Nigerian government begs foreign airlines over planned withdrawal of operation

The Federal Government has urged Emirate airline and other foreign airlines operating in Nigeria not to withdraw their services.

The Minister of State for Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika who made the plea in Abuja during a visit by West African Regional manager for Emirates Airlines, Manoj Gopi Nair noted that the challenges confronting the aviation sector would be resolved soon.

Emirate however attributed its decision to scale down operation to poor access to Foreign Exchange for its operations, high cost of aviation fuel and the state of the Abuja Airport runway.

The Minister however urged the airlines to consider the adverse effect the decision would have on their customers.

According to a statement in Abuja yesterday by the Deputy Director of Press of the Ministry, James Odaudu: “the minister has appealed to the Management of Emirates and other airlines to reconsider their decisions to either suspend their operations or scale them down, considering the adverse effects on their long-standing costumers and the benefits they had reaped in the past.

According to statement, “Government is not unaware of the issues that have created operational difficulties for both domestic and foreign airlines, such as foreign exchange, aviation fuel and infrastructural deficiencies and the government has been up and doing to ensure the creation of an environment that is both enabling and profitable for all airlines to operate.”

On infrastructural deficiencies which include the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja, runway, the Minister said the government was already handling the issue, noting that the long-term solution was to concession the major airports.

On the issue of aviation fuel which had earlier threatened to cripple the industry in the recent past, Sirika said the situation is almost normalized as a result of government intervention that has made it easier for importers to bring in the product.

Earlier, Nair told the Minister that he was in his office to brief him on the decision of the Emirates Management to scale down its operations in Nigeria, with the suspension of operations from the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja.

Giving reason for the decision, Nair explained that it was because of its inability to make ends meet in view of the difficulties in accessing foreign exchange for its operations, high cost of aviation fuel and the state of the Abuja Airport runway.

Reacting to the minister’s plea, he promised to relay the appeal and official commitment to address the issues to the Emirates management for a possible reconsideration of the decision.

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