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FG goes after Arik, BiCourtney over N37bn Aviation debt

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The Federal Government has expressed readiness to clampdown on debtors in the aviation sector, with accumulated debt hitting N37 billion. Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, at the weekly ministerial briefing, yesterday, said Bi-Courtney Aviation Services Limited (BASL) and Arik Airline are in the pole positions of debtors to various aviation agencies.

In a related development, the Federal Government has instructed airline operators to refund the full cost of travel tickets to passengers after a two-hour delay.

Sirika had in November 2020 said the local airlines’ total debt burden to regulatory agencies stood at N22 billion. A breakdown showed the sum of N19.37 billion and $6,993,284 million (N2.7 billion) as unremitted Ticket Sales Charge (TSC), and Cargo Sales Charge (CSC) collected on behalf of the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) and its sister agencies.

Yesterday, he said the debt had climbed to N37 billion and a source of worry for the agencies and service providers to the sector. He said the government had deployed a great deal of discretion in handling the situation, vowing, however, that the authorities would not hesitate to go after the debtors.

“In fact, service providers in our system have said ‘these guys are owing us, we should take the money from the money being given as palliatives.’ We said no; the intent of President Buhari is to ensure that he cushions the effect on businesses. Let us find a way of surviving, and let them take the money.

“So, this brings to the question of the money owed to the parastatals. It is about N37 billion that they are owing, especially Arik, the culprit. I know they are owing us about N14 billion. If you owe the government, you owe FAAN. Bi-Courtney owes about N14 billion as at the last count. It has not paid a single dime since the time it started to run the terminal building. And we have not ceased giving him electricity, water, fire cover, and so on. He hasn’t paid a dime for 13 years.

“And if we go to shut his doors, the media, of course, and Nigerian people will say we are killing businesses but he is killing our services too. Because we need to have that money to provide for that toilet that you are looking at in Lagos airport. We will go after the money.”

The BASL facility in question, that is the Murtala Muhammed Airport Terminal II (MMA2) in Lagos, is a subject of lingering disagreement between BASL and FG/FAAN over breaches of agreement, for which Bi-Courtney has also laid claim to N200 billion worth of compensation.
In its reaction by its spokesman, Mikail Mumuni, BASL, operator of Murtala Muhammed Airport, Lagos Terminal Two (MMA2) denied owing the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) any amount at all. In a statement on Thursday night, he said: “On the contrary, it is FAAN that owes Bi-Courtney over N200 billion by depriving it of its legitimate earnings over the past 14 years.”

This, he said arose by FAAN opening and operating the General Aviation Terminal (GAT), thus competing with BASL with government money in the running of the Domestic Terminal in a flagrant breach of the concession agreement.

“BASL in line with the dispute resolution process contained in the agreement had an arbitration award in its favour. It also got the judgement of a High Court, six Court of Appeal judgements and a Supreme Court judgement, all in its favour and sustained the monetary award,” he said.

Mumuni stressed that the courts ruled that any debt that may be alleged against BASL by FAAN should be deducted from the credit judgement after due verification.

He added that “the N14 billion debt mentioned by the Minister is totally inconsistent with the demand by FAAN, the body which has been liaising with BASL. Their last demand was about N1bn which was promptly responded to by BASL stating categorically that there was no such debt.”

Mumuni said: “We believe that Minister was not properly briefed by FAAN as we also pay our electricity bills as and when due. We equally provide elaborate security at the terminal, which has continued to attract commendation from stakeholders. ”

ON multiple flight delays and cancellations, Sirika said consumers have rights that airlines must begin to respect. “On domestic flights delayed beyond one hour, the carrier should provide refreshment, and one telephone call, or one SMS, or one e-mail. They should send you an SMS or email or call you to say, ‘I am sorry, I am delaying for one hour.’

“Delay for two hours and beyond, the carrier shall reimburse passengers the full value of their tickets. Delay between 10:00 p.m. and 4:00 a.m., the carrier shall provide hotel accommodation, refreshment, meal, two free calls, SMS, email and transport to-and-fro airport.”

The Minister, who said his ministry has started sanctioning some airlines that default on consumer rights, however, urged passengers not to be unruly at airports.

