Dr Harold Olusegun Demuren has challenged the Nigerian government to support domestic carriers and aid them in turning the West African route into a single market as the airlines in the country have the capacity to do so.
The former Director General of the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) now member of the United states, Flight Safety Foundation surmised that government can turn the West coast routes into domestic operations because Nigeria has dominance and in doing so, this will get some returns for the country.
Dr. Demuren made this known at a Breakfast meeting with topic “Nigeria Aviation Policy, NCAA Autonomy and Politics, Safety Regulation and Enforcement organised by Industry think tank, Aviation Round Table (ART) at GulfView Hotel and suites in Ikeja, Lagos while analysing Sunday’s signing of Bi-lateral Air Services Agreement (BASA) with the State of Qatar.
According to him, government can turn the West Coast route by removing those impediments that make for difficult transition, stating that the carriers from Nigeria would now have a vast market to explore.
On the Qatari agreement, the former NCAA helmsman described it as ‘good politics but at the end of the day bad economics’ stating that granting airlines more BASA and not having the wherewithal to compete is further doing the economy damage.
He said,” Qatar flies to Nigeria and they have 7 frequencies while we have no airline that flies into Qatar. A BASA is between two countries meaning that we reciprocate frequencies to each other’s country but they are flying in and we are not reciprocating. They are not paying tax neither are they paying the royalties.”
“When Nigerian Airways was still flying, they were able to utilise the BASA, they matched all comers. Then British Airways did not have the same dominance they enjoy now. Then they flew a DC-10 from Lagos to London, Nigerian Airways used a DC-10 too. Their pilots, engineers, crew were trained in the same place as Nigeria Airways’ even the market was competitive. It was either 50/50, 55/45 or 60/40.”
But now we do not have the airlines to compete with them and they are having a field day. Every time you open more routes and every time you buy a ticket of a foreign airline, even if it is in naira the money is converted and transferred away in dollars. It’s an invisible trade “
“I am not saying not to sign BASAs but I am saying you cannot be wrong supporting your own. No one supports our airlines and they cannot compete with the likes of BA now or even Emirates or Qatar, in fact even European and American carriers are afraid of Emirates and Qatar.”
He also dabbled into the national carrier debate stating that it can work,” Ethiopian Airline to Ethiopia is what NNPC is to Nigeria and we can do it but we need good corporate governance. Without that you can just put the money in the toilet and flush it is better. A good corporate governance will help.”
According to him, one of the major challenges that has stunted the Nigeria Aviation industry is political interference which according to him, is all over the world but called for a strong will and honesty of purpose to surmount these challenges.
Also Speaking, Member of the Board of Directors of Skyway Aviation Handling Company (SAHCOL), Dr. Olu Owolabi decried the multiple designation granted to foreign airlines and the open skies which has cost the country monies in taxes and royalties.
Dr. Owolabi said that real operators cannot survive because of open skies signed by government.
In his brief surmise, he said that the open skies should be limited to certain airports so that the indigenous operators can operate and distribute passengers.
He said,” Open skies is the reason why the foreign airlines do not interline or partner with our airlines because we have opened the entire country to them and so they don’t need us.”