For many months now, Emirates and Turkish airlines have been engaged in an imbroglio with Nigeria's Ministry of Aviation. The ministry has been accused of refusing to grant the approval needed for the two airlines to fly to Kano; the ministry in turn has insisted that the airlines are free to ply the route. The accusations and counter-accusations have degenerated into a situation where it is now being given a tinge of ethnic colouration, with the some accusing the minister of having asked the airlines in question to ply the Enugu route instead.
While this is farfetched, the fact that the ministry has not put paid to the controversy is likely to create more rumours and innuendos. For example, at the recent commissioning of the remodelled Mallam Aminu Kano International Airport, the minister of aviation, Princess Stella Oduah, was reported to have promised that, before the end of March, the two airlines would commence operations from the airport. It is now April but they haven't.
The two airlines have also not helped matters, as they have kept mum over the issue. Perhaps there is more to the controversy than meets the eye. Also, there are now reports that, despite what she had said in Kano, the minister has still not approved the additional landing slots under the BASA that would enable the airlines commence the operations.
Business in the airline sector is big, with near-precision expected in processes and procedures. It is therefore presumed that all transactions would have proper documentation and paper trails. It is hard to believe that the ministry is not able to avail the public with accurate information as to the situation: it should have stated categorically whether the two airlines have been granted clearance to ply the Kano route.
On the matter of documentation and documents, there is another worrisome situation in the aviation ministry -- the alleged non-signing of new operating guidelines for foreign airlines operating in Nigeria, a six-monthly approval given to airlines to continue flying within Nigeria's airspace; this time the Foreign Airline Schedule Approval has been delayed, awaiting the minister's signature. If this is true, the implication is that foreign airlines are currently flying illegally within the country. The ministry has, however, denied the allegation, asserting that the process was "in progress".
We urge the minister to quickly resolve these two issues, especially the thorny one concerning the granting of approvals to Emirates and Turkish airlines to fly to Kano. This would ensure that she is not distracted from her effort at revamping the sector, especially the dilapidated infrastructure at our airports.