Merger, Code-Share Remedy To Nigerian Airlines’ Survival

**Carriers need to have deep reflection-Balami


Nigerian airlines have been tasked to cooperate through code-share or merger as a way of getting them out of the woods and the threat of insolvency that is staring them in the face occasioned by COVID- 19.

Chairman, Association of Aircraft Maintenance Organization of Nigeria (AAMON), Isaac David Balami, an aircraft engineer, while speaking with Woleshadarenews, lamented that a situation where three airlines schedule to fly to the same destination carrying 20 to 30 passengers each on an aircraft with over a 100 seats does not make a good business sense.

He stressed that if the operators reached a code-share agreement, all such passengers can be taken to that destination on a full aircraft operated by one airline, adding that this has been proved to be a win-win for many airlines in the world who have adopted this strategy.

According to him, “The problem of domestic airlines, first and foremost, is that there is no unity, the way and manner Air France and KLM is working together, you hardly see two, three airlines coming to work to together. You see three airlines taking off at the same time with 55 passengers and they cannot say let us merger and they cannot say let only one person go because of pride and lack of unity.”

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He stated that if the strategy is embraced by operators, they must and be willing to avoid any default to sustain the agreement. Balami, who is also the Managing Director, 7Star Global Hangar, said Nigerian airlines had faced and are still facing tough times because the operating environment is harsh for business to thrive, adding that access to foreign exchange is extremely difficult coupled with high cost of aviation fuel, huge taxes and lack of government support which have made the business very difficult.

He said: “We have failed that is just the truth and we need to have a deep reflection but aside that, that is just one variable, there are so many other variables. I was a member of the national carrier committee and we looked at all the variables. I was privileged to be in that committee, what are the challenges?

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“To have a sustainable airline or national carrier, you must have a world class maintenance facility. There are airlines that are doing well with their two, three aircraft, managing their life, they went for C-check and they couldn’t come back because of forex; the airline went down”.

“There are airlines today that stopped flying to Dubai like Arik. They couldn’t compete with Emirates because the government couldn’t subsidize fuel the way the Dubai government is subsidizing for Emirates Air. “What do I mean?

“You are buying fuel in Nigeria at one dollar then at N210 per little at one dollar and your competitor Emirates competing with Arik on the same route, the same aircraft is buying aviation fuel for 15 cents 75% difference the amount you buy fuel in your country, how do you compete?”

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He lauded some airlines that have weathered the storm for between 15 and 20 years considering the short lifespan of airlines in Nigeria that survived without government assistance.

On the training facility for  manpower  development for the industry, Balami lamented that after many years, government owned training college, Nigerian College of Aviation Technology (NCAT), Zaria, was yet to migrate from post graduate training to advanced programme, adding that pilots after the basic have to go abroad for simulator.

Wole Shadare