The Federal Government of Nigeria on Wednesday approved the ratification of air transport agreement between the country and the United States of America.
The approval of the air transport agreement is seen as part of efforts to strengthen air transportation between Nigeria and the United States.
Nigeria’s Bilateral Air Service Agreements (BASAs) with other countries around the world is currently estimated at 92, just as there are indications that many of Nigeria’s 36 state governments are mounting pressure on the Federal Government to bring in foreign airlines into their states.
The agreement is also expected to further boost commercial cargo flights which are usually filled with goods when travellers fly from the US to Nigeria
Statistics also show that such flights are near-empty from Nigeria to the US.
But the agreement is also said to have strong potentials to boost commercial cargo flights from Nigeria to the U.S. from the opportunities provided by the African Growth Opportunity Act (AGOA) of 2000.
AGOA analyses show that airport renovations and expansions allow increased cargo capacity and trade. Airport renovations underway in Nigeria should benefit passengers and traders alike.
Nigeria’s Information and Culture Minister, Lai Mohammed, while briefing State House Correspondents after the weekly meeting of the Federal Executive Council presided over by President Muhammadu Buhari, on Wednesday, disclosed that FEC approved the ratification of the agreements.
The Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, who presented the memo to FEC said many of BASAs had been reviewed to create opportunities for domestic carriers.
He, however, noted that the opportunities remained largely unutilized at about 10 percent due to limited capacity.
The Federal Government earlier signed air agreements with Algeria, Congo, China, Qatar, and Singapore.
A BASA is an air transport agreement between two countries and it liberalises commercial civil aviation services between the concerned nations by allowing designated airlines to operate commercial flights, covering transportation of passengers and cargoes.
Stakeholders in the air transportation industry had however lamented that most air agreements between Nigeria and other countries have been one-sided as Nigerian airlines have been unable to reciprocate the agreements.
But the minister said both United States and Nigeria are parties to the Chicago convention on the 7, December 1994.
“You will recall that both the United States and Nigeria are parties to the Chicago convention on the 7, December 1994.
Article 6 of the convention actually urge parties to sign air services agreement with member states to improve social, political, and economic ties.
Already, the US government is said to have earlier signed its own side of the agreement
“Mr President and Council graciously accepted today to also ratify this approval, so as of today as soon as Mr President signed valid agreement of Air transport service between Nigeria and the US with the attendant benefits for both countries, especially as Nigeria is working towards having its own full national airline.
He expressed hope that Nigerians will now take advantage of these air services and transport by this bilateral agreement to strengthen economic, social and cultural ties between the two countries.