National carrier will bring down price of air ticket in the country


Minister of Aviation, Hardi Sirika on Wednesday disclosed that the high air ticket price will come down when the Nigeria Air kick starts operation in December, 2022.

The Nigeria Air is the national carrier of which Ethiopian Airline has a major share in the business.

The Minister made this known while responding to concern raised by  Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON) at the end of an interactive session between the Minister, Senate Committee on Aviation and operators in the National Assembly.

He said the federal government has no intention of killing local airlines with the advent of Nigeria Air which Ethiopian Airline takes major share.

He said, “Well, as to what is the status of Nigeria Air? Nigeria Air is a company that is registered and known to the laws of Nigeria which will become by God’s grace the much-awaited airline. It is going to happen by the grace of God between now and December of this year.

“It will fly and also compete fairly with all of those existing airlines. The intent is not to kill any business.

“The intent is to help to promote all businesses to be able to provide the needed service and employ our people.

“This is the intent and the more the merrier. The more that you have people doing businesses, then the ones that do it better take the advantage and they give more service and the people get served better.

“Also, if everyone of them is doing very well without any favoritism, then it means that the competition will be healthy and will bring down the price of tickets and increase the propensity to fly and make more people to fly and then make more money for the airlines and give more service to the country Nigeria.

“And the fact that it is going to be a robust airline that is going to be established, that is going to have connections all over the world, it only means that the market of Nigeria which is 200 million people will begin to be the benefit of Nigerians, not to the benefit of British Airways, Lufthansa and Emirates airlines of this world that are coming to take the money of Nigeria away. So the intent is noble.

“The idea is a very good one. Whenever it will be established by the grace of God, it will be for the people.”

Speaking earlier, Chairman of the Committee, Senator Biodun Olujimi, said the essence of the parley was for the Minister to clear the air on the concerns raised by members of the Airlines Operators of Nigeria.

According to her, the AON wanted to know the implications of the Ethiopian Airlines partnership with the Nigeria Airlines Limited, especially how it would hamper the businesses of patriotic Nigerians who had invested massively in the sector.

She said, “Some Nigerians had invested their hard earned funds in aviation and they felt that they would lose out completely if the Nigerian Government decided to partner the Ethiopian Airlines with mouth watering incentives.”

In his presentation at the interactive session, Vice President, AON, who is also the Chairman/CEO of Air Peace, Allen Onyema, spoke on behalf of his other colleagues on the occasion.

He said what the Ethiopian Airlines had decided to do, is to enter into the Nigerian market and reduce its prices to the detriment of the local operators over a period of six months and take over 60 per cent of the market share.

He said, “It is our belief that the six months period would lead to the liquidations of several domestic carriers. The Ethiopian Airlines/Nigeria Airlines Limited partnership may appear good initially but in the long run, it would have ripple effects on the local airlines whose market would have been decimated.

“In no distant time, the local airlines would be out of the market, leaving only the Ethiopian Airlines and a few others flying the Nigerian space.

“This would skyrocket the prices of flights because the demands would be higher than supply.

“Already, domestic airlines in Nigeria had ordered for over 40 brand new aircraft. The effect of this is that all the Nigerian banks that had extended credits to the airlines would also be in trouble.

“Ethiopian Airlines wanted to be the National Flag Carrier while we have domestic airlines in Nigeria that are well equipped to fly international routes.

“Let us consider our own first because charity begins at home. Anything that would stand the test of time must start from home. Ethiopia does not have any agenda to grow Nigeria. They want to practice aviation colonization in Africa.

“If we allow them to come in on a silver platter, how do we now save our local airlines after they had been decimated by an airline owned 100 per cent by the Ethiopian government?

“It is a deliberate policy of the Ethiopian government to make the proposal because aviation is their major export. It is possible for the Mohammadu Buhari administration to leave a good legacy behind, not the one that would kill the local airlines in Nigeria.

“We are hereby appealing to the administration through the Minister of Aviation to have a rethink on the policy because it is not going to serve Nigeria any good.

“A strategic partner cannot be a competitor on the continent. Domestic airlines should be allowed to grow in order to develop.

“Already, Ethiopian Airlines is asking for a 15-year tax holiday when no Nigerian carrier has been given one year tax holiday. We could do better than what we are doing if we have such incentive.

“There are multiplicities of taxes and levies we are battling with in the industry that is crippling our operations and forcing the air fare to be skyrocketing on a daily basis.”

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