The Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON) has called on the Federal Government to come up with a deliberate economic policy to help grow the aviation sub-sector of the economy.
The President of AON, Capt. Noggie Meggisson, made the call at a news briefing on Thursday in Lagos.
Meggisson said the call was a fall out of a recent meeting between airline chief executives and Acting President Yemi Osinbajo.
“There is an urgent need for a deliberate economic policy that will eliminate the many challenges that adversely affect the sector, in a bid to guarantee survival of domestic airlines in the country and to make Nigeria the hub for Africa,’’ he said.
Meggisson said Nigeria had huge potential as a country and was blessed with a natural God-given geographic location at the centre of Africa (4.30hrs to most parts of Africa); with most of its airports at approximately sea level.
He said the country – the sixth largest producer of crude oil – with a human population of 190 million and skilled manpower, has yet to become a hub for aviation activities on the African continent.
Meggison recalled that following the air crashes of 2005/2006, the Federal Government came up with a deliberate policy to ensure air safety in Nigeria.
“As fallout of that singular action, today Nigeria has had an excellent safety record of 93 per cent between 2006 and 2017.
“The country also secured the Category 1 Status and most of the scheduled airlines are currently IOSA certified as a strong testimony of the country’s commitment to air safety,” he said.
According to him, safety and economic policy go hand-in-hand because where there is no financial profit for airlines, safety will be compromised.
The AON president said a clear economic policy for the survival of domestic airlines was very critical at this time, with the death of over 25 airlines in 30 years.
“Safety and Financial Economic Policy must go hand-in-hand, as airline investors are in the business of aviation for the profit and can’t make profit without safety or have a safe airline without profit.’’
He said that some major issues needed to be addressed before the sector could actualise its potential.
Meggisson said these include the removal of Value Added Tax (VAT) for domestic airlines, review of five per cent Ticket Sales Charge (TSC) to a flat rate, and harmonisation of over 35 multiple charges which add huge burdens on airlines.
He said they also include poor Navigational and Landing Aids that limit operations to daylight operation for most airports, high cost and epileptic supply of Jet A1, as well as obsolete infrastructure that hinders ease of doing business.
“These are some of the main reasons for the short life span of Nigerian airlines averaging about eight years,” Meggison said.