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Akwaaba: Nigeria records highest number of failed airlines in Africa

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By Friday Nwosu
….as aviation professionals discuss ways of sustaining air operation

Nigeria has been identified as having the highest number of failed airlines in Africa as expert in the aviation sector gathered at the 12th Akwaaba Travel and Tourism conference to x-ray factors militating against African carriers in having hitch free operations in the continent.

Speaking at the just concluded annual event held in Lagos, former Managing Director, Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), Mr Richard Aisuebeogun said many failed private and government owned airlines litter airports in Africa.

Presenting his paper titled ‘The state of Aviation in Africa’ Aisuebeogun stated that a survey carried out in May, 2016 says that over the past 12 years nearly 37 airlines were launched in Africa, and almost all of them had failed , 25 of which are from Nigeria.

According to him, privately owned and governmental carriers such as: Air Gabon, Seria National Airline, Air Afrique, Nigerian Airways (WT), Cameroon Airlines, Chanchangi, ADC Airlines, Bellview Airlines, Air Zimbabwe have since gone into extinction after they were established.

Aisuebeogun added that many Airlines have failed or are barely surviving in Africa due to many factors such as Management Business Plan, Safety Regulation, Economic Regulation, Low cost Airlines, Multi-Hub Strategy, Service Excellence, which he grouped as internal.

Others are external, namely: Cost of operating environment, Economic Diversification, Political Environment, improved airport infrastructure, Airports supports, Improved Air navigation infrastructure and unfair competition.

He affirmed that delivering good business Plan is the difference between successful and failed airlines, whether big or small, adding that Airlines management must be professional and must discern trends in the operating environment to adjust operation according to the dictates of the industry and operating environment, and not losing sight of the Business Plan.

He said while safety has improved, Africa still had the highest accident rate among regions in 2015, at 7.88 accidents per million sectors, adding however, that the 32 sub-Saharan airlines on the IOSA registry are performing 3.5 times better than non-IOSA operators in terms of accidents.

He called on African governments to improve safety oversight and adopt IOSA together with ICAO’s safety-related standards and recommended practices (SARPs).
Aisuebeogun, who called on airlines to also adopt the low cost carrier plan, noted that such spread fast because people want to pay less.

“What is crucial however, is to sustain these carriers using strategies that have worked for other airlines in Europe, South East Asia, etcetera”, he said.

He said if African airlines adopt what multi-hub strategy, it will help them improve network and avoid regulations and policy barriers.

He noted fur that cost of operation in the operating environment is among the greatest challenges to African airlines.

He said charges, taxes and fees were sending many of them out of businesses.
Aisuebeogun also implored governments to encourage diversification of local economies to create economic empowerment for locals, and economic attraction for foreign business people and traders flying in for business.

Also speaking, Dapo Olumide, former managing director of Virgin Nigeria, noted that nearly all the 37 airlines launched in the continent within the past 12 years, including 25 from Nigeria, had failed.

“The biggest problem with African aviation is lack of corporate governance. The financial models of the airlines are wrong and they also lack maintenance culture,” he said.
He, however commended Ethiopian Airlines for breaking the jinx, stressing that the non-interference of the operations of the airline by the government had led to its success story today.

Speaking similarly, Yomi Jones, former managing director, Nigeria Airways, said it was possible for Nigeria to have a successful national carrier, especially if there was political will by the government.

According to him, Nigeria with over 170 million population, remains a viable market for aviation with the right policies and a conducive environment for airlines to thrive.

In her contribution, In her contribution, the former director of consumer protection of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority, Mrs Fatima Garbati identified the problems of aviation in Africa to include fear, altitude and refusal to obey international conventions.

She noted that some African countries are afraid that countries like Nigeria with its big population and potential will dominate them.

Mrs Garbati observed that this is responsible for why the Yamoussoukro Declaration of 1988 on open skies for Africa has not been implemented till today.

She stated that Africa needs to wake up to their responsibilities to make aviation work.
Garbati noted that even the Customs Service at the gateways like airports and seaports are totally indifferent to issue of clearance of airlines equipment and others.

In the same vein, former Kenyan Airways, Virgin Nigeria and now Rwandair senior executive, who is from Kenya, Dorcas Aketch maintained that African Airlines consider themselves as competitors instead of partners.

She said if fear among the operators in African aviation can be removed, it will help the industry to grow.

Mrs Aketch noted that there is need for the airlines to interline, adding that it will be better for the domestic airlines to interline with the foreign airlines.

According to her, working as partners and not competitors will make the airlines grow in Africa

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