By Chinelo Obogo
Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON) have hit back at the Senate for threatening to pass a legislation that would allow foreign airlines to take over domestic routes if flight delays and cancellations persist.
Reacting to the comments made by Senator Smart Adeyemi, during a working visit of the joint Committees on Aviation of the National Assembly to the headquarters of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) in Lagos last week, where he berated domestic airlines for long delays and flight cancellations, the AON said that such comments only serve to aggravate sentiments and send out the wrong message to passengers and the general public.
In a statement signed by AON’s President, Yunusa Abdulmunaf (Azman), Vice President, Allen Onyema (Air Peace) and endorsed by Shehu Wada (Max Air), Dr. Obiora Okonkwo (United Nigeria), Capt. Mfon Udom (Ibom Air), Capt. Roy Ilegbodu (Arik Air), Capt. Abdullahi Mahmood (Aero Contractors), Faisal Abdulmunaf (Azman), Capt. Edward Boyo (Overland), Afolabi Babawande (Green Africa) and Mr. Sukh Mann (Dana Air), the operators described the comments by Adeyemi as ‘uncharitable: and ‘unhelpful’.
The airlines said that in Nigeria, 80 per cent of the causes of delays and cancellations are due to factors that are neither in their control nor caused by them.
The operators said that the public needs to be aware that airlines operating in Nigeria are forced to operate in an environment that is wrought with infrastructure deficiencies that are highly disruptive to normal schedule reliability and on time performance and that any airline in the world forced to operate under the circumstances in Nigeria would be bogged down by delays that they have no control over. “AON wishes to express its dismay over some uncharitable and unhelpful comments widely reported in the news media and credited to Senator Smart Adeyemi, who was reported to have said that domestic airlines delay passengers for four to nine hours and that, should the local carriers fail to sit up, foreign airlines would be invited to operate domestic flights in the country.
“We would like to state unequivocally that such comments only serve to aggravate sentiments and send out the wrong message to passengers and the general public.
Commercial airlines globally, Nigeria inclusive, are set up with strict adherence to flight times. These schedules are put in place not only for the benefit of customers but also to al!ow the airlines maximise the use of their aircraft in order to meet up with their laid out targets over a period of time and ensure their safety and sustainability.