Sunday, January 18, 2015


Global launch customer Qatar Airways’ inaugural A350 XWB flight was ceremoniously welcomed on Thursday, 15 January, at Frankfurt Airport. The first flight officially marked the start of the A350 XWB service between Frankfurt and Doha, with the new aircraft’s modern equipment and innovative technology delivering an unparalleled travel experience for passengers.

The five-star airline and world’s first commercial A350 XWB flight was greeted with great excitement by gathered VIPs and media as Qatar Airways Group Chief Executive, His Excellency Mr. Akbar Al Baker and Fabrice BrĂ©gier, AirbusPresident and Chief Executive Officer, together with numerous other guests of honour, were all formally welcomed by members of the Fraport Executive Board and representatives of Qatar Airways Europe.

“This is a very important milestone for Qatar Airways, and our first commercial A350 flight was filled with passengers enjoying the inaugural and exclusive travel experience that this tremendous new aircraft has to offer. The A350 XWB truly changes the travel experience and we are particularly pleased to put it on our route to Frankfurt; an important destination that we started servicing in 2002,” said His Excellency Mr. Al Baker.

“At Airbus, we have been working towards this first commercial flight of the A350 XWB for nearly a decade. It filled me with great pride and satisfaction to see the first passengers enjoy the comfort and quietness of the aircraft in flight. The A350 XWB delivers a 25 percent improvement in fuel efficiency to its operators – and being the world’s quietest twin-engine widebody aircraft, it will truly be a good neighbour at every airport,” said Fabrice BrĂ©gier, Airbus President and CEO.

“The inauguration of the world’s first A350 XWB route from Doha to Frankfurt marks another milestone in aviation, which Frankfurt Airport is proud to share. We congratulate Qatar Airways, Airbus and Rolls-Royce on this magnificent airplane and this memorable day. We will all benefit from the latest technology that is being implemented with this advanced aircraft type: passengers, airlines as well as airports and their surrounding regions. The significant reduction in noise emissions achieved by the A350 will help contribute to quieter flying at Frankfurt,” said Fraport AG Executive Board Member for Operations (COO), Anke Giesen.

Qatar Airways’ first A350 XWB is now officially operating one of the two daily services to Frankfurt, the airline’s first destination for this aircraft on its network of 146 destinations. Speaking at the press conference, Qatar Airways Group Chief Executive, His Excellency Mr. Akbar Al Baker, announced that the airline’s second A350 XWB, which will join the fleet in February, will also commence operations on the Frankfurt route beginning 1st March, 2015.

African Travel Times Magazine Honours Deserving Tourism Stakeholders

African Travel Times, Nigeria and West Africa only monthly travel and tourism magazine has announced the institution of an annual award.

According to its Publisher/Editor, Lucky Onoriode George, the award is to annually recognize ‘Excellence’ in the travel and tourism sector in Nigeria, saying that, a genuine and respected award in the industry was long overdue, especially in an industry that is service based.

He noted, “asking the travelling public that lack the technicality and experience of how the travel and tourism industry works to select the best hotel, restaurant and even the best airline in an operating environment annually is wrong”

George posited that, it is the process that differentiates the new awards from others, as awardees will be selected by professionals in the various subsectors”.

For the 2014 and the inaugural edition, the magazine is recognizing organisations and individuals that made giant strides in the industry in the out-going year.

“Based on the decision of our panel industry experts, the following organizations and individuals emerged winners”.

God Is Good Motors - Best Emerging Transport Company in Nigeria.

Eko Hotel & Suites - Most Supportive Travel and Tourism Organization.

Joseph Rennie, General Manager, Hotel Presidential receiving his hotel’s award from Lucky Onoriode George, Publisher, African Travel Times magazine.

Carnival Calabar - Best Domestic Tourism Product.

ABC Transport Plc - Best Family Friendly Transport Company in Nigeria.

Other winners are:

Sally Mbanefo, Director General, Nigerian Tourism Development Corporation [NTDC] - Tourism Personality of the Year.

