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The Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika has again appealed to domestic carriers to shelve their strike action, stressing that the Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON) is purely private sector business, adding that they were reacting to market forces as a result of the rising cost of Jet A1 (Aviation fuel),
The Minister said some people were of the view and erroneous impression that the withdrawal was a kind of strike against the government. He however appealed for intervention to resolve the problem.
This is the second appeal from the Minister within 24 hours since the operators issued a notice of strike that is capable of grounding the aviation industry from Monday.
The Minister in a statement by his spokesman, Dr. James Odaudu said, “We wish to state that the decision of the association is purely a business one as they are private businesses reacting to market forces but appealing for interventions to enable them to carry on with their operations”.
Sirika disclosed that the Ministry had always made conscious efforts to assist members of the Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON), some of which includes facilitating a meeting between the Association and Mr. President, during which the Association got several concessions, including duty-free importation of aircraft, engines, spare parts and components.
The Minister further stated that at various times he personally took members of the association to engage with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to sort out issues of access to Foreign Exchange (FOREX) for their operations, and also the NNPC to exploit ways of ensuring the availability of Aviation fuel (JET A1) through importation or from the major Marketers.
He recalled that members of the association were also considered for, and given bail-out funds to the tune of N4 billion during the COVID-19 pandemic to ensure that they remained afloat. This, he said was without prejudice to the fact that most of them were heavily indebted to aviation agencies (as they still are).
“We believe that members of the association are patriots who have continued to bear the brunt of an unfavourable oil market for which we salute their doggedness.
“It is gratifying that members of the association have started reviewing the decision to withdraw flight services, with Ibom Air Green Africa Airlines, Arik Air, Dana, and others confirming that they will carry on with their normal flight schedules. We hope that other members will consider the expected impact on businesses and individuals and review their decision”.
“We also wish to assure foreign airlines operating in the country that all logistics and services for their operations remain in place as usual and that no disruptions whatsoever should be envisaged. As a government, we reiterate our commitment to the continued growth of the aviation industry where airlines and other service providers operate in a profitable and competitive environment”.Google+