How Local Airlines Contribute To Underdevelopment Of Aviation Sector – Ojikutu

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As local airlines continue to lament lack of capacity in the aviation sector, a former airport commandant of tthe Murtala Mohammed Airport and chief executive of Centurion Security and Safety Consult, Group Captain John Ojikutu (rtd) has said domestic airliners contribute to their own problems by not having the courage to hold the aviation agencies to their responsibilities because they have compromised through indebtedness and concessions they get from the agencies.

Ojikutu who was reacting to reports of airline operators complaints about lack of aviation capacity in relevant agencies in the sector, noted that the local carriers are very much aware of the unilateral exploitations of the Bilateral Air Service Agreement (BASA) and commercial agreements with foreign airlines by the agencies and the ministry, but cannot complain because of regular concessions they get on debts owe to the agencies and service providers such NCAA, FAAN and NAMA, as well as low interest rates they get on government intervention funds.

A loud voice in the aviation sector, Group Captain Ojikutu said, “How then can you comprehend the N35 billion intervention fund collected by an operator that collapsed the airline business within a year it got the fund, or the stories making the round now about Aero Contractor Airlines?”

He also identified local investors unwillingness to merge and rather too early divestment of the little revenue they are able to accumulate.

“Talking of lack of capacity of Nigerian carriers, it must be stated that their problems are generally single ownership, diversion and divestment of revenue derivatives from their aviation businesses to other businesses and private uses,” he said.

He noted that the lack of capacity of Nigerian airlines to airlift her growing number of passengers to international destinations would continue to give their foreign counterparts an edge.

President of the Airline Operators of Nigeria, Captain Noggie Meggison, agreeing with Ojikutu said that the consequence of this is that the country really needs foreign airlines to airlift most of the travellers.

He decried the situation where over 60 per cent of the flight crew with Nigerian airlines, including those on scheduled and charter services, are expatriates.

“Low capacity means that Nigerian airlines do not benefit from the huge international destinations market from where Emirates generated N24 billion in 2014, so, foreign airlines dominate that market and repatriate over N150 billion annually,” Megisson said.

The AON boss, who is also the chief executive at Jed Air, stated that 60 per cent of the flight crew, which include pilots and engineers coming from overseas, also means that Nigeria would not be able to develop its manpower in these technical areas.

“The current reality is that besides the huge remunerations paid to these expatriates, Nigerian airlines also ferry their aircraft overseas for major maintenance, which costs an average of $500,000 for a single isle aircraft like Boeing 737,” he stated.

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