United Nigeria Airlines Boss Tasks FG  on Special Funding  For  Local Operators

 Chairman United Nigeria Airlines (UNA), Prof. Obiora Okonkwo has urged the federal government to  leave a legacy  by providing a window of  “Special Funding “for the aviation sector operators.
Okonkwo made the call in Abuja on Thursday while speaking  at a retreat organised by the management of United Nigeria Airlines to mark its two- year operation in the aviation industry.
The retreat, which has “Positioning  United Nigeria for Value Creation and Retention,” was organised for management staff of the  company.
Okonkwo said the call for provision of a window of special funding for operators in aviation became necessary given its essential duty nature and its growing  contribution  to the  Nigerian Gross Domestic Product (GDP)
 “We are just asking for a special funding window  that should be of a single digit  and that is easily accessible , not necessarily on paper,but it is not accessible.
“We still believe that this government has done a lot for the aviation industry, though, more needs to be done and we think that the bigger legacy that this government will leave for the aviation  industry is  to ensure that the operators survive.
“No operator should go under,  rather let there be new operators in the business of aviation.”
He said the indigenous airline operators have been very  patriotic and have contributed immensely to the growth of the nation’s GDP.
“We are very patriotic Nigerians, who have contributed so much to the GDP of the nation, giving employment ,it is a sector that  I advise  this government and in  coming government to  take very seriously.
“Because, if properly harnexed , it will be a great source of foreign exchange  for the country, expecialy , if the local operators should be  empowered  ,this industry, we believe remains a  critical and essential industry , that should be treated are  such.
“This industry can not survive further at  the regular commercial rates. We know that there are previlages given to sectors like agriculture and others. Aviation should be considered also.”
According to Okonkwo, airline transportation  required special attention.
“If  this is done, I have no doubt that the operators will be stronger and further render better services to the people.”
He emphasized  further, that  there was need for government to consider a special  funding for the sector operators, saying that it was a win-win situation for both government and the operators and ultimately for the good of Nigerians.
“I also thought that the  government should consider a  window of “Special Funds ” at a single unit loan for the  operators because it is a win -win situation for the companies  and the government.
“Because this is one sector that pays the government as they  receive their  own ,because every ticket that is issued ,all agencies of government have their own.
“It creates high level, high powered  employment, high skilled  workers that pay good  income tax to the government, and so this is one of the sectors that should be taken seriously and the operators are happy to work out all the new arrangement with the government.
If this capital  are  made  “available,the individual airlines will access it as par their needs and then capitalise individually, because there is a capital you should have as a domestic operator and the required capital if you are going international or regional routes.
“So  you can imagine,  a situation where you  go to the bank today and access  naira loan  at the rate of 25 to 30 per cent  and then you go back to the foreign exchange window  and buy it at the rate of N750 ,you just basically operate for notting.”he said.
Okonkwo  said that the United Airlines management was committed to  further improving on its  performance  going further,despite the challenges experienced in the past year.
The Chief Operating Officer  and Executive Director of  the airline, Mr Osita Okonkwo, said the company’s strategy, going forward, was to continue on  its growth part.
He said that despite

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