DIRECTOR General of the Nigeria Civil Acviation Authority (NCAA), Captain Musa Nuhu has said that the country is working on instituting slot systems within its airports as part of efforts to reciproacte some of the imbalances in the Bi lateral Air Services Agreement (BASA) signed with some nations.
This is just as he spoke on the current impasse between Nigeria and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) stating that once official communication is received through the right diplomatic channel, both Nigeria’s airline Air Peace and the UAE’s Emirates Airline can commence flight services .
The DG made these known this morning in an interview with our correspondent stressing that countries should not hide under issues of slots give unfair commercial advantages to foreign airlines over Nigerian airlines and stating that the principle of reciprocity would be applied to curb this subtle arm-twisting.
According to him, the only way to grow the nation’s airlines is to protect them against such practices and ensuring that the nation does not cede its most juicy routes for second tier destinations placing its own carriers at a disadvantage.
On the slot system Captain Nuhu said,”We are working on that and its going to be tit for tat, I would use an example I wouldn’t say that it is what is working but an example, If ta Nigerian Airline is going to the United Kingdom and the UK insists Nigeria airlines must buy slots, then any British airline coming to Nigeria must be made to pay for slots too. Its tit for tat.
“If you tell me X airline from Nigeria cannot go to Heathrow because you do not have slots then Y airline from UK cannot come to Lagos because we don’t have slots. If you tell me X airline from Nigeria would have to pay 100 000 pounds for slots in Heathrow then Z airline would have to pay 100,000 pounds for slots for Lagos and Abuja period. It reciprocity. You do that to me do that to you, period, finish.
“We cannot hide under the issues of slots give unfair commercial advantages to foreign airlines over Nigerian airlines, it is no longer acceptable. This is in the past, we have learnt our lessons and we will correct it going forward.
“Lagos airport was built for less than 300,000 passengers in 1978. Lagos Airport is doing 8 million now and you are telling me your airport is operating over 40%? Lagos airport is operating over 1000% at the same capacity, its no longer acceptable.
On the letter from the UAE to Air Peace granting that airline seven (7) slots, the Director General said the that country can write to Nigeria,under the Nigeria /UAE BASA officially and have it on record but that the Nigerian Ministry of foreign affairs is in the process of authenticating the letter to Air Peace.
He said,” Dubai CAA wrote to Emirates that they have 7 daily slots so the CEO of Air Peace, Barrister Allen Onyema sent the letter to the Minister and myself. So we said no problem APL is designated by Nigeria to fly UAE and Emirates is designated by the UAE to fly the BASA so, if that is what they are going to do let them give us official communication.
” Let them write to Nigeria, under the Nigeria /UAE BASA that Air Peace will fly seven slots You know it is important to have this officially and on records,that this is the agreement we have, so government is ready to let that operation start if we get the communication,through the proper diplomatic channels. I know the foreign affairs has written to our sister ministry in the UAE to confirm this and so we know where we go from there..”
He continued,” It is fair to defend Nigerian businesses, Air Peace is one of our biggest airlines and we must protect Air Peace that is the only way we can make our airlines grow and become global competitors, If we allow other airlines to take all the slots, all the juicy routes from Nigeria and we don’t protect our own to get reciprocal treatment then we are shooting ourselves in the head.”