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Domestic airlines demand special forex window to buy dollars



The spokesperson for the Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON), Obiora Okonkwo, has requested a special foreign exchange window for airline operators to access dollars.

Okonkwo said the aviation sector is increasingly finding it difficult to exchange their naira for dollars, as the United States currency is not readily available when needed.

“You have naira and you can’t convert it to the dollar. So, the solution to this is for our minister to understand that we need a special window with the CBN to access foreign exchange,” he said in an interview with AriseTV on Wednesday.

Highlighting the struggles of Airline operators amid forex scarcity and high aviation fuel prices, Okonkwo said should the domestic airlines reflect their cost of operation on ticket price, Lagos to Abuja will be N250,000.

The AON spokesperson said: “If you think tickets are expensive, then you probably don’t appreciate the sacrifices made by local operators. If we have to charge the fares, the way the costs are increasing every day, we should be paying not less than N250,000 from Lagos to Abuja.”

He called on the new Aviation minister, Festus Keyamo, to help tackle the rising cost of aviation fuel. He criticised the staff of the Nigerian National Petroleum Company (NNPC) Limited, insinuating they are bleeding the airlines.

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“The new minister should work with other agencies of government to rid the sector of speculators,” Okonkwo, who is also the Chairman of United Nigeria Airlines, counsels.

He added: “There is no reason, no matter the international price of crude oil, that the aviation fuel should be delivered to the pump for more than N500. Everything you see on top of it are speculations and I am calling out on NNPC staff to let this country free.

“It may not be entirely the responsibility of the aviation minister but he has to look and work with other government agencies to fish out the bad eggs within the system because the people doing all these harm are people in the system.”

Meanwhile, he called on Keyamo not to interfere with the aviation regulations as allegedly witnessed during the tenure of his predecessor, where workers of the regulatory bodies were given appointments by the ministry.

“The current minister should not interfere with the regulations. We had a very terrible past where the regulatory employees were given employment letters from the Federal Ministry of Aviation.

“That’s absurd and unacceptable. So, let the regulatory system remain. Also, look into the latest appointments that were made before the end of the last administration,” Okonkwo said during the interview.

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