The CEO of IRS Airlines, Alhaji Isiyaku Rabiu, has urged Nigerian airlines to make the most out of the full implementation of the Single African Air Transport Market (SAATM), stating that despite the growing pains, the landmark policy would be a boon for domestic carriers.
However, Rabiu inserted that in order for Nigeria to really take advantage of the accord, the federal government has to review the taxes and charges that are being levied on Nigerian carriers so that they would be able to contend with other airlines that are operating in the region.
“Nigerian airlines are very over-taxed, we have so many taxes and so many overheads, fuel has not been consistent, there is VAT, there is charges paid to the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA), the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) and others.
“We will save a lot of foreign exchange that we are paying to the foreign airlines if we encourage our airlines to take advantage of SAATM. We’ll build capacity, provide employment for the Nigerians in the aviation sector and our economy will thrive and grow even more,” said the IRS Airlines boss.
Rabiu also had this to say about the SAATM:
“The Airline Operators of Nigeria has been complaining but this is something that has been done a long time ago since the Yamoussoukro agreement, the only thing I would say is for us to try to work harder, to try to make sure we infiltrate the market and for our government to give us the support we need.”
Rabiu remarked that anything that bolsters competition and gives consumers more options is a welcome development.
He remarked that aviation is a tricky difficult business but Air Peace has been reliable in terms of keeping time, of linking various destinations in the country and that is exactly what consumers need “because it unites our people, it gives them a sense of purpose and a sense of belonging and therefore, it is a welcome development.”
“You know for passenger and for everybody, the first thing is safety and Air Peace has a very good record on that and that is important. And secondly, it is reliability when you sell a ticket to a passenger on a certain day, make sure you’re there, and make sure you keep that time.
“Thirdly, courtesy and in-flight service and Air Peace has been known to do that too. It is a very difficult environment but customers want safety, reliability and quality service and Kano is a big station and we need more airlines because it gives passengers the choices in terms of fairs and time to their destination,” Rabiu stated.