MEMBERS of the Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON) have debunked claims that they are planning to cut back on safety measures in a bid to recoup the losses they are suffering as a result of reduced traffic due to the coronavirus pandemic.
As in every other nation worldwide, the Nigerian aviation sector is reeling under the effects of reduced patronage due to the effects of Covid-19. Apart from suffering from a drastic fall in passenger volumes, airlines are having to incur the costs of introducing new safety measures to combat the spread of the virus.
It had recently been reported that Nigerian airline operators are thus planning on cutting corners to recoup some of their losses. In a recent report published by Senator Smart Adeyemi, the chairman of the Senate Committee on Aviation, it was highlighted that airlines were likely to cut corners if the present economic situation continues without intervention funding from the federal government.
However, Abdumunaf Yunusa, the AON president, said: “The attention of AON has been drawn to the reports in certain news media, quoting a senator, saying that as a result of the financial problems brought to the airlines by the effects of Covid-19 and as a result of a lack of adequate government bailouts, that the airlines had resorted to cutting corners. AON wishes to state categorically here that there is no iota of truth in this statement.
“Nigerian airlines have not cut corners, do not cut corners and will never cut corners. We want to believe that the distinguished senator was misunderstood and quoted out of context because there is never any available fact supporting such a conclusion.
“It was equally reported in most media that the senator in asking that Nigerian airlines be supported with adequate bailout funding, warned that if this was not done, that some airlines may resort to cutting corners. We wish to state categorically that no Nigerian airline would cut corners under any circumstance.”
While presenting his report, Senator Adeyemi pleaded with the government to stop the Customs and Excise Department from re-introducing the payment of duties and value added tax (Vat) on the importation of commercial aircraft, spares and engines. He noted that the reintroduction was a flagrant disobedience to the executive order by President Muhammadu Buhari granting zero duty and zero Vat on the importation of commercial aircraft, spares and aircraft engines.
Mr Yunusa added: “Nigerian airlines will never compromise safety under any circumstance. If the burden of running our business becomes unbearable as a result of the Custom duties and Vat, we would rather shut down and suspend our operations rather than cut corners.
“Again, the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) is alive to its duties and would never allow such to happen. Nigerian airlines, as a result of the stringent safety regime being run by the NCAA, are the safest in the world.”