A renowned aviation expert and chief executive officer of African Aviation Services Limited, Mr. Nick Fadugba has called for cooperation, collaboration and a win-win partnerships in the Nigerian and African aviation industry.
Speaking at the 22nd League of Airport and Aviation Correspondents, LAAC seminar at the Sheraton Hotel Ikeja, Lagos, on the theme: Financing Aviation Development through Private Sector Partnership, Nick Fadugba noted that the best way forward for the country’s aviation industry is cooperation, collaboration and a win-win partnerships.
In his presentation titled Partnerships: Key to Survival of Domestic Airlines, Fadugba observed that partnerships is critical to the growth of Nigerian aviation industry.
He stressed the need for the government to also create an enabling environment for the airlines to thrive.
The renowned expert also emphasised the need for interlining, code sharing, joint operations among the airlines, partnerships and cooperation with the leasing companies, banks among others.
Fabugba stated that Nigeria needs strong airlines and strong hub airports for the industry to do well.
He maintained that a strong hub airport is key to connectivity which stimulates growth.
The chief executive officer of African Aviation Limited emphasised that no government allows foreign airlines control 90 percent of her air traffic.
He observed that there are lots of uncertainties in the industry concerning the new national carrier.
He tasked the Nigerian airlines to collaborate among themselves to build a national hanger in the country.
Fadugba advised the Nigerian government to adopt the Singaporean and Dubai models in the country’s aviation industry.
He asked if three Nigerian carriers, Med-View, Air Peace, and the coming new national carrier, Air Nigeria would be competing among themselves on the international route since three of them will be operating international flights.
Fadugba observed that no country can afford to have its three carriers competing among themselves on the international route and survive.
Speaking at the event, the chairman of the occasion and chairman of Air Peace, Mr Allen Onyema warned that allowing foreign airlines to originate their flights from Nigeria is a rape of the country’s economy.
He stressed the need for the protection of the country’s domestic airlines for them to survive and grow.
Onyema tasked the government on the improvement of the poor and decaying airport infrastructure.
He said though interlining is the best way to go for the industry, but it is hampered by lack of trust, suspicion and lack of co-operation among the airlines.
He noted that perception is another major problem of the industry where Nigerians perceived foreign airlines to be much safer than Nigerian airlines.
He said: “When foreign airlines delay flights because of engine problem or to rectify a snag so that the aircraft can fly, is okay for Nigerian passengers, they will wait for the aircraft to be fixed so that they can fly the aircraft, but when it comes to Nigerian airlines, the aircraft is unsafe. This is not good for the industry. Some passengers can even disembark from the aircraft and start spreading false stories that the airline is unsafe”.
On the issue of the new national carrier, Onyema said the national carrier is a welcome development.
He said the establishment of the new national carrier must be transparent with a level playing field for other operators in the industry.
Onyema pointed out that since the new national carriers is going to be a private sector owned and driven, no preferential treatment should be given to the carrier or advantage above other operators who are also private sector investors who have invested their resources in the industry.
Air Peace chairman said other airline operators should be given the same concession, privileges and rights the new carrier will be given, adding that no domestic airline should be given better privileges than others .
He stated that President Muhammadu Buhari will not like anything that will kill or frustrate the country’s already existing domestic airlines which must be allowed to exist side by side with the national carrier.
In his presentation also, the director general of the Consumer Protection Council, CPC, Babatunde Irukera noted that one of the key ways of boosting the confidence of the aviation industry is through perception since the industry is perceived in some quarters to be unsafe.
Irukera stated that safety is the second area that will help to boost confidence in the aviation industry as tourists who may be going for vacation may not fly if they do not feel safe.
He said the whole essence of consumer protection is the protection of the citizens, adding that there is operators failure and complicity in regulatory compliance.
The CPC DG noted that no amount of challenge or constraints constitute an excuse to delay passengers.
He noted that the council is not in conflict with the the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority, NCAA but complement each other in different areas.