Gov. Godswill Akpabio - For Transforming Akwa Ibom State into an emerging Destination In Nigeria.

Hotel Presidential, Port Harcourt - Most Resilient Performance Award in the Hospitality Industry.

So far, some of the winners have received their awards in private while others have been notified and presentation will be done at a later date.

Meanwhile, Mr. George said that from this year, the awards ceremony will form part of his publication’s annual travel and tourism dinner, a special event to bring together industry practitioners, suppliers and related establishments.

Pix 3. Eko Hotel & Suites

. Iyadunni Gbadebo, Sales Manager, Eko Hotel & Suites and one her Assistant, Damilola Koya with the hotel's award.

African Travel Times hit the newsstand in 2011 and has grown to become the most widely and authoritative travel and tourism publication in Nigeria, with an online presence that can be access everywhere in the world.

African Travel Times apart from being a core travel and tourism industry magazine, the coverage also includes ‘Insider’ a destination piece written from a local or native point of view [can also be written 'as told to], as well as fascinating people, an article profiling a person of

Monday, January 5, 2015

Dozens of BA passengers stranded at Mumbai airport 'told to wait eight days'

Dozens of British Airways passengers have allegedly been told to wait eight days for a plane after a late connecting flight left them stranded at Mumbai airport.
The 38 holidaymakers, including children with special needs, had flown from Goa to Mumbai on a delayed Air India flight, and were due to fly back to London Heathrow with British Airways.
But the British Airways plane did not wait for the connection, leaving the passengers stranded at the terminal and sitting on the floor.
Passengers took to social media to describe a dysfunctional state of affairs at the airport, reporting shouting matches between British Airways and Indian officials over who was to blame.

View image on Twitter

Airline representatives are also alleged to have "disappeared" at key moments in the passengers' ordeal.
“Kids and special needs passengers sleep on floor. British Airways officials have disappeared,” tweeted musician Sean Read, one of the stranded passengers.
Insult was added to injury after seven passengers were apparently offered seats on a Turkish Airlines flight, but no official from British Airways was around to accept the offer.
He said passengers had been offered “no hotel, no food, no flight” by either the airport or the airline.
Tia Fisher, an English teacher forced to sleep on the floor at the airport, tweeted that passengers had been the victim of a “total coc- up”.
“No response from British Airways yet and BA staff in Mumbai airport just went home. Desperate for help and sanity here,” she said.
A spokesperson for British Airways told the Independent: "We are doing all we can to assist customers who missed their connection to our flight from Mumbai to London.
"In order to get them on their way as quickly as possible we have booked a number of customers onto flights with other airlines,  and we are working to rebook those remaining onto the next available flights."

