Leadership (Abuja)

Nigeria: Senate Commends Arik Air, to Build Airlines' Capacity

The Senate Committee on Aviation said it plans to grow the capacity of indigenous airlines to position them to adequately compete with the mega carriers and stop them from reaping off Nigerian travellers.

The committee which on Thursday night took a facility tour of the Lagos Airport also visited Arik Air corporate to assess the operations of the airline and its facilities.

Senator Hope Uzodinma, Chairman of the committee stressed the need for Nigeria to develop local capacity in order to create jobs for Nigerians and reciprocate the Bilateral Air Services Agreement (BASA) between Nigeria and other countries.

He also emphasised that the visit would afford it the opportunity to close gaps between the operators and the government agencies in the sector, noting that both the operators and the agencies never see themselves as partners in the sector.

He said, "We've seen and inspected the facilities of Arik Air and they have explained and introduced themselves properly to us and from all indications, we've seen that Arik means business and one of the strategic importance of this visit is to again reassure the Nigerians out there that the Nigeria aviation system is working.

"One of the reasons for the high fares on London route is because there is no competition. I think deliberately, the British Airlines that are operating a duopoly between Virgin Atlantic and British Airways. The moment we consult properly with the federal ministry of aviation, I'm sure that airline like Arik and Aero must have that capacity to respond to the reciprocity of our BASA agreement and ensure that we have alternatives for Nigerians so that the market forces will be real and genuine.

The committee also accused British Airways and Virgin Atlantic Airways of entrenching air fare disparity in the region as passengers from Nigeria are forced to pay more on airfares contrary to what obtains in other countries in West Africa.

The committee stated these yesterday when it visited the facilities of Arik, IRS and Aero airlines in Lagos.

The Managing Director of Arik Air, Mr. Chris Ndulue, disclosed that aircraft in Nigeria are under-utilised due to the absence of critical components at the airports that would make them use the aircraft to full capacity.

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