….Reps to assist access to forex by local operators
The prayers of stakeholders to restrict foreign airlines to one entry airport may have been answered as the House of Representatives Committee on Aviation has assured that the new legislations on civil aviation will take care of the lingering issue of multiple designations granted foreign airlines in Nigeria.
The Chairman of the Committee, Nnolim Nnaji gave the assurance while responding to the complaints by airlines and participants at second day of the public hearing on amendment Bills on civil aviation Acts regarding the policies of government that tend to undermine the survival of indigenous airline operators agreed that such arrangement was detrimental to the growth of the industry.
He stressed that the Committee had taken note of the challenges such policy posed to the local airlines and would see how the new laws could address the matter.
It was the opinion of the participants that all foreign airlines operating into the country should be given approval to operate to only one destination in Nigeria and any point beyond should be through code share with an indigenous operators.
Recall that the chairman, Nnaji had earlier before the inauguration of the Committee said he was opposed to this same policy.
The airlines also made strong case over their inability to access foreign exchange officially from the Central Bank while foreign airlines were given special windows to access foreign exchange and repatriate their ticket proceeds seamlessly.
It was the consensus of the speakers that similar window should be created for local airlines by the Central Bank of Nigeria to enable the operators access enough foreign exchange to fund their aircraft maintenance and acquisition.
The issue of high interest rate on loans was equally raised by the airlines which according to them sometimes would go higher than twenty-five percent as against the single digit interest rate in some other climes.
The Committee chair however suggested that the airlines and the agencies would need to meet with the Committee to iron out areas of conflicts so that the new laws could stand the test of time by the time they are passed.