Chairman of Arik Air, Joseph Arumemi-Ikhide, one of Nigeria’s surviving airline, says the policies of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) favour more on the manufacturing sector than local airlines.
Reports have it that, Arumemi-Ikhide, the founder of West Africa’s largest airline, has said that Nigerian airlines “are just offering national service”, stating that the fares are the lowest in the world.
“Government policies, or central bank policies do not favour us. For example, the CBN said that 60 percent of foreign inflows should be for manufacturers, They’ve forgotten that the engine of any economy is air travel. Nothing i scramble s provided for us, we have to like every other person. he said in an interview on Channels Television.
“The same thing in the tax (system); the FIRS has a different rate for company tax, and airlines are seen as services, so by the time you finish, you pay almost 40 percent.
“So, its only air travel that we pay VAT, road transportation and others don’t pay VAT. So the stakes are against airline operators in Nigeria, from government.”
He further advised that the government need to encourage airline operators with the right policies, adding that the landscape is really tough on airlines.
“Let me say something, naira is now about 350 to the dollar, and if you look at Lagos to Abuja, it’s less than 35,000, that is less $100. We have to source our forex, and spare parts, all of us, all the commercial airlines. It’s really tough, and our fares re the lowest in the world”.
“You don’t even get fuel; fuel prices are shooting off the roof. Before the flexible exchange rate was introduced, we were buying fuel for about N110 per litre.
“Now it’s N215 per litre and you can’t even get it. The situation in the country is not favourable to the airlines at all.”
The Arik boss said he was in support of a national carrier, emphasising that many developed nations possess national careers.
Over the past week, two Nigerian airlines – Aero Contractors and FirstNation – have suspended operations due to challenging economic realities