Festus Keyamo meets counterparts from State of Qatar and Kingdom of Saudi Arabia at the Ongoing Future Aviation Forum (FAF) in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

The Minister of Aviation and Aerospace Development with his counterpart from the State of Qatar
The Minister of Aviation and Aerospace Development with his counterpart from the State of Qatar

At the Future Aviation Forum, which is the third in the series aimed at Elevating Global Connectivity and enhancing aviation collaboration via global partnerships, fostering innovation, sustainable air travel and cultural exchange, Honourable Minister of Aviation and Aerospace Development, Festus Keyamo, CON, SAN, FCAirb (UK) met separately with the Minister of Transport of the State of Qatar, His Excellency Jassim Saif Ahmed Al-Sulaiti and Minister of Transport and Logistics of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, His Excellency Saleh Al-Jasser, on the sidelines in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

The meetings at the instances of the two Ministers from the Middle East countries were centred on how to further cement relationship with Nigeria in the area of air transportation and logistics.

Keyamo stated that Nigeria would like to learn from the experience and success of Qatar in airline operations, particularly on how the country was able to make a success out of Qatar Airways by making it a brand name globally. He sought the assistance of his counterpart from Qatar to ensure that Qatar Airways patronises local catering services on the airline’s return trip to Doha from Nigeria. This he stated would contribute to the local economy in line with the signed BASA and the principle of reciprocity. He also informed the Qatari Minister that Nigeria would be hosting her first international airshow in Lagos in February 2025 and would like the participation of aviation companies from Qatar.

The Qatari Minister of Transport at the meeting with Keyamo indicated interest in partnering with Nigeria in ensuring that both countries benefit from the subsisting Bilateral Air Services Agreement (BASA) between them. He underscored the importance of Nigeria in Africa, as a country with tremendous potentials and that Qatar would like to strengthen its air connectivity with Nigeria by offering some level of assistance. He invited Keyamo to visit Doha for more advanced bilateral discussions.

On the patronage of local catering services, Al-Sulaiti affirmed that Qatar Airways have always patronised local catering services and would never deviate, as it was the airline’s way of contributing to the GDP of Nigeria. On the Lagos International Airshow, he promised to galvanise support for its successful hosting by mobilising aviation companies in Qatar to participate in the Airshow.

The Minister of Aviation and Aerospace Development with his counterpart from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
The Minister of Aviation and Aerospace Development with his counterpart from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

Similarly, Keyamo appreciated his counterpart from the KSA, His Excellency Saleh Al-Jasser for his interest in developing the cargo operations between the two countries. He informed that Nigeria had seven dedicated cargo airports that could service the cargo operations and allayed the fears that funds on the cargo business could be trapped in Nigeria. He stated that Nigeria has improved in terms of Forex liquidity due to the policy put in place by the current administration under the leadership of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, GCFR. He commended the KSA for the tremendous development she had attained in civil aviation stating that Nigeria would like to benefit from the vision in terms of airport design and the floating of a leasing company. On the problems encountered during the current Hajj exercise, he promised to take the necessary action to forestall reoccurrence by ensuring that the concerned Government agency responsible takes the necessary action.

His Excellency Saleh Al-Jasser, dwelled on how to rejig the comatose cargo flight operations between Nigeria and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Al-Jasser made it known that there was high volume of cargo flights between Nigeria and his country in the past, but the traffic was affected due to the inability of freighters from the KSA to repatriate their funds. He stated that with the current leadership in Nigeria, he had the believe that the narration was going to change. He made it known that Saudi Arabia made a total of fifteen cargo flights to China which Nigeria could leverage to freight goods to and from China. Speaking further, he averred that the tremendous growth in Aviation in Saudi Arabia was in line with the vision of the leadership of his country which was a testament and an inspiration that “we all can change’’ and promised to share his country’s experience with Nigeria. Other area of discussion was the airlift of pilgrims from Nigeria to the Holy Land with the Saudi Arabian Minister affirming tremendous improvements from the part of Nigeria, but that there were issues concerning late departure attributed to delay in payment of Basic Travel Allowance (BTA) to the pilgrims and access to aviation fuel.

The forum which started on Monday, 20th May, 2024 will end on Wednesday, 22nd May 2024.

Odutayo Oluseyi