18 Sep

Daily Watch – Air Peace gets IATA membership, Ethiopian washes hands off Arik

  • S&P affirmed Nigeria’s government bond ratings at ‘B/B’ with a stable outlook, citing oil sector improvements which it says will support higher economic growth, fiscal revenues, among other things. The rating firm says the stable outlook signals assessment that oil sector improvements will also support higher current account receipts over next 12 months as higher oil production will help increase foreign currency supply, keeping current account in balance. The firm, however, was cautionary about the wider economy, stating that it remained constrained by low levels of economic wealth, a weak external position, real GDP per capita trend growth rates below those of peer countries with similar levels of development, and future policy responses that may be difficult to predict. It warned of sporadic attacks in northeast owing to Boko Haram, as well as the risk of another escalation of tensions in the Niger Delta as factors to watch.
  • The CBN says has said the country’s foreign exchange reserves hit $33 billion as of September 14, the highest level in 31 months, before the onset of a 15-month recession. The bank’s spokesman, Isaac Okorafor, made the announcement at the 24th seminar for Finance Correspondents and Business Editors in Awka, Anambra. According to the bank, the relative peace in the oil-rich Niger Delta resulted in increased oil output and earnings. Okorafor said the apex bank would continue to grow the reserves so as to support the economy. The regulator, almost on a weekly basis, intervenes in the foreign exchange market from the external reserve fund. Last week, the bank released $250 million to various segments of the market in order to reduce the huge pressure on the local currency.
  • The CEO of Ethiopian Airlines, Tewolde GebreMariam, says the East African carrier has not submitted any bid for the takeover of Arik Air. “We haven’t had any discussions and we have not submitted a bid,” the GebreMariam said, adding that there were talks last year before Arik came under the control of a national receiver – the Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria. He also said he was unaware of interest in Arik by any other bidders. While Ethiopia, Africa’s largest airline by revenue, was pursuing alliances on several fronts, Tewolde insisted that there was no truth in reports that his company was seeking to buy Arik Air, Nigeria’s largest, Bloomberg reports. Specifically, he said Ethiopian Airlines was in talks with founding regional divisions in Zambia and Chad and was aiming to buy part of the Democratic Republic of Congo’s national operator in a push to consolidate its lead as Africa’s biggest carrier.
  • Air Peace has been admitted as a member of the International Air Transport Association (IATA), few months after securing its Operational Safety Audit (IOSA) certificate. IATA’s Director-General, Alexandre de Juniac said the organisation was pleased to have Air Peace as a member and assured Air Peace chairman Allen Onyema that the global aviation body was focused on creating the right atmosphere for safe air services. “Our vision”, Juniac said, “is to be the force for value creation and innovation driving a safe, secure and profitable air transport industry that sustainably connects and enriches our world.” Air Peace becomes the second carrier in a week after Dana Air received its IOSA certificate on 15 September.