By Louis Ibah
Nigerian professionals in the aviation sector have raised the alarm over the current low airfares in the country fearing that allowing airlines to charge tariffs that were not cost reflective portends great danger to security and safety standards. The professionals also alleged that the Federal Ministry of Aviation and the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) were not doing enough to protect the local airline industry citing the recent case of the Federal Ministry of Communication and the Nigerian Communication Commission stepping in to protect the takeover of Etisalat by some local banks.
At a press conference addressed last week by the President of the Aviation Round Table (ART), Mr. Gabriel Olowo, the group accused the Federal Government of being responsible, by about 70 per cent, for the collapse of the majority of local airlines in the country in the last one and half decade.
Said Olowo, “I have been in the aviation sector since 1973 and I have seen that the local airlines fail within a space of ten years upon the commencement of their operations and It is what the government does or does not do that is responsible for 70 per cent of the failure of the local airlines.”
“We have to say this out clearly. It’s only about 30 per cent of the factor that comes from the owners or managers of the collapsed airlines,” he added.
The ART President said it was important that professionals came out to state that the current forex crisis in the country was not only wreacking havoc on airlines’ profitability, but that the trend had forced them to charge airfares that are not economical and also posing a threat to air safety. Said Olowo, “as far back as 1994, exchange rate was around N22 to a dollar, while Nigerian airlines were selling one hour ticket in Jet aircraft for Lagos-Abuja or Lagos-Kano at N2,200 and at the exchange rate of N22, that amounted to $100dollars,” he added.