By Chinedu Eze
Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON) on Tuesday kicked against the plan to deregulate the African airspace as an endorsement of Yamoussoukro Decision, which was agreed on by African states in Yamoussoukro, Cote’Ivoire in 1988.
The open sky for Africa allows easy entry and exit of African airlines to the airspace of each country without immigration hindrances in order to enhance connectivity and trade among African nations, but since the policy was ratified in 1999, it has not been fully embraced by African states.
Nigerian airlines, which rejected the policy, said they were not carried along in the discussions leading to the endorsement of the implementation of the policy and alleged that if embraced, it would shortchange the industry.
The airlines also argued that there is no level playing field where Nigeria can compete with other African carriers, which still enjoy some protectionism, lower interest rate on loans and waivers on import duty for aircraft and spares.
Speaking during a sensitisation workshop on the implementation of Single Africa Air Transport Market (SAATM), the President of AON, Captain Nogie Meggison, said before taking decisions, Nigeria’s technical team should have been carried along so they so that they could deliberate on how the policies would benefit Nigeria.
“We must put Nigeria first. If we open the skies, what advantages does Nigeria stand to gain? The domestic airlines are not comfortable with the policy. Do we have visas to travel around Africa before we open the skies? Are the taxes in Nigeria and that of other countries uniform?” Meggison queried.