The managing director of Med-View Airline, Alhaji Muneer Bankole has called on the federal government to urgently review the Bilateral Air Services Agreements (BASA) with other major European and some Asian Countries to reflect the interest of local carriers.
Speaking at the League of Airport and Aviation Correspondent, LAAC 2019 conference held at the Raddison Blu Hotel, Ikeja, with the theme : Boosting aviation investments through policy, Bankole stated that appropriate policy statement regulating double taxation need to be quickly looked into in conjunction with the exorbitant cut-throat charges levied against Nigeria carriers on the various West African routes, particularly francophone States.
Bankole who was the chairman of the event stressed that the resolution passed by the Senate on “Unfair Competition and urgent need to protect Nigeria’s indigenous airlines from extinction” is highly commendable and a step at the right direction, adding that there should be a follow-up to that by appropriate regulatory agencies.
He noted that Nigeria local carriers have not yet been able to measure up to the expectation of maximizing the country’s potential despite over 200 million population to their advantage which other foreign carriers are feasting on to the detriment of domestic airlines.
Med-View boss said the gestation period of extinction of domestic carriers from the business which is within the average of 5-10 years should be worrisome to the industry’s stakeholders, coupled with the myriads of identifiable causes like scarcity and high cost of aviation fuel; poor facility at our airports, obsolete infrastructures; multiple taxation; shortage of forex for airline operators; multiple designation for the foreign carriers and absence of Maintenance Repair and Overhaul (MRO) facility.
Med -View boss stated further that the expansion of air services In Nigeria is a necessary condition for development and diversification of nation’s economy away from oil to a more diversified export based natural resources, including tourism that can be boosted under more nationalistic and patriotic policy regulation.
He urged the federal ministry of transportation through the minister of aviation and other relevant regulatory agencies to holistically reflect on the National Aviation Policy in conjunction with various aviation stakeholders.
In his presentation, the former director general of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority, NCAA, Dr Harold Demuren noted that Lagos has the advantage of becoming an African hub because of its easy connectivity with other parts of the world.
Demuren who was represented by the President of Aviation Round Table, ART, Elder Gbenga Olowo stated that Lagos should be made a hub for strategic reasons and to boost aviation in Nigeria.
He also outlined the challenges facing the aviation industry in Nigeria to include multiple taxation, low aircraft utilization, no airport code for Murtala Muhammed AIrport Lagos, under utilizataion of BASA and corruption which is also affecting airline business.
Demuren said the country has negative balance of trade in the way frequencies are allocated to foreign airlines to the detriment of our own local airlines.
He observed that Ethiopian Airlines has multiple destination and frequencies by flying to Lagos, Abuja, Port Hacourt, Enugu and Kano while in their own country Nigerian airlines are restricted to just one point.
He asked: “If Air Peace flies to Addis Ababa, how many other local airports would they allow it to fly to.?
Demuren observed that If this continue, the Nigerian local airlines will be wiped out of business completely because foreign airlines would have dominated the market.
“British AIrways and KLM are doing 14 frequencies into Nigeria and we cannot reciprocate that, it is disheartening to know that.
Opportunities are bound to make the aviation industry in Nigeria to grow.
Our problem is that we have inconsistent policies and there is always policy somersault when a new minister is appointed,” Demuren explained.
In his welcome address earlier, the chairman of LAAC, Mr Olusegun Koiki called for government support for Nigerian airlines in the international Aero Politics.
Koiki urged the government to support Nigerian airlines on the regional and international routes so as to be able to compete with the likes of Emirates and others on the route.
He maintained that some of the operators especially those operating regional and international routes are consistently lamenting that those countries Nigeria allowed unhindered access to its airspace, do not give the nation’s airlines same level of treatment.
LAAC chairman observed that to fix Nigeria’s aviation sector, there is an urgent need for policy measures that can address anti-investment situations, while attracting both local and Foreign Direct Investments (FDIs).