The Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON) has lauded the flexible foreign exchange policy unveiled by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) on Wednesday.
Capt. Nogie Meggison, AON President, told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Thursday in Lagos that the move was a welcome development and a step in the right direction.
NAN reports that the new policy effectively removes controls on the naira, and is expected to increase dollar supply and help the nation’s fragile economy.
Meggison said the removal of the restriction would enable airlines have easier access to forex, which constitutes a bulk of their operational cost.
“We thank God that they finally listened to remove the restriction placed on foreign exchange.
“Foreign exchange is 70 per cent of our direct operating costs through areas like buying spare parts, insurance, training of pilots and other expenses.
“So if the government can make it more available and accessible, it is going to affect us positively and we are very glad about it.
“It is a step in the right direction,” he said.
The AON president, however, appealed to the Federal Government to subsidise domestic airlines operating in the country in order to boost the aviation industry.
“Government has to find a way out to look at how airlines can have access to funds. In Kenya, the government just injected 800m dollars into the airline business.
“In America, the government has put in billions of dollars to jump-start the aviation sector in order to keep the economy going,” Meggison said.
He said that the aviation industry was pivotal for economic development and efforts should be made to develop airport facilities across Nigeria, making the country an aviation hub.