Home Airlines Nigeria Air: New Baby with Many Questions to Answer

Nigeria Air: New Baby with Many Questions to Answer

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……Olowo urges stakeholders to buy in the 46% shares supports ET deal

Since the announcement of Ethiopian Airlines as the preferred bidder for Nigeria Air, some stakeholders seem not to be too comfortable with an airline fully and solely owed by the Ethiopian government to genuinely run a national carrier for Nigeria.

Because they fly same Bilateral Air Services Agreement, BASA routes and seen to be in competition, stakeholders not in favour of the choice say, Ethiopian Airline will not do the needful as expected of it, instead ET will use this new partnership to protect its African dominance, thus this has led to the conclusion that, there is complete lack of transparency in the whole project giving rise to many questions.

To this end, some stakeholders sought to know, the actual stakes of ET in the venture, limitation and active roles, extent of provision of technical support such as all categorized aircraft maintenance from A to D checks, spares sourcing and purchase, including Engines?

Others are in the operational sides, technical crews, cabin crew, training and simulator for recurrent checks.

In the sharing formula, they also want to know if the 5% shares of the Federal Government include the 36 states and Federal Capital Territory, FCT.

Group Captain John Ojikutu, rtd said, giving 49% to the foreign airline is contrary to the spirit of the laws of the privatization and commercialization of 1999.

“I hope we will not need the court soon to interpret that law (Act) for us before we go far with the foreign technical partners”.

On SAHCO as one of the investor in the Nigeria Air, Ojikutu went down memory lane to relieve what happened in the past between a foreign airline and a ground handling company owed by then National Carrier, Nigeria Airways Limited, NAL.

“The evolution of the Nigeria Air with SAHCOL as a major shareholder sounds great to many but could be a coincidence in history trying to repeat itself to some of us. I have spoken of the KLM once in the management of the defunct Nigeria Airways; Skypower holding company that became SAHCOL today was the Nigeria Airways ground handling services at the time. When the trouble between the KLM and Nigeria Airways was getting out of hand, the management of the Nigeria Airways abruptly one night directed its skypower handling services not to provide services to KLM a situation that pushed the airline to find help with NAHCO. It was a long story that caused the Nigeria Airways to block NAHCO from providing services to the KLM. I was directly involved in stopping the Nigeria Airways with threats of using the military on its staff if they ever move near the new ground handlers”.

To avoid a repeat of 1993 between the National Carrier, Nigeria Airways, stakeholders are of the opinion that, questions raised on the Nigeria and Ethiopian Airline deal need further elaboration and clarification. 

Stakeholders who perhaps believe the deal should be given a chance said, those who are of the opinion that Nigeria does not have what and all it takes to get this simple job done, clean and decent should sheath their swords and allow the full process leading to the birth of the new carrier pull through first.

A passionate stakeholder assured that, ET will not disappoint being a serious airline operating in the African continent with proven track records.

Former General Secretary, National Union of Air Transport Employees, NUATE, Comrade Olayinka Abioye says, “Why are we alluding to very strange connotations where the FG stated clearly that she will own only 5% while other Nigerian investors divide/share the balance? As far as I am concerned, let us start this first, watch it grow and commence necessary adjustments where necessary”.

He added, “After all, ET will NOT take the business to Addis…It will be stationed here, managed and operated on, create opportunities for all…SAHCO does Handling/Passenger Services, MRS does fuelling, ET engages in Technical support and Management while others handle ancillary services. Welcome, Nigeria Air our new baby!!!”.

Another positive stakeholder in the Nigeria Air project and President Aviation RoundTable Safety Initiative, ART, Dr. Gbenga Olowo says, since the issue of Air Nigeria ” TO BE OR NOT TO BE ” has been laid to rest, given government insistence to do so, his endorsement is based on the need for success of any new start-up Airline in Nigeria.

According to him, failures still abounds in the market and some airlines still remain very weak hence the challenge for the discerning and concerned citizen remain in coming up with useful advises.

Olowo pointed out that, it is especially advantageous for Nigeria Air to partner with ET as a competitor on the NG BASA, for simple purposes of Code Share Agreement (CSA) and Blocked Seats Agreements (BSA) OUTSIDE the Airline’s intended Direct Services.

He stressed that, the merits of Cooperation and Collaboration will more than outweigh that of Competition (in the manner of speaking) provided the management is on top of its game, as  Nigeria Airways in the past operated to many countries (not directly) but by Commercial Agreements.

“That is not all, Interlining and Global Alliances (which is a necessity in today’s aviation) comes with ease given this partnership rather than the airline struggling on its own for relevance and
partnership for route expansion and penetration purposes”.

The ART President listed the benefits of the choice of ET to include, robust Maintenance Facility of ET and its varied Fleet as this will be helpful to the young Airline.

Others benefits are, Manpower trainings and Personnel exchanges and ET as an African partner is inward looking and its very good for the implementation of Single African Air Transport Market (SAATM) under African Continent Free Trade Agreements (AfCFTA).

“Without any intention of being the Brand Manager for this project, it is my call to salute any good decision be it by Individual Operator and or Government”.

“The only caveat which has been printed repeatedly is that the 5% Government ownership (our common wealth) may not be necessary after all, since Government is mid-wifing a totally privately owned airline. It’s a general contention that “Government has no business in Business” due to incessant political interferences”.

Olowo said, “It is also expected that the carrier is not treated as a “more flag carrier” than all others already flying the flag such as Air Peace and one time Arik”.

“I want to discountenance the National Carrier nomenclature as No one single Airline can quickly and easily reciprocate all NG BASA’s. 2-3 strong carriers are desirable”.

He however stressed that; there must be a level playing field for all flag carriers in the interest of Nigeria Aviation.

“This is the voice of a solution provider rather than a mere critic”.

He called on all Airline, Aircraft Operators, and all interested stakeholders and associations to endeavor to buy the 46% remaining
shares available to the public.

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