Domestic airline opera
tors have urged the
Federal Government to review the policy of granting multiple entries to foreign airlines operating in Nigeria.
The policy, according to the operators, shrinks the domestic market and discourages partnership with foreign airlines, thereby denying Nigeria the technical and economic benefits.
Besides, they noted that the multiple entry points deny domestic carriers the opportunity to operate international services as their foreign counter parts mop up passengers for international destinations.
The operators argued that in other parts of the world, governments put in place policies that enhance the growth of local airlines, whereas the Nigerian government granted multiple entry points to foreign airlines, thereby denying indigenous airlines the chance to air lift passengers from international airports to international gateways like Abuja and Lagos.
For instance, Medview Airlines last year planned to operate international service to Singapore but while dealing with paper work, Ethiopian Airlines quickly designated its operations to the destination.
Over the years, Ethiopian Airline has been airlifting Nigerians to far and Middle East countries. The operators said the implication is that Medview Airline which is a local carrier, will be competing for Nigerian passengers to Singapore, with Ethiopian Airline which is a foreign operator carrier.
They also recalled that last year, when Arik Air planned to begin flights to Brazil, the same Ethiopian Airline in partnership with its subsidiary Asky which is head quartered in Togo designated its operations to Brazil from Cotonou from where Nigerian passengers are connected to Lagos from Rio Janeiro.
With the multiple points of entry granted the foreign airlines, the federal government has shored Nigeria in traffic among international airlines leaving almost no opportunity to local airlines.
Last month Arik Air commenced operation to Dubai from Lagos Via Abuja. Less than a month the operation started, Ethiopian Airline is scheming to add additional frequency to its Lagos operation because Ariks service is hurting its Abuja operations.
Also Emirates Airlines is planning to start additional flights, Lagos via Abuja to Dubai operation in order to under cut Arik, which has been recording high load factor since it began operation.
Executive chairman of Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON), Captain Nogie Megison, expressed regret that government is killing Nigerian airlines with its polices.
“It goes back to government polices which have failed to protect Nigerian Market and Labour”, Megison stated.
According to him, we have allowed the foreigners to take the pilots jobs, we have allowed the foreigners to do multiple entries into our airports because our polices are so lose and we allow them to take all the passengers at the detriment of the Nigerian carriers.
COVID-19: Arik Airline Sacks 300 Staff
At least 300 staff of Arik Air have been relieved of their appointments by the airline’s management.
This was announced in a statement by the airline on Friday.
It blamed the sacking on the impact of COVID-19 pandemic.
The press statement was titled, “Arik Air management declares 300 staff redundant”.
The company explained that a redundancy package would be provided for the affected workers with the help of the aviation unions.
The statement read in part, “Arising from the devastating impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, leading to the constrained ability of the airline to complete heavy maintenance activities and return its planes to operations, stunted revenues against increasing operational costs, the management of Arik Air (In Receivership) has declared 300 staff members redundant to its current level of operations.
“The leadership of the impacted unions has been contacted to negotiate a redundancy package for the affected staff.”
The airline added that over 50 per cent of its workforce of over 1,600 staff have been on furlough in the past six months.
In a separate statement also forwarded to our correspondent by its Public Relations and Communications Manager, Banji Ola, the airline apologised to passengers whose travel plans were disrupted by the protest carried out by the National Union of Air Transport Employees on December 3, 2020.
The picketing disrupted operations in Lagos and prevented the airline from processing passengers at the Murtala Muhammed Airport Domestic Terminal 1 and 2.
S’East Leaders Laud FG Over EndSARS
South-East leaders on Saturday, lauded the Federal Government on the matured and responsive manner it handled all issues relating to the EndSARS protest and agitation.
The leaders of the zone, which included Governors, Senators, House of Representatives members as well as traditional, religious and youth leaders, gave the commendation in a communiqué issued after their meeting with a Presidential delegation in Enugu.
The presidential delegation was led by Prof. Ibrahim Gambari, who is the Chief of Staff to President Muhammadu Buhari.
“We thank President Buhari for the speed and restraint with which he handled the EndSARS protest, which has engendered peace throughout the country, especially the South-East.
“We, therefore, request the President to look into demands of various groups and youths with a view to resolving them,’’ the statement, which was read by the Chairman of South-East Governors’ Forum, Governor Dave Umehi, said.
It also called for joint operation by security agencies and local vigilant groups into all forests in the zone to flush out criminals and killer herdsmen with AK47 rifles.
“But we pledge our commitment to continuous coexistence with peaceful herdsmen who have been living peacefully with us.
“We stand for an indivisible and united Nigeria, built on love, fairness, equity and justice. We believe that under this platform – NIGERIA; we are bigger and stronger,’’ it said.
It also called on the Federal Government to continue its support and diplomatic push for the former Coordinating Minister of the Economy, Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, to be elected as the Director-General of the World Trade Organisation (WTO).
The statement thanked the Federal Government for the timely interventions in Akanu Ibiam International Airport rehabilitation as well as intervention in road infrastructures in the zone.
“We are grateful for the attention given to the second Niger Bridge and completion and inauguration of the Zik’s mausoleum.
“However, we urge the Federal Government to give attention to the completion of the current road projects within the zone,’’ it said.
The statement said that the states in the zone will provide money for the compensation for those affected by the EndSARS protest, help to rebuild police stations and their logistics; while engaging the youths constantly to forestall any violent development in the zone.
“We have plans to set up various empowerment programmes to gainfully engage the youths. The governors also plan to mainstream the youths in their governance to give them a sense of belonging.
Minister Hails Meeting With S’East Leaders
The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, has described as “extremely fruitful” the meeting which a presidential team had with leaders and stakeholders of the South-East.
“The meeting of the presidential delegation with South-East leaders was very useful,’’ Mohammed told journalists on Sunday in Enugu.
The delegation, led by Prof. Ibrahim Gambari, Chief of Staff to President Muhammadu Buhari, met for more than eight hours in Enugu with selected South-East leaders.
Mohammed said that it was quite instructive that all the groups which took part in the meeting believed in the unity and oneness of the country, pointing out that they clearly spelt out this in their presentations.
“We listened clearly and carefully to all the positions and demands and we are going back to report directly to President Buhari,’’ the minister said.
He noted that the Federal Government had been spreading development and infrastructure to all parts of the country, simultaneously and equitably.
“We want the South-East people to be confident that the Federal Government is spreading development and infrastructure to all parts of the country equitably and will never marginalise any zone in the ongoing development and infrastructure agenda.
“This is what I want to assure Nigerians living in the South-East,’’ Mohammed noted.
According to the minister, when the team gets back to Abuja it will see what can be done immediately concerning some of the positions and demands made by the South-East leaders.
The presidential delegation met with South-East governors, statesmen, elders, religious and traditional leaders, as well as market women and youth leaders.
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