The Association of Foreign Airlines and Representatives on Monday called on the Federal Government to engage stakeholders in the aviation sector including the domestic airline operators in the country in a dialogue before the commencement of operation of the new national carrier in December.
The President of the association, Kingsley Nwokoma, who made the call while speaking with newsmen in Lagos, noted that the engagement became imperative to address some concerns raised about the new airline, Nigeria Air.
“Our take here as a professional association is that the government should not ignore the calls of various stakeholders and groups who are genuinely concerned that things should be done right in the aviation sector.
“Beyond the glamour associated with the aviation industry, it is also important to consider the first thing first, which is the capital intensive nature of the business
“A development of this nature also makes competition unattainable. While we await the debut of the national carrier, I think it will be charitable for the government to urgently look into the lingering unsettled issue of operational cost hitherto inhibiting the progress and growth of the industry,” Nwokoma said.
He added that the Federal Government should also look into the plights of the ex-staff of the defunct Nigeria Airways by paying theirfinal severance package amounting to about N45 billion.
Nwokoma, who also called on the leadership of Airline Operators of Nigeria to urgently engage the government on the issues of concern, stressed that the airline industry in the country has not recorded meaningful growth in the past few years.
Last week, the Nigerian government had unveiled the name and logo of the new national carrier at the Farnborough International Airshow in London.
According to the Minister of State for Aviation, Hadi Sirika, the new national airline would be “private sector-led and driven through Public Private Partnership (PPP) arrangement,” with the government owning not more than five percent equity and zero interference.
“It is a business, not a social service. Government will not be involved in running it or deciding who runs it. The investors will have full responsibility for this,” he said.
But, some domestic airline operators in the country urged the Federal Government to ensure a level playing for them and the new carrier, raising concerns which include frustration of existing airlines, adoption of airlines’ assets taken over by Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON), dialogue with airline operators, among others.
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