By Chinedu Eze
Stakeholders in the aviation industry have said that for progress to be made in the sector there should be sincerity of purpose and integrity in the initiation and implementation of policies.
This was part of the resolutions in the communiqué issued at the end of the Aviation Transaction Integrity Summit organised at the weekend by Aviation Monitor Limited in Lagos, with the theme, ‘Enhancing Transaction Integrity In Nigeria’s Aviation Industry’.
In a keynote speech, Alhaji Adamu Abdullahi who represented the Minister of State, Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika and the Director General of Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), Captain Muhtar Usman, charged service providers and airlines to ensure there is sincerity of purpose and transparency in their operation.
He noted that the objective of embarking in any business is to make profit but in airline business, lives are involved, so without integrity these lives could be lost.
Speaking at the event, the Chief Executive Officer of Belujane Konzult Limited, Mr. Chris Aligbe stated that any policy formulated for the public good without consulting the public or stakeholders is not in the interest of the public.
Aligbe stressed the need for the NCAA to be fully involved in the process of airport concession if government actually had the intention to do so, adding, “NCAA staff should be trained on how to regulate airports under a concession arrangement before the concession exercise starts.”
In his contribution, the President of Association of Foreign Airlines Representatives of Nigeria (AFARN), Mr. Kingsley Nwokoma noted that stakeholders’ call for expansion of the apron at the Lagos international airport for over 20 years so as to have enough aircraft parking space, had not been yielded to but the former Director General of NCAA, Dr. Harold Demuren revealed that contract was awarded for expansion of the Murtala Muhammed International Airport apron while the contractor was paid, but that the job was never done.
“There is a need for constant engagement with stakeholders to enhance integrity in the industry. Also, we must do away with undue political interference and enthrone good corporate governance. Every stakeholder needs to exhibit integrity. Even passengers need to exhibit discipline and not abuse hotel privileges in cases of flights cancellations, where airlines have to book hotels for them,” he said.
Demuren, who moderated the panel session, further called for a change in approach to engagements between workers’ unions and organisations.
In his remark, the Chairman of National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF), Dr. Segun Musa appealed to aviation authorities to avoid offering of undue advantages to some operators in the cargo sub-sector, which he said, encourages deliberate breach of standards by others who feel there is no integrity in the system.
He queried the restriction of number of licensed ground handling companies in Nigeria to two, calling for a comprehensive transport policy in the country in order to address integrity issues.
“Working within the framework of the law is key. For instance, taking the 5 percent ticket sales that belongs to government agency and putting it in your business is bad practice. There is so much impunity in the system because of lack of integrity. So, attitudes to business must improve for industry to grow” said Mrs. Anastatia Gbem, Director of Legal Services, Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA).
Chairman of the occasion and President of Aviation Round Table, Mr. Gbenga Olowo submitted that to achieve integrity in the system, there was a need for an upward review of airline fares to a more appropriate fare, considering the rate of inflation over the years, which air fares had not responded to.
In his own submission at the panel, the Chairman of Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON), Capt. Nogie Megisson, who was represented by Mr. Ewos Iroro explained that there was no way the domestic airlines in Nigeria would survive with the existence of too many charges from both within and outside the sector, requesting that airlines should be involved in policy making processes from design point.
“Every minute an airline stays on ground is an additional cost. When one flight is delayed for 30 minutes, it affects the airline’s chain of operations at various locations. Yet, the airline cannot charge the passengers any extra cost,” he explained.