NWUCHE, BABATOPE BACK FG'S MOVE TO REVIEW BASA WITH BRITAIN
By Hugo Odiogor & Kenneth Ehigiator
LAGOS - Former Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Prince Chibudom Nwuche and ex-Minister of Transport and Aviation, Chief Ebenezer Babatope, have thrown their weights behind Federal Government's efforts at redressing the inbalance in Nigeria's Bilteral Air Services Agreement, BASA, with Britain.
Nwuche particularly frowned on the unbalanced fares charged Nigerians by British carriers on the London route, compared to those paid by travellers in other West African countries.
He lauded the Federal Government's diligent and firm handling of the raging controversies over distortions in the implementation of the Bilateral Air Services Agreement, BASA, between Nigeria and Britain, and specifically lauded Aviation Minister, Princess Stella Oduah, for effectively driving the entire process.
Speaking exclusively with Vanguard in Lagos, yesterday, former Aviation Minister, said the cheating of Nigeria on the BASA with Britain had been on for a long time and and urged the Federal Government to take a decisive step to redress the violation.
He said: 'I want to state with all sense of responsibility that the British Government has not been fair to Nigeria in the way the BASA between the two countries has been implemented.
'The cheating has been long while BA has enjoyed all the slots, Nigerians carriers have been denied their own rights and privileges under the same agreement but above all, it has continued to insult our country.'
Aviation expert, Mr. Titus Ago, said the spirit of BASA was guided by international relations which is based on the principles of reciprocity.
He said the Federal Government acted right on the issue with BA, adding, however, that it must move ahead to improve on the capacity of Nigerian operators to meet up with their slot.
He said: 'In the BASA the number of frequencies are clearly spelt out and the airlines to operate them in this case the BASA prescribed 42 weekly frequencies, allocating to 21 to Nigeria and 21 to Britain but this was modified under the Obasanjo regime which reduced it to 14 each way but the woes of the Nigerian Airways made it difficult for Nigeria to meet up with its own frequencies.
'This why Bellview and Virgin Atlantic were brought in the operate the route, but today only Arik is operating but event then, BA was trying to elbow Arik out. There is the need for more private operators to be brought in to increase the Nigeria's capacity'.
According to him, 'BA is arrogant because it has more capacity and because Nigerians regard London as their second home, they are subjected to discriminatory air fares and sub-standard services, when Nigeria is their most profitable route.'
He said 'as for the high fares are concerned, there is a strong indication of a gang up between European airlines and the government of one of the West African countries, to make the fares cheaper in his country so that it could become the hub in sub region.