Source : The Independent 

Qatar Airways flies into Amsterdam

Qatar Airways has revealed its first new destination in 2015, to the capital city of the Netherlands, Amsterdam, starting from June 16.
Qatar Airways Group Chief Executive, His Excellency Mr. Akbar Al Baker said: “Amsterdam has long been on our list of destinations to introduce to our network, and we are delighted to now be adding this dynamic European city to our route map.
“Qatar Airways looks forward to bringing our five-star service to The Netherlands, and providing travellers with an extensive list of destinations across the Middle East, Africa and the Far East that are easily accessible with a minimal connection time in Doha.”
The Doha – Amsterdam route will operate with a Boeing 787 Dreamliner, one of the latest next-generation aircraft in the airline’s fleet, offering 254 seats configured in two classes, with 22 fully-flat-bed seats in Business Class and 232 in Economy Class.
Flying non-stop, the total journey time between Doha and Amsterdam is six hours and 35 minutes.
The daily flights will be departing from Doha in the morning, arriving into Amsterdam in early afternoon, with return flights to Doha departing in the late afternoon. The schedule provides the convenience and flexibility for passengers to travel to the city for short leisure breaks or business meetings.
A highly popular tourist destination, the Netherlands counts 10 sites listed on the UNESCO World Heritage List. The city of Amsterdam containes two of them, the 17th-century canals of Amsterdam and the 19-20th century Defence Line of Amsterdam.
A port city and ever-growing destination for business, Amsterdam acts as a base for seven of the world's 500 largest companies, including Philips and ING.
The State of Qatar, the airline’s hub and home, recently opened the Hamad International Airport (HIA), an architechtural marvel which offers one of the world’s best Business Class lounges – the Al Mourjan lounge; over 40,000 square metres of retail space and restaurants – which includes a selection of more than 70 retail and 30 food and beverage outlets.
HIA also has a fully accessible spa for all passengers with a minimal entrance fee, that includes access to the following facilities: a swimming pool, squash courts, sauna and steam rooms and esthetic services.
With the addition of the city of Amsterdam, the total number of European destinations offered by the five-star airline reaches 34 – which is approximately 25% of the airline’s total route map.
Qatar Airways has seen rapid growth in just 17 years of operation, to the point where today it is flying a modern fleet of 146 aircraft to 146 key business and leisure destinations across Europe, the Middle East, Africa, Asia Pacific, North America and South America.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Our plans for development of tourism manpower — DG NIHOTOUR

By Jimoh Babatunde
For tourism to eventually take its rightful place and compete favourably at the international level, the issue of manpower training, retraining and development of the workforce must be taken very seriously.
The Director General, National Institute for Hospitality and Tourism, Mrs. Chika Balogun, made this assertion during the Hospitality and Tourism Stakeholders summit organized by her institute in Abuja during the week.
She said as a way of providing a platform for human capital development in the hospitality and tourism industry that the institute will come up with a new training curriculum just as they have plan for online courses.
“I think we need to get people who have technical knowhow in writing tourism curriculum to review what we already have and to review it to suit our template. Sometimes, you borrow from overseas; it might work for them but not for us.
Chika Balogun added “We are planning to go online with some of our programs, as some people are challenged from finding time out of work to taking other hours of lectures, but if it is online, you will find a lot of people even for one hour every night log and are able to do what they want to do.”
So in the first six months of next year, we will have a complete curriculum. I gave them a time line that by July we should be able to put up an advert that we now have a new curriculum. So we are hopeful that this is achievable and also get the online running.”
Chika Balogun, while commending the products of the institute, said her job as the CEO is to find the diamond and gold in the institute and marry them with experts who know hospitality and tourism better than they are presently.
“My staff needs to be retrained; we will get resource persons from the best training institutes all over the world. We already have a MoU with Utali College in Kenya and that will be looked into again.”
Speaking on the level of training equipment at the institute’s training schools, she said they are not as bad as people think, “my mind tells me that the people don’t just know how to use them and so dumped them somewhere. I saw in one of the schools industrial mixer that was dumped.”
NIHOTOUR, she said, will acquire a state of the art training hotel with travel/tour operational services for trainees to acquire hands-on-skills, she said funding might be a problem but quickly added that they don’t need to rely on government all the time.
“We must be able to look inward on what to do to generate income and from there begin to repair or buy some of the equipment we need to get. We will also partner with private sector and also look for grants.“
Mrs. Chika Balogun explained that the essence of the summit was to engage with the private sector and other stakeholders in the tourism industry; re-evaluate training policy as it affects the industry and seek to clearly define NIHOTOUR roles and objective in the development of manpower training programmes for management and work force in the Tourism and Hospitality Industry.
“I do believe in engagement, in any business, communication and engagement is critical. Since I came I have not had the opportunity to meet a large number of the stakeholder.”
Meanwhile, the Minister of Culture and Tourism, Edem Duke, has charged stake-holders in the tourism industry not to take the backstage in public discourse as he urged them to form advocacy group.
He said when multiple taxation was the issue in India, the stakeholders got together to determine the election of those who will run the tourism industry, “we must not take the backstage here too and say we are frustrated by the different tiers of governments in the country.”
- See more at:

