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National Carrier: Coalition Faults Choice of Virgin

Posted by By Ndubuisi Francis on 2004/09/12 | Views: 1003 |

National Carrier: Coalition Faults Choice of Virgin


A coalition of aviation industry groups, unions and civil society organisations has condemned the Federal Government's choice of Virgin Nigeria as the new national flag carrier. It also called for an urgent review in the overall national interest.

A coalition of aviation industry groups, unions and civil society organisations has condemned the Federal Government's choice of Virgin Nigeria as the new national flag carrier. It also called for an urgent review in the overall national interest.

The coalition made up of representatives of Air Transport Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (ATSSAN), National Union of Air Transport Employees (NUATE), National Association of Aircraft Pilots and Engineers (NAAPE), Aviation Round Table (ART), Socio-Economic Rights Initiative (SERI) and the Nigerian Aviation Safety Initiative (NASI), after a meeting at the Nigeria Airways Training School in Lagos criticised the process heralding

the choice of Virgin as lacking in fairplay, due process and transparency.

The coalition noted that after a critical review of the Federal Executive Council (FEC)'s decision, it outrightly rejected the choice of the new carrier being mid-wifed by government as "portending grave danger to the development of the nation's aviation industry and compromising national interest and integrity."

The group said it is highly critical of "the double standards exhibited by the Federal Ministry of Aviation in favour of Virgin and consequently called on it to hands off the privatisation process of Nigerian Airways in the overail interest of the nation and in accordance with the rule of law."

According to the coalition, to ensure a greater participation by indigenous carriers, stem the worrisome tide of capital flight and in the true spirit of competition and fairplay, it is in support of putting up for bid, the entire Bilateral Air Services Agreement (BASA) routes which had hitherto been developed and held in trust by Nigeria Airways.

"This, we note has the capacity to aid in the rapid acceleration of the development of the industry. Such bidding should be under the auspices of the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE). As a precondition, only indigenous domestic airlines that have been in business for more than three years should take part in the bidding process.

"Such carriers may also be encouraged to source for foreign partners whose equity participation in the joint venture shall be limited to no more than forty percent (40%)", it said.

The coalition noted "with extreme concern the proposed take-off date of the new carrier, Virgin-Nigeria even when the company is yet to be incorporated, furthermore we are equally apprehensive of the claims by the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) that it has since two months now been processing the tir Operator's Certificate (AOC) for an obvious yet to be incorporated company."

"We condemn in very strong terms the claims from the NCAA, reminiscent of the ignoble role played by the same authority during the Air Nigeria saga when it claimed a "Display AOC" had been issued to the still-birth airline," it stated.

The coalition also expressed concern on "the prejudice and apparent insincerity on the part of Mr. Ade Babington Ashaye, the government appointed liquidator and clear disregard for the due process of law and an openly exhibited anti-labour, anti-workers stance inimical to a successful liquidation of Nigeria Airways Limited (NAL)".

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