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Airline operators take plight to Osinbajo, get assurances

Airline operators in the country have taken their numerous challenges in the aviation industry to the Acting President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, who in turn promised to squarely address the problems operators are facing in the sector.

The operators were led by a delegation of Airline Chief Executives of the Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON) to the Presidential Villa, where they discussed with the acting President recently

After their meeting, the Acting President acknowledged the difficult situation the airlines are facing and promised to take a closer look into the various issues raised in order to find ways of addressing them.

According to Osinbajo, the government will put efforts to make the industry more friendly, promoting the ease of doing business in the airline industry as well as position Nigeria to take advantage of our natural God given geographical location as the hub in Africa.

Prof. Osinbajo also used the meeting as a fact finding exercise to hear firsthand from the airline investors what domestic airlines are going through within the sector and to discover why in spite of the huge potentials as a country blessed with a natural God given geographic location at the centre of Africa.

Explaining their challenges, the Chairman of AON, Sir Nogie Meggison said some of the major issues facing airlines currently include: multiple taxation, too much pressure on air transport as domestic airlines are the only mode of transport paying VAT.

Others according to Capt. Meggison are: Poor Navigational and Landing Aids, high cost and epileptic supply of JetA1 and obsolete infrastructure.

The AON boss who pointed out that lack of some facilities has made airlines to limit their operations to daylight operations also said there is lack of consultations with airlines before introduction of new charges and policies among others.

The AON Chairman said “There is an urgent need for a deliberate economic policy that will support the positive growth of aviation and survival of domestic airlines in the country. For instance, following the air crashes of 2005/06, government came up with a policy to ensure air safety. Similarly, the economic policy for the sustenance of the industry needs to be seriously looked into.

“Safety and Economic policy go hand-in-hand. Where there is no financial profit for airlines safety would be compromised. A clear economic policy for the survival of domestic airlines is very critical at this time which has resulted over the years in the death of over 25 airlines in 30years. Safety and Financial Economic Policy must go hand-in-hand; as airline investors are in the business of aviation for the profit and can’t make profit without safety or have a safe airline without profit”.

“This is one of the main reason for the short life span of Nigeria airlines averaging about eight years, Meggison stressed, adding that: “Nigeria has the same four major catalysts in house that transformed Dubai from a desert into a hub in the Middle East today”.

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