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 Stakeholders in the aviation industry on Wednesday identified policy inconsistency by various governments as one of the major problems bedevilling the industry in Nigeria.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the stakeholders spoke during the 23rd Annual Conference of the League of Airports and Aviation Correspondents (LAAC) in Ikeja.

They noted that policy somersaults had not only discouraged investors from coming into the sector but had also continued to hinder the growth of Nigeria airlines.

Those who spoke included a former Director-General of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), Capt. Harold Demuren, Mr Nick Fadugba, President, African Business Aviation Association and Alhaji Muneer Bankole, Chairman, Medview Airlines.

Others are Capt. Roland Iyayi, Chief Executive Officer, TopBrass Aviation and Mr Olusegun Koiki,Chairman, LAAC.

Opening the conference, Bankole said it was unfortunate that over-bearing government intervention and policy inconsistency from the late 1980s had contributed in the reduction of the aviation sector to economic development.

He said such moves led to the liquidation of Nigeria’s national carrier, Nigeria Airways in 2004, paving way for foreign airlines to profit from the country through allegedly skewed Bilateral Air Services Agreements (BASAs).

Bankole said : “Nigeria local carriers have not yet been able to measure up to the expectation of maximising the country’s potential in spite of over 200 million population to our advantage.

“Foreign airlines are feasting on this to the detriment of domestic airlines.

“The gestation period of extinction of domestic carriers from the business which is within the average of five to 10 years should be worrisome to the industry’s stakeholders.”

He commended the Senate’s Resolution of July 10, which sought to protect Nigeria airlines from unfair competition from their foreign counterparts, noting that it was imperative that the government reviewed the existing BASAs.

Also, Demuren, represented by Dr Gbenga Olowo, President, Aviation Round Table (ART), noted that multiple entry points and frequencies for foreign airlines into Nigeria must be checked to protect domestic carriers.

“Multiple entry points for foreign airlines is disastrous. Nigeria’s balance of trade with all the airlines flying into Nigeria is negative due to the way frequencies and entry points are allocated to them,” he said.

On his part, Iyayi urged the NCAA to step up its responsibility of economic regulations of airlines instead of over emphasising on the safety aspect.

He noted that only four airports (Lagos, Abuja, Port Harcourt and Kano), accounted for about 80 per cent of air traffic out of the 31 airports and airfields in the country.

Iyayi said there were over 400 unemployed Nigerian pilots, adding that this was due to the high mortality rate of airlines in the country.

Earlier, Koiki in his address of welcome, said the theme of the conference, “Boosting Aviation Investment through Policy”, was very apt due to the current realities.

He said : “The Nigerian aviation industry has suffered and is still suffering from government policies and their somersaults.

“This, players in the sector say those have impacted negatively on the industry with audacious investors, especially in the airline sub-sector like Air Peace, Med-View, Overland and others, struggling to remain in business.”

Koiki therefore, urged the government to protect Nigerian airlines from international aeropolitics which had prevented the country from benefiting from the lucrative international routes. (NAN)

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