The chairman of Air Peace, Allen Onyeama, has canvassed the need for government to support indigenous airlines with enabling policy measures that will enhance their competitiveness in the increasingly dynamic operating climes.
Onyeama, who gave the charge during his speech at a seminar organized by the League of Airport and Aviation Correspondents (LAAC) in Lagos recently, noted that the inclement policy regime had put the indigenous airlines at a disadvantage and allowed foreign carriers to dominate the commercial business in the country.
Onyeama alleged that some foreign airlines such as ASKY, Ethiopian Airlines, among others, were now airlifting passengers from Nigeria to nearby destinations such as Ghana and Togo even when Nigerian carriers are already flying the routes.
According to him, the more worrisome development is that Ethiopian Airlines operates to and from five Nigerian cities — Lagos, Abuja, Kaduna, Owerri and Port Harcourt — competing with domestic carriers.
Specifically, the industry operator lamented that the foreign airlines had not only dominated the regional market but were making inroads to the local market, leaving a little share for the local carriers.
He pointed out that though such airlines were enjoying a level playing field to operate in Nigeria, the enabling environment for Nigerian carriers to gain traffic rights into their countries due to stringent laws made in their favour is lacking.
Onyeama pointed out that this lopsided arrangement had raised suspicion about Nigeria’s blanket endorsement of the African Open Skies through Single African Air Transport Market (SAATM), adding that the endorsement should be viewed critically, considering the effects on indigenous carriers.
As a remedial measure, Onyeama advocated the review of multiple entry points for foreign carriers; insisting that interline agreement with local operators is the way to go.
He said: “Government must do everything possible not to frustrate existing carriers because of private investment. The creation of a level playing field remains critical to the sustenance of an effective aviation sector.”
On the proposed national carrier; the Dana Air chief said that domestic carriers were looking forward to what will happen to indigenous carriers, as much as it will create jobs if the processes of its take off are done transparently.
In particular, he calls for support of national carrier; though an outdated model, but only welcome if it will boost capacity and allow private operators the ample opportunity to stay in business.