ART Says Nigeria Needs A National Airline

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Yemisi Izuora

A fresh call for re establishment of national airline for Nigeria has been made by stakeholders in the aviation sector.

According to the Aviation Round Table Initiative (ARTI), Nigeria needs a national carrier that would be fully funded by the private sector and not by government or its agencies.

The body, which observed that weak government policies are responsible for the failure of domestic airlines, said that this form of funding for the airline would ensure its survival and independence from interferences and so that it could be operated professionally.

In a statement issued at the weekend and signed by Olu Ohunayo on behalf of the Initiative, ARTI said it supports the establishment of national carrier that is devoid of government financial input but driven strictly by investors, noting that government should provide the necessary enabling ground and aero-political support environment.

“ARTI support for this project is hinged on our recognition of the desirability of a national carrier and the observed floundering of our flag carriers on the international routes. These shortcomings are traceable to weak government policies and poor negotiations skills in various agreements.

“Therefore, the proposed national carrier should be granted full compliments of the appropriate status, independence to  be the  arrow head in the implementation of operational issues arising from Bilateral Air Service Agreement (BASAs) and Multilateral Air Service Agreement (MASAs) to which Nigeria is a signatory unhindered by any concessions or agreements however made,” the body said.

It also noted that all existing concessions and agreements from which benefits are being derived by any person or corporate bodies capable of impinging on the operations of the proposed national carrier should cease forthwith at the inception of the national carrier.

ARTI urged that any outstanding obligations arising from agreements made prior to the emergence of the national carrier must be renegotiated between the  national carrier and such flag carrier, which would be supervised by the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA).

The corporate objective of the proposed carrier should be consistent delivery of excellent and competitive customer service; adopting global best standard practices; reciprocating all air service agreements and patriotically negotiated commercial agreement spinoff of BASA.

“We expect the government to take the following complimentary actions: it is vital that very knowledgeable aviators with cognate experience are selected to midwife the birth of the new national carrier; the governing board of directors of the national carrier should be composed of persons with proven track records of success in the aviation industry; the berthing process should last for a period not less than three years from inception and the national carrier should start with a fleet of 10 to 15 aircraft and shall be mandated to utilise the proceeds of all allocated  frequencies strictly  for fleet expansion and capacity building. This shall be monitored for compliance by NCAA,” ARTI said.

It also suggested that existing operators in the industry should be afforded the opportunity to observe and participate in the proposed national carrier project within stipulated guidelines and transparent process, adding that BASAs and MASAs should be reviewed with the objective of renegotiation where established to be unfavourable to Nigeria’s national interest.

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