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BASA; Good For Nigeria, Good For Israel

11/21/2013

The recent signing of a Bilateral Air Services Agreement (BASA) between OUT country, Nigeria and the Republic of Meal, on October 28,2013 k indeed a historic milestone in the country's Aviation history. Although the BASA is coming several decades after the two countries We established diplomatic relations and enjoyed strong economic and other ties, a new era of closer economic and other ties is anticipated, as direct flights begin between the two countries. At their meeting in Tel Aviv, Friday, October 25, 2013 .President Goodluck Jonathan and Isreali Prime Minister, Mr. Shimon Peres spoke about the relationship between both countries and their areas of common interest which include trade, agriculture and security.

The journey to the signing of the BASA agreement has been a long one, Several months before the President s visit, aviation officials of both countries had been working behind -die-scenes to ensure that a solid BASA that would benefit both countries had been drafted and agreed upon. And unsurprisingly, Aviation minister Princess Stella Oduah and some senior executives of her ministry and aviation parastatals were in the President s entourage to ensure that the BASA agreement signing went smoothly.

According to diplomatic protocol, due to the fact that it was the Isreali deputy foreign minister, Zeer Elkin that signed the BASA agreement on the Isreali side, Mrs. Onwuliri, the Nigerian junior minister of Foreign Affairs was mandated to sign the BASA cm behalf of the country. The Aviation Minister Stella Oduah who was very pleased with her achievement, said at the signing ceremony that she was optimistic that direct flights would soon start between the two countries. She noted that the BASA would open a new business opportunity for Nigerian airlines that can now fly direct from Nigeria to Isreal. Already, Arik Air has said that it has passed Isreali security audit which would dear the way for it to start flights between Lagos and Tel Aviv, when given approval by the Nigerian Aviation authorities.

After the signing, Onwuliri said that BASA would "augur well for movement of persons, our pilgrims, our businessmen, academics, the civil society and students."

Isreali expertise in agricultural technology, IT and security is well known. There are several Isreali-owned businesses in Nigeria that have been providing services mostly in the areas of agriculture, agro-allied machinery, consumer goods and IT services, for several decades. Thus, having direct air flight between the two countries would go a long way to further ease logistics and would help grow business and other activities between them.

Another key element of the relations between the two countries is the fact that Israel is the birth place of Jesus Christ, and is home to major Christian historical places and artifacts which usually draws Christians worldwide on pilgrimages to locations such as Jerusalem, Christ's birth place which is in Israel. This includes the more than a thousand Nigerian Christians who visit Israel every year on pilgrimage, About hair of that number visit the country (Israel on business trips every year and vice versa.

In recent times too, the Nigerian Aviation authorities have approved direct flights between another Middle Eastern country, Jordan and Nigeria. Such that in August, the Royal Jordanian Airline began direct flights between Lagos and Amman, which is the first time since our independence that such flights would occur between the two countries.

Undoubtedly, opening up and expanding the frontiers of the Nigerian Aviation industry has been a key objective of the Aviation Master plan and the Jonathan administration's Transformation Agenda for the Aviation sector, which is being spearheaded by current Aviation Minister, Princess Stella Oduah. Therefore, the historic signing of the BASA between Nigeria and Isreal is expected to, once again, open a new area of business opportunity for Nigerian airlines, aside from the benefits accruable to other areas of the economy, especially agriculture.

With the Nigerian-Isreali BASA in place, certified Nigerian airlines can now land directly at Tel Aviv airport and other approved locations in Isreal. A leading Nigerian airline, Arik Air is believed to have passed a security audit done by the Israeli authorities and may soon begin flights to Isreal, upon approval by the Nigerian Aviation authorities. Its definitely, another landmark for the Nigerian Aviation industry.

v  Dati' is general manager, corporate communication, FAAN


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