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Nigeria is making a break-through in what is expected to be the first interline/codeshare deal between domestic airlines in Nigeria as fast growing Ibom Air has concluded plans to unveil the new partnership with an un-named carrier next month. There are indications that the deal is with Dana Air
The idea for domestic airline interline had been on the table for close to 20 years without any appreciable progress. While Air France interlined with defunct Bellview and Aero many years ago, domestic airlines have shied away from it as a result of many bottlenecks and challenges associated with the arrangement that experts believe are surmountable.
An interline flight is an agreement between airlines to coordinate passengers with an itinerary that uses multiple airlines, without having to check in again or deal with their baggage at the stopover while codeshare agreement is where airlines operate flights on behalf of another airline, using their flight code.
The Chief Operating Officer of Ibom Air, Mr. George Uriesi at the quarterly Aviation Round Table (ART) Breakfast meeting held virtually with theme, “Utilising Interlining and Codeshare Agreements as Tools for Domestic Airlines Profitability and Passenger Comfort;, disclosed the extent at which his airline had gone to bring innovation to fruition.
He stated that his carrier just finished a long process of interlining with some Nigerian airlines, adding, “We are going to launch soon by May, 2021”.
He described the country’s airline industry as competitive because of proliferation of airlines for a small pool of market which comes with lots of empty seats when aircraft doors are closed.
His words, “We are on the last phase of the interline project. By May, we shall launch. The challenge of it is to have partners who are organized and who meet up with the organization of your company. Your workforce has to work together, seat together to look at your schedule, integrate into your reservation system”.
The Director-General of NCAA, Capt. Musa Nuhu lauded Uriesi for the idea that he said would help airlines to maximize profit and make air travel to be enjoyable for passengers and on the other hand eliminate delay and flight cancellations.
According to him, “We are happy about this. Airlines are supposed to manage their business properly. These agreements are business decisions by airlines have several benefits both for the airlines and passengers. I don’t see why a country of 200 million people cannot have 30 million passengers. It is not encouraging”.
“The airlines need political will to work together. Nigeria has the market. We must our resources and energy into this to bring it to fruition and not allow airlines like Ethiopian Airlines and Kenya take advantage of our huge market”.
President, ART, Dr. Gbenga in his opening remark lamented that airlines’ poor schedule integrity year on year has eroded the good performance of the carriers following passengers’ complain of poor services offered by many of the airlines.
He said, “Poor on-time performance, depleting and inadequate fleet have led to many of the challenges of airlines. If we had interline arrangement, It would have helped to reduce the hardship faced by passengers who in most times are faced with long hours of delay and in some cases, cancellation of flights”.
Former director-General of NCAA, Dr. Harold Demuren expressed joy at the one-ticket initiative by Ibom Air and others.
Demuren flayed the slow process of interline/codeshare in Nigeria, stressing that this should have been done long time ago in the interest of the sector.
He pointed to the use and advancement of technology by commercial banks with the way a Bank ATM machine can be use for financial transactions in other Banks’ ATM cards.
He stated that aviation in Nigeria should be at the fore front of the deployment of technology to make air travel seamless and enjoyable.