The Minister added that the Federal Government will come up with a ‘simple policy’ to regulate the use of drones for private and commercial purposes. According to him, a lack of regulation for drones could cause ‘disaster’ within the civil aviation space. Sirika, however, did not give details on how and when the government or the concerned agency, the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority, would start the regulation of drone users.

Drones are unmanned aerial vehicles that are remotely piloted by aviators or by their owners on the ground. Addressing journalists, the Minister said: “There are remotely piloted aircraft now and unmanned beings or aircraft as it is, or drones as you may call them. They are becoming a phenomenon of their own. Everybody is flying drones now. They are for good uses; you fly drones now to find pipeline vandalisation or breakage or carry out integrity tests, you fly drones now to many places to order pizza, to send birthday gifts and so on and so forth.

“Very soon, we will find our airspace dotted with all these craft and managing them alone will become such a huge challenge because they will be operating around within the airspace and somebody needs to control them.

“So, we thought that we should create a policy. The last time I spoke on drones, I gave an example of a friend of mine who was flying about three miles away from the (Aso) Villa. He was flying it at about 500ft above ground level and he was flying it towards the airport, which is at the west side of the city and he was flying it about 65km per hour.

“These drones are now beginning to carry loads like 5kg, 10kg, or more. If this gentleman (friend of mine) is just flying this drone around and there is an inbound airplane or an airplane that is taking off, it could hit the airplane, get ingested in the engine and cause disaster. And don’t think it is not going to happen.

“So, we thought we should develop a policy for remotely piloted aircraft to have them organised and regulated. We are policy-makers and we will make policies that will keep our country safe and secure. The policy is going to be very simple: just like you walk in and buy the drones and also be able to follow those rules and regulations even if you are an enthusiast,” he added.

MEANWHILE, the Accident Investigation Bureau (AIB) Nigeria, yesterday, released probe reports on an accident and seven serious incidents that happened between 2010 and 2019, while preliminary reports on the crash of a military aircraft that killed the late Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen. Ibrahim Attahiru, and 10 others will be ready in a week’s time.

Yesterday’s reports were accompanied with a total of nine safety recommendations, addressed to the regulatory body, the affected airlines and the Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), among others.

Commissioner and Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Akin Olateru, who disclosed this, said the Nigerian Air Force (NAF) commissioned them to assist in investigation, which is ongoing and whether NAF makes that public is not AIB-N’s call. Olateru added that the released reports were the largest in a series, and part of measures to enhance air safety.

Olateru said: “The release of eight aircraft accident reports at once to the public is the biggest haul since the establishment of AIB. The bureau has released a total of 67 reports and 220 safety recommendations since its creation in 2007, out of which 48 reports and 139 safety recommendations were during the present administration.”

Among the findings released is a report on a serious incident involving a B737-500 aircraft operated by Air Peace Limited with nationality and registration marks 5N-BRN, which occurred at Port Harcourt Airport, Omagwa, Rivers State on June 22, 2019.

Another is a serious incident involving HS-125-700A aircraft operated by Associated Aviation Limited with nationality and registration marks 5N-BEX, which occurred at Benin Airport, Edo state, Nigeria on July 10, 2011. Also, a report on the serious incident involving a B737-200 aircraft with nationality and registration marks 5N-BIF owned and operated by Chanchangi Airlines, which occurred at Kaduna Airport, Runway 05, Kaduna State, Nigeria on August 20, 2010.

Report on the serious incident involving a Bombardier DHC-8-Q400 aircraft owned and operated by Arik Air Nigeria Ltd with nationality and registration marks 5N-BKX, which occurred en route Kotoka International Airport, Accra, Ghana on March 6, 2018.

Report on the serious incident involving a Boeing 737- 500 aircraft operated by Med-View Airline with nationality and registration marks 5N-BQM, which occurred at FL320 en route Murtala Muhammed Airport, Lagos on July 23, 2019.

Report on the Accident involving a Hawker Siddeley HS-125-800 XP aircraft owned and operated by SWAT Technology Limited with nationality and registration marks N497AG, which occurred on Runway 21, Port-Harcourt Airport, Omagwa, Rivers State on June 11, 2015.

