BusinessDay

International flights to resume at Enugu Airport Thursday

International flight operations will resume at the Akanu Ibiam Airport, Enugu on Thursday, July 29. Chairman, House Committee on Aviation, Nnolim Nnaji, who revealed this at the 25th annual conference of the League of Airport and Aviation Correspondents (LAAC), held in Lagos on Wednesday, July, 28, said all the necessary preparations have been made and the airport management was only waiting for the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) to sign off on it.

Following the suspension on international flights as a result of the Covid19 pandemic, operations have resumed in four airports; Murtala Muhammed Airport, Lagos, Aminu Kano, Kano, Nnamdi Azikiwe, airport, Abuja and Port Harcourt International Airport,.

However, Nnolim has said that preparations for resumption of flights has reached the point where it is expected that the Federal Government will officially announce the resumption of flights.

“We believe that international operations will resume at Enugu airport on July 29. It was waiting for the NCAA to sign off but we have already taken it to that point where we expect the Federal Government to announce the resumption of flights,” Nnolim said.

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Reacting to the decision of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to ban sales of forex to Bureau De Change (BDC) operators, Nnolim said the coming weeks will determine how the policy will affect the price of air tickets but urged the apex bank to increase supply of forex to banks so that airlines can access.

“The government didn’t do much in terms of bailout for the airlines. The cost of the engine of a Boeing is close to $10 million and what the government provided for all the airlines is about N4 billion, so, when you compare what our airlines got to what airlines in other countries got, you will find out that they didn’t do much for the industry. The aviation industry is a very expensive business and most people do not break even. What they just succeed in doing is to just keep the business going because everything about the industry is offshore and that is a challenge.

“We have succeeded in getting zero duties for the airlines for the purchase of spare parts. Another issue that they are battling with is the issue of forex. Since they buy most of their stuff abroad, it is important that they have access to forex. The planes need to be in the sky all the time because the more you move, the more money you make so that you can pay your bills. We would want the Central Bank of Nigeria to create a window for Forex because it will help reduce the airfare.

“For now, I don’t know how the ban on Forex to BDCs will affect airlines but I heard that the black market rate has gone up. I still wonder if banks can manage but from next week, we will get to know how airlines will be affected.

“The success of any industry is management. If you have the right people in management, it is going to go a long way in achieving good results. It’s not that we are trying to police the executive, we are not the type that would want to boss the agencies around because we feel that we have the power to do so, it’s just that we are committed to the safety of the industry. Our duty in the House of Representatives is to support the industry,” Nnolim said.

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