Airline operators ask government to balance FX availability for domestic airline – Businessday

As FX constraint continues to bite and create hardships for airlines, Nigerian government has been charged to ensure that domestic carriers do not continue to suffer at the expense of their international counterparts given that it has made over $200,000 million available to foreign airlines in 2016.

Airline operators under the aegis of the Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON) made this known at the weekend while stating categorically that Nigerian airlines who had created jobs and had continued to invest in the nation’s economy had been at a disadvantage since all the signed air services agreements had been skewed.

Chairman of the AON, Nogie Meggison, who explained the position of the domestic airlines, said with the way things were going that domestic airlines were on a dire strait, thus calling on the government to choose between leisure travel and business travel or capital flight or job creation.

Meggison said government needed to urgently address the failure to make FX available to domestic airlines in the interest of safety and avoidance of collapse of the air transport system.

Meggison, who decried government’s preferential treatment to foreign carriers, making over $200 million available to them in 2016 to the detriment of Nigerian domestic carriers whose safe operations also largely depend on equally having access to FX.

The AON chairman further stated that foreign airlines repatriate an estimated $2.2 billion yearly out of the Nigerian economy, leading to a colossal amount of capital outflow as against domestic carriers that retain funds in the economy and provide jobs to Nigerians locally, adding that despite this, domestic airlines were yet to receive up to $10 million in comparison.

“It is no longer news that airlines in Nigeria charge very competitive fares in local currency, but have to carry out numerous operational activities including maintenance and purchase of spare parts in foreign currency (dollars) thereby adding to the already unbearable burden the airlines have to carry on a regular basis.

“And the current FX constraint being faced by airlines has further exacerbated the situation and threatening to cripple airline operations in the country,” he said.