Tuesday 16 October 2012

Unions Hail Zero-Tariffs on Aircraft Importation.

By Lateef Lawal

The Air Transport Services Senior Staff Association of Nigeria [ATSSSAN] and the National Union of Air Transport Employees [NUATE] have commended the government on the zero per-cent tariff on aircraft and spare parts importation announced by President Jonathan in his budget presentation to the National Assembly. Comrade Benjamin Okewu, National President of [ATSSSAN] while praising President Jonathan for the waivers on aircraft and spare parts importation said, it has provided a golden opportunity for airline operators in the country to bring in aircraft that can stand the test of time.

Comrade Okewu said, it was also an opportunity for the operators to re-fleet their aircraft and cut down their  fares, pull resources together and source for one digit loan from the international financial organizations to bring in economical machines that will enhance the air transport system in the country. 
“For airline operators especially those that are still in operation should capitalize on this noble opportunity to re fleet their aircraft. In doing that, they must take into consideration the routes that they are flying. The route must determine the type of the aircraft to be brought in”  Okewu noted that, tariffs has been the major constraints
on the parts of the airline operators especially in the last five years when it became very obvious that local airlines were on the verge of going down as a result of high tariffs on parts which led to calls by the unions to grant  waivers to the aviation sector.

The ATSSSAN boss lamented, that cartel has hijacked the oil sector making it very difficult to have JET A1 refined in the country at the detriment of the airlines adding that, aviation fuel accounted for about forty percent of the running cost of an airline. He called for the building of dedicated refineries for JET A1 as aviation has continued to play a vital role in driving the economy.
”As a stop gap measure, government should instruct the NNPC to specifically produce the required quantity that were needed in the country”
On the approved construction of five new international airports by the federal government, Comrade Okewu was optimistic that, the long awaited plans agitated for have gradually started taking off describing it as a good omen.
Comrade Mohammed Safiyanu, national president of NUATE in his reaction to the removal of tariffs on aircraft and spare parts importation, said the union and the Airlines Operators of Nigeria [AON] have long agitated
for this removal.

According to Safiyanu, airline operators have argued that the cost of importation of aircraft and its parts have been responsible for the high cost of fares adding that the zero tariffs will go a long way in crashing air fares on the domestic routes. The NUATE president however called on the government to look into the possibility of refining petroleum products in the country especially the JET A1 in order to bring the down the airfares in the country.
“We saying that all the refineries must be made to work and refine these products in the country especially JET A1. This will make more people to fly instead of going by road” Comrade Safiyanu said.

On the five new airports approved for construction by the government, the union leader said it was a good development if only the existing ones can be maintained along with the construction of the new
international ones. Comrade Safiyanu advised that work on going at the old airports should not be abandoned while constructing the new terminals and expressed the hope that there was hope for the country’s aviation sector.

Courtesy: Nigerian Aviation News.


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