Others are: report on the serious incident involving an Airbus 330-343 aircraft operated by Turkish Airlines Inc. with nationality and registration marks TC-LOL, which occurred at Port Harcourt Intl. Airport, Omagwa, Rivers State, Nigeria on December 31, 2019.

And a report on the serious incident involving Boeing 737- 300 aircraft owned and operated by Air Peace Limited with nationality and registration marks 5N-BUK which occurred at Murtala Muhammed Airport, Lagos on 15th May, 2019.

The Bureau has released a total of 67 reports and 220 safety recommendations since its creation in 2007, out of which 48 reports and 139 safety recommendations were during the present administration.

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Bitcoin Rallies Towards $52K, Ethereum Consolidates, Altcoins In Uptrend

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Bitcoin price gained bullish momentum above USD 50,000. Ethereum is consolidating below USD 4,000, XRP surged above the USD 1.30 resistance. QNT and FTM are up over 28%.

Bitcoin price remained well bid and it started a fresh increase above the USD 50,000 resistance. BTC gained nearly 4% and it even broke USD 51,500. It is currently (11:35 WAT) consolidating gains below the USD 52,000 resistance zone.

Besides, most major altcoins are also rising. ETH is holding gains, but it is facing resistance near the USD 4,000 zone. XRP is up over 6% and it broke the USD 1.30 resistance. ADA is still struggling to clear the USD 3.00 resistance zone.

Bitcoin price

After a successful close above USD 50,000, bitcoin price gained bullish momentum. BTC broke many hurdles near USD 51,000 and USD 51,200. It even traded close to USD 52,000 before the bears appeared. It is now consolidating gains below the USD 52,000 resistance. If there is an upside break above USD 52,000, the price could rise towards the USD 53,000 level.

On the downside, the price could find support near the USD 51,200 level. The main support is now forming near the USD 50,500 level.

Ethereum price

Ethereum price made another attempt to clear the USD 4,000 resistance, but it failed. As a result, ETH corrected lower below USD 3,950.

However, the bulls were active near the USD 3,850 level. The price is now consolidating above USD 3,900, with many hurdles near USD 3,980 and USD 4,000.

If there is another downside correction, the price could find support near USD 3,850. The next major support is near the USD 3,800 level.

ADA, LTC, DOGE, and XRP price

Cardano (ADA) failed to stay above USD 3.00 and corrected lower. However, downsides were limited below USD 2.85. The price is now stuck in a range below the USD 3.00 resistance. A close above USD 3.00 could start a stronger increase.

Litecoin (LTC) broke many hurdles near USD 200 and USD 212. LTC even cleared USD 220 and it is now consolidating gains. An immediate resistance is near the USD 230 level. A clear break above USD 230 and USD 232 could open the doors for a move towards the USD 250 level.

Dogecoin (DOGE) is up over 4% and it broke the USD 0.312 resistance. The next major resistance is near the USD 0.320 level. Any more gains might lead the price towards the USD 0.335 level. If not, there might be a downside correction towards the USD 0.300 level.

XRP price gained pace above the USD 1.30 resistance. It is up over 6% and it even cleared the USD 1.32 resistance. There was a spike towards the USD 1.34 level, where the bulls faced resistance. XRP is now consolidating around USD 1.32, with support near USD 0.305 and USD 0.300.

Other altcoins market today

Many altcoins are up over 5%, including QNT, FTM, FIL, OMG, LINK, LUNA, QTUM, AMP, HT, ICP, ALGO, ATOM, CRO, EOS, and COMP. Out of these, QNT rallied over 41% and it surpassed the USD 335 level.

Overall, bitcoin price settled well above the USD 50,000 resistance zone. If BTC continues to rise and clears USD 52,000, there could be a move towards USD 53,000 or USD 53,500.

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Bitcoin Above USD 50K, Ethereum Eyes USD 4K, SOL Extends Rally

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Bitcoin price recovered losses and it climbed above USD 49,200. BTC is currently (11:46 UTC) trading above USD 50,000. A close above this level could push the price higher in the near term.

Besides, most major altcoins are trading in a positive zone. ETH regained strength and it broke the USD 3,900 level. XRP is consolidating near the USD 1.265 support. ADA could regain momentum if it settles above the USD 3.00 resistance.

