Aviation Industry Calls for Special Funding to Support Domestic Operators

The Federal Government has been urged by the Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON) to create a “special funding” scheme for local airlines in the aviation sector. The appeal was made by Capt. Roland Iyay, the Chief Executive Officer of Top Brass Aviation Limited, who represented the AON during a courtesy visit to the Minister of Aviation and Aerospace Development, Mr Festus Keyomo in Abuja on Monday.

Capt. Iyay explained that the aviation business required special funding due to its capital-intensive nature and its increasing contribution to the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

“We are just asking for a special funding window that should be of a single digit and that is easily accessible.

“We want FG to create a special funding window for domestic Airlines for capital assets acquisition and consider providing the necessary support of domestic Airlines for competitive funding through World renowned funding organisations such as EXIM / EDC / AFREXIM Bank.

“We plead for immediate revision of all ill-conceived stifling policies inimical to industry growth, adoption of an annual simulator recurrent check for flight crews and the adoption of the manufacturers’ recommended maintenance service intervals.

“Just as it is enshrined in the Aircraft Type Maintenance Planning Document (MPD) by the Nigeria Civil Aviation of Nigeria (NCAA),“ he said.

He urged the FG to urgently review all the taxes, fees and charges in the Industry and adjust them according to the cost recovery model of the aviation Parastatals.

Iyayi also stressed the need for a dedicated support line for domestic Airline Operators to access Foreign Exchange easily through the Central Bank of Nigeria for their local and international transactions.

He advocated for the facilitation, liberalisation, procurement and distribution of Jet-A1 across the country and allowing the AON to obtain the necessary licenses for importing and distributing the product through strategic partnerships.

He said that the government should immediately prioritise a modernisation programme for passenger and handling equipment at major Airports to ensure efficient management of passengers and their baggage.

“The government should prioritise the immediate installation and commissioning of bird hazard management equipment and FOD programmes at all Airports nationwide to enhance safety, reduce aircraft damage and increase insurance premiums.

“Embracing the PPP model with prospective investors for the establishment, tooling and operation of local MRO facilities and providing special incentives to encourage increased investments in the sector.

“Also, immediate cancellation of all existing 8th and 9th freedom rights allocated to foreign Airlines operating within the country and encouraging such carriers to codeshare with domestic Airlines,“ he said.

He urged the government to revisit all the existing agreements on aviation safety, both bilateral and multilateral, in accordance with the Single African Air Transport Market (SATAAM) framework. He said the agreements should be revised to ensure a fair and reciprocal treatment for domestic airlines that want to expand their operations to international and sub-regional markets.

He also asked the government to set up a committee with representatives from key industry stakeholders, led by the International Air Transport Association (AITA), to review and update the civil aviation policy document to reflect global standards and trends.

He called on the government to carry out a comprehensive audit of all aviation agencies, both financial and personnel, to determine their actual needs and gaps based on their cost recovery model as stipulated in their respective Acts.

He pointed out the imbalance in the workforce of the aviation agencies, which favoured technical personnel over others. He recommended the immediate removal of all technical aviation agencies from the public service structure and the introduction of remuneration and conditions of service packages that are consistent with industry standards for effective and qualitative recruitment and retention strategy.

Keyamo, in his response, said the federal government would address the issues raised by the AON in a strategic manner, to create a more conducive environment for the aviation sector to thrive for the benefit of the airline operators.

He, however, urged the association to address the frequent flight delays, rescheduling and cancellation that affected passengers. (NAN)

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