The Federal Government has appealed to foreign carriers flying into Nigeria not to scale down their operations in the country.
This is as the former President of Aviation Round Table, ART, Capt. Dele Ore said that the reduction in frequencies of foreign carriers to the country was a blessing in disguise for indigenous airline operators.
Speaking on Wednesday when he received the West African Regional Manager, Emirates Airlines, Manoj Nair, the Minister of State for Aviation, Sen. Hadi Sirika, said that the current challenges facing the industry in the country would soon be over.
Sirika also appealed to the management of Emirates and other airlines to reconsider their decisions to either suspend operations or scale them down, stressing that such decision would adversely affect their long-standing costumers on such routes.
The minister explained that government was cognisant of issues like foreign exchange, aviation fuel and infrastructural deficiencies that have over the years created operational difficulties for carriers in the country and assured that the government would continue to improve on the creation of conducive environment for all.
While recalling the recent concession given to airlines by the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, to enable the airlines procure the required forex to clear the backlog of matured foreign exchange obligations, Sirika the intervention as a direct fall-out of efforts of the Ministry to minimise the identified challenges.
He also promised to immediately tackle the Emirates complaints about foreign exchange challenges with the relevant authorities.
However, former ART President and director of operations in the defunct Nigeria Airways, Capt. Dele Ore, in an interview with journalists said that the reduction of flight operations in Nigeria by some foreign airlines was a blessing in disguise for operators.
The industry expert charged the nation’s carriers to as a matter of urgency take full advantage of the situation to increase their share of the market.
He said: “How many Nigerians are employed by them? It’s all capital flight. If the government didn’t do that, we will not know how much money is leaving our economy but now it is obvious. The ones who feel that because they cannot repatriate their funds are free to go back to their countries. This is what will encourage the Nigerian government to support indigenous airlines.”
Decrying the 97 per cent of the passengers’ market share in the country being controlled by foreign carriers, he advocated the review of the Bilateral Air Service Agreements, BASAs, entered by Nigeria with some countries, which have been having a negative effect on domestic airlines.
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