Being a paper presented by Mr Gbenga Olowo at the Aviation Economic Summit Group Breakfast Meeting in Lagos, recently.
I am raising an issue for thought for the Aviation Industry. Let us ask ourselves why we are sitting here this morning. We are sitting here this morning at the Aviation Economic Summit Group Breakfast Meeting because of the airlines, No airline. no airport, no airline; no catering service; no airline no Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA); no airline, no FAAN; no airline, no all of us.
Like Sabre Travel Solution Company, when I entered the industry, over 30 years ago, Nigerian Airways had engineering department, reservation and booking centre, cargo department, name it, the airline was everything, I couldn’t remember if Nigeria had an airport. It was Nigerian Airways. I couldn’t differentiate between an airport and Nigerian Airways. As at that time, the airline was big, I did not hear the airport asking Nigerian Airways you are owing me money. I couldn’t remember airspace asking Nigerian Airways, where is money? What is an airline today, reservation and ticketing is outsourced, catering is outsourced, engineering is outsourced, and everything is out sourced. All of us, are feeding on this empty body called airline. We now hear on the news, Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria is going to ground the airlines, they are owing, some of the foreign airlines are equally owing. I know why we owe. Economics is about reality in taking facts. When America realised that all her businesses were going bad, example, AIG, GM in the private sector, the president said, gentlemen, let us face the reality of our economic challenges; AIG was bailed out from tax payers’ money, same as GM Motors. How come that other economices are more realistic than African economy? During the time of 9/11, the airlines faced a very tough challenge world over. Insurance premium went up, it was about 350 per cent increase in insurance premium. I remember I was the Executive Director of Bellview Airlines at that time, and we made a brief visit to our then minister of aviation and complained what was done to other airlines in the world. Nigeria please help us, because our insurance premium has gone up, 350 per cent. Why did the United States of America bail out the airlines at that time? They saw that the 9/11 problem was a sovereign challenge. It was not a challenge to the airlines, it was a challenge to the sovereignty, it now affected all of us here in Africa. It was also a challenge therefore to our sovereignty, and we expected government to bail out the airlines, we never had bail out, we have to cough out the money we did not have to pay those increased insurance premium.
Today, we say we have 14 airlines in Nigeria after the liberalisation, but I say the 14 airlines are not equal to the Nigerian Airways we had years ago. What we had in the market is substitution. We are replacing the disease that killed Okada Airlines; that killed Kabo Air, that killed Oriental Airlines, that killed Harco Air, that killed Harco Air, that disease was and is still there and may likely kill very present ones. Aviation Development Company (ADC) Airlines was doing very well; professionals were there; that disease killed them, Bellview is there now, walking on one leg, but it was the best airline of the time, when Nigerian Airways was not there. It was the pride of the country, now the reality is that all of us FAAN, NAMA, NAHCO, these organs feed on the airlines – yes. The airlines must pay for services, services rendered by FAAN, landing and parking, rent. But what do we find on our tariff today as airlines? We find ticket sales charge, 5per cent, passenger service charge, 5per cent and so the airlines have become a revenue collector. I don’t know any revenue collector in this world that does the job free of charge. If the International Air Transport Association, (IATA) collects revenue for you, it charges about 5per cent of the amount collected. I also know that when tax collectors were collecting money for Lagos State government, those companies were charging on the amount collected.
The airlines in our system haven’t made our government realise the problems and challenges that we are facing. We collect the money but are not able to pay it to you because we have our own pressing need. Our own pressing need is that we are charging passengers in the aeroplane who must go and the priority is to fuel that aircraft. Rather than fuel the aircraft, I will not give the money to FAAN, NAHCO, NCAA, SAHCOL and the rest. So long I am collecting the revenue, the money is in my pocket. I will solve my problem first and the debt as my asset. How long are they carrying it as an asset! that is the reality. If you shut all the airlines, then, they will not be able to pay those funds anymore.
The best idea is not to shut them down but the reality is to say all right, as from today, lets give you 50 per cent off: we are all feeding on the airlines, and the airlines are saying, we are weak, we are sick, help us.
My humble submission is that if all of us survive on the airlines, and the airlines say we are sick, especially the Nigerian airlines, that are sick and if you don’t want them to go the way others went in the earlier days, let’s bail them out economically, that is the reality.
Olowo is president of Sabre Travel Solutions. A licenced travel agent and member International Air Transport Association (IATA).
