Minister of Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika and local airline operators under the aegis of Airlines Operators of Nigeria (AON) are at each other’s neck.
While the operators are accusing the minister of stifling the business, the minister has asked them tto stop pointing fingers of scorn at his Ministry and relevant aviation regulatory agencies for the unsavoury operating environment and decline in profit.
Senator Sirika, who spoke today, November 4 at public hearing of the House of Representatives, reacted vehemently to claim of unfavourable business environment raised by Chairman, Chief Executive Officer of Overland Airways, Captain Edward Boyo, who accused the Aviation regulatory agency, the Nigerian Civil Aviation Agency, NCAA of what he called “exorbitant service charges.
He said that undue taxation by NCAA in connivance with the Ministry of Aviation was responsible for high aviation fare while the agency was indifferent to standard and efficiency even as he complained that the local airlines are victims of obsolete legislation.
He sought for protection of the parliament through positive legislation to prevent local airlines operators from going into extinction.
“The AON are victims of a hostile environment, because of legislation that are obsolete and therefore useless.
“The Senate should ask, why are airlines dying in Nigeria? It is good that we are amending the laws with the hope that it will help the common man.
“The local operators are being demonised as not remitting charges. What we should ask is, what is the efficiency of these agencies taking the charges, translating to high cost for travellers? The airlines are dying and very soon there will be no airlines left. The operating environment is hostile.”
Responding, Hadi Sirika attributed the decline in fortune of the indigenous airline operators to poor capital outlay, business plans and governance structure, adding: “the airports must be run for profit, not charity.
“To explain why the airlines are failing are business plans and failure of their CEOs, you don’t blame their inefficiency on us.
“They should look at their business plans. For those that have gone into extinction, check the ownership structure and business plans.
“It is not debatable. They should be critical with business plans, governance structures and capital outlay
“Ask them about the maintenance plans for their aircraft. Most of them miss it from the business plan and governance structure, I don’t want to mention their names.”
The minister, who said that some of the taxes being complained about were the product of legislations and beyond his Ministry and NCAA,assured that his Ministry is committed to the growth of the industry.
“Nigeria encourages entrepreneurship, it is the biggest market in Africa and certainly aviation must thrive and the only way it can thrive is to have the best legislation in place.”
The Aviation Minister cautioned the airlines’ operators to be careful with their sources of fund which he maintained could be an inhibition to their growth and sustainability in the sector.