The Aviation Round Table (ART), the industry think tank, yesterday demanded the immediate review of all existing Bilateral Air Service Agreements (BASAs) between Nigeria and some 80 countries by the newly inaugurated Minister of Aviation, Mr. Hadi Sirika, noting that the nation was going through its worst fleecing by foreign airlines as a result of the lopsided structure of existing BASAs.
President of the ART, Dr. Gabriel Olowo, made the group’s position known to journalists in Lagos moments after Sirika was sworn in by the President. He said that the industry was encumbered by challenges that should ginger the minister to hit the ground running.
“The expectations are so so high. The next four years have no room for rhetorics. He has barely 24 months to write his name in gold,” said Olowo.
“In fact 2019 is already gone, and 2023 is an election year. So, he should put all his focus on measurable deliverables. The Review of all existing BASAs through periodic schedules for equity is a must, and there should also be an Immediate reversal from all multiple entry points in Nigeria granted to foreign airlines to single entry points,” added Olowo.
Olowo also demanded that Sirika take serious steps to establish two or three “very strong flag carriers” to enable Nigeria take full advantage of the African Continent Trade Agreement (AFCTA). The flag carriers, Olowo said, should be established along geo political and geo economic zones (North, West, East) with each of the airlines having a minimum airworthy aircraft fleet of 25 and given a target to grow at a rate of 2.5 per cent annually.
An estimated $3billion is lost annually in Nigeria as capital flight to foreign airlines and Olowo proposed that it was time the government find a way of growing the fleet of the local airlines to match those of foreign airlines.
“The three flag airlines fleet we are proposing combined will still not equate Emirate fleet, but we can do this easily through an economic policy of cooperation, Collaborations as well as mergers and acquisitions,” said Olowo.