The Minister of Aviation and Aerospace Development, Mr. Festus Keyamo, SAN, has conveyed the Federal Government’s readiness to partner with and support the Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON) if it is prepared to elevate the quality of services it offers.
Keyamo made this statement during a courtesy visit by members of the AON, led by its president, Dr. Abdulmunaf Yunusa, to the ministry’s headquarters in Abuja.
The minister emphasised that the AON’s visit was a follow-up to their earlier private meeting and reiterated his commitment to operating with transparency and openness. He encouraged the AON to express their challenges so that Nigerians could gain a clear understanding of the government’s stance and the airlines’ needs.
Keyamo pledged his commitment to supporting the growth and sustainability of local airline operators while ensuring they meet the highest international standards in the aviation industry. He highlighted the crucial role they play in the growth and development of both the aviation sector and the nation, underscoring the government’s readiness to assist them in achieving profitable operations.
The minister also mentioned the possibility of reviewing all bilateral air service agreements (BASA) and encouraged the AON to modernise and maintain their fleets to attract more passengers.
He called on airline operators to collaborate with each other to establish businesses with sufficient capital reserves to weather unforeseen challenges like the COVID-19 pandemic. Additionally, Keyamo expressed his willingness to propose to the government the potential of AON accessing facilities at single-digit interest rates, including associated foreign exchange (Afex), to meet their foreign obligations.
Keyamo revealed plans to develop a futuristic master plan during his tenure to position Nigeria as an aviation hub in Africa. He encouraged all airlines to utilize their BASA routes to reduce airfare prices.
Earlier in the meeting, the AON’s president, Dr. Abdulmunaf Yunusa presented a paper through Captain Roland Iyayi that highlighted various constraints and challenges in the Nigerian aviation industry. These challenges included issues related to foreign exchange, Jet A1 fuel, capital costs, funding options, infrastructure, taxes, fees, charges and government policies.
AON proposed solutions such as securing licenses for Jet A1 importation and distribution through strategic partnerships and an immediate review of all industry taxes, fees and charges. They also called for the renegotiation of existing BASAs and multilateral air service agreements (MASAs) in line with the provisions of the Single Africa Air Transport Market (SAATM), with an emphasis on reciprocity, in favour of domestic airlines.