BASA: 29 out of 80 are active in Nigeria—NCAA

The director general of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority, NCAA, Capt. Usman Muhtar has disclosed that the country has Bilateral Air Service Agreement, BASA with eighty countries out of which twenty nine are active.
Speaking at the just concluded Akwaba Travel Market in Lagos, Capt. Muhtar said sixteen of the BASA are in Africa, seven in Europe, five in Middle East / Asia and one in USA.
He stated that 51 BASA’s are presently inactive because they are yet to commence operations.
According to him, “Turkey, Belgium, Qatar and ten other countries renegotiated a BASA with Nigeria to pave way for direct flights between the countries on the principle of reciprocity by the designated airlines of these countries, while Oman, Curacao, Mauritania and twelve other countries are in the pipeline. It is within the NCAA framework to propound policy guideline to drive aviation activities in Nigeria. Because Nigeria is an ICAO state, substantial part of our regulatory instruments and policies are derived from ICAO annexes and documents. The operations of NCAA have been guided by annexes of the ICAO, NCAR’s and other appropriate legislation. We have focused majorly on safety, security and comfort of passengers in the last one year.”
He explained that Open skies is an international policy concept that brings about the liberalization of the rules and regulations of the international aviation industry, especially commercial aviation in order to create a free market environment for the airline industry, stressing that this is because as international competition grew, various degrees of protectionism became imminent amongst committee of nations.
“The primary objective of Open Skies include, to liberalize the rules for international aviation markets and minimize government control as it applies to movement of passenger and all – cargo as well as scheduled and charter services and also to adjust the regime under which military and other state – based flights may be permitted. What this portends is that for open skies to become effective, a bilateral and sometimes multilateral air transport agreement must be concluded between two or more nations. Open skies agreements have vastly expanded international passenger and cargo flights to and fro countries like the United States of America, United Kingdom etc , promoting increased travel and trade, enhancing productivity and spurring high quality job opportunities and economic growth”, Muhtar emphasised.  
He noted that the last twenty five years have seen significant changes in airline regulation.
The pursuit of open skies agreement started with the United States of America in 1979, and by 1982 it had signed twenty three air services agreements worldwide, mainly with smaller nations. That was followed in the 1990s by agreements with individual European states. A huge step was taken in 1992 when the Netherlands signed the first open skies agreement with the United States in spite of objections posited by European Union. The agreement gave both countries unrestricted landing rights on each other’s soil. Under normal circumstances, landing rights are granted for a fixed number of flights per week to a fixed destination, Muhtar said.
NCAA boss explained further that: ” Each adjustment takes a lot of negotiating. Often between governments rather than between the companies involved. The US subsequently granted antitrust immunity to the alliance between Northwest Airlines and KLM Royal Dutch Airlines which started in 1989 when they two airlines agreed to code sharing on a large scale and which actually is the first large alliance still functioning. In 2001 the US signed the Multilateral Agreement on the Liberalization of International Air Transportation (MALIAT) with Brunei, Chile, New Zealand, and Singapore. The US has enjoyed a powerful negotiating position but the European Commission, as a supranational body, negotiated with the US government on a community Air Service Agreement. These negotiations led to the text of an agreement being initiated on 2nd March 2007”.
He maintained that the EU – US Open Skies Agreement was one of the most significant open skies agreements concluded in recent years, applying to civil aviation traffic between two of the world’s three largest markets, while the Asian market considered one of the fastest growing remains relatively regulated at present, although the phased introduction of the ASEAN open skies agreement covering ten countries in Southeast Asia from 2008 has prompted major Asian markets like Japan, China and India to consider similar initiatives.

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