Nigeria /Qatar BASA: Good Politics But Bad Economics—–Demuren, Ex NCAA Boss
The former Director General of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority(NCAA),Dr Harold Demuren, has described the current Bilateral Air Service Agreement(BASA) signed by the Federal Government as good politics but bad economics.
He said this at the quarter one breakfast meeting with the topic “Nigeria Aviation Policy, NCAA Autonomy and Politics, Safety Regulation and Enforcement” organised by the Aviation Safety Round Table (ASRT) at GulfView Hotel and suites in Ikeja, Lagos.
Speaking on the recent BASA signed between Nigeria and Qatar, the former director general explained that though it was good politics for the federal government to have signed BASA with the state of Qatar but that it was bad economics.
Demuren added that Qatar has an airline; Qatar Airways, which currently has seven frequencies into Nigeria and that no Nigeria airlines fly to Doha, adding that now that there is a BASA with Nigeria, the airline will demand for more frequencies and more entry points into the country.
Nigeria, he said apart from not operating to Doha at the moment may not be able to reciprocate, adding that from these facts, it was clear the BASAs was already one sided.
He lamented that to make matters worse; those countries Nigeria have BASA’s with no longer pay royalties for flying into the country.
Demuren stated that presently Nigeria airlines cannot compete with Qatar Airways in terms of equipment, personnel, maintenance and in other areas.
According to him, “I am not saying that we should not sign BASA .What I am saying is that if we must sign BASA, we must know the content of the BASA we are signing.”
He said that in the past international airlines that operate into the country based on the BASA’s paid royalties and that that was how the government got some money in return for its investment, adding that presently these are airlines no longer pay royalties.
This, he stated had denied the Federal Government returns for its money.
In his words, “Government must get something back as return for its investments.”
On his part, the former Managing Director of Nigeria Airways, Mr Andrew Okunuga advised that Nigeria should not spend so much energy on frequency but what will favour Nigeria.
He stated that BASA should not be discussed in isolation, adding that BASA also include joint venture, code share among others, adding that what the Federal Government should do is to encourage Nigeria domestic airlines to make them international players in the aviation market.
Okunuga stated that Arik Air and Medview Airlines should have been present when the latest BASA with Qatar was signed and the Federal Ministry of Aviation.
On how to make domestic airlines survive, the former Nigeria Airways Managing Director, stated that the one man business mentality was not helping the operators, calling on them to come together so that they can grow.