By Moyosola Okuneye
The Federal government has been urged to create an enabling environment for domestic airlines to flourish and operate effectively.
The Chief Executive Officer of African Aviation Services Limited, Nick Fadugba made this plea at the 23rd Conference of League of Airport & Aviation Correspondents(LAAC) held at Radisson Blu Hotel, Ikeja, Lagos.
“It is very painful when a private entrepreneur puts his funding, knowledge and staff into launching a new airline and they do not get the support that they need and deserve. If we go back historically and look at all the airlines that have failed in Nigeria, from Okada, ADC to Nigerian Airways, they are so many. I pay tribute to the owners and managers of these airlines that have failed in the past. This might not be due to their own fault but due to lack of government support and lack of ideal aviation policies”.
“What we need in Nigeria urgently is an enabling environment from the Federal Government of Nigeria. We must not pay lip service to cooperation and partnership. The government of Nigeria must support local carriers” he said.
Fadugba also supported the federal government’s plan float a new national carrier while stressing the need for minority government shareholding in order for the project to succeed.
“Aviation if properly harnessed can become one of the keys to Nigeria’s future prosperity. A situation in which 90% of international air traffic to and from Nigeria is carried by non-Nigerian airlines is damaging to the economy in several ways”.
“Due to the continued deterioration of the Nigerian aviation industry and the loss of aviation employment opportunities, I support the federal government’s plan to establish new national carrier. I support this idea if it is done transparently and skillfully by knowledgeable individuals. We need people at that table who know how to negotiate to get the best deal for Nigeria”.
“To succeed in the proposed national carrier, we need a sound business plan, strategic industry partners, adequate funding, an experienced managing team, well trained staff, a fleet of modern aircraft, a comprehensive route network ,on time performance, good customer service, good governance and no government interference in the management of the airline” he said.
According to him, the aviation industry would move forward through, goodwill, expertise of the government, and strategic partnership.
The Chief Executive Officer of TopBrass Aviation, Captain Roland Iyayi while speaking at the event also stressed the importance of the aviation industry to economic growth, noting that the country has the mass market needed for the business.
“There are several excuses given as to why airlines don’t survive. Some have said its because it is a one man syndrome, others have said it’s as a result of corporate governance and there are other reasons that they have given. You have the money but the point is how do you support those who are investing their money into the business and that is where policy comes in. The role of government is ensuring that the airlines that you designate from your country are supported so that everything they need to operate on the other side is available. The onus rests more on the government. They need to encourage the private investors with consistent and deliberate policies to grow the industry”.
“Airlines in Nigeria can thrive because we have the mass market except for the issues we have raised consistently over time. The airlines can drive our GDP from .4 from 2 percent in five years and 2 percent increase in our GDP is phenomenal” he opined.