Posted by thephctelegraph on
The Federal Government will soon designate another carrier for international routes, the Minister of Aviation, Prof. Babalola Borishade, has said.....
The Federal Government will soon designate another carrier for international routes, the Minister of Aviation, Prof. Babalola Borishade, has said.
The minister said in Lagos over the week that the restoration of direct flights between the United States (U.S.) and Nigeria would prepare the way for the country's registered carriers to fly directly to America.
He stated that designating Nigerian carriers on lucrative routes would open a new vista of opportunities to both countries.
An American carrier, North American Airlines, begins its inaugural flight from New York into the Murtala Muhammed Airport, Lagos next Monday, July 17.
A previous effort had involved the carrier, World Airways, which ceased operations to Nigeria in December 2003, following an alleged contractual disagreement with its partner, Rite Time Aviation.
The situation led to thousands of passengers being stranded, while several others suffered loss of jobs both in Nigeria and the U.S.
The airline and its partner were fined $350,000 for their actions by the Directorate of Transport (DOT) of the U.S.
According to Borishade, there are many benefits to be derived from the restoration of air links between both countries.
"The fact that we are now having a direct link is an indication that our security and our safety records are appreciated by the United States, which has been the most critical of the countries that have been trying to use our facilities. Secondly, once we can have a direct flight, of course we know the benefit," he said.
No Nigerian carrier currently flies the U.S. route. Virgin Nigeria, the country's flag carrier, has been lobbying the American government unsuccessfully to allow it to fly into the country.
Washington DC however, has accused Virgin Atlantic Chairman, Sir Richard Branson, of blocking the "Open Skies" agreement in the United Kingdom.
Nigeria has an "Open Skies" agreement with the U.S., which entails unrestricted access into each other's territory.
Not a few Nigerian airlines have condemned the lack of level playing field to them, as they accused the government of favouring foreign carriers at their expense.
Apart from Virgin Nigeria, which was recently designated on most of the international routes, the country is yet to fully utilise its share of the dual designation agreement between Nigeria and the UK. It has not also fully tapped from the "Open Skies" policy it signed with the U.S. in 2000.
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