Aviation stakeholders have urged the federal government to support local airlines with the requisite capacity for foreign trips.
The experts spoke on Arise TV’s Global Business Report, monitored by TheCable on Monday.
The call is coming as foreign airlines decried the inability to repatriate funds, running into millions of dollars.
Last week, Emirates Airlines announced the suspension of flight operations to Nigeria.
Speaking during the programme, Obiora Okonkwo, chairman, United Nigeria Airways, said local airlines have the capacity and technical know-how for international routes.
“I have no doubt that if airlines are supported locally, they will be able to make those foreign trips. Air travel all over the world is the same. You have IATA, we are members of IATA. A good number of airlines here have IOSA certification. What you do here is what you do everywhere,” Okonkwo said.
“The only thing we’re lacking here is the capacity to procure the equipment and then fly. Air Peace is well positioned to do this. But in most places they fly, they are being politicised and then nobody, obviously in those countries, is calling their parliament for a meeting or anything like that.
“However, we have the know-how, we have the knowledge and we have the capacity to do that. That’s why we’ve been crying for the funding and support for the domestic carriers here.”
On her part, Sindy Foster, partner, Avaero Capital, called for the passage of the “fly Nigeria bill”.
Foster said with foreign airlines pulling out of Nigeria’s market, it was time for the bill to be revisited.
“It’s about time that we got behind this bill. I don’t see why we need to wait for the national carrier to get behind that bill when we have a flag carrier, Air Peace, who are flying to international destinations,” she said.
“They were competing with South African Airways on the Johannesburg route. They didn’t get the support from the Nigerian political community and so, therefore, they pulled out of that route.”
“They couldn’t get visas, but I’m sure a lot of Nigerian people using public money were travelling on South African Airways. So I think that we need to get behind it, but stick with it.”
In addition, Tayo Ojuri, senior partner, Aglow Aviation, urged airlines to build international partnerships to grow capacity.
“We want to grow Nigeria as the aviation hub. So, I think the capacity needs to grow. I don’t think we have the capacity at the moment because we have to understand that, from a capacity perspective, aviation is not just origin and destination,” he said.
“So, what needs to be done is you have to have these airlines that you’re in partnership with. How many of our domestic airlines have that global partnership that’s able to drive that volume of travel.”
They further urged members of the house of representatives and senate to patronise local carriers during their foreign trips.
Last week, Femi Gbajabiamila, speaker of the house, called for a meeting with aviation stakeholders to “find urgent solutions” to the repatriation issue.
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