Minister of State for Aviation, Sen. Hadi Sirika, says the Federal Government will improve the economic and operational viability of the nation’s international airports to encourage the international airlines.
This is contained in a statement by Mr James Odaudu, Deputy Director, Press and Public Affairs, Office of the Minister of State, Aviation, Ministry of Transportation, in Abuja on Sunday.
Sirika made the promises while receiving the Turkish Ambassador to Nigeria, Hakan Cakil in his office.
He promised that government would give consideration to requests by serious foreign airlines for increased flight frequencies as long as the nation’s interests were not compromised.
According to him, the nation’s relationship with foreign airlines will be based strictly on the Bilateral Air Services Agreements with the Airline’s home governments.
He informed the ambassador of government’s determination to revamp the aviation sector through the concessioning of its airports, beginning with “the big four” in Lagos, Abuja, Kano and Port Harcourt.
“The concession, he said, was to address issues of infrastructure, and ensure world class maintenance.
He commended the cordial relationship that exists between Nigeria and Turkey, and condemned the recent coup attempt in Turkey, describing it as undesirable and anti-development.
The Turkish Ambassador told the minister that he was in the ministry to express his country’s gratitude for the excellent relationship between the two countries in aviation sector.
Cakil on behalf Turkish Airlines requested for more frequencies in airline’s operations in Nigeria considering its population and air traffic volume.
He also commended the Nigerian government for the show of support for his country during its trying periods, especially the recent attempt by subversive elements to derail the course of democratic governance.
In another development, the has promised to do whatever it takes to make domestic airlines more competitive with their foreign counterparts in the airlift of Nigerian Christian pilgrims.
Sirika made the promise when he reacted to a request by the Executive Secretary of the Nigerian Christian Pilgrims Commission, Dr Tor Uja, during a courtesy visit.
He said “the primary purpose of the ministry is to promote the development of the sector and supporting local airlines to operate in the best possible environment.”
He also promised to objectively look into the request for reduction of charges at the airport with a view to seeing how those charges could be adjusted to assist pilgrimage operations.
According to him, Nigeria is blessed to be one of the leading religious countries in the world.
He promised to visit the NCPC to see how his ministry could complement its operations.
Earlier, Uja called on the Federal Government to give adequate support to the local airlines to enable it compete with its foreign counterparts in the airlift of Nigerian Christian pilgrims.
Uja said that the situation where foreign airlines account for almost 100 per cent of pilgrimage operations did not portray the nation well.
“The foreign airlines determine the pricing and operational modalities and we are helpless because the local airlines are not strong enough to compete with them,” he said.
The executive secretary also pleaded with the minister to look at how it could address the challenges of high charges that had skyrocketed the overall cost of performing the pilgrimage.
He suggested a reduction of those charge by the Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority and other agencies by at least 50 per cent.
Uja commended the minister for his commitment to developing the nation’s aviation industry and urged him to be the first Minister of Aviation to visit the commission to see how it operates.