Minister lists conditions to protect, support Nigerian airlines over BASA, others


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The Minister of Aviation and Aerospace Development, Mr. Festus Keyamo has given conditions for the review of the Bilateral Air Services Agreements (BASA) and the protection of Nigerian airlines.

Keyamo stated that he was prepared to assist the carriers in solving the myriads of problems bedeviling them, stressing that the airlines must show the capacity to live up to expectations and serve the Nigerian public well.

He noted that he has very idea where he wants to take the sector but said it all depends on the carriers to show responsibility and capacity to operate with the highest standards like it is obtained in many other parts of the world.

The Minister who spoke on the sidelines of his inspection of facilities at the Murtala Muhammed Airport, Lagos disclosed that stakeholders had been complaining about the BASA that is skewed in favour of foreign airlines because of the alleged unseriousness of the country’s carriers to reciprocate some of the air transport deals Nigeria has with many countries said to be over 90.

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His words, “People have been complaining about some of our BASAs and the airline operators said you can’t come under a BASA; a foreign airline, and be hopping from one city to the other within Nigeria picking passengers and it affects their local operations. I am prepared to protect the rights of local operators. In fact, it is one of my cardinal objectives because we have to develop the industry. We have to protect and support our local operators but they must give us comfort and give Nigerian people comfort too.”

“That is the problem. I have told them. You said that you are complaining about those BASAs, yes ok, yes I agree and I will look at them but can you for instance get into agreements with foreign airlines whereby you sign connectivity agreements with them, pick passengers from Kano, and connect them to Lagos and then they are waiting for you and you are delaying four hours.

“Can you do that? Can you give me that comfort before I can look at those BASAs or you? If they sign 30 Business Class for instance from Kano and connect through Abuja, can you give us the 30 Business Class in your aircraft? Give me that comfort and I will protect you. Tell the Nigerian people that you can perform. I am clear on where I am going. We are looking at all those issues before I come to a decision.”

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“On flight delay;  if I want to protect you, I want to protect you, what about the Nigerian people that you have put through a lot of pain through delays and cancellation of flights? What we have to do in provision of Jet A1 to be made available to them we will do our best to make sure that those things are available but you have to be responsible to the Nigerian people. At a point, I will tell them to let us draw the line.”

If you abuse the rights of passengers, you will pay. The regulations are there. We are not enforcing them as to when you cancel flights, or delay flights; you pay some compensation to passengers. Nobody is enforcing that. We will enforce those rules. This is a note to all of them. I have so many friends but in this job, they will see my red eyes. I have no friends. I am only responsible to the Nigerian people and absolute loyalty to Mr. President.”

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The Minister further disclosed that he had scheduled a meeting with the operators for next week with a view to helping them resolve issues affecting their operation.

“We will sit down with them and ask them what and what can we do to protect them but at the same time you have to give the best to Nigerians and we must hold you to the highest standards attainable all over the world. I want to fight and protect you, you must also raise your standards. It is as simple as that. They will see a vocal Aviation Minister. As they are talking, I am talking so that nobody will blackmail me. I will be clear as to my position. We are ready for this.”

Wole Shadare