The federal government says it rejected about 90 percent of the applications by airline operators for expert quotas in their business.
Hadi Sirika, minister of aviation, disclosed this in his office in Abuja.
According to the minister, the rejection was basically to ensure that Nigerians are prioritised for such jobs, particularly when there are qualified citizens who could deliver on the positions.
Commenting on the need to preserve jobs in the sector for Nigerians, the minister said his ministry has set up a policy in conjunction with the federal ministry of interior that Nigerians who have the same competency and proficiency as foreigners will be given preference for highly-skilled jobs.
“In other words, if you bring an A380 aircraft, A350 or a B737 Max, if there is a Nigerian captain who is proficient and competent by his licence to fly, that Nigerian will be considered first,” Sirika said.
“Government is not going to lord it on Nigeria Air how they operate, but we are warning the owners of Nigeria Air that Nigerian jobs are paramount. And this is also for every single airline.
“Daily, I receive applications from airlines, Air Peace, Ibom Air, Max Air, Azman, a lot of them, they apply daily to have expert quotas to bring in people.”
Sirika said when the airlines apply to the ministry of interior, the application will be forwarded to his desk and he would send it to the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), “for it to advise us whether the person for that job is not available in Nigeria before I will sign my signature”.
“And I can guarantee you that 90 percent of the applications are rejected. And this policy will be strengthened so that Nigerians will get jobs,” he said.
The minister said the federal government had been receiving applications from airlines to bring in airplanes into Nigeria on a daily basis. He said all requests by the airline operators has been granted since he assumed office.
“We will support every single airline in the country. Since I became minister, there is no one who applies to bring in aircraft and I have refused, not one. And they come in daily,” he said.
“And since I became minister, there are about 20 applications by an aircraft company and I haven’t refused anyone yet. And I don’t think I would have refused any.
“This is because it means growth of our industry, jobs for our people, service for the country, and as social democrats, it is the people that matter.”
The minister said the government has been guiding airline operators on the kind of aircraft to deploy for profitability.
According to him, the profit margin in the airline business is meagerly and as such, operators must use airplanes that consume less fuel and deliver efficient services.
Sirika expressed hope that within the next few quarters, aviation will return as the fastest-growing sector of the Nigerian economy.