By Lawani Mikairu
LAGOS—DOMESTIC airline operators, yesterday, called on the Federal Government to provide a level playing ground for all the airlines currently operating to compete with the new national carrier that will come into operation in December as the government has said it will be private sector driven.
This position was articulated by the Chairman of Air Peace airline, Mr. Allen Onyema at the 22nd Annual Seminar of the League of Airports and Aviation Correspondents, LAAC, with the theme: ‘Financing Aviation Development Through Private Sector Partnership’, held in Lagos.
Onyema said: “If the intention of government is to use the national airline to provide jobs for Nigerians and boost the image of the country, domestic operators will cooperate it to make it a success, adding that Air Peace is not afraid of national carrier, but that there must be a level playing field; where existing operators will be given the opportunity to enjoy same privilege like the national carrier.
“Government must do everything possible not to frustrate existing carriers because of private investment. The creation of a level playing field remains critical to the sustenance of an effective aviation sector.”
He further said if the airline will be used to frustrate existing carriers domestic operators would be opposed to it.
“Since the government has already selected 81 routes for the new carrier, the modality to allocate routes will have to be looked into except the government is indirectly trying to decimate existing operators.”
The Air Peace Chairman, who led discussions at the seminar said the only way the aviation industry could move forward is when operators speak the truth, alleging that “the bane of the industry is the views expressed by the “so called aviation experts, who misadvise government on how to run the industry borne out of selfish considerations.”
In particular, he raised concerns over the suggestions by these experts about the size of fleet an operator should have before going into operations; a development he noted is antithetical to the growth of the industry.
In his intervention, Chairman African Business Aircraft Association, AFBAA, Mr. Nick Fadugba, canvassed partnership among carriers as a recipe for survival in an environment that is not conducive and the operators are not strong enough.