Stakeholders in the aviation industry are of the opinion that the failure of domestic airlines in the country to consolidate is responsible for the sector not benefiting from Bilateral Air Services Agreements, BASA.
They say because Nigerian airlines are weak, they cannot compete favorably with foreign airlines, thereby, depriving the industry of the benefits accruing from the agreements.
Speaking at the Quaterly Breakfast meeting of the Aviation RoundTable Safety Initiative, ART in Lagos, chairman of the event, former Secretary General, African Airlines Association, AFRAA, Dr. Nick Fadugba said Nigerian airlines must collaborate, interline and codeshare to form a formidable force to create a hub in the country.
“We cannot reciprocate because we have weak airlines, we sign agreements but no airlines to reciprocate, we gave market to foreign airlines without checking if we have airlines to equal the agreements. We cannot even renegotiate because we don’t have the airlines”.
Former Director General, Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority, NCAA, Dr. Harold Demuren while delivering a paper on the,”Nigeria aviation infrastructure development and challenges”, noted that, the sector was still stunted as the infrastructure of the 70’s were yet to be replaced with the modern technology.
He said the airlines have faired badly because of their failure to collaborate and lack the capacity in terms of aircraft fleet to compete favorably with foreign airlines to enjoy bilateral air services agreement, BASA.
“BASA, MASA, Open skies are infrastructure that must be well managed”.
Demuren stressed that aviation is the engine for economic growth if properly harnessed, adding three things would make it happen, the domestic airlines, Aerospace which Nigeria do not have and ground based infrastructure.
” we do not maintain aircraft, no training facilities, all the money made here is transferred, having good corporate governance and transparency is the key to everything you do”.
He said government should support airlines, “provide bail out funds, maintenance, training facilities, IT, terminal building to give passengers comfort, runways, safe, functional, capacity inclined user friendly airport etc”.
President, Aviation Roundtable Safety Initiative, Elder Gbenga Olowo said the lack of attention given to aviation infrastructure by government is evident in the money appropriated in the next year’s budget for the sector.
He noted that it was disheartening,” we are not building the future, budget does not give attention to infrastructure , the way it should”.
Quoting the International Air Transport Association, IATA, former Managing Director, Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria, FAAN, Mr. Richard Aisuebeogun said Nigeria would require $30 billion to address its infrastructure deficit.