‘Nigeria spends N722bn on technical expertise importation’

The headquarters of Nigeria's Zenith bank is seen in the Victoria Island district of Lagos July 29, 2016. REUTERS/Akintunde Akinleye

The Managing Director of Air Peace Limited, Mr. Allen Onyema, has said that the aviation industry loses over N722.8bn ($2bn) annually to import technical expertise.
Onyema said the development was one of the factors weakening the naira and adversely affecting the economy as it was making a high demand on foreign exchange.
“The aviation industry spends over $2bn annually in terms of revenues earned by foreign airlines and funds expended by domestic airlines for aircraft maintenance, spares and emoluments for expatriate workforce,” he said.
He added that the failure of the country to repatriate the airlines’ funds because of the economic recession in 2016 and 2017 should be a reminder that the country needed to evolve ways to reduce the money being repatriated by empowering local airlines to operate international routes and to facilitate the establishment of major maintenance, overhaul and repair facility in the country.
He said, “While Nigeria has a huge population of travellers, the country imports every aircraft spare, imports aviation fuel and imports technical personnel, and all these mount pressure on the naira.
“Airlines are diplomatic tools, which countries use to not only project their image in the international community but leverage to develop and grow their economy and because of this, every country protects its airline industry from being ravaged by foreign competitors.”
He said the government should note that every decision taken would impact on the nation’s economy.
“They should take it as a point of duty to eliminate the exploitation of Nigerian passengers by foreign airlines through exorbitant fares by supporting domestic airlines to join the international and regional market,” he said.
According to Onyema, the opportunities given to foreign airlines by the government to operate multiple routes in the country will stifle domestic operators.
Meanwhile the airline said it recently issued hundreds of free economy and business class tickets to its customers under its Frequent Flyer Programme tagged “Peace Advantage.”
The Corporate Communications Manager, Chris Iwarah, said in a statement that in a message to over 500 new beneficiaries by the carrier’s Loyalty Support Team, the airline said the free tickets were its way of rewarding them for keeping faith with it.
He said the airline would continue to show gratitude for the loyalty of its customers through different reward schemes.

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