There are indications that more airlines, especially domestic carriers, may join Nigeria’s aviation industry in 2017.
Sources in the nation’s aviation sector told LEADERSHIP that the federal government’s decision to grant forex concession to both local and foreign airlines in the country has been a source of encouragement to operators in the sector.
Although it is still uncertain which airlines would come on board, industry sources are of the opinion that with the high desire for investment and partnerships from foreign investors, new airlines may join the fray.
Speaking on the possibility of new airlines, former director of Flight Operations, Chachangi Airlines, Alhaji Mohammed Tukur, expressed optimism about the emergence of new airlines because of the already high desire for investment in the aviation industry by foreign investors.
“There is the possibility of more airlines because you have so many investors who are ready to come in and invest, because I believe the polity favours foreign investors. We at the aviation industry know how many people are coming to us and saying that they want to bring their aircraft and that they are looking for partnerships.
“If you know the number of companies all over the world wanting to come and invest in the aviation industry in Nigeria, you will be surprised. Really, there are a lot of possibilities that some airlines would resume operations soon,” Tukur said.
To aviation expert and head of Research, Zenith Travels, Mr. Olumide Ohunayo, new airlines are not the issue but their ability to sustain their operations.
“Nigeria’s Air Operator’s Certificate (AOC) is the cheapest to get in the sub region, but what value is an AOC when after five years, they are back to square one and the airline cannot function,” Ohunayo asked.
He further noted that almost all the airlines in the sector are operating under IATA Operational Safety Audit (IOSA) programme, yet most of them have not found their feet.
IOSA programme is an internationally recognised and accepted evaluation system designed to assess the operational management and control systems of an airline.
The aviation expert, however, pointed out that most of the airlines are still bedeviled with financial problems despite their good safety status.
“I am not excited about any airline coming back but (I’m) much concerned if they can sustain themselves”, Ohunayo emphasised.
A competent industry source, however, expressed uncertainty over new airlines, saying they had not yet received any of such applications.
Speaking on the matter, a top management official of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), who would not like to be named, said, “If more airlines would join, I have not had any application. I have not seen their application. We only deal with records.”
Meanwhile, many stakeholders in the aviation industry are of the view that 2017 holds a better outlook for the sector.
First is the expected improvement of passenger traffic which was heavily hampered by the stoppage of flight operations by many domestic airlines in the previous year.
For instance, Aero Contractors, First Nation and others stopped scheduled flight operations in the last quarter of 2016, creating tension and low traffic flow in the system. It is, however, expected that some of the airlines will bounce back to their normal operations in 2017 so as to close the gap.
In addition, if the airport concession plan by the federal government sails through, it then means that there would be infrastructural development at the various airports, particularly Abuja, Port Harcourt, Kano and Lagos.
Source : Leadership