AON Congratulates Buhari ………. commends Jonathan

Yemisi Izuora

The Airline Operators of Nigeria ( AON) has congratulated the people of Nigeria for the peaceful atmosphere that reigned supreme during the  just concluded Presidential Elections.

In particular , the AON congratulated the President – Elect , Gen. Muhammadu Buhari ( Rtd) , the winner of the election.

Chairman of AON Captain Noggie Meggison also commended the incumbent President Dr Goodluck Jonathan for his statesmanly acceptance of the outcome of the election.

He added: “we must hesitate to add that the task to rebuild the aviation / airline sector must remain on course in the light of many issues that domestic operators have consistently put on the frontier burner for government’s attention .

Against this background the AON drew government’s attention to issues agitating the minds of operators which are not limited to the following :
…The need for aircraft maintenance hangar in the country .
..The exclusion of domestic airlines  by the Central Bank of Nigeria window
..The skyrocketing price of aviation fuel
..Multiple tax regime by aviation authorities to domestic carriers
..The removal of Value Added Tax ( VAT) on air transportation as other modes of transportation , including  foreign airline operating in and out of Nigeria are not paying VAT.
..Improvement of service delivery by aeronautical agencies
..Access to single digit loan by financial institutions
..Engagement of more Nigerian pilots / engineers by foreign carriers (over 500 pilots and engineers youths unemployed )
..Multiple entry points granted foreign carriers
..Inadequate airport facilities and day time only operation of must of our airport!
..Stimulus package / intervention for domestic airlines
..And the 1940 -50th  model and idea of  National Carrier Question?  in the e-age (2015) the world has move far from National carrier as employment bureau ! that didn’t work in NEPA , NITEL etc

The statement went on :”We hope that as the incoming administration settles down in office will put a strong aviation policy in place , it would engage AON on how to move the strategic  and du air transport sector forward to a place where we should be ,
1) As major contributor to Nigeria  economic and GDP .(from 0.4% to 10% in 2 years )
2) Employment of  teaming youths  and skilled pilots and engineers  (create 5000 skilled and 50,000 indirect and indirect jobs  in 2 years )

“Nigeria must wake up ! and  take it God given natural/geographical position as the Aviation Hub for Africa i.e. Dubai , Atlanta…. etc

“Once again , we congratulate the President – Elect as we look forward to a successful administration that would leverage the aviation sector to national development , economic contributor and creating of jobs for our youth”.

Meanwhile,Captain Meggison who is the grand patron of Nigerian Professional Pilots ( NPP), has called on the Federal Government to put in a place a proactive policy that will address  the projected 500 Nigerian licensed  pilots  that  are unemployed.

He said the number of unemployed pilots is increasing from  the current 200 to an astronomical number when the over 100  student pilots’ sent to Jordan by the Kano State government would graduate  later this year.

This is  in addition to the 52  youths trained under the Federal Government Amnesty programme as well as the fresh batches 100 graduating from the Nigerian College of Aviation Technology ( NCAT), and the 40 from International Aviation College ( IAC), in Ilorin, Kwara State.

Meggison said unless something fast is done, such development constitutes  a disincentive to the growth and development of the Nigerian aviation industry.

He said well over 400  Nigeria licensed  aircraft engineers are also out of job, urging the Federal Government to put in place an employment policy that would ensure these aviation professionals  are engaged by both indigenous and foreign carriers operating in the country.

Meggison said though, some domestic carriers have done well and are engaging some of the pilots but there still room for improvement.

He said an enabling policy that would check the influx of foreign pilots and engineers  by foreign carriers.

Meggison said there are over 1,000 foreign pilots engaged by both local and foreign registered airplane  flying in Nigeria.

He stated that apart from the 1,000 foreign pilots , there are over 500 foreign aircraft engineers  employed in the country.

He said :” The  government  should compel foreign carriers to set up a line station for aircraft maintenance in the country and employ local engineers to assist in turning around  the growth of the sector.
They should  look into other avenues also, if policies are not put in place the challenge of unemployment of pilots and engineers may not be resolved as soon as possible. It is shameful that Nigerian  licensed youth  pilots are now driving  ” kabu  ”  ” Kabu ”  to make ends meet . This is totally unacceptable .! Not that there’re no jobs but jobs at taken by foreigner
Over the years , the aviation industry has grown . About six years ago , the number of private jets has increased from 20 to 150.”
Even, commercial airplanes  have grown from 20 to  100, but it has not reflected to the employment of our youths, who are trained as pilots.”

He said it was time the Federal Government implemented the local  content  policies  in the aviation sector to create room for the employment of indigenous professionals , as it the practice in most parts of the world.

Meggison cited examples from India ,  Cameroon , Russia and Egypt where policies exists that prescribes that on every airplane cockpit there must be a national passport holder inside, :” for any aircraft  that is flying in such countries,whether  local or foreign registered once the  airplane has stayed in the country for more 30days it must comply to cockpit laws.”

He said apart from the implementation  of the policy , another way to generate jobs for indigenous professionals is the establishment of aircraft maintenance centres.
Meggison said :” Government needs a policy to create avenues for qualified youths to get employment in the aviation sector. About 2000 skilled professional jobs can be created in first year , while  5000 skill jobs  could be created by the next three years easily.
One of the ways of getting this achieved is to compel  foreign airlines to  open aircraft maintenance line station in Nigeria, where aircraft engineers could be employed .

” We need policies  to drive employment of both indigenous pilots and aircraft engineers .

This is the practice in other countries of the world, government creates a conducive policy to drive employment of key aviation professionals.

In countries like Ethiopia, Kenya, South Africa and Egypt, their governments have perfected plans on how to use their aviation sector to create jobs for their youths .
This explains why these countries now export skilled aviation professionals including pilots, aircraft engineers , cabin crew ,quality assurance mangers and  technicians to other parts of the world .

There is no reason Nigeria with her over estimated 170 million population should be exporting skilled aviator to other parts of year world .
If one of every  five black man is a Nigerian why can’t  We  produce one aviation professional out of every five African aviator .

“Government needs to address this problem. Even, the last batch of 30 aircraft engineers that graduated from the Nigerian College of Aviation Technology ( NCAT),not even one is yet to get jobs.

“Whereas , there are over 500 foreign aircraft engineers working in Nigeria. Most of the foreign carriers are putting  flying spanners (engineers ) on board in the business class to fly to Nigeria  instead of setting up a line station .

“There  is need for government policies to  make them  open line maintenance stations to provide hands on job training  for  Nigerians youths.
So that they can gradually start transferring skill to our Nigerian youths
On board any Emirates or Qatar Airways flight, there is always other nationals from other countries who are are aviation professionals exported to other countries.
Whereas Nigerian with her vast population is no where to be found, on the international aviation scene. It’s time we creation of jobs for youths in the aviation sector.”, he concluded.

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