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In a bid to protect domestic airlines going into international operations, the Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON) has asked the Federal Government to get more involved in international aero-politics.
Nogie Meggison, the AON Chairman, on Friday said that without the full involvement and support of the government, indigenous Nigerian carriers would not be as competitive as their regional and international counterparts.
“The government needs to join in the politics because we need support, from our ambassadors and every relevant government agency, we need to play this politics with our whole body,” he said.
Meggison, who spoke during a ceremony to mark Air Peace’s inaugural flight to Dubai, said the Federal Government had been supportive but added that a lot more needed to be done.
He said Air Peace should be given support as Nigeria’s flag carrier.
“The government has been supportive so far; we all want a flag carrier and Air Peace has also come this far but aero-politics will come in, which is where we need the government,” he said.
Sabiu Zakari, Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Transportation, stated that the government would continue to support domestic airlines, especially with special tax windows.
“We have been supporting them but the next level is to assist them with operations into other countries,” Zakari, who was represented by an official of the ministry, Hassan Musa, said.
Allen Onyema, the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Air Peace, said Nigerians had been made to pay more than passengers from other African countries on international routes due to the hitherto non-existence of a formidable carrier from the country.
According to him, Nigerians pay more to the UK on a six-hour flight than passengers from Southern African countries travelling for nine hours or more to the same destination.
“This is the time to stop the short-changing of Nigerians on international routes, I don’t have doubts that Air Peace will sustain this route and more to come,” he said.