By UCHE USIM
Airline operators are to save an estimated N10 billion annually from the recent government policy, which seeks to remove tariff on imported airplanes and spares from 2013, analysts have said.
The President, Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, in Abuja last week at a budget presentation to the Joint Session of the National Assembly, had disclosed his plans to remove the tariff as a way of reducing the operational burden on the carriers.
The plan, according to the President, is also to encourage the operators acquire brand new jets since they were often deterred by high tariffs on them and as another option, settle for cheaper but older airplanes with low tariff.
A top official of Arik Air described the move as a good one, adding that such incentives were enjoyed by other airline operators in other climes.
The top official of Arik Air said: “In other countries, when an airline’s airplane arrives, it’s expressly cleared with zero tariff. Same goes for spares. They come in as Aircraft On Ground (AOG). Such spares are cleared within minutes to enable the airplane get back into the sky. The need to have robust airlines cannot be over-emphasized.”
Also commenting on the new policy, the Chief Executive of Mish Aviation, a flying school based in Ghana, Captain Ibrahim Mshelia, said the zero tariff proposed by President Jonathan removes a lot of financial and operational pressure from airline operators who can now plough their resources to other important areas.
Also reacting to the development, the Assistant General Secretary of AON, Alhaji Mohammed Tukur, commended Jonathan for his good gesture, even as he hoped the proposal would scale through the National Assembly.
Tukur said zero tariff on aircraft and spares would further enhance the safety of aircraft operations within the country’s airspace.
Two notable aviation unions in the country, the Air Transport Services Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (ATSSSAN) and the National Union of Air Transport Employees (NUATE) have also hailed the President’s plans.
The Unions noted that airline operators in the country maintain their aircraft overseas at heavy cost and that the relief would go a long way in assisting the airlines to re-new their fleet of aircraft.
Comrade Benjamin Okewu, National President of ATSSSAN, while commenting on the soothing news of waivers on aircraft and spare parts importation, said it has provided a golden opportunity for airline operators in the country to bring in aircraft that can stand the test of time.
Okewu said it was also an opportunity for the operators to re-fleet and cut down their fares.
He also urged the operators to leverage on the new plans of government to pull resources together and source for one digit loan from international financial organisations to bring in economical machines that will enhance the air transport system in the country.
Okewu noted that tariffs have been the major constraints on the parts of the airline operators, especially in the last five years when it became very obvious that local airlines were on the verge of going down as a result of high tariffs on parts, which led to calls by the unions to grant waivers to the aviation sector.