BY ANTHONY AWUNOR |
The House of Representatives Committee on Aviation is considering a new legislation on civil aviation that will critically examine and take care of multiple designations granted foreign airlines in Nigeria.
The lawmakers are also planning to address the issue of lack of foreign currency access and high interest rates by banks.
This is just as airlines and other stakeholders made a strong case over their inability to access foreign exchange officially from the Central Bank as opposed to foreign airlines which are given special windows to access forex and repatriate proceeds seamlessly.
The chairman of the Committee Hon. Nnolim Nnaji made this known yesterday, while responding to the complaints by airlines and participants at the public hearing on amendment Bills on civil aviation Acts regarding the policies of the government that tend to undermine the survival of indigenous airline operators.
The legislators are of the opinion that such an arrangement was detrimental to the growth of the industry.
According to Nnaji, the committee has taken note of the challenges such multiple entry policy was posing to indigenous airlines vowing to see how the new laws could address the matter.
It was the opinion of the participants that all foreign airlines operating into the country should be given approval to operate to only one destination in Nigeria and any point beyond should be through code share with an indigenous operators.
It would be recalled that the chairman, Hon. Nnaji had earlier, before the inauguration of the Committee expressed his opposition to this same policy.
The airlines also made a strong case over their inability to access foreign exchange officially from the Central Bank while foreign airlines are given special windows to access foreign exchange and repatriate their tickets’ proceeds seamlessly.
It was the consensus of the speakers that a similar window should be created for local airlines by the Central Bank of Nigeria to enable the operators access enough foreign exchange to fund their aircraft maintenance and acquisition.
The issue of high interest rate on loans was equally raised by the airlines which according to them go as much as 25 percent, as against the single digit interest rate in some other climes.
Nnaji however suggested that the airlines, the agencies would need to meet with the committee to iron out areas of conflicts so that the new laws could stand the test of time by the time they are passed.