Do not kill domestic airlines, AON Chairman cautions agencies

The Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON) has called on the various aviation agencies to tread cautiously in their move to recover their debts from the domestic airlines.

According to Captain Nogie Meggison, Chairman, AON, the need to caution the service providers became pertinent as similar attitude had in the past run many of the airlines out of business.

“We strongly decry the ongoing action by the various government agencies in the aviation sector whereby they threaten to deny airlines services for their operations or completely ground them, as this is likely to force airlines out of business.

“Because of the economic hard times of today, airlines have become a soft target and are seen as a cash cow for everyone else to prey on easily. However, the agencies need to realise that air transport is the engine of the economy. Hence, if they disturb Nigerian airlines, they will damage the efforts of President Muhammadu Buhari to restore the economy.

“Without the airlines, there is no aviation in the first place. It is because of the airlines that airports are built and managed by FAAN. It is because of the airlines that an agency like the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA) exists to provide navigational services. The airlines also are the reason why we have catering companies, ground services providers, fuel marketers and other ancillary service providers in and around the airport,” Meggison said.

While accusing the government agencies of undermining and milking dry the airlines, the AON Chairman lamented how what he described as cruel hostility has stifled airlines in the past, and responsible for many of the airlines going out of business in the past 20 years.

Some of the airlines that have shut down include Triax, Sosoliso, Air Nigeria, Premium Air Shuttle, Gas, Okada, Sahara, Oriental, Chanchangi, Savanah, Harco, Harka, Holtrade, Intercontinental, Skyline, Easylink, Chrome Air, Fresh Air, ADC, EAS and Virgin Nigeria, among others.

According to Meggison, the current economic downturn being experienced in the country will cripple any airline that is expected to pay the already cancelled debts the agencies, particularly NAMA are asking for.

The domestic airlines therefore called on the agencies to forge a fair and realistic approach to address the matter.