The Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON) yesterday said capital flight from the country’s aviation sector has soared to over $3billion annually just as it attributed Naira depreciation to the loss.
The AON also said there was a gang-up against local airlines flying international routes by foreign airlines, noting that the target was to operate 100 per cent of Bilateral Air Service Agreement (BASA) unchallenged by Nigerian airlines.
The AON Chairman, Captain Nogie Meggison, who stated this in Lagos, demanded that the government take steps to boost the capacity of the local airline industry to compete internationally as the continuous repatriation of over $3billion annually was in no way beneficial to the economy.
“As we know today, foreign carriers dominate 100 per cent of the Nigerian sky with capital flight of now at about $3 billion annually,” said Megisson.
Between 2013-16, the figure stood at an average of $1billion. Meggison noted that after almost three years of no local airline flying in the international market, Air Peace had eventually broken the impasse by operating into Dubai, United Arab Emirates (UEA).
“The Federal Government should put its full weight behind Air Peace and give the carrier all the support it requires to succeed on the route in the face of stiff competition and aero politics which the carrier will face in the near future.
“Air Peace is Nigeria’s private airlines fourth attempt into the international market and it would be recalled that many of the airlines that went before them collapsed due mainly to aeropolitics which is 85 per cent the role of government to play,” Meggison added.
Speaking further, the AON Chairman remarked that the issue of aero politics has been the bane of operators like Bellview that was frustrated out of the India market; Arik Air that was given a distant parking bay in Dubai at the far end of the terminal; Medview was frustrated out of the London route by sheer regulatory technicalities and the so-called safety deficiencies, unfair slot allocation, exorbitant airport charges, levies and fees, and all forms of excuses to name just few, which are mainly to discredit and edge out the airline from the competition it posed to their own local operators on the route and to protect their own.
In the light of the above, Meggison called on the Federal Government not to leave Air Peace but to stand with it and bring the full weight of its political machinery and influence behind it.