Nigerian youths can change the face of agric- Ademoh

Nigerian youths can change the face of agric- Ademoh

23 years old Fatima Oyia Ademoh was one of the 35 finalists selected from over 800   young African drawn from 18 countries that submitted business ideas via the online platform for a youth competition dubbed Agribiz4Africa organized by Syngenta.
The contestants had the option to come up with scalable business ideas in selected crop value chains or develop agribusiness video messaging on how to make agriculture cool! Successful 25 semi finalists received USD 1,000 cash grants to test out their agribusiness ideas in real business situation.
Fatima of the Youth Agro Entrepreneurs, Abuja was the 2nd runner up for the essay idea. In this interview at the African Union Building, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia before the award ceremony, the finance graduate from the America University of Nigeria University of Leeds in UK spoke with JIMOH BABATUNDE on her projects.
Here is an excerpt
On how she got to enter for the competition

I am a member of website called fund for NGO and I got to know about the competition through the website.
The Africa Agribusiness Competition targets youth aged 18 – 30 years and has two parts: an essay (or Business Idea Competition) and video clips (or Agribusiness Messaging Competition) Its objectives were to promote new business opportunities in crop value chains in Africa; raise awareness of opportunities in agriculture; identify wealth creation activities among communities in Africa and make agriculture “cool” for the youth.
So I decided to upload a video on what I was trying to do. The video was about a training program called Youth Agricbiz training, a social enterprise incubator that aims to create the next generation of Agricultural Entrepreneurs in Nigeria.
 It is basically an 18 months training program where youth get training in agriculture and entrepreneurship and business planning.
Why it is innovative and different from other training is that the youth get to earn money while learning through out the 18months program.  What they are earning during the program will provide some seed funding for them in starting up their own businesses afterward.

 On where the fund they earn come from
Those participating in the training actually work on the farm where they partake in both practical and theoretical work, so the farm actually pay them while learning.
Basically at the end of the training program they have part of the money they earned that was kept in a savings account which will only be accessible to them at the end of the program.
The money becomes a seed funding for them. We all know how difficult it is to get funding for a start up business especially for agric business.

On how she came about the idea
I have been passionate about agriculture even though my background is not in agriculture, I believe we have about 60% unemployment among the youth and I believe the youth have a great role to play in improving agriculture in Nigeria and Africa.
And that there is also a training gap in terms of agricultural training and that was why I decided to fill that gap by creating youth agric biz training.

On what Youth Agro Entrepreneur (YAE) stands to do
Youth Agro Entrepreneur (YAE) will seek to rebrand farming as a viable, profitable and honourable profession for a new generation of farmers. YAE will be a social enterprise incubator that will teach youth the agricultural practices and business skills required to support the development of youth-led agricultural enterprises

YAE aspires to become a financially self-sufficient organization which will empower unemployed youth with the knowledge, skills and drive to become consultants and agricultural entrepreneurs.
YAE hopes that this will contribute to alleviating the problems of extreme poverty and high levels of youth unemployment in Nigeria.

YAE research team will visit self-sufficient schools that exist in Africa and South America where they will observe the process and procedure of how hands-on and knowledge-based learning is being practiced and applied. Furthermore, consultants from similar established institutions will be sought to bring expertise and experience to the development of agricultural schools in Nigeria.

On when the training started

It started in 2012  from research grant from the Rockefeller Foundation where I was a winner  in 2012  and after the research grants I started YAE  and I am currently doing the pilot  phase where about five youths  work with me directly and 2000 youths indirectly using different social media platform.
The research on the feasibility of the training centre and developing partnership with stakeholders carried out with the grant finished this year and the pilot phase just started this year, so we are just working with youth now in Abuja.
Basically, the five youth we are working with directly,  we are using them for the pilot phase, with feed back from them, we will be able to improve our curriculum , improve how the training schedule work before we go on expansion.
We are currently looking for funds to fund the expansion phase because we basically running this project with personal funds right now, funds from myself, family members and Ajuma farms.
 On relationship with Ajuma farm
 The Ajuma farm is a family farm in Abuja and has been in existence for almost 32 years and currently trying to go into training because they share my vision and we need to encourage African youths to go into agriculture and they have been so kind enough to allow me use their own farm, because I don’t have the fund to start up a new farm. So I am basically using their farm as a training ground.

