PRESIDENT Muhammadu Buhari has ratified Nigeria’s Bilateral Air Services Agreement (Basa) with four partnering nations in the aviation industry aimed at opening up their airspace to Nigerian carriers.
Since assuming office, the government has entered into Basa agreements with the US, India, Morocco and Rwanda and today, President Buhari signed these deals into law. They are designed to create a window for Nigeria to draw benefits from Basa, which over the years, has been lopsided due to inadequate capacity by indigenous Nigerian carriers.
Under the new arrangement, domestic Nigerian carriers are hoping to actualise some sort of reciprocity on the listed routes. Allen Onyema, the chairman of Air Peace, who applauded President Buhari’s decision to ratify the agreements, said that up until now, only few indigenous carriers were able to operate on inter-continental routes, making Basa deals one-sided.
Other local operators also commended the government on the development, describing it as a good window for indigenous airlines to demonstrate their capacity. Mr Onyema described the signing of the agreements as another testimony of the commitment of the government to the growth of the domestic aviation industry.
He emphasised that the determination of the government to raise the local bar was deep, stressing that the era of lopsidedness against Nigeria in international aviation was over. With these agreements, he said the federal government had challenged indigenous operators to build capacity and remain competitive in the global air space, adding that this would lead to increased job opportunities and ancillary benefits to the domestic economy.
Mr Onyema added: “This couldn’t have happened at a better time than now that the domestic industry requires all the support to stay afloat. It is most commendable and I promise Mr President that the gains thereof shall be fully harnessed.
“His determination to raise the local bar is palpable. I can say for sure that the era of lop-sidedness against Nigeria in international aviation is over.
“What Mr. President has done is a call for local operators to build capacity and remain competitive in the global air space. This shall increase job opportunities and ancillary benefits to the domestic economy and I thank you Mr President for this patriotic master stroke.”
Last weekend, Air Peace took delivery of a new ERJ-145 aircraft to help boost its domestic and regional operations. Air Peace spokesman Stanley Olisa, said reiterated the airline’s commitment to ease the burden of travel in Nigeria and beyond, adding that Air Peace now boasts of 26 aircraft in its fleet.
He added: We’re also gearing up to receive two brand new 124-seat capacity Embraer 195-E2 jets this October, the first set of the 13 we had ordered, with purchase rights for 17 more.” In addition, Mr Olisa affirmed Air Peace’s ambition to connect various cities in the country and added that the flying public should expect more domestic and international routes to be launched, including Johannesburg, London, Houston, Guangzhou, Mumbai and others.