Welcoming United Nigeria Airline’s aircraft with water cannon at Akanu Ibiam International Airport, Enugu
The federal government has been called upon to as a matter of urgency, embark on a drastic adjustment in its foreign exchange allocation procedures to be made more flexible, prompt and business-like so as not to become an albatross to genuine and patriotic businesses in the country.
Owner of the latest entrant to air transport in Nigeria, United Nigeria Airline, Dr Obiora Okonkwo, made the appeal at the inaugural flight of the airline, Friday, 12sth February 2021.
The inaugural flight took off from terminal two, Murtala Muhammed Airport, MMA2, Lagos to Akanu Ibiam International Airport Enugu, en route Abuja, returned to Enugu and finally terminated in Lagos.
The Chairman/Chief Executive of the airline, Dr Okonkwo, expressed a strong view that since nearly every purchases and maintenance on the aircraft requires foreign exchange, United States Dollar, USD, and government policy forbid the collection of ticket sales in the dollar, the forth-nightly trading in forex could constitute a cog in the wheel of progress, especially in the travel business.
He appealed to the Central Bank of Nigeria, and the Federal Ministry of Finance to review the forex allocation policy and innovate by creating a special window for airlines operators to source their forex in a way that commensurates with the exigencies of their operations.
Dr Obiora Okonkwo further shed light that for aviation to thrive in Nigeria, a lot of issues especially “sourcing and processes of foreign exchange requires a special Window for the airlines because today, if the bidding process goes through the banks biweekly, that is every two weeks, and you are running an Airline, you have already spare parts to pick immediately and you wait for two weeks to go to the bidding and then you need $100,000, you get $10,000, you wait for another one month, it can’t work like that”
He said that by the structure of airlines operations, long wait for allocation of foreign exchange to fix immediate needs which could prevent passenger delay and even enhance safety could be inimical to business progress hence, the policy needs to be conscientiously be reviewed and make it much better.
United Nigeria Airline’s Chairman explained that no investor in the airline business would start without a business plan but people often forget that no matter how fantastic a business plan, government policy could mar the best of plans and could also largely aid business success.
Speaking on behalf of the Governor of Enugu State, Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, was the Deputy Chief of Staff, Government House, Enugu, Prof. Malachi Okwueze, who heartily congratulated Chairman and Management of United Nigeria Airline, for making Enugu its hub.
He pledged the assurances from the Governor and from the good people of Enugu state to provide unflinching support for the airline for making Akanu Ibiam International Airport its hub.
Also very enthusiastic about the airlines making Akanu Ibiam International Airport its hub, is the Airport Manager, Mrs Cecilia Oguama. She said United Nigeria will improve passenger and aircraft traffic to the airport.
She said pre-COVID-19, only one airline serviced the airport nay Enugu state and few adjoining states.
But presently she revealed four other airlines had started regular flights to the airport thus recording between 6000 and 7000 passengers weekly unlike 1000 passengers before the COVID-19 pandemic Pandemic began.
On the promised COVID-19 palliative by the federal government and the purported release of N5billion, Dr Okonkwo said he was yet to know of any aviation company that had accessed the fund.
He however argued that the entire palliative package by the federal government and the modus operandi for sharing should be revisited because when aircraft are packed expenses are also being incurred so being out of business for close to a year in aviation business, deserves meaningful intervention by government as its done by governments world over.Share