SEVERAL airlines have put in requests to increase the frequency of their flights to Nigeria in a bid to cash in on the potential of what could be a potentially lucrative market despite the current economic downturn the country is facing.
A few years ago, Nigeria was touted as the next big thing in the global aviation market but the collapse in oil prices and the scarcity of foreign exchange has slowed things down. This has led several airlines to reduce the number of their flights to Nigeria and others that were planning to expand into the market appear to have put their plans on the back burner.
Despite these setbacks, Nigeria appears to still be a lucrative market and yesterday, Senator Hadi Sirika, said that the government would give consideration to requests by serious foreign airlines for increased flight frequencies as long as the nation’s interests are not compromised. He added that the federal government has promised to improve the economic and operational viability of the nation’s designated international airports by creating an enabling environment for international airlines operating in Nigeria to use them.
Making these promises while receiving the Turkish ambassador to Nigeria, Hakan Cakil in his office, Senator Sirika said the nation’s relationship with foreign airlines would be based strictly on the Bilateral Air Services Agreements with the airlines” 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.
Mr Cakil told the minister that he visited to express his country’s gratitude for the excellent relationship between the two countries, especially in the aviation sector and to explore more areas of cooperation. He requested, on behalf of the Turkish Airlines for more frequencies in airline’s operations in Nigeria, saying that with the nation’s population and air traffic volume, the request can be granted for mutual benefits.
In a related development, the minister has promised to do whatever it takes to make domestic airlines more competitive with their foreign counterparts in the airlift of Nigerian Christian pilgrims. Reacting to a request by the executive secretary of the Nigerian Christian Pilgrims Commission, Dr Tor Uja during a courtesy visit, Senator Sirika said the primary purpose of the ministry was to promote the development of the sector and supporting local airlines to operate in the best possible environment.