She grew up in a farming environment
Yes, my father is an agriculturist, he has a farm which started as a hobby but is now a business enterprise for him, and so I have been very much in the agricultural industry from young age.
On the obstacles to youth farming
 I think it is earning potential because when you talk to youth, what do they want? They want to be able to earn money, they don’t want to earn a livelihood and we are trying to entice with the earning potential using agriculture because I doubt if there is any other training program where you work and earn some form of money.
On Nigeria’s agriculture
With the current minister, I think we are focusing on processing because the value chain is broken. We have farmers in Nigeria that don’t have enough buyers for their produces and we are having processors who don’t have produce to process, so there is a break in the value chain.
I think with the foodstuff processing zones project  the minister is working on is basically to improve that value chain by having six processing zones in the country that can be able to process some of this food.
Example is cassava, we are the highest producer of cassava in the world, but yet we are only able to process about 10% of what we produce and cassava can be used as substitute for several agricultural and non-agricultural goods.
I think we are working a step towards that but I think there are also a lot of things we need to do. We need to include the youth in this.  With the large population of youths in Nigeria, they need to be actively involved in the agricultural transformation agenda.

On the missing gap that needs to be filled
To me, I think I am addressing a gap I see through training, but apart from training need is also finance. It is one of the biggest challenges, not just for youth but for anyone thinking of going to any business.
So we have to make the environment in such a way that it is encouraging for youth in terms of having the training supports, the financial supports and they are also able to compete on the same level as existing players on the field. 
On her take away from the AGRF 2014
One of my biggest carry away from this forum is Africa is looking towards achieving the status of being an agricultural giant and every country needs to rehash some sort of program in achieving that aim.  So we are beginning to look at the importance of Africa.
If you look at the report of ... that the biggest opportunity in Africa is agriculture, so we need to look at ways to push that using the youths as the driving force considering that the continent has the youngest population and we also have the highest unemployment.

Calabar Carnival: Celebration time @ 10

Calabar Carnival: Celebration time @ 10
… Masta Blasta wins again
By Jimoh Babatunde 

The Calabar carnival has been a game changer for the economy of Cross River state and its people since its inception in 2004, when the then governor of the state, Donald Duke, had a vision of making the state the hub for tourism and hospitality in Nigerian and in Africa.
Calabar has become the pride of Nigeria as far as tourism, carnivals and hospitality are concerned. Calabar Carnival is a unique display of African heritage, showcased through music, dance, drama and visual creativity, which is reflected in the design of floats, costumes and make up. Since inception, this festival has grown tremendously in popularity and scope.
It is not uncommon to now have families choosing Calabar as their tourism destination for their annual Christmas break which has made the carnival to grow in leaps and bounds.
 So, the 2014 edition of the carnival was chosen to celebrate the successes achieved in the last ten years with the theme “Celebration Time.”
Governor Liyel Imoke attested to this when he flagged off the carnival Saturday at the Millennium Park, saying that the carnival has grown in leaps and bounds, becoming the biggest street party in Africa.
According to him, for the first time in the history of the carnival, the state government did not advertise the carnival, yet the crowd that thronged Calabar to witness it was unprecedented.
For the Deputy Governor, Mr. Efiok Cobham, this year’s event was significant in the life of the administration as it was the last to be hosted by his government. He said the 10th edition served as a hallmark celebration to usher in the next administration.

The wife of Cross River state Governor, Mrs. Imoke with Nollywood star, Kate Henshaw, Kaffy and  Angela Okoro during the parade by Masta Blasta Band.

