The Executive Chairman of Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON), Captain Noggie Meggison has urged the incoming government to quickly address the case of hundreds of Nigerian pilots who are currently unemployed.
Meggison said the low capacity and the tendency of domestic carriers to go for expatriate pilots and engineers instead of recruiting indigenous personnel and training has created a high number of unemployed pilots.
He said to overcome this problem, government must look inwards towards reforming the aviation sector and rebuild it so that the country can have strong, profitable airlines, which will consequently create a lot of jobs for pilots and others in the industry.
“We must hesitate to add that the task to rebuild the aviation and airline sector must remain on course in the light of many issues that domestic operators have consistently put on the front burner for government’s attention”
Meggison 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 of 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 was done, the idea that after parents have spent huge sums of money the pilots would 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 were engaged by both indigenous and foreign carriers operating in the country.
He pointed out other problems in the industry that worry airline operators which include the need to have aircraft maintenance hangar in the country; the exclusion of domestic airlines by the Central Bank of Nigeria foreign exchange window; the skyrocketing price of aviation fuel and the multiple tax regime charged the airlines by the aviation authorities.
Meggison argued that government should remove Value Added Tax ( VAT) charged on air transport sector which other modes of transport were exempted from paying.