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Nigerian Carriers Inch Closer...

Wed Dec 03, 2003 12:45 am

Seems like more evidence is pointing to truthful intentions by the Nigerian government to designate private carriers on international flights:

From the Nigerian Guardian News:

Presidency awaits aviation ministry on foreign routes flights
By Tunji Oketunbi, Asst. Aviation Editor
THE Federal Government's plans to designate domestic airlines on the international routes may have run into a hitch.

The delay on the routes, over which Nigeria has traffic rights, stems from the inability of the Aviation Ministry to comply with the requirements demanded by the Presidency.

The Guardian learnt that President Olusegun Obasanjo had received a memo from Aviation Minister, Malam Isa Yuguda, seeking approval to designate private operators on international routes.

The President, sources said, minuted back to the minister to forward the names of recommended airlines and their designated routes.

"The President is still waiting for response to that request", said a source, who added that Obasanjo was being cautious in granting a blank cheque approval.

Yuguda has since assuming office, said that the government would designate domestic operators on the international routes to stem the massive capital flight in the industry.

There are about 65 international routes on which Nigeria has traffic rights, but no Nigerian airline, including the moribund Nigeria Airways, is plying any of these routes.

The fallout is that all the revenue in hard currency that should be coming to Nigeria go to foreign carriers who have virtually unrestricted access to the Nigerian market.

European carriers alone are operating at least 60 weekly frequencies into Nigeria, 24 of which go to British carriers alone.

Yuguda, while addressing aviation stakeholders in Lagos on October 21, said that the designation would be concluded in a matter of weeks.

He said: "Associated closely to the establishment of an airline is the need to designate domestic airlines to operate some international routes. Efforts have also been made to complete the exercise within the next few weeks.

The minister then lamented the huge capital flight occasioned by the absence of Nigerian carriers on the international routes.

The nation, he said, was losing about N135 billion ($1 billion) which was foreign airlines' yearly remittance of foreign exchange.

Successive administrations have been announcing designation of private carriers on the unexploited international routes, to maximise Nigerian's benefits in the aviation sub-sector but none has been successful.

Already, some of the airlines have been operating regional routes as flag carriers of some African countries.

For instance, Bellview Airlines now operates into seven West African cities as Bellview Sierra Leone now has the record of operating the highest number of departures out of Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos.

ADC Airlines has been the flag carrier for Liberia for years while Freedom Air once operated joint flights with Sierra National Airlines of Sierra Leone.

Former Aviation Minister, Dr. Kema Chikwe, also set up various committees and made public pronouncements on government's intention to allow private operators to ply international routes but never acted on the recommendations
If there is a will, there is a way

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