“Ten years is no mean feat. For us, Carnival Calabar has grown bigger and bigger as we promised Cross Riverians and Nigerians when we came on board in 2007. With our vision of institutionalizing the event, by allowing private sector to be the main drivers while government regulates, there is greater hope that this Carnival will grow in lips and bounds,” he assured.
He said that the institutionalization of the annual Carnival culminated in the formation of the Carnival Calabar Band Associations who are now the main drivers of the event, emphasising that, “last year you said it was the biggest carnival , but this year from what you have seen is extra ordinary."
As the present government wound up in few months from now, the Governor Imoke has promised the people of the state and Nigerians that the carnival will not die.
“This year’s carnival is my last carnival as the governor of this state. But I believe it will continue in the years ahead. It has truly become the ambassador event for Africa. We are planning to privatize it. There must be continuity in leadership which is very critical for us. Once we can do that, I believe we will continue to deliver great performances and improve on what we have already done over the years.”
Speaking on the success of the Carnival, Chairman of the Carnival Commission, Gab Onah, attributed the gains of the last ten years to team spirit, strong political leadership, strong governors, humble people and loving people.
Mr. Gabe Onah added that today the private sector has taken full ownership of the celebration with the band enjoying enormous sponsorship.
After the flag off of what has become the biggest street party ever in the annals of the African continent by the Governor, Liyel Imoke joined by his wife, the deputy governor and his wife;  the Minister of Culture, Tourism and National Orientation, Chief Edem Duke;  the duo of Peter and Paul Okoye of P-Square fame, and Senator Ben Ajade, Peoples Democratic Party, PDP governorship candidate for 2015 election in the state, the spectators throng to the street to savour what the five bands have offer .

The Israeli ambassador to Nigeria and the Rwandan Minister of Sport and Culture, Ambassador Joseph Habineza were among the tourists that flooded the 14 kilometers carnival route stretching from the U. J Esuene Stadium through Mary Slessor Way down to the popular Mobile before moving back to the U. J Esuene Stadium in the early hour of Sunday.
There was nothing to stop the people and the bands from enjoying themselves as they turned and twisted with magical ease in their various costumes, music, and choreography, depicting their interpretation of the theme of the carnival “Celebration Time”.
The Carnival bands, Passion 4, Freedom, Bayside, Masta Blasta and Seagull, with beautifully costumed girls that captivated the audience with their curves tried to undo one another with their dances and floats.
At the end of the day, Masta Blasta band, with its presentation of ‘the Masta’s Fiesta’ which celebrates the people’s values, again came top.
The Masta Blasta band this year opened the people’s eyes to see light through the prism of Masta by celebrating the essence of life which starts with the presence of light and the love which the people need to co exist despite the differences.
Through drumming, the decoration f the static float, the throne and cake that symbolizes the essence of celebration of the 10th anniversary, Masta Blasta won the heart of the judges and people.
Minister commends winner
Speaking on the Masta Band, the Minister of Culture and Tourism, Edem Duke, who is a member of the band, said “the band is the largest of the carnival band in terms of population, it has a lot more of the masses as its membership.”
The Minister added that  the band has come to be regarded as the spirit of the carnival, because is an aggregation of people from all strata of the society and it is very informal organization and we all just have fun which culminated in winning the carnival in 2012 , 2013 and 2014.

The announcement of the Masta Blasta Band also known as "The Orange Family" as the winner of the 2014 carnival did not surprise many as the band paraded  the Governor, Imoke and his wife with Nollywood stars like  Kate Henshaw, Jim Iyke and Angela Okoro and the duo of Peter and Paul Okoye of P-Square fame.
Sen. Florence Ita-Giwa who is arguably the face of the Seagull band was missing this year, though she was sighted a day before the carnival at the stadium.
The absence of the former Governor Donald Duke and his wife, Onari Duke, were also missed by the Bayside band.