The Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON) have kicked against the recent commencement of an additional flight daily into Nigeria by Emirates Airline.
They said this came few weeks after Nigerian carrier, Air Peace, began flight on the lucrative United Arab Emirates route.
AON Chairman, Capt. Nogie Meggisson, in a statement issued on Sunday in Lagos, said the extra allocation has increased Emirates flights to four daily into Nigeria through Lagos and Abuja.
Meggisson said: “It is very unfair for Emirates to be allowed such increase barely two weeks after the inauguration of flights on July 5 to Sharjah, United Arab Emirates by Air Peace, our very own Nigerian airline.
“The move effectively places our indigenous carriers at a massive disadvantage, the Nigerian economy and the jobs of our youths and huge capital flight.
“You will recall that AON had appealed that government must stand tall to play the role of aeropolitics to support Air Peace, otherwise it will end up the same way as others that went before it as they were unable to play in the wild and aggressive field of international aeropolitics.
“Emirates as of today, operates two daily flights out of Lagos and two daily flights out of Abuja. Etihad, from the same country, also operates daily flights out of Lagos as well.
“This translates to five flights daily and a total of 150 flights per month from UAE; as against a Nigerian carrier that only just started operating three flights weekly (12 flights monthly into UAE).”
According to him, this amounts to plundering of the Nigerian economy through capital flight and a huge loss of Nigerian jobs.
Meggisson said the AON was even more saddened that Air Peace, which was operating with almost 100 per cent Nigerian Pilots, Cabin Crew, Engineers and Dispatchers, was still waiting to be allocated a dedicated lounge or departure wing at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport.
He said other foreign airlines such as Emirates, British Airways, Lufthansa, Air France and others had heavily branded dedicated lounges in their respective countries as a way of support by their governments.
The AON Chairman recalled that the three major carriers in the United States (United, American and Delta) had cried out against the same open skies and anti-competitive behaviour of the gulf airlines.
Meggisson said following the complain, the President Donald Trump administration came up with a policy that ensured that the airlines from Emirati reduce their flights into the US by 30 per cent.
He said: “It is the role of government therefore to protect our very own Nigerian carriers and preserve the Nigerian economy and the jobs of our unemployed youths.
“The additional double daily flights given to Emirates, a highly subsidised airline, is not necessary at this time as statistics show that half of the flights out of Abuja are half empty.
“The Emirati airlines already have an unfair trade advantage of 150 flights monthly out of Nigeria; as against 12 monthly flights for Nigerian airlines.
“We will therefore like to use this medium to call on the government to review all existing Bilateral Air Services Agreements to readdress the unfair trade advantage given to foreign airlines against Nigerian airlines.”
Meggisson said this would go a long way to safeguard the Nigerian economy, preserve the livelihood of workers in the aviation sector, and create jobs for many unemployed youths.
He said it would also promote technology transfer and significantly reduce capital flight in line with the vision of the President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration.