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Nigeria rallies behind ICAO on single air travel market agenda


[FILES] Hadi Sirika. Photo/Twitter/FAAN_Official

The Federal Government, yesterday, rallied behind the international civil aviation community on the Single African Air Transport Market (SAATM) agenda for the continent.

The Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, at the 40th Assembly of the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) in Montreal, Canada, said the regional liberalisation efforts of African states could be used as incentives to achieve global free market access.

Recall that 29 out the 54 countries in Africa had earlier signed the SAATM pact, of which Nigeria is one. Lately, two more countries have joined, with another four to enter the pool by October.


Sirika said the liberalisation efforts in Africa had already been yielding benefits, including increased manual traffic and foreign airline traffic in the country.

“Nigeria has been a great supporter of liberalisation, and as a continued champion of liberalisation efforts in Africa through the implementation of the Yamoussoukro Decision (YD) and SAATM, I wish to call on ICAO to continue to support the regional liberalisation efforts of states as they could be used as incentives to achieve global multilateral achievement on liberalisation of market access.

“I am happy to inform you that Nigeria’s efforts at liberalisation have led to significant increase in the operations of foreign airlines utilisation so far. Our airports have in manual traffic growth of over eight per cent. Today, aviation in Nigeria is the second-fastest growing industry after water and we recorded 12.6 per cent growth this quarter,” Sirika said.

The minister also expressed Nigeria’s belief that successes in technological advancement should be complemented with the modernisation of global regulatory frameworks.

“We believe that successes in technological advancement should be complemented with the modernisation of global regulatory frameworks through the liberalisation of market access and convergence of regulatory approaches. This will maximise the social-economic benefits of air transport and enhance the comfort and convenience of consumers of our services.”

He further relayed the country’s resolve to be a hub stating that the country is enacting new strategies to make air transportation, “safer, more secure, more efficient and more environmentally friendly as well as ensure the growth and sustainability of aviation industry globally.”

He said: “With 200 million people and 923 766 sq km of landmass, our resolve is to make Nigeria the hub of west and central Africa region and make air travel the preferred mode of transportation. We are fully aware that achieving this will require a robust industry that is safe and secure and environmentally friendly with modern and adequate infrastructure.

“In the area of safety, Nigeria in the last three years has continued to work towards sustaining the successes achieved ICAO universal safety oversight programme and the FAA International aviation safety assessment category 1 rating through the strengthening of the Nigeria civil aviation authority to keep regulating aviation safety without political interference.”

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