Airline operators have outlined reasons most of the airlines do not interline in West and Central Africa.
This was just as some of the airlines have agreed to give the interlining process a second chance at the just concluded Accra weizo in Ghana.
The operators agreed to discuss and to see how to begin the interlining process among African airlines.
Speaking at the 4th Accra Weizo which was attended by Africa’s World Airline, AWA, Aero Contractors, Air Peace, Ghana based Smile Airlines and Ethiopian Airlines, the managing director of Aero Contractors, Captain Ado Sanusi explained that airlines in West Africa do not interline due to lack of trust among the carriers.
“We don’t think airline A will pay if we endorse their ticket. In other industries, they use cards, we use our ATM cards to withdraw money in other banks because we know our money is safe, but we don’t have that same trust within the airline industry. We are all thinking that we should go to IATA and IATA is an international body looking at many reasons, we have a peculiar situation in West and Central Africa and I think we should try and ensure that the guys representing IATA in West and Central Africa address that issue because you cannot bring the banking system from America and think it will work in Ghana, you have to domesticate it, to know the local concerns, look at the local knowledge of all the case around it before you now introduce same.
“Unfortunately IATA said let us have a Clearing House, let us use the Clearing House that we were using in Europe, America and other parts of the world to work in West and Central Africa, but that same clearing house is the clearing house my service provider is using and he might overcharge me and IATA will ask me to pay,” Sanusi explained.
According to him, “the same clearing house is the one everybody will come and claim, so there is a peculiar situation in Africa that I think IATA should remove the clearing house and allow the banks to come in and interface with the airlines and say okay to the airlines you sell your tickets and we collect the money, that we can do the reconciliation, that if you endorse a ticket, we pay the airline.
“I think that is where we should go. Fortunately when I left Arik and moved to Aero Contractors, we are interlining with Arik now, I have also started interlining with Med-View, I will also like to interline with African World Airline AWA, I would like to interline with a lot of airlines in the region, but what I have also done is to talk to the banks, I have talked to Zenith Bank to see if they can have a platform where the airlines would be very very comfortable that if a passenger buys my ticket, we have agreed on the nature, let say the passenger buys my ticket at $100, the passenger don’t have to increase the money, you pay the next airline $80 and you make $20 and the passenger travels and everybody is happy”.
Aero MD noted that the problem is that the industry has to get somebody who will fill that gap, adding that IATA has a model that works in Europe, works in America and other parts of the world, but unfortunately does work in West Africa.
He said this is because: “There is a peculiar nature of us that we do not trust that the other airline would pay and also there is that notion that people like the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria, FAAN, people like Skyway Aviation Handling Company Limited SAHCOL, people like Ghana Civil Aviation Authority, GCAA and all others will go to that same IATA to present a bill and off course IATA being an international organisation will honour the receipt and bill the airline, So no airline will go there especially when they feel they are being overcharged by those service providers and so we must look outside that and if the banking industry can survive that, we should be able to come up with a certain plan that will work”.
Speaking in the same vein, Richard Kyereh of African World Airline, AWA explained that co -operation is good while interlining is better because at the end of the day, the passenger enjoys the convenience.
Kyereh noted that there is a challenge to interlining which could be technical or standards.
“In terms of technical, airline A may be using a different technical system and airline B will be using a different system so co-operating in that sense becomes a little difficult as system don’t talk, that is why most of the carriers curl back when it come to co-operation and again, there is huge cost that is involved, not hundreds, but thousands of dollars so before you agree to corporate, then you will understand that if you agree to co-operate at the end of the day, you are going to get much benefits from such co-operation. Again, we also have standards, IATA has its standard, I am IOSA certified safety wise and airline B does not have that, so why am I risking in quote to put my passengers on an unsafe carrier, that is another side of it.
“In terms of remittance, trust issues come in, after transferring my passengers to you and we don’t have a common ground and IATA putting its Clearing House in place to remit my money seamlessly to me and coming to you with an invoice, you may not pay and I have gone through agreement of such nature and I still have my money locked up. All that breach co-operations, agreements like interlining, So before you go in there, you need to double check that the airlines you are interlining with or co-operating have all these standard in place and that when the fly my passengers, am going to get my money not even from them but that IATA remits my money into my account”.
In his contribution also, the managing director of Ghana based Smile Airline, Alex Nwuba noted that the issue of trust and lack of sincerity have been the bane of interlining among the airlines in West and Central Africa.
Nwuba who used to be a banker in Nigeria before entering the aviation industry promised to come out with a platform that will help ease the process of interlining and payment reconciliation since the IATA Clearing House don’t seem to work in West Africa.