Aviation Agencies by Nigerian airlines owe N513bn, Says Minister
Published On 12 Feb, 2018



On Thursday, the Minister of State, for Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika, said the aviation agencies by Nigerian airlines owned a total debts of over N513 billion.

The minister, who is not happy with the airlines for going against the Single Africa Air Transport Market (SAATM), noted that Nigerian airlines have shown no signs of growing, since they gave approval to the liberation of African airspace which they felt would favour them, but now, they are opposing it because the industry is still fragmented.

The minister expressed his disappointment with the airlines that wants the federal government to go back from its commitment to the Yamoussoukro Declaration, which is the liberation of Africa’s airspace because they know that they cannot compete effectively and urged them to come together.

At General Aviation Terminal (GAT) of the Murtala Muhammed Airport, Lagos the minister spoke to journalists. He said: “The airlines have refused to grow and the challenges are not caused by government. It is their own making. If I will advise them, let them get their acts together to focus, reorganise, reengineer, take advantage and be futuristic. They should see the bigger future; the bigger pie and organise themselves to take advantage of SAATM; rather than to sit here and whine at a train that is already moving.There is an airline that owes one of the agencies N13 billion. One airline owes several agencies and companies up to N500 billion; just one airline. That airline has been taken over. Is that how they will compete? I think it is getting their priorities right and by doing the business model that will get money for them that they will operate well. There is a lot they can do in aviation than just passenger scheduled services when they don’t have the capacity, experience and the business model,” he said.

As for the Dana Air incident where the aircraft’s door fell off on landing at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport in Abuja¬†on Wednesday, the minister described the incident as shocking, but said the aircraft is designed in a way that the door could not have fallen off while the aircraft is airborne because the door is pressurized. He apologised to the passengers who were on flight during the incident, saying further investigations will be made on the matter and any reports would be made public.

The minister, disclosed plans for a new national carrier that is already at an advanced stage and would be set up for the open sky treaty which was recently signed with 22 African countries.

He noted that bona fide roll out and its establishment would take place within the next few months, before the end of the current administration. He also said that in a one or two months maximum, both the outline business case for the transaction and the full business case for the national carrier would be rolled out, in which case the processes for the carrier’s set up will start.

“I will say that we are very close to having the national carrier established. Certainly, it will be within the first term of this administration,” he said.

According to the minister, the national carrier is critical to full execution of bilateral agreements, especially when it comes to SAATM also known as the open sky treaty. He noted that the treat is aimed at growth, development, creation of more jobs, security, connectivity and passenger satisfaction at airports.

“Nigeria with 173 million people, the two-third of west Africa, will be one of the biggest beneficiaries. At the time Nigeria was pushing for this treaty, we had the Nigerian Airways to take advantage of it. Now we don’t have it and our airlines are, for one reason or the other, have not grown to that capacity and this is why government felt that we should set in motion a national carrier programme that will take advantage of the liberalisation and agreements for the benefit of the Nigerian people.I believe we are on the right course. I believe that this private sector led and driven airline when established will become the dominant carrier in Africa because the market is in Nigeria and it is central. So, Nigeria is at very vantage position to take advantage of this SAATM,” he said.

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