Aviation pressure group, The Aviation Safety Round Table Initiative, ASRTI, has called on the Nigerian Government to carry out a detailed scrutiny of various air liberalization policies in Africa to protect the interest of the county’s aviation sector.
Speaking at the ASRTI, 3rd Quarter Business Breakfast Meeting, with the theme: ‘Nigerian Aviation Sector Charges, Duties and Tariffs: Truly Exorbitant’, President of the Aviation Safety Roundtable Initiative, retired Air Commodore Ademola Onitiju, said despite the sector’s key role in the country’s socioeconomic development, it is not receiving adequate attention.
He stated that the country should also review the over 93 bilateral and plurilateral air services agreement signed by Nigeria, with a view to prioritizing Nigeria’s national interest.
According to him, a purposeful citizen and economic diplomacy should be pursued with vigor to ensure that the Nigerian flag carriers mandated to utilize Nigerian frequencies in the Air Service agreements are emboldened, supported and equipped by the Nigerian government to overcome obstacles and aeropolitics associated with the venture.
He said, Nigerian aviation sector presently supports over 240,000 jobs, directly or indirectly, while contributing well over 1.7 billion US dollars to the Nigerian economy. The aviation roundtable has been at the forefront of the advocacy for the Nigerian aviation sector to realize its potential.
He said: ‘The Nigerian government must be deliberate in the creation of the needed conducive atmosphere to provide a level playing field, strengthen local airlines and encourage serious investors to come into the sector to boost capacity and international competitiveness. Our charity must begin at home. We must strengthen aviation agencies and allied institutions through an aggressive and purposeful master plan for human capital development to include the re-engagement of retired but mentally agile experienced technical personnel to address the extant deficits of inspectors and regulatory enforcement personnel as a short-time measure.
‘On the international plane, a purposeful citizen and economic diplomacy should be pursued with vigor to ensure that the Nigerian flag carriers mandated to utilize Nigerian frequencies in the Air Service agreements are emboldened, supported and equipped by the Nigerian government to overcome obstacles and aeropolitics associated with the venture. Desk officers at the ministries of foreign affairs, trade, justice, and aviation must be roused from their injurious slumber. The focus of the government should not, strictly speaking, be that of seeing aviation as a revenue generating sector, rather, it should be seen as a catalyst, an enabler of socioeconomic growth and development.
‘The Nigerian aviation sector presently supports over 240,000 jobs, directly or indirectly, while contributing well over 1.7 billion US dollars to the Nigerian economy. The aviation roundtable has been at the forefront of the advocacy for the Nigerian aviation sector to realize its potential. We have posited, severely, that transparency and strict adherence to due process should be paramount in all spheres of activities in the sector.
‘Towards achieving this, we submitted that a presidential executive order to authorize the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority to increase the fleet size of airlines, operating schedule services, while leveraging on the instrumentality of synergy, collaboration, and the merger. We also recommended the adoption of code share and interlining agreement among airlines to improve passenger comfort and satisfaction. In order to facilitate ease of payment, reimbursement, and force recovery, we advocated the adoption of a one-ticket all-destination ticketing method.
‘A dedicated aviation financial clearinghouse was equally recommended to smoothen the process. In order to minimize incidents of flight delay, cancellation and the many of birds and wildlife strikes at airports with attendant costs, consequences and passenger discomfort. The aviation roundtable suggested the acquisition of and utilization of high-tech machines capable of circulating air scented with aromas that repel birds as obtainable in the Chicago O’Hare Airport. ‘We further suggested the intensification of the construction of perimeter fences around the airport. We’ve also made submissions concerning reasons for the short lifespan circuit of Nigerian airlines, which has been identified with the absence of good corporate practice of transparency, accountability and responsibility in the running of the airlines. It is our view that, there is an urgent need for an ethical review of the behaviours of airline operators in Nigeria.
‘Good corporate governance tame bad acquisition policy, poorly considered route expansion, and many malfeasance often manifested in the management of the Nigerian airlines. As we all know, aviation is international business that requires mutual respect, trust, and cooperation of all parties respecting national interests and economic boundaries.
‘The ART has recommended a review over 93 bilateral and Plurilateral air services agreement signed by Nigeria, with a view to prioritizing Nigeria’s national interest. The single African Air Transport Market, the SAATM, the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), the recent Yamoussoukro Decision 24th Anniversary and other air services liberalisation Agreements together with the conclusions reached at the on-going global climate Conference of Parties (COP) 28 in Dubai, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) should be subjected to scrutiny and strategies adopted to maximally protect Nigeria’s aviation interest.’