The Federal Government of Nigeria has doused the fears of some of the domestic airline expressing concerns that the coming national carrier, Nigeria Air will be given Red Carpet treatment.
The Minister of State for Aviation, Sen. Hadi Sirika at the 5th Aviation Stakeholders’ Forum held in the federal Capital Territory, Abuja recently said there would not be any favouritism for the coming national airline, “because it is going to be a private sector driven just as most of the airlines in the country.”
Mrs. Oluwatoyin Olajide, the Chief Operating Officer to Air Peace raised the concern saying: “We want to know if the concessions that the coming Nigeria Air will have is also going to be extended to domestic operators.” The minister responded immediately that, “We are not going to give any concession to national carrier. Anything that is due national carrier will be given to domestic carriers as well vice versa.
The national carrier is going to be private sector driven just as the domestic carriers are also in the private sector. The privileges to be enjoyed by national carrier will also be enjoyed by domestic carriers.”
Olajide also raised concern on the sunset airports in Nigeria and the airline (Air Peace) not optimally utilizing their fleet. “Some of the airports we fly to today in Nigeria are sunset airports. How do we utilize our aircraft optimally with the closure of some airport by 5pm such as Owerri, Calabar and Benin airports? If you get to Enugu two minutes past seven, they would not allow you to land. And how do we cover our operating cost?
This is still happening till tomorrow. We would like to know when these airports will be up to international standards because it is adversely affecting domestic operations
In his response, the minister said, “We have challenges with some of these airports. But in the shortest possible time, some of these airport will experience at least up to mid night operations.”
The minister also seized the opportunity of the gathering stakeholders to express that he has never denied any domestic operator, the right to bringing in aircraft to boost their operations. “Since I became minister, there is no domestic airline that has approached me in order to bring in aircraft and I have declined. There is no single one.
I know at a time I was in the office of a former minister of aviation and a friend of mine wanted to bring in aircraft and the minister for one week was not ready to approve that request. Today, I approve aircraft to coming, none have I resisted by domestic players. What is there in approving aircraft in coming to the country?