Nigeria: Operators Anticipate Special Exchange Rate for Airlines

Airline operators are expecting that the federal government may review the exchange rate at which they purchase the dollars in order to sustain their operations.

This, is expected to enable them pay for aircraft maintenance, spare parts acquisition and major trainings in foreign currency.

This hint was dropped by the Managing Director of Medview Airlines, Alhaji Muneer Bankole at the weekend in Lagos, saying that reviewing downwards the exchange rate for airlines would be key to their survival. He noted that the high airfares introduced by the domestic operators was due to cost at which they purchase the dollar.

“It is unfortunate that the dollar is about N485 in the parallel market. That is number one cause of the hike in airfares. But now, there is a review on the ground based on the interest of government to make things better for the benefit of all Nigerians,” he said.

Bankole who commended the federal government for removing VAT from air transport said it would help to bring down airfares, remarking that things would work better for the industry if the exchange rate were reviewed for the operators.

“The removal of VAT was for the benefit of everybody. I was there as member of Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON) during the negotiation. That is the factor that affected the cost of tickets. Fares come down because of the removal of VAT, which was paid by the passenger, so travellers are the beneficiaries,” he said.

On his part, the President of Aviation Round Table (ART), industry think-tank group, Dr. Gbenga Olowo, reiterated the call for the merger of airlines in order to enhance large economy of scale and for the airlines to have high capacity and be able to compete effectively with major airlines in the world.