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National carrier: Expert advises FG to create level playing field for airline operators

 An aviation analyst, Mr Olumide Uhunayo, has advised the Federal Government to create a level playing field for airline operators, saying that it would intensify modalities to float a new national carrier.

Uhunayo, Head of Strategy, Zenith Travel, gave the advice in an interview with the news men in Lagos on Sunday.

The Minister of State, Aviation, Sen. Hadi Sirika, had recently announced that the government had appointed a transaction adviser for the new national carrier.
He had expressed optimism that the national carrier would take off in the next 12 months, under a public-private partnership.
Uhunayo stressed the need for Nigeria to have a strong airline that could compete favourably with its foreign counterparts.
However, he said that what the country needed was a national airline policy that would strengthen the industry and its domestic airlines, not necessarily a national carrier.
He said: “When you look at the situation right now, you will see that some of our airlines are crumbling; so we need another carrier to compete.
“The government needs to work out the modalities to midwife this airline because we cannot have a national carrier that will be given undue favours by the regulators, against domestic competitors.
“There should be a level playing field. The airline must go through all the necessary documentation and safety processes.
“The only time the airline should be favoured is when it is operating outside Nigeria, against other foreign airlines, but once it is here, it should be subjected to the same regulations like its domestic counterparts.’’
According to him, a strong new carrier will increase competition, employ Nigerians and provide options for travellers.
Uhunayo also called for the review of the Bi-lateral Air Services Agreements (BASAs) entered by Nigeria with some countries which have been having a negative effect on domestic airlines.
He said: “the truth is that it is not all BASAs that are profitable.
“We have about five airlines that had the International Air Transport Association Operational Safety Audit Certificate, yet some of them have gone down.
“This certificate was supposed to give them the advantage to compete globally and benefit from the BASAs but unfortunately they went down.
“Most of our airlines don’t have commercial agreements with foreign airlines which would have been very beneficial to them.’’
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