Shehu Iyal Advocates Single Digit Interest Loans, Guarantee For Airlines
A former Senior Special Adviser On Aviation Matters To The President, Capt Shehu Iyal has called for government financial support to Nigerian airlines in form of single-digit interest loans and other incentives.
Speaking in an interview with aviation journalists, Iyal said: “There is need for the government to come in either with funding or to create some kind of guarantee for the airline industry. There is no how we can continue with the current rate. All over the world, the interest is single digit. I think the government should do what they are doing now. Government dedicated some funds to the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN), which should be disbursed to serious minded businesses and provided at a single digit interest rate. Government should also do the same for the aviation industry. It should earmark funds to be accessed on long term basis and on single digit interest rate. That will go a long way to help airlines for the purchase and leasing of aircraft. If it is leasing, the government should find a way or an organization that can stand as a guarantor for these airlines. I think it should help a lot.”
Emphasizing this proposal, Iyal said “Certainly, I have said it and I will repeat myself. The government can come in by creating special fund that can be disbursed through the Bank of Industry (BoI) at single digits, strictly for airlines and strictly under the supervision of BoI. And if we have that, I think it will go a long way in improving the situation that we have here.”
On how to sustain aviation business, Iyal says government should “look into the taxations. There are too many charges. They should be streamlined or possibly reduced. If possible, some start-up companies can be given tax holidays because aviation business is capital intensive. So, if there is something like that, it will go a long way in helping to sustain businesses in the aviation industry.”
On flight delays at the airport, Iyal said “the infrastructure in some of the airports, are not adequate. The check-in counters may not be adequate. So, sometimes those issues create delays. And again, other things that cause delays are the non-availability of aviation fuel and bad weather. But, for a passenger, all he knows is that the airline is responsible for the delays. So, normally, there are three variables that control flight operation; weather, technical issues and the availability of aviation fuel. Indeed, the most important factor in any flight, in any operation is the availability of aviation fuel as at when due or when needed. These are the things that the ordinary passenger doesn’t know. And so, there has to be a way of passing this information across. There is another solution. Some of the infrastructure deficiencies can be reduced greatly if there is collaboration between the owner of these airports; that is the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), and private investors on infrastructure development. This will enhance state of the art airport facilities, which everyone can benefit from: the airlines, the passengers and government, which will earn higher revenue, as the airports attract more users.”
He further opined that code-sharing by airlines “is not something anybody can impose on them. It is something that they, on their own will decide to do. I think we are almost there, with the Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON) and other groups that are talking to them, they will realize the value. You know some of these airlines are created out of ignorance and most of the people that established them don’t know what is in there until when they get into the market. But, I think the plan is very good and it will help a lot.”