Lawmakers Say Astronomical Increase in Airfares Worrisome

Lawmakers Say Astronomical Increase in Airfares Worrisome

•Lament poor implementation of policies in aviation sector

Kasim Sumaina in Abuja

The National Assembly has said the astronomical increase in air fares in the country coupled with poor implementation of aviation policies were impeding the growth of the sector.

The Chairman, Senate Committee on Aviation, Biodun Olujimi, said this yesterday, during the second edition of Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) National Conference, with the theme: ‘Sustainability of the Aviation Industry in Nigeria,” held in Abuja.

Speaking on the sidelines of the opening ceremony of the four- day event, she said: “I think this is an opportunity for stakeholders to be able to address that, because the industry will suffer if there is this astronomical increase in air fares.

“Yes, there are reasons why air fares go up, but there is also a need for us to have a balance for many people to embrace the aviation industry and that is key to the development of the sector.”

The Chairperson, Senate Committee on Aviation, while highlighting the economic and international benefits of the aviation sector, urged the federal government to as a matter of urgency, halt further encroachment on airport facilities which according to her was having a negative toll on the growth of the sector.

Speaking on the frequent fuss between the federal government and the industrial unions, she described that as unnecessary and called on aggrieved parties to resolve their differences behind closed doors.

According to her, “Picketing is what I find very unnerving in all of this, because there should be a way whereby the NLC and workers’ associations can settle all their grievances without bringing it to the fore.

“And most of the issues that were put on the front burner were already settled and sealed by the various agencies. There was no reason to stop the aviation industry to put them in a very bad stand with their counterparts abroad by ensuring that people did the work of flight didn’t take off.

“I think the time is right for the NLC and the work unions to know that there are certain industries where picketing cannot be allowed and aviation is one.

“The aviation industry, as you know, comprises various activities that are strategic, not only for its potential for economic growth but also its crucial role in international development and integration. The most important contribution aviation makes to the economy is through its impact on the performance of all our industries of our civilisation.”

She maintained that the aviation industry was part of the transport infrastructure on which many parts of, “our economy are dependent. It contributes to economic growth, it facilitates trade by providing consultations.

“However, the industry has been damaged in the recent past. Too many problems, some of them, of which I will highlight and I am praying that this gathering will look into it. One of them is picketing.

“Another is the constant demolitions and destruction around the airports. This is due to the fact that people are encroaching on the facilities in the airport. Government should be up and doing and make sure that encroachment is constantly looked at and stopped before it gets out of hand.

“It is time for NLC and the workforce to start setting the issues right and to ensure that when issues are resolved, they are resolved properly,”

On his part, the Managing Director, FAAN, Rabiu Hamisu Yadudu, said the conference was aimed at furthering partnership and sustainability, as part of efforts to mitigate challenges hampering the aviation sector.

Also speaking, the Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, represented by the Ministry’s Permanent Secretary, Dr. Emmanuel Meribole, maintained that under the Buhari-led administration, the Ministry has achieved remarkable growth in the aviation roadmap.

“Undoubtedly, we have met with lots of brick walls and bureaucratic bottlenecks, yet we forged ahead decisively and now all the components are at the finishing lines, the foundation having been solidly laid.

“This is evident in the numerous projects embarked upon; from several runway construction and rehabilitation projects to new international terminals completed and commissioned, world class safety and security equipment and facilities procured and deployed to our airports, recruitment, training, and capacity building for our staff, amongst numerous others”, he said.

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