The Secretary-General of the African Airlines Association (AFRAA), Mr. Christian Folly-Kossi, has hailed the Nigerian government for the progress made in ensuring aviation safety in the country.
Folly-Kossi said in an interview with PANA in Lagos this week, when he visited the country in an effort to find a lasting solution to the problem of high cost of jet fuel threatening African airlines, that the Nigeria aviation sector had taken a turn for the better.
”The issue of safety has been squarely addressed, and the country’s bad reputation (over frequent airline crashes) has disappeared.
”The industry is bubbling. This should be encouraged by the government by continuing to provide a conducive environment for the airlines to grow,” he said.
A series of air crashes in Nigeria between 2002 and 2006 left hundreds dead and raised fears over the country’s aviation safety.
In May 2002, a passenger jet operated by EAS Airlines crashed in the northern city of Kano, killing 148 people.
About three years later, in October 2005, a Bellview Airlines Boeing 737 plane crashed shortly after takeoff from Lagos, killing 117 people and barely two months later, a DC-9 owned by Sosoliso Airlines crashed in the main oil city of Port Harcourt, killing at least 103 people, most of them school children returning home for Christmas holidays.
And in October 2006, an ADC airlines’ Boeing 737 aircraft crashed shortly after takeoff from Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport in the capital city of Abuja, leaving over 90 dead.
The successive, deadly crashes forced the federal government to initiate several measures aimed at bolstering the Nigerian Aviation sector and improving air safety.
Analysts said the measures had started yielding positive results, to the extent that the confidence of the flying public had been gradually restored.
Folly-Kossi said he was particularly impressed with the growth of private airlines in Nigeria and their acquisition of new equipment.
He mentioned such airlines as Aero Contractors, Arik Air, Bellview, Chanchangi, DANA and Virgin Nigeria as those that have either acquired or taken steps to acquire new aircraft, thus boosting their services.
The AFRAA chief said the development could be attributed to the Cape Town Convention and Protocol, aimed at facilitating the modernisation of airline fleets around the world.
”The Cape Town Convention has opened the way for many new airlines to acquire new equipment at concessionary rates,” he said.
AFRAA, established in 1968 in Accra, Ghana, to help promote the common interests of African airlines, currently has 40 members.
As Secretary-General, Mr. Folly-Kossi runs the day-to-day activities of the association, which is based in Nairobi, Kenya.