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House of Reps seeks blockage of foreign airlines from Nigerian

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The House of Representatives Committee on Aviation is pushing for a review of all aviation agreements between the country and foreign airlines, and possible blockage of some from the country’s airspace.

The Chairman of the Committee, Hon. Nnolim Nnaji, at a meeting in Abuja, said the committee will also demand an Aviation Master plan from the Minister of Aviation, Sen. Hadi Sirika.

The demands of the Committee include: “Development of the Nigerian Aviation Sector as a major hub for the continent of Africa, creation of an enabling environment that will support local airlines to fly our flag globally, ensuring that the foreign airlines’ domination in the Nigerian Aviation market is curtailed”

The Committee, also pressing for the “possibility of reviewing the multiple entry designations granted to some international airlines to protect the local industry, and to ensure safe and quality service delivery by all agencies and organisations that operate in the industry”.

The Committee also declared that it ” will equally work with the regulatory authorities; the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) and the Federal Ministry of Aviation, to ensure that proper financial audit of intending local airlines are done, before issuance of licenses, to stem early exits of indigenous operators which have become regular occurrences in the industry”.

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The committee, also lamented that despite the prospects of expansion of the country’s Aviation sector, foreign airlines were dominating its airspace, warning that drastic measures might be taken to reverse the trend in favour of Nigerian airlines.

“Our Aviation industry has great potential which has over the years, been unduly exploited by foreign airlines. My understanding is that several foreign carriers operate multiple flights out of Nigeria daily (morning and night), charging very exorbitant fares, without any indigenous operator reciprocating same. These, no doubt, promote capital flights, unemployment and negatively impact on the economic growth of the nation, which should not be tolerated”.

He revealed that “findings have also shown that some Nigerian travellers now have to go through the neighbouring West African countries, to connect flights to Europe and America because fares are cheaper over there”.

The Chairman of the Committee said the panel, may also consider taking a fresh look at Bilateral Air Services Agreement (BASA).

“There may also be a need to review the Bilateral Air Services Agreement (BASA) signed with various countries to address the increasing dominance of the Aviation industry by foreign airlines so that our indigenous carriers can be protected from early collapse as has been observed”.

Besides, the Committee urged the Ministry of Aviation to complete the Nnamdi Azikiwe airport runway in Abuja and construct better runways for all other airports in the country.

After a short deliberation on the issues above, members of the panel resolved to summon the Minister for Aviation to appear before them on Wednesday next week.

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