National carrier, not a priority for Nigeria at present, says expert
AS the country is making plans to flag a national carrier like other nations, an expert in aviation industry has expressed that, with the economy state of the country, the carrier should not be a priority at the moment for Nigeria.
Speaking with Journalists in Lagos on Tuesday, the Chief Executive Officer, FMC Aviation Services Limited, Albert Odika stated that a lot of things need to be in place, so that the country can have a national carrier that should be able to give concessions to ensure that they are making profits, even out of being cheaper than the other commercial carriers.
According to him, “if our economy for now, we are going through a recovery process like other countries, who went through such and are doing well today. So, we are going through a recession and restructuring a lot of things. I would like to say at this point that the national carrier is not a priority for Nigeria at the moment”.
“Let us get our processes right, our training right, have the versatility on the aircraft type we operate in Nigeria. We can key in with the trend now because of the associated cost, if we are able to do that, we will be able to start reporting profit”, he added.
Furthermore he said that the aircraft type that the domestic operators use that is the Boeing 737 is mostly use for regional flights, which is not for domestic aircraft.
According to Odika, it can be recalled that in the past, most of the local carriers were using Fokker aircraft have decided to stick with B737 as an offshoot for what Nigeria Airways used for most of their regional flights.
He noted that the cost of running B7337 is high, stressing that the fuel charges with a return flights is running for over half a million, which include the navigational charges, NIMET charges, landing and take off charges, landing and parking. When you calculate all these charges, you see that the industry is not making any profit, he pointed.
His words: “ the B737 aircraft is a wonderful aircraft, they are cheaper when used for training, Airlines like EgyptAir, Kenya Airways, Ethiopian Airways all use B737 fir five and half hours flights, because 500 series to 800 series that Arik Air use in Nigeria has over seven to eight hours resistance”.
He also state that the high charges that are being impose on the airline operators would frustrate them and also frustrate the associated organizations that support the airlines to do business.
Speaking further, Odika said that “the reason why the operators use B737 in this country is because the sort of training that they go for, which Boeing is cheaper than the other major manufacturers, such as Airbus, Bombardier, Embraer, with Boeing, because B737 is one of the most popular aircraft in the world today. And the type of training is cheaper than Airbus and others. Also, is the aircraft that they buy”.
“Let us look at other manufacturers and revise the mathematical era this time to cost plus necessity. When you paid high cost initially, it is cheaper on the long run. We look at our cost, can we afford to keep B737 in the air, as domestic airline”.
“So what we are saying is get the smaller aircraft in, say jet, open up more regional routes or have sky Hooper aircraft running the domestic routes”, he added.
Odika however, noted that Nigeria could collaborate with foreign companies on training of pilots, who specializes on training of aircraft types.
According to him, “We need to look at collaboration to save our cost, because a lot of pilots are struggling in Nigeria. So government should assist the pilots on comprehensive training for them to be versatile as pilots”.
Speaking on cargo, Odika noted: “a lot of rehabilitation has been done in our airports to encourage cargo, but we can not run away from the fact that Nigeria depends highly on imports. We do export, but a lot of export go by sea, because of the cost of exporting by air”.
“My advise of bringing a national carrier, which does not mean bringing in aircraft and flying in the air. A national carrier should be cheaper than the commercial carrier”, he said.