The Association of Foreign Airlines and Representatives of Nigeria (AFARN) has disclosed that Nigeria is losing billions of naira in revenue to neighbouring African countries in cargo flights due to multiple taxation, improper planning and inadequate space at its airsides nationwide.
Kingsley Nwokoma, the President of AFARN, disclosed this to newsmen on Wednesday at the Lagos Airport.
He expressed worry that if the bottlenecks were not checked, Nigeria may soon lose its status as a hub in cargo operations to other countries within the sub-region as it has lost passenger regional hub to Ghana.
Nwokoma lamented that in order to arrest the unpleasant situation quickly, the association made several calls to the government, but all to no avail.
He noted that since the diversion began, investors had also lost millions of dollars; this is aside billions lost by the country.
Nwokoma called on the government to, as a matter of urgency, address the situation, warning that this may lead to industry collapse if not nipped in the bud.
He suggested that the creation of a cargo village by the Nigerian government would also help in salvaging the situation for the country. He further called on the government to revisit the ease of doing business policy, saying that the policy had been “bastardised”.
He said: "If the airlines and stakeholders are complaining, it simply means there is a problem. Nigeria is very expensive. The cost of doing business is high comparatively to other African countries.
"Every businessman will want to go where the cost is comparatively good. These are things the government should look into. The Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), Nigeria Airspace Management Agency (NAMA) and the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) should look at this, because the more the merrier.
"If you are too expensive, if airlines are complaining of coming in here, if they are paying so much on landing, parking and other multiple charges, it is discouraging. So it is something we have to look at, so as to move the industry forward and also make it competitive.”
He, therefore, appealed to President Muhammadu Buhari to consider expanding the airports’ tarmac and increase the parking bays at the different airports to facilitate free flow of cargoes without hitches.
According to him, at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport (MMIA), due to inadequate space, cargo aircraft are often moved to the passenger tarmac because the cargo apron cannot accommodate more than two aircraft depending on the aircraft type, leading to disruption in aircraft network punctuality.
“Once two aircraft are parked in that tarmac, we don’t have space for additional aircraft to park. So what is usually done is for them to ask the aircraft to go to the passenger terminal, which is also time consuming and also causes more fuel consumption. Network punctuality is also disrupted. Because if I have an aircraft coming to Lagos and it is supposed to be in Accra or Nairobi at a particular time, and it moves from one place to the other, there is always time wastage," he added.
He noted that incidents are recorded at the apron as aircraft wings sometimes collide in an attempt to park.
“The expansion of the apron is very vital. We implore the government to look into that. We have had some incidents due to parking in the apron in the past and we all know how expensive it is when there is even a little scratch on the aircraft. In order to avoid all these, we should look at how to put them in the budget,” he stated.