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Aviation sector enters 2017 with fear, sends SOS to govt



Aviation sector enters 2017 with fear, sends SOS to govt

The aviation sector has raised the alarm over imminent danger that needs to be removed, if a total collapse of the industry must be averted in 2017.

Included among the factors are: reviewing government policy that has allowed multiple foreign exchange system drastically affect operators’ business plans in 2016.

Others are, persistent scarcity of Jet A1 (aviation fuel), which saw airlines resorting to neighbouring countries for refuelling; as well as high charges by government agencies on the airliners.

The operators, in a special report through the ministry of Aviation to the Presidency, drew attention to the negative effect that some policies have had on the sector since 2015, with 2016 recording the worst scenario.

According to the report, entitled: “Aviation: 2016 Review and 2017 Projection,” signed by Captain Nogie Meggison, chairman, Aviation Operators of Nigeria (AON), the industry gave what it termed useful information on how to regain Nigeria’s lost glory as the West African hub.

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They noted with dismay the gradual eruding of gains of the past years, which made Nigeria’s name in the comity of nations.

“There is the need to resuscitate dying airlines, such that 2017 would never witness closing of shop by any airlines.

“Such could be possible if all hurdles are removed from the way of the players in the industry,” stated the report.

But the CEO of Medview Airline, Alhaji Muneer Bankole, commenting on the condition under which the airlines are operating, said there was yet to be a solution to the scarcity of Jet A1.

He said contrary to expectations, first quarter of 2017 may likely be fraught with continuous fuel scarcity, though the NNPC had earlier promised that the 2016 condition would not be experienced any more.

The airline operators disclosed that the industry lost close to $1.5 billion in 2016 due, particularly to dollar scarcity and high cost of aviation fuel.

All of that was in addition to poor investment climate that discouraged foreign investors from the country.

But an analyst, Ms Joyce Ibikunle, identified increased airfare, which attracted lesser patronage to the industry, as one of the issues that the operators must take a serious look into.

A regular traveller, she accused the airliners of unilaterally hiking air fares on every slightest excuse.

“I’ve taken tours of virtually different parts of the world, no country increases airfare to the tone of more than 30 per cent the way it is done in Nigeria and without any authority calling them to order. Of course this has a way of forcing travellers to look for alternative,” she said.

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