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National carrier: Engage stakeholders, foreign airlines tell FG

National carrier: Engage stakeholders, foreign airlines tell FG

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Maureen Ihua-Maduenyi

The Association of Foreign Airlines and Representatives has called on the Federal Government to engage domestic airline operators and other stakeholders in a dialogue before the proposed national carrier becomes operational.

The AFARN President, Kingsley Nwokoma, on Monday told journalists at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos, that the engagement had become necessary to address some of the concerns raised about the new airline, Nigeria Air.

Nwokoma said, “Our take here as a professional association is that the government should not ignore the calls of various stakeholders and groups who are genuinely concerned that things should be done right in the aviation sector. Beyond the glamour associated with the aviation industry, it is also important to consider the first thing first, which is the capital intensive nature of the business.

“Cargo business could be much easier because; cargo does not talk but passenger operations require everything, because passengers talk when any airline fails to put those critical and necessary things in place.

“A development of this nature also makes competition unattainable. While we await the debut of the national carrier, I think it will be charitable for the government to urgently look into the lingering unsettled issue of operational cost hitherto inhibiting the progress and growth of the industry.”

He stated that the Federal Government should also look into the former Nigeria Airways Limited workers’ demand, adding that this would go a long way to promote industrial harmony by the time the new national carrier eventually takes off.

“The plight of the Nigeria Airways Limited workers, who are calling for the settlement of their severance benefits, should also not be ignored,” he said.

Nwokoma also called on the leadership of the Airline Operators of Nigeria to urgently engage the government on some of the issues of concern over the new carrier, in order to give everyone in the system a sense of belonging.

According to him, for the past few years, the industry has not recorded meaningful growth; instead, those that have managed to remain afloat continue to groan due to high operational costs.

He added that no one single airline in the country, whether government or privately owned, could service all the airports across the nation, hence the need for collaboration.

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