About 90 per cent of the applications by airline operators for expert quotas in their businesses have been rejected, the Federal Government has said.
It said the rejection was basically in order to prevent labour flights and ensure that Nigerians were given such jobs, particularly when there were competent citizens who could deliver on the positions.
The Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, who disclosed this in his office in Abuja, also revealed that airline operators in Nigeria were sending in applications to bring in airplanes into the country on a daily basis.
Commenting on the need to protect jobs in the sector for Nigerians, the minister said his ministry had brought out a policy in conjunction with the Federal Ministry of Interior that for highly skilled jobs, Nigerians who have the same competency and proficiency as foreigners would be given preference.
“In other words, if you bring an A380 aircraft, A350 or a B737 Max, if there is a Nigerian captain who is proficient and competent by his licence to fly, that Nigerian will be considered first,” Sirika said.
He added, “Government is not going to lord it on Nigeria Air how they operate, but we are warning the owners of Nigeria Air that Nigerian jobs are paramount. And this is also for every single airline.
“Daily, I receive applications from airlines, Air Peace, Ibom Air, Max Air, Azman, a lot of them, they apply daily to have expert quotas to bring in people.”
Sirika said when the airlines apply to the Ministry of Interior, the application would be sent to his desk and he would send it to the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), “for it to advise us whether the person for that job is not available in Nigeria before I will sign my signature.”
“And I can guarantee you that 90 per cent of the applications are rejected. And this policy will be strengthened so that Nigerians will get jobs,” he said.
The minister said the Federal Government had been receiving applications from airlines requesting to be allowed to bring in airplanes into Nigeria on a daily basis.
He said, “We will support every single airline in the country. Since I became minister, there is no one who applies to bring in aircraft and I have refused, not one. And they come in daily.
“And since I became minister, there are about 20 applications by an aircraft company and I haven’t refused anyone yet. And I don’t think I would have refused any.
“This is because it means growth of our industry, jobs for our people, service for the country, and as social democrats, it is the people that matter.”
The minister said the government had been advising airline operators on the kind of aircraft to deploy in order to be profitable.
According to him, the profit margin in the civil aviation airline business is not much and as such, operators must use airplanes that consume less fuel and deliver efficient services.
Sirika expressed hope that within the next few quarters, aviation would return as the fastest-growing sector of the Nigerian economy.