Minister of State, Aviation, Senator Hadi Siriki has appealed to foreign airlines operating in the country that are in the process of suspending their operations in the country to reconsider their plans and decisions, as the challenges currently besetting the industry and other sectors would soon become things of the past.
The Regional Manager of Emirates in West Africa, Mr. Manoj Gopi Nair told the Minster that he was in his office to brief him on the decision of the Emirates Management to scale down its operations in Nigeria, with the suspension of operations from the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja.
He said the decision was based on the airline’s inability to make ends meet in view of the difficulties in accessing Foreign Exchange for its operations. He also listed the high cost of aviation fuel and the state of the Abuja Airport runway as other impeding factors.
Senator Sirika made the appeal when he received the West African Regional manager for Emirates Airlines, Manoj Gopi Nair in his office.
The Minister said, government was aware of the issues that have created operational difficulties for both domestic and foreign airlines, such as Foreign Exchange, aviation fuel and infrastructural deficiencies, saying that government has been up and doing to ensure the creation of an environment that is both enabling and profitable for them to operate.
Making reference to the recent concession given to airlines by the Central Bank of Nigeria to enable the airlines procure the required Foreign Exchange to clear the backlog of matured Foreign Exchange obligations.
The minister appealed to the management of Emirates and other airlines to reconsider their decisions to either suspend their operations or scale them down, considering the adverse effects on their long-standing costumers and the benefits they had reaped in the past.
He described the CBN intervention as a direct fall-out of efforts of the Ministry to minimize the identified challenges. He also promised to immediately take up the Emirates complaints about Foreign Exchange with the relevant authorities.
Sirika added that the issue of aviation fuel had almost normalized as a result of government intervention that has made it easier for importers to bring in the product.
On infrastructural deficiencies, especially the runway at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport in Abuja, the minister said, the government was already handling the issue and that the long-term solution remains in the concession of the major airports for which government had already commenced the process.
Mr. Nair, however promised to transmit the Aviation Minister’s appeal and official commitment to address the issues to the Emirates Management for a possible reconsideration of the decision.