The Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON) has said capital flight from the country’s aviation sector has soared to over $3billion annually just as it noted that the trend was a major contributor to the weakening the value of the naira.
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.
Chairman of the AON, Capt. Nogie Meggison who stated this in Lagos demanded that the government should take steps to boost the capacity of the local airline industry to compete internationally, noting the continuous repatriation of over $3billion annually from Nigeria 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 $3billion annually,” said Megisson.
Between 2013-16, the figure had 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,” Meggison said.
“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 aero politics 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 India market, Arik Air that was given a distant parking bay in Dubai at the far end of the terminal, Medview who were frustrated out of the London route by sheer regulatory technicalities and so-called safety deficiencies, unfair slot allocation, exorbitant airport charges, levies and fees, and all forms of excuses to name a few which are mainly to discredit the airline as a means of edging it out of the route in order to get rid of the competition the carrier posed to their own local operators on the route and to protect their own.
In the light of the above, therefore, Meggison called on the Federal government not to leave Air Peace but to stand tall with Nigerian Airlines and bring the full weight of its political machinery and influence behind Air Peace and effectively protect the airline from all forms of aero politics and regulatory biases that may arise during the course of the airline’s operations into various international destinations.
Meggison Said: “Air Peace has taken a bold step and they should be encouraged by Nigerians. The airline’s flight to Dubai means more jobs for our Nigerian youths; it means jobs for over 600 unemployed Nigerian pilots.
“It also means more travel choices for Nigerian travellers at affordable rates; it means more contribution to the Nigerian economy and GDP; it means increased growth for the Nigerian aviation sector; it means the transfer of technology and technical expertise; and it also means a reduction in capital flight from the country by foreign airlines. Government therefore needs to rally around Air Peace as a proud Nigerian operator and give the airline all the support to succeed,” Meggison added.