Experts canvass 20 planes per airline to force merger, competitiveness

Murtala Muhammed International Airport

• Global aviation forum opens in Abuja
Experts in the aviation industry have canvassed a minimum of 20 aircraft in the fleet of each local airline operating in the country to boost capacity, competitiveness and attract investors.

The experts, under the aegis of Aviation Safety Round Table Initiative (ASRTI), a think-tank group, said contrary to the current minimum of two-aircraft requirement for Air Operating Certificate (AOC), an upward review would force merger of the struggling airlines to emerge stronger for competition on the regional and international fronts.

ASRTI, in a statement issued at the end of the aviation conference 2017 in Lagos, recommended that operating local airlines should either merge or partner and pull resources together to establish a local maintenance hangar as a way of minimizing their aircraft maintenance cost.

“For Nigerian airlines to attract funding facilities from financiers and institutions that are predominantly based outside Nigeria, our airlines must be within these parameters; viability, capacity and the potentials to earn more revenue from commercial agreements in view of the weakness of the local currency.

“Therefore, we urgently call for regulatory consolidation process that increases the minimum fleet for AOC issuance for scheduled passenger airline operations from two aircraft to 20,” the statement read in part.

President of the think-tank group, Gbenga Olowo, said it was in the interest of all to have two strong local carriers of 20-aircraft fleet each than eight struggling airlines with 47 functional aircraft in total.

Also recommended by the group is the culture of corporate governance and transparency in the business of managing the aviation sector. They said government and other parties in infrastructure-related commercial agreements in the industry should respect the terms of such pacts if the industry is to move forward.

According to the experts, existing concession/agreements that have developed into controversies affecting the entire industry should be resolved immediately in the interest of the industry. taking cognizance of initial capital invested. Also, political interference should be avoided in the sector’s regulatory activities.

Also, there is a need to have surveillance cameras in and around every airport in Nigeria to be complimented with the establishment of Aviation Industry Cybersecurity Emergency Response Team (CERT) to enhance aviation security.

Meanwhile, the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) world aviation forum will open today in Abuja with some great infrastructure development deals set to be signed.

Among them is the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between International Air Transport Association (IATA) and the African Development Bank (AfDB). Another is the deal between Nigeria and the two aircraft manufacturing companies, Boeing and Air bus, on the forthcoming national carrier.

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