The Senate has expressed concerns over the constant increases in air fares by airline operators, saying the development has the potential of affecting growth in the aviation sector.
The position was made by the Chairperson of the Senate Committee on Aviation, Sen. Biodun Olujimi, at the opening of the 2nd edition of the Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) national conference in Abuja on Monday.
The conference themed: ‘Sustainability of the Aviation Industry in Nigeria”, afforded the agency a platform to discuss partnership opportunities towards improved revenue generation.
Speaking in her capacity as chairman of the committee that oversights FAAN, the lawmaker warned that the industry may suffer if the increment is not addressed
While noting that there may be valid reasons for the increase in airfares, the Ekiti-born politician underscored the importance of striking a balance, to enable more people to travel by air.
This, she argued, will contribute to the growth of the industry.
Olujimi said: “This is an opportunity for airline operators to be able to address the astronomical increase because the industry will suffer if there is this astronomical increase in airfares.
“Yes, there are reasons why the airfares go up, but there is also a need for us to have a balance for many people to embrace the aviation industry and that is key to the development of the sector.”
This was as she reminded all stakeholders that picketing is not allowed in the aviation industry.
She stated further: “The aviation industry supports international businesses by providing the world heliographic worldwide transportation. Despite the above potential in the sector and generating employment and supporting development in other industries such as tourism and hospitality sector, the Nigerian aviation industry is yet to contribute significantly to the economic growth of the country because of inadequate infrastructure and some other challenges that have frustrated the aviation industry over the years.
“The industry has been bedeviled over the recent past by too many problems such as picketing. The NLC, and the workers association all come to picket the aviation industry which is not very good for the industry.
“Picketing is what I find very unnerving because there should be a way whereby the NLC and worker’s associations can settle all their grievances without bringing it to the fore.
“The issues that were put on the front burner were already settled and sealed by the various agencies. There was no reason to stop the aviation industry to put them in a very bad stand with their counterparts abroad by ensuring that people did the work of flight take off.”
“I think the time is right for the NLC and the worker’s unions to know that there are certain industries where picketing cannot be allowed and aviation is one.”
Speaking on the demolition of structures at the Murtala Mohammed International Airport, Lagos, the parliamentarian said: “Another is the constant demolitions and destructions around the airport and this is because people are encroaching on the facilities of the airport.
“Government should be up and doing to make sure that encroachment is constantly looked at and stopped before it gets out of hand. A situation where government seats until everything is destroyed before coming into the picture is not correct.”
“I want to suggest that it is time for the NLC and the workers to start settling their issues right behind closed doors and to ensure that when issues are resolved, they are resolved properly”.
Earlier, the Managing Director of FAAN, Rabiu Hamisu Yadudu, explained that the conference was aimed at furthering partnership and sustainability, as part of efforts to mitigate challenges hampering the aviation sector.
According to Yadudu, the event would serve as a forum to highlight available investment opportunities in the industry, to attract prospective investors, who are desirous of making great returns on their investments.
His words: “This conference would continue to serve as an open market, or meeting point for the private sector to tap into a world of opportunities to invest and generate incredible returns on their investments.
“We have a lot of land for investment. We have the airport vicinity themselves, the airside, and the terminal. What we need is people to come and partner with us.
“Our business as an airport is not only to come in fly and go back which is aeronautical revenue. We all have non-aeronautical revenue. The airside, the terminals, and all the airport land. We want to be sustainable, we cannot rely on aeronautical revenue from the airline . We need to make full use of all facilities, assets, and resources, that is our target.”