Nigeria, India sign bilateral air service agreement

Nigeria, India sign bilateral air service agreement
Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika

Nigeria, and the Republic of India, yesterday, signed a Bilateral Air Service Agreement (BASA), to deepen flight operations end to end.The Minister of States for Aviation, Hadi Sirika, disclosed this via his twitter handle, shortly after signing the agreement with representatives of the Indian government.

Media gathered that the agreement was overdue given the perennial air traffic on the routes connecting the two countries. While the Indian community in Lagos keeps expanding, India is the prime destination for Nigerians seeking medical tourism. BASA, otherwise called Air Transport Agreement (ATA), is an understanding between two nations to allow international commercial air transport services within their territories. It dates back to the Chicago Convention of 1944.

BASAs cover the basic framework under which airlines are granted bilateral rights to fly two countries. The frequency, designated airlines of the signatories, origin, intermediate points as well as traffic rights, type of aircraft and tax issues are normally covered by Memoranda of Understanding (MoUs).

Figures from the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), confirm that there are at least 90 of such agreements as at December 2016.Nigeria’s notable partners include United States, United Kingdom (UK), France, Germany, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates (UAE), Qatar, South Africa, and Ethiopia.

Others are the Netherlands, Italy, Egypt, Morocco, Turkey, Togo, Ghana, Liberia, Brazil, Cote d’Ivoire as well as Seychelles, and Bahamas among others.Besides the U.S., UK, South Africa, and Ghana where Nigerian carriers like Arik, Air Peace, and Med-View significantly reciprocate with flights operations, returning the same business gesture in other countries has been very difficult, if not impossible.

The Guardian recently reported that unfavourable BASAs that allow foreign airlines access into the local market is costing the Nigerian economy and her ailing aviation sub-sector billions of naira yearly.The loss, in excess of over N200 billion yearly, follows the perennial inability of the nation’s flag carriers to reciprocate and compete with their international partners on the BASA routes.

However, the recent pact with India may be different, as one of Nigeria’s flag carriers, Air Peace, is getting set to launch Lagos-India operations this year with its Boeing 777 airplanes. Air Peace in 2018, got the Federal Government’s approval to operate on the west coast, including Ghana and other countries in Central Africa, coupled with six international routes – China, U.S., U.K., India, Dubai, and South Africa.

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