The Airline Operators of Nigeria has called on the Federal Government to come up with deliberate economic policies to help grow the aviation industry.
The Chairman of AON, Capt. Nogie Meggison, said that there was an urgent need for policies that will eliminate the many challenges that were adversely affecting the growth of the industry.
He said such policies were needed in order to guarantee the survival of domestic airlines and make Nigeria the aviation hub for Africa.
The AON chairman said the industry challenges had increased the mortality rate of airlines in the country to 57 per cent in the past 11 years.
“This is quite alarming because it means virtually half of the airlines that existed within the period in review have all gone out of business and two of the major airlines existing today are in receivership,” he said.
According to Meggison, some of the major issues that need to be addressed to grow the industry include: removal of Value Added Tax as domestic airlines were the only mode of transport still paying it; and review of the five per cent Ticket Sales Charge to a flat rate in line with the global best practices as well as harmonisation of over 35 multiple charges which add huge burdens on airlines, among others.
He said, “Safety and economic policy go hand-in-hand. Where there is no financial profit for airlines, safety will be compromised. A clear economic policy for the survival of domestic airlines is very critical at this time which has resulted over the years in the death of over 25 airlines in 30 years. Investors are in the business of aviation for the profit and can’t make profit without safety or have a safe airline without profit.
“These are some of the main reasons for the short life span of Nigerian airlines averaging about eight years. With the growth in demand for domestic air travel, Nigeria can become the hub for Africa and easily make aviation the fourth contributor to the economy and a major contributor to the Gross Domestic Product as well as create 200,000 new jobs for our ailing youths through its direct and indirect link.”