The Rector of International Aviation College, Ilorin and former acting Director General of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), Benedict Adeyileka has said two key ways the federal government can revamp the aviation industry are to overhaul the policies that guide the sector and to ensure the implementation of those policies.
Adeyileka in an interview with THISDAY said the Bilateral Air Service Agreements (BASA) and other policies formulated in the past seemed to have given foreign airlines advantage in their operations into the country, adding that recently policies introduced by government under the current administration are beginning to protect domestic airlines.
He therefore urged government to overhaul the old, existing policies to further protect domestic operators in order to help the industry grow and create more jobs for the citizens.
“Policy is very important in moving the aviation industry forward. The Minister of Aviation and the Director-General of NCAA have the power to overhaul policy regulations. We had policy formulation on cabotage, empowerment of Nigerian airlines and General Aviation among others, but as far as I am concerned, there were good policies we had in 2012 or 2013.
“I remember I had to go and defend some of those policies in public hearing at the National Assembly when I was acting Director General of NCAA. There are lots of policies we can put in place to encourage the local carriers,” he said.
Adeyileka who is aircraft engineer said Nigerian carriers are not supposed to pay duties on aircraft spares, saying that if there is a standing policy on that, the Minister of Aviation would not be reverting to Customs every year to renew waivers on tariffs on aircraft and spares importation.
“For instance, this issue of duties paid by airline operators, from time immemorial in United Kingdom, they don’t have that for spare parts for airline operators, they give you what we call end user number, which is to ensure that the spare parts you are bringing in, you are to use it on your aircraft and not to resell it to another operator.
“The customs in that country will check the spare part critically, look into your record in order to verify that the parts are installed in the right aircraft you claimed you wanted to use them for. The duty is granted to airline with valid Air Operators’ Certificate (AOC) only,” Adeyileka also said.
On the effect of coronavirus on the aviation industry, he said that concerned authorities in the industry should be more flexible with COVID-19 protocol in order to encourage more people to fly, especially on international destinations.
“There are some countries that do not require Covid-19 test as condition to come to their country, so authorities at the airports should not insist that passengers should have the test before travelling to those destinations.
“For you to go to the UK you don’t need to do this Covid-19 test, they have their own procedures. I am not saying that is right. When you put something in place, it has to be user-friendly. When we travelled to Brazil, we did Covid-19 test. They didn’t ask us for it when we got to the country. We don’t have to go through the rigorous experience we went through in Nigeria.
“Go to Turkey, you will get your Covid-19 test done at the airport and result out within two hours. You don’t even need to wait for your result, you will get it on your phone, but coming to Nigeria, it is a tough one. Though, the government wants to ensure that we are 100 per cent safe, but when you tighten the regulation too much, you are also encouraging backdoor approach,” the Rector said.