COVID19 Evacuations: AON Condemns Engagement Of Foreign Airlines.

Written by on May 6, 2020


The Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON) has condemned the decision to patronize foreign airlines for the evacuation of Nigerians abroad.

They noted that all countries worldwide are using their own local airlines to do evacuation of their citizens, but it is ironic that despite the fact that Nigeria has the capacity, it decided to engage foreign airlines!

The body says that government’s action is disappointing after it had made earlier statements that it would engage three domestic airlines that more than have capacity and airplanes to carry out these evacuation exercises.

A Schedule released by the Foreign Affairs Ministry said the first batch of evacuees of 265 from Dubai would arrive Nigeria Wednesday, May 6, 2020. Another 300 persons are to arrive from London on Friday May 10, 2020 on British Airways and on Monday, 11th May Ethiopian Airlines would airlift those coming from the United States of America.

In a statement signed by the Executive Chairman of AON, Captain Nogie Meggison, Nigerian airlines have the capacity to bring their countrymen and women back to their fatherland; like the norm worldwide, UK using British Airways; France using Air France, USA came with a Chartered B767 from America.

He states that, AON is shocked that despite the above fact, someone finds it easy to contract foreign airlines to do these evacuations despite the country’s economic position and not having the spare resources for it as it is not captured in the budget, adding that also due to the low price of oil coupled with the fact that Nigerian airlines are currently struggling to keep their workforce due to huge loss in revenues occasioned by the COVID-19 lockdown.

“AON is shocked and disappointed by the decision taken to evacuate Nigerians back to our country with foreign airlines. So we are calling for government to identify those officials who took such unholy decision. At a time when government is searching for ways to boost its revenue, some officials are giving away the country’s meager resources to foreign countries.
“These foreign airlines are flying their local pilots and crew and are not going to create jobs for our teeming Nigerian youths. The Federal government has made a call to employers not to sack their staff in the face of the current economic crunch caused by the COVID19 pandemic. But how can the airlines cope when the opportunity for them to make money and pay their workers is taken away and given to foreign carriers?

“British Airways cannot, and will not, provide jobs for Nigerians; Emirates will not provide jobs for Nigerians; Ethiopian Airlines cannot provide jobs for Nigeria’s teeming youths or contribute to Nigeria’s GDP. It is our airlines that can do that and employ Nigerians and contribute to Nigeria’s GDP. But sadly the support AON needs is being taken away by some officials and given to foreign carriers from whom we don’t gain anything as a country, except landing charges of about $20,000 in total out of about $2 millions,” he said.

The Chairman of AON described the action of engaging foreign carriers to evacuate Nigerians as economic sabotage.

He said that Nigeria does not have social security like countries where sacked workers receive certain amount of money for several months to cushion the effect of the sack, adding that how to kick-start the airlines after COVID-19 should be in the mind of government.

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