President Bola Tinubu yesterday, directed the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, to create a platform for quarterly reconciliatory meetings with foreign airlines to address the backlog of trapped funds in excess of $600 million.
This came as leading aircraft manufacturer, Airbus Industrie, on the sidelines of the summit, predicted that Nigeria’s domestic air traffic was set to increase by five per cent annually for the next two decades
This is even as the International Air Transport Association, IATA, criticized Nigeria over multiple charges imposed on airlines operating in the country.
Minister of Aviation and Aerospace Development, Festus Keyamo, who disclosed news of the reconciliatory meeting yesterday at the ongoing African Aviation Summit in Abuja, noted that the development was one of the reasons President Tinubu travelled to the United Arab Emirates, UAE.
He also unveiled three roadmap projects, which include aerotropolis, aircraft leasing Company, ALC, and Maintenance Repair and Overhaul, MRO, facility, as well as five focus areas to realise the country’s vision of becoming an aviation hub in Africa.
The key areas listed include infrastructure upgrade, ALC, MRO facility and forex availability.
Keyamo said: “The recent global events further exposed the immense contribution and importance of air transportation as a catalyst for economic development, vital engine of global socio-economic growth, one of the greatest contributors to the advancement of modern society and a key instrument for achieving the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, SDGs.
“These underscore why the world was greatly impacted when international aviation was disrupted by the pandemic and other global occurrences. It is the vision of this current administration to make Nigeria the aviation hub of Africa.
“Government welcomes major players in aircraft leasing and head lessors to invest in Nigeria airlines to provide state of the art aircraft.
“The government will ensure the enforcement of contract agreements and the rights of investors and indeed all parties are protected and Nigeria being a signatory to the Cape Town Convention will uphold international obligations.
“This administration is committed to ensuring that forex is readily available to entrepreneurs, thus the president has directed that the CBN holds quarterly reconciliation meetings, with a view to resolving this issue.
“CBN is open to providing tax holidays to encourage existing and new entrants into the Nigerian aviation sector. I wish to reiterate that my administration, will continue to sustain the support being given to the industry.
‘MRO facility critical to govt vision on aviation’
“MRO facility is another critical aspect that can make the Nigerian aviation industry a hub on the continent. With the shortage of qualified engineers, the current administration is willing to provide all the necessary support for the establishment of world-class MROs and training organisations.
“On upgrading infrastructure, this includes upgrading of the Cat3 landing system, at major airports, construction of the second runway in Abuja, airport improvement programmes through concession and government willingness to partner with companies to turn major airports into Aerotropolis.
“On tax holidays, the current administration is open to providing tax holidays to encourage existing and new entrants into the Nigerian aviation sector.”
IATA criticizes Nigeria on charges imposed on airlines
Also, the International Air Transport Association, IATA, also criticized Nigeria over multiple charges imposed on airlines operating in the country and withholding of their dollar funds earned from operations.