Local carriers under the aegis of the Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON) has called on the Federal Government to immediately withdraw the new frequency granted Emirates Airlines to operate out of the Federal capital, Abuja.
AON, in a statement made available to the media on Monday said granting such a right to a foreign airline at a time when a fully Nigerian owned airline just started a direct operation to the home base of the foreign airline would lead to job loss, capital flight and direct plundering of an already battered economy.
The airline operators who claimed it is unfair for Emirates to be allowed such increase in frequency, insisted that the move effectively at a massive disadvantage, the Nigerian economy and the jobs of our youths and huge capital flight places our indigenous carriers.
“The Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON) hereby cries foul against the recent commencement by Emirates Airline of an additional flight, now increasing its frequency to four (4) flights daily into Nigeria on the eve of when a Nigerian Carrier began flights to United Arabs Emirates (UAE) operated with 100% Nigerian Pilots, Cabin Crew, Engineers and Dispatchers.
“It is very unfair for Emirates to be allowed such increase barely two (2) weeks after the launch of flights on July 5, 2019 to Sharjah, UAE by Air Peace, our very own Nigerian airline. The move is effectively at a massive disadvantage, the Nigerian economy and the jobs of our youths and huge capital flight places our indigenous carriers,” the group said.
Stating reasons why the Federal Government needs to rescind the decision, AON said, “Government must stand tall to play the role of aeropolitics to support Air Peace, otherwise it will end up the same way as others such as Bellview, Arik Air and Medview that went before it; as they were unable to play in the wild and aggressive field of international aeropolitics.
“Emirates Airlines as at today, operates two daily flights out of Lagos and two daily flights out of Abuja. Also, Etihad, from the same Arab country, operates daily flights out of Lagos as well.
“This translates to five flights daily and a total of 150 flights per month from UAE; as against a Nigerian carrier that only just started operating three flights weekly (12 flights monthly into UAE). This is a colossal plundering of the Nigerian economy through capital flight and a huge loss of Nigerian jobs,” AON posited..
While the United Arab Emirates (UAE) based airlines enjoy unrestricted economic support in Nigeria with more frequencies, AON regretted that Air Peace is still waiting to be allocated a dedicated Lounge or departure wing at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport to signify that this is a Nigerian airline; as against the case with Emirates that has a huge lounge at the Dubai International Airport that is heavily branded in the airline’s colours. The same goes with Etihad in Abu Dhabi, British Airways in London, Lufthansa in Frankfurt and Air France in Paris to mention but a few.
The AON pointed out that despite the support of government of United States of America for Open Skies Policy, the three major airlines in the U.S are crying against its implementation.
“It is little wonder that the three major carriers in the United States (United, American and Delta) cried out against the same open skies and anti-competitive behavior.
“The US airlines accused them of being funded by their government to the tune of over $50 billion and undercutting US carriers by offering below-market fares on flights that go to other destinations beyond the Middle East, at the expense of American jobs and the American Economy,” AON noted.
The 2017, the economic policy of the Trump administration to protect the American economy, jobs and the airlines subsequently forced the Emirati airlines to reduce their flights by about 30 per cent.
This, AON said, is a classic example of domestic airlines crying out against unfair competition and having their government standing behind them with full support to effect change and ensure that domestic airlines with private funds get “A Fair Deal” against foreign competition from state-owned airlines.
According to Megisson, “It is unfair to unleash a band of ravenous and voracious wolves against a harmless and privately funded puppy that is still trying to find its feet and doing all it can to survive, create economic impact and jobs for our youths. It is the role of Government therefore to protect our very own Nigerian carriers and preserve the Nigerian economy and the jobs of our unemployed youths.
“The additional double daily flights given to Emirates, a highly subsidized airline is not necessary at this time as statistics show that half of the flights out of Abuja are half empty and the fact that the Emirati airlines already have an unfair trade advantage of 150 flights monthly out of Nigeria; as against 12 monthly flights for Nigerian airlines that should have been allowed to stabilize and grow its operations into the UAE to a level where the airline can compete favourably on the route.
“We would therefore like to use this medium to call on the government to review all existing BASAs to readdress the unfair trade advantage given to foreign airlines against Nigerian airlines.
“This will go a long way to safeguard the Nigerian economy from continued plundering of our resources, preserve the lively hood of workers in the aviation sector, create jobs for our many unemployed youths, promote technology transfer, and significantly reduce capital flight in line with the vision of the President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration.”