By Sade Williams
Barrister Allen Onyema, chairman of Air Peace has raised an alarm over the negative impact of various charges being levied on airlines by Aviation agencies, asking the National Assembly to quickly intervene to save the sub – sector from total collapse.
Speaking on the topic ‘Safe Airlines Operations and Profitable Earnings for Economic Growth’ at the second quarter Breakfast Meeting by Aviation Safety Round Table Initiative (ASRTI), he said the charges were killing their operations, expressing sadness that over 100 airlines that such was responsible for the short life span of airlines in the country.
He said due to harsh operating condition in the country, airlines were not making profit, adding that the little gains go to agencies in the form of taxes.
“You cannot talk about safe operations without good policy. Aviation does not yield the heavy profit one expects, the profit is always marginal but in developed countries, mega airlines make between 3-5 percent profit but in Nigeria, we do not even talk about breaking even, we think about loses because the environment is harsh, the facilities are not there.
“What I am experiencing today is discouraging, I had thought of shutting down at a time due to all these mountainous problems but for my vision of providing jobs for the people. Today, the agencies have turned the airlines to tax collector, we also pay over 37 charges in the form of en-route, landing and parking, passenger service charge among others and unless the National Assembly reviews aviation regulations, the few airlines currently operating, may in the next one year, go into extinction”, he said.
Onyema, who enumerated other problems beleaguering the sector to include lack of facilities, especially for night operations, heavy insurance, among others, said ‘if over 100 airlines have collapsed in Nigeria, there is fundamental issue, there are no night flight facilities at many airports and that is a great loss to airlines, we pay heavy amount of money for maintenance because there is no Maintenance facility in the country and the cost of ticket in Nigeria is very cheap, it is less than $32’.
While commending government over the Executive Orders initiative which he said has really eased the way business are done in Nigeria, however called on operators to show integrity whenever financial institutions give them loans.
Reacting, Lai Mohammed, Culture and Information Minister, said government was already creating enabling environment for their operations, adding that the Executive orders is part of the moves to rid the airports of unwanted and bureaucratic tendencies that usually give business set backs.