Cut airlines in Nigeria to four with 20 planes each, ex-AFCAC chief, Sosina tells FG

***Calls for collaboration, Fadugba laments lopsided BASA

***Foster faults multiple taxations

 Former Secretary General of African Civil Aviation Commission (AFCAC), Ms. Iyabo Sosina has advocated for a policy that could see airlines in Nigeria reduced to not more than four in Nigeria with maximum of between ten and 20 aircraft.

This is coming amid call by Nigeria’s respected international aviation consultant and Chairman, African Business Aviation Association (AfBAA), Mr. Nick Fadugba called for an immediate review of Nigeria’s Bilateral Air Services Agreement (BASA) to create an enabling business environment for Nigerian airlines.

Fadugba noted that the multiple entry points and the frequencies of foreign airlines have been more disadvantageous to the Nigeria airlines as opposed to the advantages the agreement was supposed to present.

According to him, at the time the Bilateral agreement was made, the Nigerian airlines in play at the time was relatively new and now, to ensure the growth of the airlines, there’s a need to review the agreement to properly incorporate the airlines as the agreements do not favour the average Nigerian carrier.

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The experts spoke at the recent webinar organised by AELEX Partners, the third in the series of its aviation webinars.

For Sosina, raising of critical mass by Nigerian airlines would help to put them on a high pedestal just as many of the nation’s carriers are generally said to be weak, fragmented and small as virtually all the carriers lack the capacity and capability to compete with the smallest airlines in many parts of the globe.

Nigerian carriers have an average fleet of between three and six aircraft, a number not enough to compete with British Airways that has over 200 aircraft.

Delta Airlines have over 400 aircraft. Ethiopian Airlines has over 100 aircraft and this makes it difficult for them to compete. Competition is not realistic for the country’s airlines.

The aviation industry in Nigeria and elsewhere is cut throat, meaning if they don’t have a critical mass in terms of size, in term of good management, in terms of fleet, in terms of good network, it is very hard for them to succeed.

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Not a few think the industry needs a re-organisation, needing a kind of jolt to get the sector working.

Sosina also noted that more than ever before, there’s a need for airlines to initiate collaborative ways of doing business just as she admitted that mergers can’t be forced.

This she said will make the industry stronger to be able to compete on not just the domestic level but also on the regional and international scenes.

Her words, “I advise that airlines in Nigeria should be reduced to not more than four. These airlines must be able to boast of between 10-20 aircraft each. More than ever before, there’s a need for airlines to initiate collaborative ways of doing business as mergers can’t be forced”.

 

 

The former AFCAC chief, however stated that the future of air transport in Nigeria is bright despite all the challenges at play now, stressing that there’s a need to focus on the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) without unnecessary political interference with the authority.

The Principal Managing Partner at Avaero Capital Partners, Sindy Foster stated that the Nigerian aviation industry had been in crisis way before Covid-19.

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According to her, the lack of capitalization and the low propensity of Nigerians to fly has been a major issue which, more than ever before, has become pertinent to address.

For her, there’s a need to look into the factors frustrating the airlines business.

She listed the problems as ticket prices, urging government to remove multiple taxations to encourage airlines growth.

Foster also expressed disappointment that the Nigerian government jumped on the train of social distancing on flights by reducing load factor to between 50 per cent-70 per cent.

According to her, the airlines were already in a dire situation when they were operating at full capacity and asking them to reduce the load capacity is another way of putting down airlines striving to get back on their feet post covid-19.

Wole Shadare