Aviation stakeholders condemn  move by NASS to empower foreign airlines on domestic routes


Abiola Seun

Stakeholders in the nation’s Aviation sector have warned the National Assembly not to open the domestic routes to foreign airlines except they want to send Nigerian airlines to extinction.

Recall that the National Assembly had threatened legislation that will empower foreign airlines to fly domestic routes to check the abuse of passengers right by domestic airlines.

Speaking at the weekend, the National Assembly joint Committee on Aviation said the Assembly will soon come up with legislation that will empower the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority, (NCAA) to grant permits to any willing foreign airline to fully operate on the Nigerian domestic routes.

The committee lamented the several raw deals passengers have suffered in the hands of domestic operators.

But, in a swift reaction, Secretary-General, Aviation Round Table Initiative (ARTI), Capt. John Ojikutu (rtd) said the National Assembly should rather ensure foreign airlines have interlining agreenent with  domestic airlines for the sake of inbound and outbound connecting passengers on their flights.

Ojikutu, a former commandant of the Lagos Airport said, “if the media is right, please don’t ever give any thought to foreign airlines encroaching into the domestic routes as this will kill the domestic airlines.

” I am an advocate of restricting each foreign airlines to either Lagos or Abuja and not Lagos and Abuja but may go to any other airport in the alternative geographical area.
“The airline can make as many frequencies as it wishes per day to the airports of its choices.

“This is the only way you can create market for the domestic airlines that can not compete effectively with the foreign airlines on the international routes.

“What we should emphasise to the foreign airlines is to ensure that they have interlining with the domestic airlines for the sake of inbound and outbound connecting passengers on their flights.
“Again, distinguished Senators and House Members, don’t open the domestic routes to the foreign airlines except you want to kill the domestic airlines,” he warned.

Also speaking, a member of the Aviation Safety Round Table Initiative (ASRTI), Olumide Ohunayo, said that can only happen in a country that lacks domestic carriers.

He, however, advised the National Assembly members to see how the country can find solutions to myriads of challenges bedeviling the aviation sector rather than allowing foreign airlines operate and take over domestic routes.

He said, “it has never been done anywhere to allow foreign airlines fly domestic routes. And you only accept that in a situation where the country lacks airlines in the domestic routes.

” What should be paramount is how to fix the problems and we can fix the problem with technology, infrastructure, regulation as well as different options.

“But, before we start fixing the problems, we must know what the problems are and the causes.

“We can’t keep hiding under the title of operational challenges. When you keep holding it as operational reasons, you are giving everybody the latitude and longitude not to address the deficiency.
” So,all issues must be brought to the table, we have to look at the data, we have to use statistics. I mean, what percentage is caused by the airlines? what percentage is caused by FAAN’s infrastructure? What percentage is caused by NAMA? What percentage is caused by fuelling?
” So when we see this percentage and what they are, then we can begin to address it, but to just sit down under the title of operational issues, then we will not get out of this matter.

“We all don’t want this delay, and delays are not peculiar to Nigeria alone but the problem is much in Nigeria compared to the number of operations and that is why we are making this a cry and battle to address the delays.

“But there should be more efforts to address these challenges  rather than what we are seeing now because NASS has come out boldly to say or concluded that is the airlines alone that are behind the delay which is not right and it is not the true position,” he said.

Also speaking, Chief Operating Officer, Aglow Aviation Support Services, Tayo Ojuri, also thumped down the NASS move, saying it is unacceptable.

Ojuri said, “It”s not acceptable. It will decimate domestic airlines. Domestic airlines can have strategic  partnership  with foreign airlines for economics of scale and interline/ code share agreements.”

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