Chairman of Air Peace and Vice Chairman Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON), Mr Allen Onyema declared on Monday that palliatives offered by the government will not solve the problems local carriers are grappling with because the N4 billion approved for carriers is only a temporary relief.
Onyema said even if the government had given N10billion each to individual airlines, it would only amount to a tip of the iceberg because the funds will be depleted within a short while.
Speaking in a telephone interview, he told The Nation that the major clamour by indigenous carriers was for the government to remove import duty on aircraft and spare parts as well as the abolition of Value Added Tax (VAT) on domestic tickets to reduce the huge cost and charges local operators were subjected to.
He said as much as the AON under its new leadership has engaged the Federal Government and the Ministry of Aviation on ways and means of assisting indigenous carriers, it is imperative for operators to devise an appropriate strategy to get the sector out of the woods.
Onyema said the new AON leadership has reached agreement with aviation agencies on how to recover the huge debts owed by local carriers, even as a repayment plan has been worked out to starve closure of airlines’ counters and other punitive measures.
He said rather than thinking of ways to engage the government, previous executives of the umbrella body of local carriers have engaged in scathing criticism of the government to cover up their indebtedness.
Onyema said the AON executive will not be dragged into controversies over how the N4billion approved by the government was disbursed because there is a template designed by the Minister of Aviation in doling out the package.
He clarified that no carrier was side tracked in the disbursement of the funds saying some operators were raising false alarm.
Onyema clarified that the criteria for doling out the bail funds was designed by the government following a template based on scale of operations and other factors.
He said: “I do not want to be dragged into the politics of how bail out funds were decided. The government had criteria that it used. It was not the job of Airline Operators of Nigeria. Anybody alleging that some airlines did not get whatever amount should feel free to ask such airlines.
“The new leadership of AON has been engaging the government constructively on how to fix problems of the industry to create a more enabling environment for airlines to do their business. The era of AON engaging in blind fight with the government is over. If airlines are owing aviation agencies, they should approach such agencies on a repayment plan. That should be the new thinking.”
Credit: The Nation