2013: Politicians should leave aviation industry alone says Okewu

…says it is possible to have an hours flight between N10,000 to N15,000

By Oyise OGHENE
LAGOS: President of the Air Transport Services Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (ATSSSAN), Mr. Benjamin Okewu yesterday called on all politicians who have turned themselves to aviation experts and analysts to desist from interfering in the affairs of the industry.

Speaking to newsmen in his office, Mr. Okewu pointed out that in other climes it was only aviation professionals who were allowed to run and man the industry adding that aviation entails a lot of technicalities which should only be done by professionals.

According to him, the involvement of politicians in aviation business was a way of mortgaging the safety of the Nigerian travelling publics as he said that if safety should be adhered to as it is done globally then things should be done professionally.

He said “politicians who have turn themselves to aviation analyst and experts should leave the aviation industry alone in Nigeria this year 2013, so as to give safety a chance, this is how it is done all over the world. In the case of the Dana crash you witnessed and hear politicians who don’t know anything in the industry saying words that were derogatory to the aviation industry in Nigeria”

“By the grace of God, I will be in the inaugural flight of Dana air tomorrow and I wonder what role the House of Representatives have to do in matters relating to aviation. When have you heard that the House of Congress in the United States of America were legislating on issues relating to aviation, it is left solely to the Federal Aviation¬† Administration ( US FAA) in America”

Commenting on the plans of the Federal Government to give 30 aircraft to domestic airlines and make airfares affordable between the rate of N10,000 to N15,000 for an hour flight, the ATSSSAN boss said that it is possible for airfare to be pegged at such prices depending on the type of the aircraft and the policies put in place by the government.

“It is possible to have such fares, it depends on the type of the aircraft and its fuel endurance. It also depends on the policies of the government, if the government wants to do that, then they must give a transition period. I don’t think that government should force any airline to fix their prices at N10,000 or N15,000, all they should do is to put favourable policies in place and the fares will naturally reduce on its own. When you use the word force it sound somehow, there is nothing wrong in government providing alternatives for the airlines” he affirmed.

Also speaking on the emergency installation of the Air Field Lighting System at Runway 18 left of the domestic wing of the Murtala Muhammed Airport, Lagos, Comrade Okewu pointed out that since the installation, airlines had been landing and taking off beyond 6pm.

According to him, from my discussions with Air Traffic Controllers, they said that the airfield lighting system is working adding that he wants to commend the government for putting such temporary measures in place to ameliorated the plight of the airlines.

“I want to thank the government for putting such emergency air field lighting system in place but we still need a permanent one. If it means re awarding the contract so that we can have a permanent solution to the problem of Runway 18 left once and for all” he added.

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