BY ANTHONY AWUNOR |
As Nigeria searches for a mega carrier that will stand the test of time, meet the desired requirements for operational reciprocity and balance up the Bilateral Air Services Agreements (BASA), stakeholders in the nation’s aviation industry have advised domestic airline operators to merge with one another.
According to them, merger is the only way domestic airlines can function smoothly, beating the 10-year ceiling for closure and also make economic impact consistently.
Reports have indicated that except for Aero Contractors, that was initially managed by British technical partner, hardly is there one Nigerian domestic airline that had up to 10 years lifespan.
It becomes even more worrisome in an era that, COVID-19 safety measures will add to the costs of operation.
Despite these challenges of high mortality coupled with other operational factors, domestic airlines, over the years, have not found the need to merge due to reasons that experts attribute to personal ego.
Speaking on the need for local airline to merge, former commandant Murtala Muhammed International Airport (MMIA) group Captain John Ojikutu noted that the refusal to merge is primarily caused by ego coupled with the fact that there are some loopholes in the government policies.
Advising the government, Capt Ojikutu said, “Individual egos is the cause. Government policy on private airline operators is not well defined, this has created the recklessness in the management of their earnings and carelessness about their debts especially to the government services providers.”
According to Ojikutu, a review of the policy should restrict their operations in the domestic routes for minimum of four years and with good economic or commercial audit reports of another four years, before they can be approved for regional routes.
Explaining further, Ojikutu, an aviation security expert said, “Further progression into continental routes should also be considered only with clean economic or commercial audits of another four years; same for approval into intercontinental routes. For any of them to enjoy government financial intervention or designated as a flag carrier, it must sell minimum 40 per cent of its shares to the public, quoted on NSE and showing always good annual financial returns to the shareholders.”