Total market capitalization

Source: www.tradingview.com

Bitcoin price

After a short-term downside correction, bitcoin price started a fresh increase above USD 49,000. BTC surpassed USD 49,500 and USD 50,000. A successful close above USD 50,000 could start a fresh rally. The next major resistance is near USD 52,000. An intermediate resistance might be USD 51,200.
If there is a downside correction, the price might find support near USD 49,200. The next major support is now forming near the USD 48,500 level.

Ethereum price

Ethereum price started a fresh rally above the USD 3,800 resistance. ETH is up almost 6% and it traded close to the USD 4,000 level. If there is a break above USD 4,000, the price might rise towards the USD 4,200 level.
If there is a downside correction, the price might find bids near the USD 3,900 level. The next major support is near the USD 3,850 level.

ADA, LTC, DOGE, and XRP price

Cardano (ADA) corrected lower below the USD 3.00 level. It even tested the USD 2.90 level and is consolidating in a range. If there is a fresh increase, the price could accelerate higher towards the USD 3.10 and USD 3.12 levels. The next major resistance is near the USD 3.20 level.

Litecoin (LTC) is gaining pace and it cleared the USD 188 resistance zone. The main hurdle is now near the USD 200 level. A close above USD 200 could start another increase. If there is a downside correction, the price might find support near USD 185. The next major support is now forming near the USD 180 level.

Dogecoin (DOGE) is struggling to clear the USD 0.300 resistance. If the bulls succeed, the price could rise towards the USD 0.312 level. The next major resistance is near the USD 0.320 level. On the downside, the price may possibly remain stable above the USD 0.280 level.

XRP price failed to clear USD 1.295 and USD 1.300. It corrected lower and it traded below USD 1.280. The price is now stuck near USD 1.265. The next major support is near USD 1.25, below which there is a risk of a major decline. Conversely, the price could visit the USD 1.30 resistance zone.

Other altcoins market today

Many altcoins gained over 5%, including SOL, REV, NEAR, CEL, AUDIO, MIOTA, AVAX, BTT, HOT, ALGO, ZIL, LINK, and ICX. Out of these, SOL rallied over 20% and it trades near USD 140.

To sum up, bitcoin price is now attempting an upside break above USD 50,000. If BTC succeeds, it could rise further towards the USD 52,000 level.

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Apple plans to loosen App Store payment policy

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Apple announced on Wednesday it will loosen some of its App Store policies, allowing media apps to steer customers directly to their websites without paying commission.

The change, to be implemented early next year, is being introduced to end an investigation by the Japan Fair Trade Commission.

The modification will spare so-called reader apps that provide digital content such as newspapers, books, music or video from having to use the App Store payment system and thus avoid paying a 30 percent commission.

“We have great respect for the Japan Fair Trade Commission and appreciate the work we’ve done together, which will help developers of reader apps make it easier for users to set up and manage their apps and services while protecting their privacy and maintaining their trust,” Apple Fellow Phil Schiller said in a blog post.

Developers of the digital content apps will be able to link to their websites where users can create or manage accounts, according to Apple.

While the change resulted from an agreement with the JFTC, it will apply globally to all reader apps at the App Store, the Silicon Valley tech giant said.

Apple has come under fire for its tight control of the App Store, where developers are required to use its payment system.

Apple charges a commission of as much as 30 percent on sales of digital content or subscriptions at the App Store, with the payment system making certain the company gets its piece of the action.

“Because developers of reader apps do not offer in-app digital goods and services for purchase, Apple agreed with the JFTC to let developers of these apps share a single link to their website to help users set up and manage their account,” Apple said in a post.

Apple last week agreed to loosen payment restrictions on its App Store, a major change announced in a settlement with small developers as the US technology giant faces growing scrutiny and legal challenges over its tightly controlled online marketplace.

The change will allow small developers to inform their customers of alternative payment options beyond the official App Store.

In a class-action lawsuit, the developers had accused Apple of monopolistic distribution practices by operating the sole gateway to get apps or other content onto iPhones and other devices powered by iOS software.

The proposed settlement is pending court approval.

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