‘How civil aviation board will end unfair competition in air travel’
The former Director of Operations, Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), Capt. Henry Omeogu, has urged the Federal Government to create a Civil Aviation Board (CAB) to tackle most of the challenges facing the Nigerian aviation industry, especially unfair competition.
Omeogu, at the recent LAAC conference in Lagos, blamed unfavourable implementation of the Bilateral Air Service Agreement (BASA) in Nigeria to the absence of a CAB in the system.
He recalled that an attempt was made at correcting this anomaly when he served as the Deputy Director, Air Transport in the Ministry of Aviation between 1996 and1998, and also chaired the sub-committee on airline development in Nigeria.
The recommendations of the committee led to the creation of two new directorates to tackle the issues of safety regulations and economic regulations.
They are the Directorate of Safety Regulations and Monitoring (DESRAM), which metamorphosed into the current Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), and the Directorate of Economic Regulations and Monitoring (DERAM), The later, he said, was meant to become the CAB.
Omeogu added that the essence of CAB was to tackle economic issues that affect the airlines, among which was BASA.
“But because of pecuniary and selfish interests that rob the nation through BASA, the creation of CAB never saw the light of the day as it is still domiciled in the Ministry, thereby stunting the growth of airlines in Nigeria,” he said.
He mentioned the United States, United Kingdom and other developed countries with Civil Aviation Boards, stressing that it is the department that is responsible for the negotiation of BASA arrangements with other countries and not the ministry or ministers as is done in the Nigeria.
“This will eliminate what I call avio-politics that is now manifesting. The CAB will fight against policies such as unfair pricing, which most foreign airlines in connivance with their governments use to drive our airlines out of business.
“Our government cannot help because of avio-politics. That is why airlines like Air Peace is lamenting. A CAB with technocrats will deal with the issues,” he said.
President of the Aviation Safety Round Table Initiative (ASRTI), Dr. Gbenga Olowo, had expressed similar concern when he faulted the negotiation process of the BASA pacts.
Olowo noted that in other climes, governments are often represented by core businessmen and operators that can negotiate the best favourable deals.
He said the era of civil servants, with no stake whatsoever, negotiating deals for their selfish and not national interest must come to an end.