For years, there have been disagreements between domestic airline operators and the Federal Government over the supposed self-inflated Bilateral Air Services Agreement (BASA) with foreign countries. The announcement of Air Peace as Nigeria’s flag carrier on Lagos-Dubai air route revived the campaign to restrict foreign airlines’ operation.
The Chairman of Air Peace, Allen Onyema, reechoed the grievance domestic airlines have against the Bilateral Air Services Agreement which is said to be one-sided and of no benefit to local stakeholders. Local stakeholders gain less to nothing due to the operations of foreign airlines in Nigeria’s air space.
The air transport agreement is a deal between two countries or more to allow international commercial air transport services between their territories. While the agreement is meant to be beneficial to both countries, Nigeria’s airline operators have reportedly been incurring an annual loss of about N700 million yearly because of it.
Onyema said there’s an urgent need to revisit the agreement, even as he urged the President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration to halt the multiple entry points for foreign airlines in Nigeria’s air space which comes at a cost to domestic operators.
According to him, the current Bilateral Air Services Agreements with the United Arab Emirate and other countries (including European countries and the United States) are exploitative and foreign airlines are taking advantage.
Onyema asked the Federal Government for protection for domestic carriers, as the agreement and the non-restriction of foreign airlines in Nigeria’s air space threaten the growth of domestic companies.
He, however, commended the Federal Government for the removal of value-added tax and waivers on aircraft spares and requested for more as Air Peace becomes the national carrier of Nigeria for the Lagos-Dubai route. The company commenced operation on July 5.
Other international flights on Air Peace’s radar are Lagos to Johannesburg which is expected to commence before the end of August. The company has plans for Guangzhou, Mumbai, London and Houston routes.
Meanwhile, Nigeria’s Ambassador to the UAE, Mr Mohammed Rimi, has warned Air Peace to avoid activities that would portray Nigeria in a negative image as the company becomes the countries flag carrier in UAE.