Posted by Olusegun Koiki | 23 June 2017 | 1,514 times
Airline operators in Nigeria have warned that the era of air crashes may return to the country if the Federal Government does not redirect the strangulating economic policy, which, they said, has consistently affected the growth of aviation industry.
To avoid imminent crashes, Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON) on Thursday charged the government to come up with a deliberate economic policy to help grow the aviation industry.
Capt. Nogie Meggison, Chairman, AON, decried that the operating environment in Nigeria was hostile to business, warning that this may make the operators to start cutting corners in order to break even.
He noted that the Federal Government had gotten it right with safety regulation of operators, but the poor economic policy had led to the death of 25 carriers in the last 30 years, stressing that without a change of direction Nigerian airspace may be heading for another crisis.
He specifically recalled that government policy on safety halted the 2005 and 2006 air crashes, which enveloped the country, but said without friendly economic policies, Nigeria was not far away from the crash era as airlines must device a means to remain in business.
“No investor comes into business to set up an airline for safety. Investors come in to set up an airline to make money and to run a profitable business. If safety is not recognised by the airline and not taken at par with the profitability of the airline, and you have an issue or a crash, your profit will be eroded and if you have only safety without the economic profit or financial strength to back the safety, you then starts to cut corners and the airline will suffer again.
“The policy that came out to drive safety has come to stay, but the policy for economic sustenance has not been looked into and that is why we are having this hostile environment. Economic lives of these airlines have been discarded as a non-issue by the government, but the truth is that no economic financial life, no safety and this is what is affecting us today.
“That is why 25 airlines have gone under in 30 years. If you look at the numbers carefully, all 25 cannot do it wrong, what is the reason for their death? Till the financial economic policy is addressed to steady the airlines, what we will be having is off and on like what we are having today.”
The body specifically appealed to government to take a deep look at the issue of Value Added Tax (VAT) and other 36 charges imposed on the carriers in the country, stressing that of all the modes of transportation in the country only airlines pay VAT to government.
He also lamented the state of navigational equipment across the country, stressing that the body has approached the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA) to sign a service level agreement (SLA), which the airspace manager is reluctant to sign with it.
He declared that most of the navigational equipment were not in good shape and yet NAMA charges different levies on the operators without attendant services rendered.
“How many navigational aids are working from here and Abuja, Owerri and other stations? The world is landing at zero kilometres, but we can’t land in two kilometres visibility. The first Category III was in Heathrow since 1967 and yet, Nigeria is not complaint.
“We are even paying for hydro, which is N2.50 per litre of fuel that we buy. The hydrant has not worked for almost 20 years; we are paying taxes on fuel. Fuel is now N250 per litre. In 1993 when they pulled this system out, there used to be only one system, Federal Civil Aviation Authority (FCAA),” he said.
Meggison added that with right economic policy for airlines, the industry could provide additional 200,000 direct and indirect new jobs in two years while it would also contribute significantly to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of the economy. (Independent)
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