Stakeholders in the aviation industry on Monday kicked against the continuous use of foreign airlines by the Federal Government for the evacuation of Nigerians in spite of domestic capacity to carry out the exercise.
They expressed their displeasure in a chat with the Aviation Correspondents in Lagos, saying the situation was creating wrong impression about Nigeria and safety of its carriers.
Speaking, Capt. Nogie Meggison, Executive Chairman, Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON), said the continuous use of foreign airlines to evacuate Nigerians by the government was contrary to its own directive that only indigenous carriers should be used.
Meggison said that the onus still lies on the government to do the right thing by protecting its own carriers, as COVID-19 fears had forced government to bring back stranded Nigerians abroad.
He said that almost on a daily basis Emirates Airlines evacuated Nigerians from Dubai, revealing that the transportation was being negotiated and advertised by the Nigerian Embassy in the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
He said the evacuation was contrary to the government’s directive that only Nigerian carriers should evacuate Nigerians as many other countries were doing.
The AON chairman insisted that Nigerian airlines had the capacity to successfully execute such an exercise.
“I have worked in this industry for the past 35 years, and we keep saying the same thing and that is why we are not moving forward.
“If the government did not give foreign carriers landing permits to evacuate Nigerians from other countries and land in Nigeria, they won’t do that.
“If you can’t put your house in order, who else will do that for you? We just make laws and policies, but we don’t have the political will to carry out what we have said.
“We see these flights coming in everyday and we ask ourselves why? Can you fly into Ghana or other countries if you don’t have landing permits?
“So, we need to first put our house in order for things to work the way we want. I keep wondering why our airports are still not opened for operations,” he said.
Meggison said aviation was a major propeller of the economy, hence, he kept wondering what was delaying the opening of the airspace.
Also, Mr Sheri Kyari, a member of the Aviation Round Table (ART), a think-tank group in the industry, said the negation of government directive by a government agency showed lack of synergy in governance and respect for the central authority.
Kyari said that such actions attracted opprobrium to the country.
“This is giving us a very bad image in the international community that our airlines are not safe, which is not true.
“This is a very wrong impression. Secondly, it is like connivance against the country to make sure that economically, we are not standing.
“This is when what is supposed to be our own and people are ganging up to make sure that we don’t get it. It is a bad one.
“The issue of ‘you do me, I do you’ has come out to play, but we are weak in one particular area, which is alliances,” he said.
Kyari said this was one of those things that the mega carriers were using against them by denying them the facilities.
He said the major area was for the Federal Government to step in and put its feet down by ensuring that indigenous airlines were protected.
Kyari noted that the Federal Government made it as a rule before it renewed the evacuation of Nigerians that only indigenous airlines should transport Nigerians abroad.
He said the Federal Government took the decision after several meetings with the National Assembly.