Operators urge FG to address forex constraints facing domestic carriers

By Abimbola Fashakin, Lagos 

Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON) has called on President Muhammadu Buhari to urgently intervene in addressing the failure to make foreign exchange available for indigenous airlines to avoid any threat to air safety as well as avoidance of collapse to the air transportation system. 

Executive Chairman of the operators, Captain Meggison said unless the Federal Government does something urgent to address the constraints, the industry may be under the threat of imminent collapse. 

He spoke in in Lagos, saying while domestic operators are grappling many challenges in the sector; government has shown preference for foreign carriers in granting access to foreign exchange. 

Meggison accused the government of bias in the release of trapped funds to foreign carriers, which he said have accessed over $ 200,000.00 million in 2016 as opposed to a paltry $10 million made available to domestic airlines. 

“The Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON) hereby calls on the Nigerian Government to as a matter of urgency promptly address the failure to make forex available to domestic airlines in the interest of safety and avoidance of collapse to the air transport system. 

“Aviation is a pivot of the national economy that not only facilitates the movement of people and goods than any other mode of transportation but also ensures the ease of doing business by making it possible to transact different businesses in several locations in a single day. 

“This is made possible by Nigerian Carriers who despite operating in a difficult environment still manage to keep the wheels of the economy rolling and continue to provide jobs for a teeming Nigerian population.     

“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 forex constraint being faced by airlines has further exacerbated the situation and threatening to cripple airline operations in the country.

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