The Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika is seeking the liberalization of air space for Nigerian and African airlines.
The minister made this known on Monday at the opening ceremony of the fourteenth ICAO Air Services Negotiation (ICAN2022) held in Abuja.
The meeting, which is expected to last from December 5 to 9, 2022 will see over 65 members renegotiate Air Service Agreements.
Sirika said, “As a strong supporter of the widely and certain Nigeria sees this ICAN event as an opportunity for African states to further the implementation of Single African Air Transport Market (SAATM) which will give more access to African airlines to intra-African and international routes. I believe that the African market is a market with 1.4 billion people untapped and virgin.
“The industry needs to embrace a more libliberalised agreement as liberalisation has been known to bring about improved services, better choices, and competitive fairs for consumers. Wider route networks for airlines, increase air traffic movement and passenger traffic as well as the encouragement of public-private partnerships among many others.”
He advocated for the liberalisation of air cargo, adding “COVID-19 has shown us the experience that we need to allow free movement of goods, especially of those of essential nature.”
Before President Muhammadu Buhari took over in 2015, Emirates Airlines was operating 14 flight frequencies in Nigeria. The 14 flight frequencies are made up of seven each for Lagos and Abuja.
After Buhari took over in 2015, the flight frequency rose from 14 to 21 following a Bilateral Air Service Agreement between both countries.
Under the BASA, both countries are expected to operate 21 flights each. But UAE has not met its part of the agreement.
Sirika however, assured ICAO that the Federal Government is committed to the libralisation of the skies.