BY GABRIEL ENOGHOLASE & SIMON EBEGBULEM
BENIN CITY— THE Federal Government, Wednesday, said it plans to acquire 30 aircraft to boost domestic airlines in the country and ensure reduction of air fares.
It also attributed deluge of litigations as responsible for the non-removal of abandoned aircraft in airports across the country, as it was discovered that many of the aircraft were used as collateral for loans.
General Manager, Corporate Communications, Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria, FAAN, Mr Dati Yakubu, stated this in Benin City, Edo State, yesterday, after assessment of on-going reconstruction work at the Benin Airport.
He said: “We are in the age of recycling and most of these planes were built with plastic and metals. We had advised owners on several ways to dispose the aircraft and still make profit. By the time the period we gave them elapses, FAAN will take steps to clear the abandoned aircraft because it distorts the masterplan of airports.”
He said government was determined to destroy abandoned aircraft across the country, adding that the Federal Government would go ahead to purchase new planes despite the fact that the aviation fund was being managed by Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN and Bank of Industry, BoI.
He explained that after acquiring the aircraft, the Federal Government will give them to local operators, adding “the issue of assisting domestic carriers and removal of tariffs and taxes on aviation spare parts by the President is to help domestic airlines operate profitably and make it attractive for investors because spare parts are major cost component in the aviation industry.
“The Federal Government is making plans to bring in 30 aeroplanes to assist local airlines. We believe eventually that we will have cheaper tickets and by the time we have cheaper tickets, there will be high traffic because if you cut down the cost of doing business, the person doing it will not have any option but to reduce the cost of running. We believe that one hour flight in Nigeria should not cost more than N10,000 to N15,000 and the whole idea is to make business cheaper and easier to operate, so that the beneficiaries would be the passenger. “
On the issue of abandoned aircraft across many airports in the country, he said, “we have given ultimatum to owners of abandoned aircrafts to remove them because they constitute menace to our airspace and airports. They are danger to the flying public because there may be places where these birds could hide.”