AM EDITORIAL: Time To Address the Multiple Entry Points Issue
The granting of multiple entry points into Nigeria to foreign airlines by Nigeria’s federal government arguably became rampant only after 2003 following the liquidation of former national carrier, Nigeria Airways Limited.
Within the past 20 years, most stakeholders in Nigeria’s aviation industry have asserted that the trend has been all a disadvantage to Nigeria’s economy, with government through the Ministers in charge of aviation arguing that Nigerians need to travel and cannot be prevented from doing so in the name of waiting for local airlines to emerge, grow and offer international flight services. Infact, the immediate past Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika categorically alleged that Nigerian airlines lack capacity for operation of international flights, a statement that Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON) has challenged repeatedly, blaming the government for failure to provide a conducive environment for successful operations and policies that support growth of domestic airlines.
We posit that if there exists more than three Nigerian airlines that have smoothly operated scheduled commercial flights to various international airports in the country over the years, it is sickening for any patriotic mind to defend the designation of a non-Nigerian registered airline to operate direct international flights into more than one airport in the country, considering the effect of depleting meagre resources of domestic airlines.
The granting of multiple entry points to a foreign airline flying into Nigeria is not a crime, but becomes abnormality when it is done in a way that it impedes or works against the growth of Nigerian airlines and the growth of Nigeria’s economy. Infact, we are compelled to recommend that in a situation where it is found that multiple entry point has been granted to a foreign carrier in the immediate past, in a manner that is at the detriment of Nigeria’s airlines or Nigerian economy, the public official responsible for such approval should be sanctioned. That’s how absurd we perceive such act.
On their part, Nigeria’s domestic airlines should get their acts right by working on their obviously poor On-Time-Performance records, good corporate governance and other minuses.
The current Minister of Aviation & Aerospace Development, Festus Keyamo seems to be focused with the Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) he has unfolded to pursue the industry’s growth, including that of airlines.
We urge the new administration to ensure that only one entry point into Nigeria is henceforth, granted to any foreign airline interested in operating into the country, while domestic routes should be left for local airlines to operate.
All the multiple frequencies that have been granted to foreign airlines should be reviewed immediately and signing of Bilateral Air Services Agreements (BASAs) with other countries should deeply involve airlines, expected to operate the BASA routes.
Again, the granting of multiple entry points to foreign airlines contravenes federal government’s job creation drive, as the number of jobs created by all foreign airlines put together, is not up to 1% of the number of jobs created by one local airline in Nigeria.
The multiple entry points designation challenge should therefore, be addressed now!