The Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON) has said that not less than $3 billion capital flight repatriated out of the country annually, while calling on the federal government to increase support for indigenous carriers.
This call for supports comes just as the AON listed stiff competition; sheer regulatory technicalities; unfair slot allocation, exorbitant airport charges; levies and fees and other constraints as part of the reasons why Nigerian carriers fail to deliver on intercontinental routes.
The AON said unless government supports Nigerian carriers, it would be difficult for them to do well on international routes because of the intrigues of international aero – politics; which it said is 85 per cent of the role expected of government.
In an interview, the Executive Chairman, Captain Nogie Meggison said many Nigerian fails on intercontinental routes ostensibly due to a myriad of factors not limited to insufficient support from the government.
Urging President Muhammadu Buhari to support indigenous carriers, including Air Peace, which recently launched flight on the Lagos/ Sharjah / Dubai, Meggison said the government should bring its full weight of political machinery and influence to effectively protect the airline from all forms of aero – politics.
He said support for Nigerian carriers will bring about more travel choices; affordable fares; increased growth of the economy; transfer of technology as well as a reduction in capital flight.
AON Chairman said the issue of Aero Politics has been the bane of operators including Bellview Airlines that was frustrated out of the India market.
Meggison said: “Arik Air that was given a distant parking bay in Dubai at the far end of the terminal; Medview who were frustrated out of the London route by sheer regulatory technicalities and so-called safety deficiencies, unfair slot allocation, exorbitant airport charges, levies and fees, and all forms of excuses.
“These were mainly to discredit the airline as a means of edging them out of the route in order to get rid of the competition the carrier posed to their own local operators on the route and to protect their own.
“We call on the Federal Government not to leave Air Peace but to stand tall with Nigerian Airlines and bring the full weight of its political machinery and influence behind Air Peace and effectively protect the airline from all forms of Aero Politics and regulatory biases that may arise during the course of the airline’s operations into various international destinations”, he said.
He also called on the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) to urgently provide Air Peace with prominent space for its Private Lounge on the airside at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport (MMIA) as evidence of its being a Nigerian Flag Carrier base similar to what obtains in Frankfort with Lufthansa; Heathrow with British Airways; and Dubai with Emirates.
Meggison said,” The Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON) would like to congratulate President Muhammadu Buhari and the Federal Ministry of Transport (Aviation) for moving the Nigerian aviation sector to the next level by assisting Air Peace to start international flights into Dubai on Friday, July 5, 2019.
“While we thank the Federal Government for its role in making this feat possible, it is instructive to note that this next level requires strong government support as Air Peace has become one of the pillars to the building of our nation’s economy.
“Air Peace is Nigeria’s private airlines’ fourth attempt into the international market and it would be recalled that many of the airlines that went before them collapsed due mainly to aero politics which is 85 per cent the role of government to play.
As we know foreign carriers dominate 100 per cent of the Nigerian sky with capital flight of about three billion dollars.
“AON would therefore like to call on the Federal Government to put its full weight behind Air Peace and give the carrier all the support it requires to succeed in the route in the face of stiff competition and aero politics which the carrier will face in the near future.”