The Chief Executive Officer of Air Peace, Allen Onyema, has lamented a lack of government support for Nigerian airlines, even as he bemoaned what he called preferential treatment for foreign airlines on Nigerian soil at the detriment of the local operators.
Speaking on AriseNews Channel’s The Morning Show on Friday, Onyema, however, underscored a recent landmark deal signed by the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) and the South African Civil Aviation Authority, saying the pact will aid aviation development in Africa.
LEADERSHIP reports that the two regulatory agencies signed the agreement during the African Aviation Summit in Abuja on Thursday.
Speaking on the development, Onyema said: “before now, if you’re a pilot in South Africa, you come to Nigeria, you start all over, validation and all sort of things takes time but what they’ve just done will help aviation development in Africa and we encourage other African countries to take a cue from this to make Aviation business easier.”
He also applauded President Bola Tinubu for “normalising relations” between Nigeria and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), describing the feat as a landmark achievement.
The Air Peace boss, therefore, urged the government to “look into what is happening” to Nigerian airlines’ trapped funds in the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).
“On the aviation side, charity begins at home. It is true that there are issues of trapped funds in Nigeria, but the local airlines also have trapped funds in the Central Bank.
“All the foreign airlines, about thirty something of them, coming to Nigeria, put together do not have up to 100 staff. But most of us have about 6,000 workforce, creating jobs and moving the country.
“Nigerian airlines are not weak. What they lack is truthful government support. That’s all,” Onyema stated.
He added: “Together with unscrupulous Nigerian government officials, many countries prevent Nigerian airlines from accessing their airspace.
“How could a foreign airline take off from its country, land in Abuja, drop passengers and take off from Abuja, go to Port Harcourt and drop passengers then take passengers from Port Harcourt and drop passengers again, then go back to its country? It is not done anywhere in the world.
“How do you grow the local airlines if you don’t allow them? Nigerian airlines need government support to succeed,” Onyema added.