Give Commercial Aviation A Priority Place In Nigeria, Olowo Tells Government
President of Sabre West Africa and former President of Aviation Safety Round Table Initiative (ASRTI), Dr. Gbenga Olowo has called on government to give commercial aviation the priority attention it deserves in Nigeria.
In his presentation at the Quarter3 2023 Business Breakfast Meeting (BBM) of ASRTI held at Gofview Hotel, Ikeja, Lagos under the theme, Nigerian Aviation Sector Charges, Duties & Tariffs: Truly Exorbitant?, Olowo said: “It is sufficient to say that commercial aviation particularly in Nigeria is not a priority for subsequent governments. It is amazing that rather than paying attention to these myriads of problems, I read lately that the Federal Government allocated N5.5B($6.5M) to develop new airstrips and repair abandoned ones. Why build only to be abandoned? It is simply a question of priority and where the driver’s interest lies.
What about millions of dollars expended annually by government to fund religious tourism to Jerusalem and Jeddah? This should ordinarily be individual’s convictions and beliefs which does not require funding by the state. Such funds and many others should have been channeled to aviation in order to avail “the ease of doing business in Nigeria and reduce / waive the many charges identified.”
Olowo said International Air Transport Association (IATA) has severally described airlines as cash-cow, meaning that they collect cash from one party and deliver to the other. “This is truly so, especially in Nigeria when you consider the revelations during the just concluded 55th Annual General Assembly and Summit of African Airlines Association (AFRAA) in Kampala, Uganda which rose with a statement by IATA.
“Lagos (LOS) & ABUJA (ABV) are the most expensive airports in the world. Passenger Service Charge is $100 per passenger, while Doha(DOH) the best Airport in the world is $44 and Dubai (DXB) $40.
Highlighting the long list of different charges and fees paid to aviation agencies in Nigeria, including the 456 items paid for to Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) alone, Olowo lamented that airports are not maintained and Nigeria owes $850 million as at May 2023, the highest aviation debt worldwide, while a single airline is owed $281million.
“There are difficulties in entering into more bilateral agreements. IATA said “they are tired of mediating between Nigerian government and the airlines. This is indeed regrettable.”
He said Nigeria has the highest record of airlines’ blocked funds in the world as at October 2023 with US$762,090,908.28 representing 32.25% share of total blocked funds.
“Are we not interested in the airlines or why are we not willing to resolve these problems when there are alternative solutions?,” he asked.
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