Nigeria’s system threatens airlines’ survival-Ibom Air’s COO

The Chief Operating Officer, Ibom Air, George Uriesi said the operational environment in Nigeria would make airlines not survive, adding that the system makes it impracticable for the survival of carriers.

Uriesi made the disclosure amid the precarious situation airlines in Nigeria are going through just as global carriers are reeling under difficulty in sourcing jet fuel including the economic recession that has hit the airline industry.

He made this statement while presenting a paper on runways utilisation at the 26th annual conference of the League of Airport and Aviation Correspondents (LAAC)

Penultimate week, Aero Contractors faced with challenges of high taxation, harsh operating environment, scarcity of aviation fuel and forex hiccups decided to voluntarily shut its operations till further notice.

Uriesi

A few days after that, the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) grounded Dana Airlines for safety-related issues.

The airline was grounded following what the NCAA regarded as the outcome of a financial and economic health audit conducted by the regulatory body and the findings of an investigation conducted on the airline’s flight operations recently which revealed that Dana Airlines was no longer in a position to meet its financial obligations and to conduct safe flight operations.

The NCAA said it ordered the indefinite suspension of the airline, “pursuant to Section 35(2), 3(b) and (4) of the Civil Aviation Act, 2006 and Part 1.3.3.3(a)(1) of the Nigeria Civil Aviation Regulations (Nig.CARs), 2015.

The situation has seriously put other carriers in a very tough situation as experts are worried about which airline is next to shut down or suspend services.

They are of the view that what is playing out occasioned by skyrocketing jet fuel could lead to the demise of many other airlines and one that could throw the sector into disarray.

Uriesi noted that based on what had been happening said the system was set up to threaten the survivability of airlines in the country.

The Ibom Air COO maintained that the airlines are operating in an environment that is limiting their productivity.

He said, “You are operating within a systematic limiting environment. That makes it harder to be as productive as your colleague in Europe, Asia and so on who fly their cLass C aeroplane (737s and A320s) a number of hours that make them highly productive than you who can hardly fly yours to maximize it.

“At the end of the day, the system is set up to threaten the survivability of airlines in Nigeria. There is no way to it. You will buy aeroplanes, more expensive, and pay expensive insurance costs. You will continue to sell naira and maintain your aeroplane in dollars. On top of it when it’s harmattan you can fly the aeroplane.”

The Ibom Air boss used the avenue to clamour for productivity. He explained that optimal productivity is determined by how many hours one flies their aircraft and how much a runway can be safely used.

According to Uriesi in his paper, ‘Maximising Runway Utilisation: A Nigerian Airline Perspective,’ the country’s carriers are losing an average of N4 million per flight, N12 million in every flight, N360 million in 90 flights and N4.3 billion annually on every flight lost to sunset airport operations.

This restriction, Uriesi noted has led to a huge underutilisation of aircraft fleets by the Nigerian airlines against the global industry standards.
He added: “This is due partly because of too many impediments in the operating environment that limit airline productivity.
“These include limited runway availability across the domestic network, multiple operational infrastructure deficiencies, poor organisation and many others.”
Nigerian airlines
In a bid to solve the challenge, Uriesi appealed to the government to prioritise airfield infrastructure and provide the necessary Instrument Landing System (ILS) and accompanying accessories for every airport, while also keeping the aerodromes open to meet the needs of airlines and other users.
Just recently, airline operators warned the travelling public to expect flight disruptions nationwide due to the scarcity of aviation fuel.

The statement signed by the Secretary of the Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON), Professor Obiora Okonkwo told air passengers to expect delays and cancellations from now on.

At the moment, only eight airlines fly in Nigeria’s airspace. They are Green Africa, Arik Air, Air Peace, Overland, Ibom Air, United Nigeria Airlines, Max Air and Azman.
Wole Shadare

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