Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Minister of Aviation denies banning foreign airlines from Abuja, Kano airports

The Minister of Aviation, Princess Stella Oduah, has denied reports that she stopped some foreign carriers, among them Emirates, Etihad and Turkish airlines, from flying into Abuja and Kano airports.

She explained that Emirate did not seek permission to operate into the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja, or the Mallam Aminu Kano International Airport, Kano.

In a statement yesterday, her Special Assistant on Media, Joe Obi, said none of the airlines was denied entry or forced to operate at the Enugu International Airport.

The statement reads : “Our attention has been drawn to publications in some sections of the media to the effect that Aviation Minister, Princess Stella Adaeze- Oduah, ordered that some foreign airlines, particularly Emirates, Etihad and Turkish airlines be stopped, or prevented from operating into the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja and the Mallam Aminu Kano International Airport, Kano.

“There is no truth whatsoever to these publications as the Minister had at no time even attempted to prevent the said airlines from operating into the said destinations. To the contrary, the minister has been an advocate of allowing all the international airports in the country to operate direct international flights.”

She said Emirates Airline has never applied for any permit to operate into either Abuja or Kano international airports, adding that anyone, including the airline concerned with contrary documents, should make such available to the public.

Oduah also explained that Etihad was supposed to have started operations from Abuja in line with an old Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed in 2003, but added that the UAE has refused to do so. Rather, it insisted on starting from Lagos, thereby necessitating an amendment of the MoU this year to accommodate their desire.

However, the statement said she has approved that Turkish Airline operates into Abuja and Kano airports, adding that there are efforts to ensure that KLM starts its operation into the Kano airport where it had earlier stopped functioning.

Meanwhile, she has directed all aviation agencies to automate their revenue collection.

Oduah listed the affected agencies to include Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA) and the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA).

She said: “Before now, all revenues were collected manually, leading to huge losses as a result of the leakages inherent in the manual procedure. FirstBank of Nigeria Plc, working with experts and professional bodies, such as IATA, SITA, and Avitech, a software provider, among others, is to lead the collection process.

Avitech, which has a tripartite agreement with NCAA, the airline operators and their banks, is to provide the automation platform. It has been working with NCAA since December 2010.”

Heads of the agencies have expressed satisfaction with the new initiative, saying it would enhance their revenue profile. NCAA Director-General, Dr. Harold Demuren, said: ‘’The manual process of revenue collection was fraught with a lot of challenges. Apart from the leakages, the agencies were being owed heavily by the airlines and other bodies we were providing service for. So, we are very pleased with the new development because every agency will now have its share of revenue deducted and remitted to it at source and automatically.

“Moreover, there is an automated window where every agency can view every transaction. The system is very transparent and efficient. Aviation agencies had literally been using baskets to fetch water and you know what you get when you use baskets to fetch water. The system was fraught with too much leakages. Fortunately, that era is behind us now’’.


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