The National Association of Aircraft Pilots and Engineers (NAAPE), has called on the federal government to take proactive steps to close the gap created by the exit of some foreign airlines.
has been advised to take advantage of foreign airlines pulling out of Nigeria.
The president of NAAPE Engr. Isaac Balami advised the government to empower domestic airlines to take over their slots.
He stated this while commenting on developments in the aviation sector recently, noting that more foreign airlines will also leave the Nigerian sky as a result of the biting economic situation.
Balami noted that it was the time to empower strong domestic airlines in the country to take over from these foreign airlines that have closed shop.
“I see it as an opportunity for our airlines to come up; let Arik, Medview and other airlines that want to fly international bring in powerful machines such as air buses to compete”.
“Airlines must take advantage of foreign airlines pulling out of the country to step up their game and government must encourage strong local airlines to take over their slots and before they come back we have already taken our shares. “
On the domination of the country’s aviation sector by expatriates, Engr. Balami tasked the government to enact laws that will secure the jobs of indigenous pilots and engineers.
According to the NAAPE president, there was the need for job protection and government should discourage foreigners from taking over the jobs local engineers and pilots can do.
Balami noted that the absence of maintain, repair and overhaul (MRO) facilities has negatively affected the operations of airlines in the country but expressed the hope that the Hangar in Uyo, built by the Akwa Ibom State government, will soon start operations as arrangement was in top gear to put it into use.
He explained that Nigerian engineers can now conduct A,C,D-Checks on aircraft in the country but lamented the absence of the facilities which has affected their operations and called on the government to support MRO.
While commending the government for duty free import on aircraft spare parts, Balami urged government to make the operating environment friendly to enable them function effectively.
On airline bail out, the NAAPE boss called on the government not to give money to airline operators but should make aircrafts available to them as lease. “Don’t give airlines money. If you want to help airlines, give them aircraft, lease planes to them to compete with other world airlines. Let the airlines have access to good aircraft, spare parts and let aviation fuel be made available because even if you give them fifty brand-new planes without aviation fuel price resolved, they will still go down.”
He called for the availability of aviation fuel for airlines adding that the harsh economic environment was greatly affecting the airlines.
“The environment is too hostile and government must look at the issue holistically. That is the best way.”
On training, Balami called on NCAT to step up its training of aviation professionals to ensure they are up to date.
He said the Nigerian College of Aviation Technology Zaria has been producing pilots and engineers without training them on other advanced courses such as type ratings, normally done within a period of time.