Stakeholders canvass govt support for sector’s development

By Chika Goodluck-Ogazi and Sunday Aikulola   |   11 September 2015   |   4:23 am  
L-R: Chairman, Aircraft Owners Association of Nigeria, Capt. Mohammed Joji; Lecturer, Cambridge University, UK, Prof. Anthony Kila; Chairman, Arik Air, Sir Arumemi Johnson-Ikhide and President, Aviation Round Table, Elder Gbenga Olowo, during the 2015 Breakfast Meeting, entitled: Ownership, Funding and Sustainability of Nigeria Airlines, at G.R.A. Ikeja, Lagos.

L-R: Chairman, Aircraft Owners Association of Nigeria, Capt. Mohammed Joji; Lecturer, Cambridge University, UK, Prof. Anthony Kila; Chairman, Arik Air, Sir Arumemi Johnson-Ikhide and President, Aviation Round Table, Elder Gbenga Olowo, during the 2015 Breakfast Meeting, entitled: Ownership, Funding and Sustainability of Nigeria Airlines, at G.R.A. Ikeja, Lagos.

For Nigeria to have formidable local airlines the government must give full support to the development of aviation industry in the country. This was the assertion of the stakeholders in the sector.

Indeed, the stakeholders believed that if a new carrier is born without solving the present challenges facing airline business in Nigeria, the new airline might likely not survive as others in the past.

However, they solicited that all necessary activities, infrastructures, efficiency and profitability should be put in place to solve the problems on ground, adding that government must back the airlines for them to succeed.

Speaking at a Breakfast Meeting organized by members of Aviation Roundtable Safety Initiative (ARTSI), on Wednesday in Lagos, on failed airlines, one of the guest speakers; captain Nogge Meggison noted that a thriving airline industry could only be achieved through government partnering with private companies.

He stated that there have been many changes over the last 15 years in the Nigerian airline business in terms of growing, shirking, appearing and disappearing.

According to him, Nigerian aviation industry is facing unique sub-scale players, poor efficiency and profitability, stressing that air transport in Africa is the most expensive in any place in the world.

Meggison, who mentioned reasons for airlines failing in Nigeria, noted that, the country lacked skilled resources and heavy maintenance infrastructure, which increases cost to the industry, coupled with poor facilities. However, he said that aviation safety in Nigeria is improving; airline customer experience is improving also, but added that the country is far from international standards.

His words: “ We are still a bit below expectation, but can improve if we keep a strong focus in efficiency and profitability without forgetting safety imperative.

Also speaking at the event, the Chairman, Arik Air, Johnson Arumemi-Ikhide, said that civil servants are the ones destroying the aviation industry in Nigeria. According to him, the ministry of aviation is the problem the Nigerian airlines are facing today. He however stated that government should do a comprehensive forensic report of the industry.

Arumemi-Ikhide maintained that Nigerian airports are not passengers’ friendly, stating that, the country can have more than three national carriers so as to boost airline business in the country.

He said that national carrier is good, but the government should support the existing ones so that they can survive as the flag carriers of Nigeria.

Speaking on the inefficiency of the civil service, he cited the case of National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) that asked him questions concerning dogs and he said he told them that they brought dogs from South Africa: three for narcotics and three for explosives we went to Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), ‘for six months we kept going to FAAN concerning permission to use the dogs but to no avail.

When you see the obstacles that are facing us, you wonder how we are surviving.It is just the determination that we will not fail.’ Concerning the national career, he said it was a welcome development but added that whatever amount of money is given to the national career should also be given to other private operators.

The Chairman, Aircraft Owners Association of Nigeria (AOAN), Captain Mohhmmed Joji also called the government to reduce the duty charges paid by the airlines in order to reduce their high cost of operation, adding that the high operating cost has been a threat to aviation industry’s survival and growth in Nigeria.

For the operators to survive in the business, there is the need for the government to harmonise some of these charges in the overall interest of the sector.

The charges are not good for the industry as a whole and we urge the government to find ways of addressing this issue which has become a major challenge to us,” he said. Speaking on funding and sustainability, the Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer, Mr. Bismarck Rewane noted that the economy success of the country would definitely guarantee aviation success and vise visa.

According to him, Nigeria has been one of the greatest beneficiaries of the oil price shock, stating that jet fuel price declined as crude price weakened.

He also noted that the International Air Transport Association (IATA) has raised global airlines profit forecast to $29.3billion for 2015 due to lower oil price. He stated that African airlines have the weakest growth market in the world.

Rewane however said that air cargo is experiencing new growth after several years of stagnation. The President, Aviation Round Table (ART), Gbenga Olowo said that formidable Nigeria airline would only emerge if the government will support the airlines. He enjoined the government to mid-wife the airlines and give all the necessary support to develop the Nigerian aviation.



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