Domestic airline operators are apprehensive their business may be stifled if the Federal Government gives undue advantage to the new national carrier expected to be inaugurated in December this year.
They have therefore urged the government not to frustrate efforts of existing domestic airlines while promoting the new national carrier.
Those who spoke on the issue at a forum in Lagos include the Chairman of Air Peace, Allen Onyema; the Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director of Med-View, Alhaji Muneer Bankole; and the President and Chief Executive Officer, African Aviation Services Limited, Nick Fadugba.
Onyema, for instance, said the modality for allocating routes should be looked into except the government planned to indirectly decimate existing operators.
The Federal Government at the unveiling of the national carrier last week said the new airline, Nigeria Air, would operate 81 domestic, regional and international routes.
But Onyema said domestic carriers were looking forward to what would happen to indigenous carriers when the national carrier would begin operations.
Although he described the national carrier as an outdated model, he called for support for the new airline, noting that it would be welcomed if it would boost capacity.
The Air Peace boss said domestic airlines were not afraid of the national carrier but that there must be a level playing field for all operators.
“Existing operators should be given the opportunity to enjoy same privilege as the national carrier. Government must do everything possible not to frustrate existing carriers because of private investment. The creation of a level playing field remains critical to the sustenance of an effective aviation sector,” he said.
Onyema, who led discussions at the seminar, said the only way the aviation industry would move forward was for operators to continue to speak the truth to the government.
According to the Chief Executive Officer of Med-View, Bankole, there may be no unfair competition between the national carrier and domestic airlines if the former is private-sector driven.
He said the industry had been plagued by political issues, security threats and financial crisis for those still in business.
The President and Chief Executive Officer, African Aviation Services Limited, Fadugba, said there was a need for the government to answer all questions regarding the management, funding and the type of fleet to be used for the new carrier.
“I believe the government now needs to brief the Nigerian people on the national carrier. Rather than doing it abroad, we need to come home and explain to the whole nation what the concept is. More importantly, I’m interested in how the national carrier will interface with all the other airlines in Nigeria,” he said.
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