Lagos, Nigeria (PANA) - Nigeria is considering imposing a 15-year age limit on passenger planes operating in the country and the provision of low-interest loans to domestic airlines, as part of efforts to ensure the safety of air travel in Africa's most populous nation with a history of deadly
PANA reports that the plans were revealed at the ongoing international conference on aviation safety in Africa, which opened in the capital city of Abuja Thursday.
Nigeria currently has a policy under which any aircraft older than 22 years cannot fly in the country's airspace.
But Minister of Aviation Stella Oduah said the federal government was considering lowering the age limit of aircraft further.
She said though the policy could have a short term negative impact on the desire to encourage the growth of domestic airlines, it should help strengthen and enhance airlines’ viability as business concerns.
“We will continue to encourage domestic airlines not only to grow in their individual capacities but to also consolidate wherever possible, so as to pool resources together for the emergence of more stable, viable and profitable airlines,'' she said at the conference.
The age of aircraft became an issue following the 3 June crash of a jetliner on a domestic flight, from the capital city of Abuja to the economic capital of Lagos, that left 159 people dead.
The revelations after the crash include that the MD-83 plane involved was more than 20 years old.
Meanwhile, President Goodluck Jonathan has said the government will provide a single digit intervention fund to grow domestic airline and encourage high net worth investors and indigenous companies to invest in the industry.
“In this regard, I have directed the Ministry of Trade and Investment, the Ministry of Finance and the Central Bank of Nigeria to propose an actionable plan towards the actualisation of this programme,” the President said in a speech read on his behalf by Vice President Namadi Sambo.
The government has previously granted an intervention fund of 300 billion naira to the aviation sector, in the wake of the air crashes recorded in 2005 and 2006 (US$1=155 Naira).
-0- PANA SEG 20July2012