Federal lawmakers Wednesday resolved to invite the heads of agencies in the aviation sector and the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Transport to explain why foreign airlines are allowed to carry passengers on multiple routes within Nigeria.
Those listed for invitation are the Director General of Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) and Managing Director of FAAN as the Senate concluded that the incursion of foreign airlines into multiple routes within Nigeria is detrimental to Nigerian airlines and could ripped them of huge earnings.
Ethiopia Airlines operates in five cities including Enugu, Kano, Kaduna, Abuja, and Lagos while Turkish Airlines operates in four cities namely Abuja, Kano, Lagos, and Port Harcourt. Emirates Airlines operates two frequencies daily into Lagos and one to Abuja.
Turkish Airlines has commenced Istanbul to Abuja, Abuja to Port Harcourt, Port Harcourt to Abuja, then Abuja to Istanbul. Lufthansa and Air France are also doing same, snatching sizeable shares of the markets and earnings from local operators.
Betty Apiafi (Rivers-PDP) who saw this compeition that will bring the best out operators as they will improve their services charged indigenous airlines to be more professional rather than seeking protection from competition.
“We can’t keep protecting the local operators. Government gave them money in the last administration but they were not accounted for. We shouldn’t just be sentimental, our airlines need to be professional,” she said.
Ifeanyi Uba, (Anambra-YPP) who is on the side of local operators told the Senate that foreign airlines are now designated to multiple routes within Nigeria warning such development threatens the survival of local airlines.
He noted that besides multiple designations, foreign airlines are now being encouraged to do multiple frequencies into the country and within the country, a practice which he said is not allowed in other countries.
Emirates has two frequencies into Lagos and one to Abuja, and has announced plans to introduce a third flight in and out of Lagos to start very soon, making it three flights daily to Lagos.”
He argued that the development gives unfair advantage to foreign airlines and robbing Nigerian airlines such as Arik, Virgin Nigeria, Medview and others of international routes
Uba said that indigenous airlines have the capacity to cover all the domestic routes being operated now by these foreign airlines, noting that the practice in international aviation is for foreign airlines to partner with local airlines to help them distribute their passengers within the domestic routes.
“The Senate notes that the unrestrained grant of designations and multiple frequencies to foreign airlines is not only hurting the growth of our indigenous carriers but also a monumental disservice to the economy of Nigeria in several ways. Besides threatening the continuous existence of our indigenous carriers, the capital flight out of Nigeria engendered by this unwholesome practice is monumental and harmful to our economy;