Worried by the departure of some foreign airlines operating in Nigeria, the Senate said it had concluded plans to summon the Aviation Minister, Senator Hadi Sirika, with a view to finding lasting solutions to the problems of the aviation sector.
Chairman, Senate Committee on Aviation, Senator Adamu Aliero, who disclosed this to journalists at the maiden meeting between the committee and various aviation agencies held at the National Assembly complex, Abuja, yesterday, said the shortage of aviation fuel was a problem that only the Federal Government could solve.
He also stated that for the aviation industry to thrive, there was the need to unbundle the sector, adding that doing so, would shore up its revenue profile.
Aliero said: “From what the committee was made to understand, the most major problem faced by foreign airlines is aviation fuel which is a major problem in Nigeria. In spite of the country being an oil-producing one, it is embarrassing that airlines get their products from neighbouring countries.
“As regards repatriation of funds, it is more of a constitutional problem. We will look at ways of fine-tuning the constitution so as to make it possible for airlines to remit funds owed government.
“There is also the need to unbundle the aviation sector. We are of the opinion that if this is done, the operations of the sector will be liberalised and that will go a long way to boosting revenue generation. So, these are the issues, and since these problems exist, we will invite the aviation minister so we can find lasting solutions to them.”
Earlier, a member of the committee, Senator Ibn Na’Allah, who also called for the unbundling of the aviation sector, said the challenges presently faced by the aviation sector make it imperative for relevant agencies to re-evaluate their policies going forward.
According to him, pilots and aeronautical engineers trained in the country are unfit for employment as a result of the unavailability of aircraft needed to practicalise acquired knowledge.
Also speaking on challenges in the sector, Femi Ogunode, who represented the Managing Director of the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), lamented the reduction in passenger traffic.
On his part, Managing Director of the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA), Mr. Emma Anasi, said that airlines operating in Nigeria were unable to repatriate the stipulated five per cent due to the Federal Government owing to unavailability of foreign exchange.
He added that though the airlines had insisted on making payment in naira equivalent, constitutional provisions prevented the agency from accepting their request.
He, therefore, called on the National Assembly to intervene by amending the relevant laws in this regard.