By Capt. Dung Pam
An active and sustainable local aviation industry has strategic importance that go beyond beyond mere commercial and business objectives. It is a matter of national interest and national security.
Administering of Nigeria’s bilateral air service agreement (BASA) is a matter of national security. The aviation Ministry has consistently failed to understand how critical this is. If they are bereft of the requisite information, a wider stakeholder consultation will have brought this to light.
Therefore, it is a irresponsible and a dereliction duty for the Federal Ministry of aviation to offer multiple designations and entry points to international carries to the detriment of our local airlines.
This act virtually outsources our aviation industry. The reason why Nigerian airlines are not able to proportionately reciprocate our bilateral air service agreement (BASA) is because they are weak, disorganised and fragmented. The duty and the challenge for the Federal Ministry of Aviation (FMA) is to reverse the current situation by creating policies and implementing strategies that will insure the emergence of strong, organised and viable local airlines.
For the past 18 months, Nigeria Aviation Safety Initive (NASI) and other proactive organisations/individual have advocated for strategic partnerships such as mergers, acquisitions, commercial agreements, code shares and inter-line activity within the local industry as a panacea for the current mediocrity and declining fortunes.
Megacarriers in Europe and America are merging to further extract cost synergies and take advantage of economies of scale. Yet, the FMA is superintending over the collapse of its aviation sector.
The FMA and NCAA should facilitate the evolution of our 16 under performing airlines into 5 viable and profitable airlines capable of providing the world class service Nigerians deserve and are happy to pay for. These 5 restructured airlines should then be engaged in a transparent process of bidding for the “two positions” of Nigeria’s flag carriers.
The security implication of aviation operation is also underscored by the recent incidences of widespread money laundering and illegal importation of arms suspected to be taking place using aircraft and airports. Thus, exacerbating the lingering security situation in the country.
9 years after Isa Yuguda and his high powered Ministerial committee discovered over 70 illegal airports/heliports we’re still grappling with stowaways and airport perimetre and air-side security breaches. Not a single airport in Nigeria has met all the safety and operational requirements to be fully certified. 13 years after signing a provisional open skies agreement with the USA we are still unable to take advantage of it.
It is time to see some concrete proactive solutions to the problems bedeviling the Nigeria’s aviation sector.
Pam is President, Nigeria Aviation Safety Initiative (NASI)