The National Association of Aircraft Pilots and Engineers (NAAPE), has called on the federal government to provide the needed incentives to domestic airlines to be able to grow the capacity to operate international destinations.
The president of NAAPE, Isaac Balami, who made the call on behalf of the association in Lagos, said there are indications that more foreign airlines may leave Nigeria owing to the economic downturn.
Balami said the departure of these foreign airlines should prompt government to take drastic action to empower Nigerian airlines to forestall the difficulties Nigerians will face when the foreign carriers leave.
“I see it as an opportunity for our airlines to come up so government should help Nigerian airlines to acquire more aircraft so that they will become competitive. Local airlines must take advantage of foreign airlines pulling out of the country to step up their game and government must encourage strong local airlines to take over their slots and before they come back we have already taken our shares,” Balami said.
On the domination of the country’s aviation sector by expatriates, Balami said the government must enact laws to protect indigenous pilots and engineers’ jobs by not allowing expatriates to take over their jobs.
Balami noted that the absence of maintain, repair and overhaul (MRO) facilities has negatively affected the operations of airlines in the country but expressed the hope that the maintenance hangar in Uyo, built by the Akwa Ibom state government, would soon start operation as arrangement was on top gear to put it into use.
He explained that Nigerian engineers can now carry out maintenance checks on aircraft in the country, from A to d checks. The NAAPE president expressed worry over the absence of the facility, which has affected their operations, and called on the government to support the establishment of MRO facility in the country.
Balami also urged the government to make the operating environment friendly to enable Nigerian carriers operate efficiently and profitably.