Non ownership of national carrier costs Nigeria $1.5bn yearly loss

Non ownership of national carrier costs Nigeria $1.5bn yearly loss

Nigeria not having a national carrier will continue to see the country lose revenue, estimated at more than $1.5 billion annually, according to stakeholders in the industry.

They attributed the development to the unfavourable Bilateral Air Service Agreement (BASA), which only allows foreign airlines that come into Nigerian airspace draw some allowances though without reciprocal flights balance from country.

The bilateral agreement promotes member-countrys’ airlines to make appreciable trips periodically outside their airpace.

It was gathered that the current arrangement, which allows Arik Airline to ustilise Nigerian call-sign for international flights was inadequate in view of the rate of flights frequency that foreign airlines make into the Nigerian airspace.

An aviation expert and flight engineer with the rested Nigeria Airways, Captain Chris Brimoh, said the situation could only be helped if government lived by its bidding to float a national carrier.

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He said :”In the days when Nigeria airways was operational, it recorded at least five flights a week on each of the international routes, meaning that the country was gaining some revenue on that, but such has been sacrificed in a bid to privatise the sector, which could have been done without losing all”.

According to Brimoh, the BASA agreement pays every country some money for promoting flights from their base and beyond their shores, it encourages all countries to do more in achieving the goal.

Another expert, Mr Reuben Kodilinye, said one of the advantages that Nigeria has over others, as far as the airline business is concerned is its population, which provides all season passangers, and which can sustain both local and foreign airlines businesses all year round.

He maintained that Nigeria could be better off reintroducing natinal carrier to compliment the limited effort by a few viable airlines currently filling the gap created since winding up the former one.

The Chairman of the Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON), Captain Nogie Meggison, confirmed that the foreign airlines repatriate over $2 billion yearly as proceeds from tickets sales from Nigeria.

According to him, Nigeria competes favourably with any of the developed countries in terms of return on investments from the aviation sector.

Meggison said that the BASA pacts, as presently framed, would continue to favour only foreign airlines against the developing countries, most of which do not have the financial muscle to float viable national airlines, with enough fleet to promote competition.

But an official of Nigeria’s aviation ministry who spoke under condition of anonymity, said there had been some moves aimed at bridging any gap between what foreign airlines make from all international agreements that Nigeria had entered, with the view to correcting any anomaly.

He confirmed that there are over 100 bilateral agreements entered into by Nigeria with foreign airliners so far, and some of them were due for review.

Other reports state that Nigeria’s known partners in airline bilateral agreements included the United States, United Kingdom (UK), France, Germany, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates (UAE) Qatar, South Africa and Ethiopia.

But NCAA’s spokesperson, Sam Adurogboye, said more indigenous airlines were being prepared to take up the challenge posed by the wide gap over non reciprocity of Nigerian Flight to international routes.

“We have always designated airlines to reciprocate, but they will not go. Besides the fact that they have to meet safety requirements before they are allowed to reciprocate, do they really have the capacity to compete?

“If a foreign airline brings 777 or A380, how do you hope to compete using a 737?

“That is why people are calling for a national carrier. These people (airlines) are just okay with one-man Nigeria Limited, so they are limited and cannot compete, ” the spokesman said.





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