Africa: Why we stopped Senegal Airline from Flying to Nigeria- Aviation Minister

senegal

The Minister for Aviation, Sen. Hadi Sirika has said the government had to stop Senegalese airline from operating into the country because two Nigerian carriers, Air Peace and Arik were stopped from going to Senegal”.

According to punchng.com, the minister said the Open Skies agreement otherwise known as the Single African Air Transport Market which Nigeria is a signatory means that “you cannot stop an Ethiopian Airline from going anywhere much the same way you cannot stop an Air Peace from going anywhere”.

He said the government had to take the decision because Air Senegal was not keeping to the Single African Air Transport Market agreement, adding that the government supports local carriers but not at the expense of small business owners.
He, however, assured local airlines in Nigeria of the government’s support, adding that the government “stopped Senegalese airline from coming to Nigeria because they stopped Air Peace and Arik from going to Senegal”.

Sirika explained, “Lagos airport was built to cater for 200,000 people but today the airport is doing eight million people. The airport is choked up. I have been getting requests from airlines who want to come to Lagos but I don’t have the capacity to take them. So I have to stagger them, some to go to Port Harcourt, some to Abuja, some to Kano, just to decongest Lagos airport.

“I am not a businessman; I am a policy-maker and my policy should help support businesses and create new ones. On the other hand, I am a social democrat by my party which is the government, the All Progressive Congress and I am to look after the public, the citizens.

“I imagine someone coming from Maiduguri or Kano or Enugu or Akwa Ibom. If you say he must go to Lagos or Abuja to fly, what you are telling him is that he has to bear the local cost of transport, local cost of hotel, cost of taxi, food etc. In my opinion, these would add not less than a N100,000 to N150,000 on his ticket.
“And because he is a small trader and his total worth is not more than $2,000 dollars and his ticket is nearing about $800, If you add N150,000 to his ticket, it is very significant. So, as a policy-maker, I ought to look after that guy who I want his business to develop in as much as I want the business of the local airlines to develop.

“So, I have to strike a balance between the two. That is why I allow them (foreign airlines) to go to Kano, Port Harcourt, Lagos and Abuja.”

According to atqnews.com, airline operators in the aviation industry in Nigeria have been narrating bitter experiences operating into other West African countries.

In West Africa Ghana, Senegal, Cote d’ Ivoire had discouraged Nigerian carriers with high charges and taxes, which they don’t levy on their own airlines and when they come to Nigeria, which is the biggest market in West and Central Africa, they are not charged half as much as they charge Nigerian airlines. So this gives the other airlines operating in the West Coast the advantage to sell tickets at lower fares. But for Nigerian airlines to offset their operation costs in their operation to destinations like Accra, Doula, Abidjan, Dakar, Luanda, and Banjul, they charge relatively higher fares

Chairman and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Air Peace, Allen Onyema, said aeropolitics, that is “politics as conditioned by considerations of air power or its dominance” is the bane of the Nigerian carriers on both the regional and international routes.

Onyema, said Nigerian flag carriers had wrongly been “demonised” as lacking requisite capacity to compete overseas, “forgetting the effects of resistance and bad politicking coming for the African neighbours”.

He said while Air Peace, for instance, has six international destination slots and 17 regional, but there must be approval to venture, which had been very difficult.
“Cote D’Ivoire gave us permission to fly into their country but not even an airport office was given to us, yet they slammed us with $10,000 charges.

But how many people are you carrying on that plane? Are they (Air Cote D’Ivoire) paying $10,000 in Nigeria?

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