although, the former management of the airline denied it owes IATA. But the clearing house has temporarily suspended the carriers from its Billing Settlement Plan [BSP] platform; an action that may not be unconnected with the allegation.

Speaking on the forthcoming AGM, Bernard stated that the AGM with theme: “Tourism in a recessed economy. The way forward”, is aimed at taping into the low hanging fruits in tourism at this period of recession.

Expected at the event are former President Olusegun Obasanjo, Information and Culture minister, Alhaji Lai Muhammed, Minister of State for Aviation, Hadi Sirika, Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi, Ojaja II, former Director General of Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority [NCAA], Dr. Harold Demuren, Director General of the Nigerian Institute of Tourism and Hospitality [NIHOTOUR], Chika Balogun and the Ag director general of Nigerian Tourism Development Corporation, NTDC, Mariel Rae Omoh among other dignitaries.

He said AGM has become imperative because NANTA has become a relevant voice in the aviation industry.

Bernard observed that the planned closure of Abuja airport is an opportunity in disguise for their members to look into the untapped tourism potential within the zone.

Speaking also, the 1st deputy president of NANTA and chairperson of the AGM organising committee, Susan Akporiaye added that all the stakeholders in the aviation industry like NCAA, FAAN, South African Airways, South African Tourism and others would also be at the event..

Speaking on the closure of Abuja airport for runway repairs, Akporiaye emphasised that AGM will give hope to members to take advantage of the situation on ground to tap into the tourism industry in Kaduna and environs in the absence of ticket sales in Abuja.

She enjoined the members to look deep inside and tap into the opportunity the closure of Abuja airport in the area of tourism.

…Arik Air Introduces Promo Fares

Nigeria’s flag carrier airline, Arik Air has announced a special promotional fare that will enable passengers buy a-one-way ticket to any destination in Nigeria from N16, 000.

The promotion, which runs from March 6 to 20 March, 2017 is to acknowledge and appreciate the loyalty of the airline’s highly esteemed customers that have stood with the airline for over a decade of operation. To enjoy this offer however, customers are advised to buy their ticket on or before March 20, 2017, while the last date for travel is March 31, 2017.

A statement from the airline added that tickets can be purchased at any Arik Air City Office, Airport Ticketing Office, online at www.arikair.com or the Arik Mobile App.

Commenting on the latest promotion, Arik Air’s Chief Executive Officer, Captain Roy Ilegbodu said: “This is an exciting time for both staff and loyal customers of Arik Air. The new management has ensured stability of operations over the last three weeks with improved on-time-performance.”

Captain Roy who further disclosed that Arik passengers would be greeted with many more amazing customer centric engagements in the months ahead disclosed that management is working hard to expand coverage.

He said, “Arrangements have been concluded to return five of the grounded aircraft back to service shortly and this will enable us add more flights to our network. We therefore welcome back our loyal customers and promise them a great flying experience.”

In a related development, Arik Air has released a new schedule for its Kaduna operations following the planned closure of Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja from March 8, 2017, and the diversion of traffic to Kaduna Airport.

Arik Air will be operating three daily flights between Kaduna and Lagos and one daily flight between Kaduna and Accra, Ghana during this period. Other destinations to be serviced by the airline from Kaduna are Port Harcourt, Ilorin, Sokoto, Gombe, Yola and Enugu, which will have one daily flight each.

The new schedule will be operated for six weeks when the Abuja Airport is closed to traffic.

Swiss Spirit Hotel & Suites Alisa, Accra Best Kept Hospitality Secret

Since the Alisa Hotel was rebranded to Swiss Spirit Hotel & Suites on May 1, 2016, the hospitality and tourism landscape in Accra and Ghana in general has witnessed a dramatic change positively.

The hotel shortly after the rebranding underwent intensive training initiatives, and still continues to acquaint the staff to the new norms and culture of the delicate and purity of the Swiss acclaimed hospitality culture worldwide.

This 199 room hotel, strategically located in the upscale North Ridge district of Accra is gigantic and impressive.

The area of North Ridge, West Ridge, and East Ridge, collectively referred to as “The Ridge” is populated by several major embassies, including those of Germany and the United Kingdom, making it an ideal location for an international hotel brand.

The new Group General Manager of the Alisa Hotels Limited, Bruce Potter said that with Accra and Ghana becoming one of the emerging destination cities in Africa for conferences and meetings, there has always been a call for Alisa Hotel to be competitive on the continent, and that the hotel has positioned itself for the market therein.

According to Potter, who until very recently was the general manager of another international brand in Accra for almost six years before making the switch, said that Alisa hotel relationship with Swiss International will ensure/guarantee that the hotel offers top international hospitality services.

Swiss Spirit Hotel and Suites Alisa Accra, is Ghana’s authentic and indigenous 4 Star hotels that has grown over the years to become the biggest hotel in the country in terms of guests’ rooms and conference space.

With 14 conference venues fitted with state-of-the-art equipment and a dedicated team, your meetings, conferences and special occasions such as weddings, book and press launches have never been in better hands.

The hotel also offers both indoor and outdoor dining, live entertainment and an impressive array of gastronomic influences from around the world. The restaurants and bars at the Swiss Spirit Hotel and Suites Alisa Accra offer innovative cuisine and impeccable service.

Swiss Café Restaurant and Lounge
This is a traditional Ghanaian and Continental cuisine designed for guests and locals as they can feast on continental favorites from the buffet. European styled marble counters blend with light walls as natural light streams in at this restaurant, available for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Ted & Co
This is a contemporary piano bar with live music. It’s a fashionable place for leisure and business guests where they can order variety of snacks.

The Cellar
Relax to soothing Jazz music with an amazing wine collection from around the world. The Cellar is an ideal place to be after a hard day’s work and network.

Moods Shisha Lounge
Set on the first floor of The Pegasus wing of Swiss Spirit Hotel and Suites Alisa Accra, this bar gives a wonderful view of the city. Cigarette or shisha at this smoking lounge is a comfortable place to order à la carte specialties for lunch or dinner.

Inspirations Pool Bar
The pool bar is well located and secured area of the hotel. It serves the usual and all that Swiss Spirit Hotel and Suites Alisa is expected to parade.

At Swiss Spirit Hotel & Suites, quality was never compromised, which is why it’s the only hotel that can accommodate two Very Important Personnel [VIP] at a time with its two mouth- watery Penthouse that are second to none in Ghana.

Also available are, Thai Massage Spa, tennis court, standard gym and clean swimming pool for the convenience of guests and patrons.

By Lucky Onoriode George, Who was in Accra, Ghana.