Nigeria Saves $500,000 From Calibration Aircraft – Minister
The Minister of Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika, has said that Nigeria will be saving a lot of money from the acquisition of a custom made calibration aircraft recently acquired by the Federal Government.
Sirika who disclosed this while speaking to aviation correspondents in Abuja, Tuesday, said the purpose of the aircraft was to calibrate navigational equipment and aid the country for the purpose of flight operations.
The aircraft which is worth about $8.5 million, according to the minister, will be commercialised to generate revenue, and keep the industry safe.
“We used to have one in Nigeria, but for the last two decades, we never had any. What propelled us to procure this aircraft was that while we were reconstructing the Abuja runway, we needed to recalibrate all those landing aids. That is the standard requirement and this is to ensure they are working in perfect order.
“The last time Nigeria had such aircraft was 20 years ago under cover aviation flying unit. We did not have the capacity as a country, the only people close to us that had is ASECNA which is owned by French speaking countries, but the aircraft is domiciled in Niger.
“We approached them but they did not have a slot for us. If I hadn’t got the support of far away South Africa, we would not beat the six weeks deadline.
“Nigeria will be saving a lot of money by procuring this aircraft. I know I paid about $500,000 when our equipment was due to South African contractor to carry out the task.
“ If you say every six months, we will do this, and that would be half a million dollars every six months. So when we do it sixteen times, the value of the aircraft would have been paid. Not only that, we will commercialise it to generate revenue and keep our industry safe “, Sirika said.
The minister, however, explained that it took about nine months from when the request was made to the completion and installation of the equipment.
The Tide reports that the aircraft was built in Textron Aviation Services, Kansas in the United States, and it is expected to improve safety in the aviation industry.
PH Airport Manager Seeks Safety Awareness, Education At Airports
The Safety Manager, Port Harcourt International Airport, Omagwa, Mr Oguche Samuel, has harped on the need for continuous awareness and education on safety at the nation’s airports.
He said the continuous safety education would create awareness to staff and stakeholders at the airports on their safety responsibilities.
Samuel disclosed this while addressing participants at the safety promotion day at the airport which focused on Foreign Object Deris (FOD),
He urged participants and staff to be good safety ambassadors in their day to day activities, stressing that safety is one of the core values of FAAN.
Meanwhile, the management of the Port Harcourt International Airport has keyed into the Airport Emergency Plan programme as plans are in full gear towards the certification of the airport.
The Tide reliably learnt that the management of the airport recently took steps in training staff in relevant departments on emergency plan.
Instructors from Accra in Ghana, it was gathered, were invited to train some of the staff of the airport in the later part of last year.
The training was aimed at developing staff capacity to effectively and efficiently handle emergency response with the certification of the airport.
FAAN Moves To Check Security Threats At Airside
Following reported cases of intrusion into airside at the nation’s airports, particularly at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos at nights, the Managing Director of the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), Capt. Rabiu Yadudu has taken steps to install thermal and infrared cameras for airside monitoring and patrol.
The introduction of thermal and infrared cameras is meant to monitor and expose happenings or any intruder who manages to gain access to airports, especially at nights.
FAAN, in a press statement on Tuesday, said it took the steps because anything that happens at the airside, has a ripple effect on the aviation industry.
“We are mostly particular about the airside because at the end of the day, security and safety are paramount and anything that happens at the airside has a ripple effect and we are here to ensure that our airports are safe.
FAAN posited that it is a dangerous practice to go and open aircraft cargo door because of the engine blast which might occur on the process.
“The proximity switch and the plunder could vibrate when the engine level is moved above idle running; for some seconds, the light may flash and warning light will remain off. It is even an easy thing to open the cargo door while the engine is running.
“Rotation of the handle activates a torque tube to withdraw the latch rollers from the latch fitting and as the door swings on board under tension of the door balance mechanism, the door warning proximity switch is activated to energize the appropriate door warning in the control cabin to alert the Crewe”, FAAN stated.
Enumerating other efforts being made to tackle the problem, FAAN explained that the Authority has put patrol vans fitted with cameras on the dashboard to capture the environment during patrol, saying although this might be a temporary measure.
Our correspondent reports that there were reports of incidents of intruders allegedly opening the cargo compartment of aircraft either taxing or holding on the runway, particularly at the Lagos airport, which had become a cause of concern to FAAN management.
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