The Federal Government has urged the Airline Operators in Nigeria to pay their dues to the aviation agencies promptly to avoid the embarrassment of their airlines being grounded by the regulatory Agencies in the Aviation sector and also enable the Agencies to carry out their statutory functions effectively and efficiently.
Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Aviation, Hajiya Binta Bello gave the advice at a consultative meeting with members of the Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON) led by its Chairman, Captain Nogie Meggison in Abuja.
Hajiya Binta Bello who was responding to issues earlier raised by the Association, said despite the perceived problems confronting the Aviation sector as enumerated by the Airline Operators, the aviation sector has recorded commendable and laudable feats worth celebrating..
One of such feat, according to her, was the high rating of the industry by International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) recently after the security audit which rated the Nigerian aviation industry at 96%.
‘’I do not want to believe that everything about the aviation sector is negative, we have issues, challenges, but we have things that have worked well, if nothing, i have just received a certificate from ICAO rating Nigeria 96% after the security audit carried out recently”, she said.
The Permanent Secretary also told the airline owners that the Ministry’s recent meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari left her with no doubt as to the Administration’s commitment to repositioning the Aviation sector to become a major player in the nation’s economic affairs.
While urging the organization to always relate with the Ministry and its Agencies as partners with the same objective of growing the Aviation sector, Hajiya Binta Bello promised to take up the issues raised by them at the highest possible level, meet with the relevant agencies towards resolving them.
Chairman of the Airline Operators of Nigeria, Capt. Nogie Meggison, while presenting their case, appreciated the Permanent Secretary for her prompt response to the request to meet with her which was within twenty four hours which, according to him, shows the commitment of the present Administration to the development of the Aviation sector.
He said the problem of Nigeria aviation is not finance but issues of policy. He added that the Nigerian aviation industry is not where it should be and that it can be the third highest contributor to the nation’s GDP after Agriculture and oil, if properly positioned.
According to him, the issues confronting the sector in Nigeria include the liberal airspace resulting from Bilateral Air Services Agreements (BASA) which allow foreign airlines to operate at will in the Nigeria airspace thereby giving little room for the domestic airliners to develop and called for the reintroduction of royalty paid by international airlines .
Captain Meggison also listed other problems besetting the Nigerian Aviation sector to include the carbotage law which is not favourable to the domestic operators, the high fuel surcharge and distribution which is being controlled by a few in the sector, the collection of Value Added Tax (VAT) by the Federal Inland Revenue Servive (FIRS) at the point of sale instead of 21days window given by the law.
He called for a review of the insurance policy that makes it mandatory for local airlines to transact their insurance business through the National Insurance Commission (NAICOM) which makes it more expensive.
He also expressed the optimism that with the right policies and adequate empowerment of the Ministry and its Agencies, the Buhari Administration can reposition the Aviation sector to become a major revenue earner for the nation.
Assistant Director, Press & Public Affairs