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ART champions interline, codeshare, prays NCAA use agreement as key for AOC renewal

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Aviation experts under the aegis of RoundTable Safety Initiative ART, are advocating strong partnership among Nigeria airlines through interline and codeshare for profitability and consumer protection.

This is just the body pray the regulatory agency, the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) to make interline and codeshare a requirement for renewal of certificate of airlines, AOC.

At the first quarterly breakfast meeting of the ART, with the theme: Utilizing interline and codeshare agreements as tools for domestic airlines profitability and passenger comfort, the President of the body, Dr. Gbenga Olowo stressed the need for airlines to embrace the agreement as this will help to save revenue for them, halt hours of wait by passengers to board a flight due to delays, improve their operations and make air travel attractive.

“The consumers are at the airport for 9 hours, there is no water, there is no reason for the delay, let me tell you as an airline operator, if you keep on having very poor performance on schedule, it is indicating one thing, your fleet is not enough or your fleet is dropping and when your fleet is dropping that is pointing to weakness in your finance and when there is weakness in your finance then your  economic health is not good, that is a challenge for NCAA to check your books”.

“Because, if your schedule is regularly bad you are endangering safety, money in the pocket guarantees safety, so there are two issues, safety issue and consumer protection issue which is under regulation”.

Olowo emphasized that a clearing house be set up to be mid-wifed by the NCAA to encourage the airlines but not forcing them as they are bound to come in if it becomes a requirement for AOC renewal.

” So everybody will now come in because it is a pill that they needed for survival because every seat that is wasted on your aircraft, you loss money. Meanwhile, that seat carry it to this one who is ready because tomorrow too he would face the same problem he would carry it to you when you are ready so, you are maximising the seat capacity of your fleet, if it doesn’t happen to you today, it would happen to you tomorrow. A rubs B, B runs C that’s the beauty of interlining, at any point in time none of you is losing money, the money that the passenger has given to you stays with you or goes to another airline, it is not refunded because the guy has agreed to travel that is why it is with you, that is the beauty of interlining and that is what ART is trying to promote.
If we see the beauty  from the customer angle, from economic angle, it has to come to be”.

The ART President said, he is convinced that Nigerian airlines will interline, as it is provided in the economic regulation Act as it is just a policy instrument.

“Go back to IATA’s recommendations on safety, IATA is not a regulator, it is an airline association but when the regulator endorsed it everybody now goes into IATA Safety Audit and it is improving our safety record. Therefore, interlining is very good for our airlines for all the obvious advantages consumer protection and consumer protection is under NCAA regulations”. 

Mr. Samson Fatokun, Head Accounts Management, International Air Transport Association, IATA, West and Central Africa, noted that airlines cannot be forced to enter into partnership but with regulatory inducement it is possible to enter into an agreement.

He however also stressed an enabling environment that will encourage cooperation giving an example of the Single African Air Transport Market, SAATM.

From the airline perspective, the Chief Operating Officer, Ibom Air, Mr. George Uriesi said, interline and codeshare was the way to go for the airlines but expressed the challenges of commitment and trust from the would-be partner. “Finding an equally committed partner with a similar business culture in terms of organization, operational capability and the discipline to see the herculean effort to get the codeshare started, to the end”.

Contributing, the Director General, NCAA, Capt. Musa Nuhu said, the issue of interline was not a regulatory function but with some smart regulations and some policies as agreed, this can induce and encourage these agreement between the airlines.

Former DG NCAA, Dr. Harold Demuren who moderated the session said, interlining and codeshare was doable if airlines consider the benefits accruing from the initiative and embraced it.