Nigeria needs to invoke the reciprocity clause if it wants indigenous airlines to keep to the bilateral agreements it had signed with over 75 nations, assessed Medview Airlines Managing Director Muneer Bankole.
Not doing so would leave countries, whose airlines are enjoying flight frequencies to Nigeria, to erect barriers in the way of indigenous carriers that are assigned to fly to them. Bankole spoke of means that these countries have formulated to prevent airlines from flying into their country.
These include denying Nigerian carriers entitled to operate into such countries of airport slots and frequencies at major airport terminals.
Bankole argued that until the government took a hard stance, the dream of domestic carriers to actualize their designation on some international routes would remain unrealized.
Bankole mentioned the bitter experience of Medview Airlines in its proposal to fly into the Dubai Airport. He related that the government of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) rebuffed the carrier approval to operate into Terminal 1 of Dubai Airport.
Suspecting that the UAE authorities were trying to shield their carriers, Bankole said they appealed the decision.
He narrated the airline wrote a petition to UAE officials, the Ministry of Aviation and the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) to express its unhappiness with the denial of airport approval.
The petition sought for explanations why Nigerian government would allow multiple entry rights to UAE carriers while local carriers were denied approval into Dubai.
”We took this matter up; wrote the Ministry and NCAA and the matter was looked into. We sought to know why governments of other countries will protect their airlines, and Medview Airlines is being denied the approval to operate into the terminal we desired in Dubai.
“Government directed NCAA to apply the reciprocity clause in our bilateral air services agreement with the UAE and for fear that their carriers may suffer similar fate in Nigeria, they granted Medview rights to operate into Dubai Airport terminal one.
“If Nigerian government had not taken such necessary steps, Medview Airlines would have been shut out. This is what indigenous carriers suffer in the hands of some countries, all in a bid to protect theirs.
“It is time Nigerian government stepped up efforts to protect her carriers.”
Bankole went on and said that Medview Airlines’ operations into Europe remains difficult, but added that it wouldn’t keep them from stepping up their game in the face of stiff competition.
“Though we were granted four weekly frequency into London, it has come with a lot of challenges. Though the big players are on that route, we will continue to step up our game to remain relevant on the route,” he said.
He said the airline had agreed tp an operational pact with Euro Atlantic, which would solidify efforts towards the airline flying into Lisbon and Portugal next year.
With regards to the airline’s expansion plans, Bankole stated: ”Very soon we will begin flights into Johannesburg in South Africa. We are also looking at our approval to consider flights very soon into either Baltimore, Washington and Houston in the United States.
“This month, Medview will begin flights into Abidjan, Conakry and Dakar. Our Freetown operations is already running, the whole idea is to integrate our routes in African countries.”