• Friday, February 23, 2024
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Nigeria in talks with Seychelles, Saudi over direct flights, hajj operations

FAAN staff spent almost N1 billion shuttling Lagos – Abuja in 2023, says Minister

Nigeria, Seychelles and Saudi Arabia have begun talks on direct flights and hajj operations of each respective countries.

During the ongoing 15th International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) Air Services Negotiation (ICAN2023), Festus Keyamo, the Aviation Minister, held crucial meetings with counterparts from Saudi Arabia and Seychelles, as revealed in a statement by the Ministry in Abuja.

These discussions focused on improving Hajj operations and establishing direct air links between the nations.

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In a meeting with Anthony Derjacques, the Minister of Transport of the Republic of Seychelles, Keyamo discussed implementating the recently signed Bilateral Air Services Agreement (BASA) between the two nations.

Both ministers agreed to fast-track the BASA implementation and establish direct flights between Nigeria and Seychelles, enhancing trade and tourism opportunities.

Initiatives to expedite the process involve the ongoing ratification of BASA by Nigeria’s Ministry of Justice, collaborative efforts on immigration procedures to ensure seamless passenger travel and the appointment of focal officers from both countries to supervise the implementation.

The minister expressed his commitment to collaborate with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Nigeria Immigration Service to conduct thorough profiling of individuals intending to visit Seychelles from Nigeria, aiming to prevent entry by those with malicious intentions.

Derjacques highlighted that the existing BASA, inked during the 2022 ICAN meeting in Abuja, Nigeria, had not yet been operationalized.

He clarified that the signed BASA instrument was deposited with Seychelles’ parliament for ratification.

Emphasizing the need to initiate direct flights between Seychelles and Nigeria, he suggested chartered or scheduled operations, noting the readiness of Seychelles to welcome genuine visitors to its tourism and aquatic attractions.

In a separate meeting with Abdulaziz bin Abdullah Al-Duailj, the President of the General Authority of Civil Aviation (GACA) of Saudi Arabia, Keyamo addressed critical issues relating to the 2023 Hajj season.

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The discussion included the performance of Nigerian airlines, challenges faced, outstanding payments, and preparations for 2024.

The outcome of the meeting involved a commitment from both parties to collaborate for future flawless and seamless Hajj operations.

The key agreed-upon actions include the establishment of a joint committee, focusing on settling outstanding payments to Nigerian airlines, and enhancing communication and coordination between aviation authorities of both countries.