Stakeholders in the aviation industry have relived the imperative of the Fly Nigeria Act to return the local airlines to profitability and saved them from collapse.
The Act has been in the works in the last two decades, and it is mainly to drive sufficient traffic to local carriers.
Specifically, the legislation is to allow Nigerian commercial operators a monopoly on the fares of government related travel in and outside the country.
All civil servants in the country or anyone on government funded air travel will be compelled to fly with the local carriers.
The bill, according to an estimate, will earn airlines N500 billion when enacted into law.
President of the Aviation Safety Round Table Initiative (ASRTI), Gbenga Olowo, at the fourth quarterly breakfast meeting of the body in Lagos, recently, observed that the local air travel market remains small despite the huge population and the global aviation growth.
Currently, out of over 170 million population, about 15 million (that is, eight per cent) travel by air, whereas, a place like Hong Kong, with 73 million has air traffic of 23 million.
Olowo said while the challenges of the local environment are huge, the operators really need to reflect and explore other means to stay afloat.
“The Airlines Operators of Nigeria (AON) need to ask themselves if they are making sufficient money in the business to cover cost.
That is why AON should go and put up a bill in respect of the Fly Nigeria Act because it is an indirect way to free business for the airlines and arrest market share.
“I put it to you (airlines) that you are not making enough money to cover the numerous cost and those cost will keep rising.
All the costs are exogenous to you; you keep trying but you cannot control them.
Therefore, your solution is to increase revenue by the rescue of market share. NANTA has succeeded and they got something good. AON must follow to ensure that it becomes a law.
“We love our airlines and really want them to compete. But I don’t want to get on board and start comparing them to British Airways or Delta.
“I don’t want to be regretting that ‘if I were to be on BA, this or that would not be happening’. No. that is why our airlines must earn the respect that they crave,” Olowo said.