The acting president, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, has promised to address the issues which have hitherto hampered the growth and development of Nigeria’s aviation sector and hindered it from taking advantage of its natural geographical position as a hub.
He gave the assurance during a meeting he had with a delegation of airline chief executives of the Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON).
Osinbajo used the meeting to have firsthand information from the airline operators what domestic airlines are going through and to discover why in spite of the huge potential with most of its airports at approximately sea level, Nigeria is not a hub of aviation activities on the African continent.
He acknowledged the difficulties the airlines face and promised to take a critical look at them.
He reiterated that the sector should be made more friendly and re-positioned to promote the ease of doing business.
Earlier, the chairman of AON, Capt. Nogie Meggison had listed the major challenges confronting the sector to include but not limited to poor navigational and landing aids, high cost and epileptic supply of aviation fuel, obsolete infrastructure, limiting operations to daylight for most airports thus making Nigerian airlines fly an average of five hours as against the average of 10 hours worldwide, and lack of consultations with airlines before introduction of new charges and policies.
He called for the removal of value added tax (VAT) saying domestic airlines are the only mode of transport paying VAT, harmonization of over 35 multiple charges and a review of the 5 per cent ticket sales charge to a flat rate in line with global practice.
“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 2005/2006, 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 profit and cannot make profit without safety or have a safe airline without profit.
“This is one of the main reasons for the short life span of Nigeria airlines averaging about eight years.
“Aviation is an economic driver. Therefore, we believe aviation should be supported as much as possible to thrive in order to reap its many benefits that can easily make aviation the fourth contributor to the economy and a major contributor to the gross domestic product and to create 200,000 direct and indirect new jobs for our youths,” said Meggison.