By Kenneth Ehigiator
Reprieve appears to have come the way of airlines indebted to parastatals in the aviation industry, as the Federal Government has decided to spread out repayment of the debts to avoid strangulating them.
This comes as the government also threatened to ground any foreign airline which home government refuses to grant Nigerian airlines the necessary slots and parking spaces in their airports.
Domestic airlines in the country are owing the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA) and other debts in excess of N5 billion, prompting some of the agencies to deny them service, with resultant grounding of operations.
Aviation Minister, Mr. Babatunde Omotoba, who disclosed this at a briefing in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia said the decision to spread out the debt repayment was to avoid getting the airlines out of business.
He said: â€œWe have been speaking with them to try to reschedule these debts, to elongate it.Â We know their situation; that is why we have not been too difficult on them. We have to be careful in dealing with them.
On the obstacles put in the way of Nigerian airlines operating abroad by governments of some of the foreign airlines flying into the country, Omotoba said the Federal Government would not hesitate to ground the operations of airlines from such countries.