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AAMON Boss Tasks Domestic Airlines on Merger, Codeshare

… NCAT Zaria lagging behind

ANTHONY OKECHUKWU

Chairman, Association of Aircraft Maintenance Organization of Nigeria, AAMON, Engr. Isaac David Balami has advised domestic airline operators to unite and work together to sustain their operations through code share and merger.
This is just as he said there is no better time than now, for operators to put away their ego and save themselves from running into debts with the current poor passenger load factor they are recording in all the routes.
Engr. Balami in a chat with reporters in Lagos recently, said a situation where 3 airlines schedule to fly to the same destination carrying 20 to 30 passengers each on an aircraft with over a 100 seats does not make a good business sense.
He stressed that, if the operators reach a Codeshare agreement, such passengers can be taken to that destination on a full aircraft operated by an operator, adding that this has been proved to be a win-win situation for many airlines that have adopted this strategy globally.
“The problem of domestic airlines first and foremost is that there is no unity, the way and manner Air France and KLM is working together, you hardly see two, three airlines coming to work to together. You see three airlines taking off at the same time with 5,5 passengers and they cannot say let us merger and they cannot say let only one person go because of pride and lack of unity.”
He stated that, if that merger strategy is embraced by operators, they must be willing to avoid any default to sustain the agreement.
“It is not their fault also, sometimes you want to collaborate and partner with somebody and the person would want to take advantage of you, sometimes you agree on a code sharing formula some people will go and default and that takes us back to what we are talking about, national culture, corporate culture, you can’t give what you don’t have.
If we train our children well now, to believe in themselves and to unite, in the next 10, 20 years because our children will grow and take over from us and do it right.”
According to AAMON Chairman, “So the problem is that we need to look at that critically, it is not easy, all hands must be on deck, I look forward to airlines coming together as soon as possible to start doing this code sharing, at some point an airline we tell you that my airline is new generation, your own is old generation how can you do code sharing? But there could be a balance.”
Engr. Balami who is also the Managing Director, 7Star Global Hangar said Nigerian airlines have faced and are still facing tough times because the operating environment is harsh for business to thrive, adding that access to forex is difficult, high cost of aviation fuel, huge taxes and lack of government support for its airlines on the regional and international space among others.
“We have failed that is just the truth and we need to have a deep reflection but aside that, that is just one variable, there are so many other variables. I was a member of the national carrier committee and we looked at all the variables, I was privileged to be in that committee, what are the challenges, to have a sustainable airline or nations carrier you must have a world class maintenance facility, there are airlines that are doing well with their two, three aircraft, managing their lives, they went for C-check and they couldn’t come back because of forex, the airline went down, there are airlines today that stopped flying to Dubai like Arik, they couldn’t compete with Emirates because the government couldn’t subsidise in fuel the way the Dubai government is subsidizing for Emirates Air”.
“What do I mean? You are buying fuel in Nigeria at one dollar then N200 and something per little at one dollar and your competitor Emirates competing with Arik on the same route, the same aircraft is buying aviation fuel for 15 cents 75% difference the amount you buy fuel in your country, how do you compete? At some point if you ask they will tell you Emirates did not make profit for so many years I don’t know about now but the country never saw it that Emirates was set up to make profit, they know the people that are on transit, do free duty shopping, they know the people that go into Dubai visa free and they get visa within 24 hours and they go into hotels and they pay VAT and people don’t default in remitting the VAT to the government by the time you put those things, duty shops, clothing, people goes to buy houses, people stay in apartments and everybody pay tax, what happens, the country is making it am not talking about Emirates making profit alone that is when there is a chain reaction”.
“When you have a country were the government has not done enough in the last 30 years to support, no matter the capital you are injecting into your operations it may be difficult to break even, yes, corporate culture, corporate governance is a major problem with the airline whereby you give with the left hand and take with the right hand, we know that but all airlines are not doing that in all honesty”, he added.
Engr. Balami however, noted that, there are airlines that are trying their best airlines that have been there for over 15-20 years unlike the normal lifespan that is 10 years but no encouragement.
On the training facility for manpower development for the industry, Balami lamented that after many years, government owned training college NCAT, Zaria is yet to migrate from post graduate training to Ph.D, adding pilots after the basic have to go abroad for simulator.
“You are talking about lack of world class training facility that after 50 something years NCAT Zaria it is still doing post graduate, you can’t do Ph.D there. NCAT Zaria can only do basic training for pilots you must go to UK, US, South Africa for your simulator, how much is money for visa, how much is money for tickets, how much is money for extacode and everything? How can the airlines survive?”