The President of the Aviation Round Table (ART), Mr Gbenga Olowo, has urged the Federal Government to stop foreign airlines from having multiple destinations into the country.
Olowo, who gave the counsel while speaking with journalists in Lagos on Wednesday, advised the government to quickly review Nigeria’s Bilateral Air Service Agreements (BASAs) with other countries.
He said the agreements which had encouraged foreign airlines to fly into Lagos, Abuja, Port Harcourt, Kano and Enugu International airports respectively were not extended to Nigerian airlines.
Olowo said: “The issue of giving multiple destinations to the foreign airlines is not good for the country economically because it is killing our domestic airlines.
“My advice is that BASAs should be reviewed to stop this open-sky arrangement where one foreign airline can fly into Abuja, Lagos or any of our international airports.
“If an airline is coming into Nigeria, we should ask them to choose only one entry point. That is what they are doing to our own airlines in their countries and they are doing it to protect their own airlines.
“So, I believe that it is the duty of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) to advise the Aviation Minister accordingly because it has obligation to protect our indigenous airlines.”
He emphasised that the new national carrier being proposed by the government like the defunct Nigerian Airways, might not survive for 10 years under the current situation.
Olowo said: “The eight domestic airlines in the country are struggling to survive because of policies like this.
“They are not making enough money to cover their operational costs. What they are doing is to engage in cut-throat competition with each other which is not in their best interest. ”
To this end, he advised the domestic airlines to consolidate in a bid to survive the `harsh’ operating environment.
“They should merge and form a strong flag carrier called Air Nigeria. It can be Air Nigeria 1, operated by Medview, Air Nigeria 2, operated by Air Peace, Air Nigeria 3, operated by Arik etc.
“They will operate a very good schedule and I can guarantee you that it will reduce flying across the country with empty seats which is currently the situation.
“They will be able to set fair prices for their destinations and increase their profits,”Aviation RoundTable boss said.