‘Nigeria, Qatar’s BASA good politics, but bad economics’

Qatar AirwaysEXPERTS and stakeholders in the aviation sector have described the Bilateral Air Service Agreement (BASA) recently entered into between Nigeria and Qatar as good politics, but bad economics.

The BASA was signed last week in Doha, capital of Qatar during President Muhammadu Buhari’s official visit to the Arab state.

Among those who bared their mind on the agreement were the former Director-General of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), Mr. Harold Demuren, the former Managing Director of the defunct Nigeria Airways, Mr Andrew Okunuga, the Secretary General, Aviation Security Round Table (ASRT), Group Captain John Ojikutu, and the Director and Training Coordinator, Aeroconsult Limited, Captain Dele Ore.

Demuren, who spoke on Wednesday this week at the quarterly ASRT breakfast meeting, stressed that the agreement signed between Nigeria and Qatar was good politics for the federal government of Nigeria and the state of Qatar but that it was bad for Nigerian economy.

Okunuga and Ojikutu who also took part in the ASRT breakfast meeting, were in agreement with Demuren that the pact is not healthy for Nigeria economy-wise.

Ore who spoke in interview with The Guardian is of the opinion that the issue of BASA is good on the surface, but whether the domestic carriers could compete and reciprocate the agreement, is another matter entirely.

In the view of Ore, in every BASA agreement, there must be consideration of the interest of economy, and be signed by expert for the benefits of each country.

Said Ore: “You cannot benefit if you do not have the reciprocating power. And that the government must protect her domestic airlines by providing maintenance and support for them to compete in the BASA”.
According to him, “Our domestic airlines cannot compete with Qatar. We do not have such traffic and power to reciprocate with them”.

Demuren explained that Qatar has an airline; Qatar Airways, which currently has seven frequencies into Nigeria and that no Nigeria airlines fly to Doha, adding that with the BASA agreement, the airline will demand more frequencies and more entry points into the country.

“Nigeria does not fly to Doha at the moment and as a result may not be able to reciprocate and this makes the agreement one-sided,” Demuren said.

He lamented that to make matters worse; those countries Nigeria have BASA agreement with will no longer pay royalties for flying into the country.

Demuren stated that presently Nigeria airlines couldn’t compete with Qatar Airways in terms of equipment, personnel, maintenance and in other areas.

His words: “I am not saying that we should not sign BASA. What I am saying is that if we must sign BASA, we must know the content of the BASA we are signing”.

He said that in the past international airlines operate into the country based on the BASA’s paid royalties and that was how the government got some money in return for its investment but that presently, these airlines no longer pay royalties.

Speaking earlier, Okunuga advised that Nigeria should not spend so much energy on frequency except on what will benefit the country.

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