10 Aero planes stuck at Lagos airport
No fewer than 10 aircraft belonging to Aero Contractors are currently grounded at the old terminal of Murtala Mohammed Airport (MMA), Lagos, checks by Daily Trust have shown.
The airline, which is the oldest in the country, established in 1959, resumed operations on December 21, 2016 after about four months of self-imposed closure to enable it reposition.
When the airline suspended operations in August, it was left with only one functional aircraft which was being deployed for charter operations.
However, the airline resumed operations 10 days to the New Year flying to four locations – Lagos, Abuja, Port Harcourt and Warri, Delta State – using its Boeing 737-400/500 and the Dash8-Q400.
The airline said it plans to open more routes once the fleet size improves.
But at the moment, about 10 aircraft with the name and logo of Aero Contractors are currently stuck in the old airport terminal. Nine of them were counted by our correspondent who was at the terminal with no sign to show the planes are in use.
“Most of the aircraft have been parked for months and years after they were due for maintenance and the company was unable to carry out the necessary checkups,” said an official of the airline who preferred anonymity.
An airline operator who spoke to Daily Trust on condition of anonymity said, “What you are seeing is the result of mismanagement the airline has suffered over a decade ago which has brought it, a one-time booming business entity, to the current state of losing its reputation as the big brother in the airline business.”
A media consultant to the airline, Mr. Simon Tumba, told Daily Trust that the airline lacked enough funds to fix its aircraft, saying, “Once the fund is available, they would fix the aircraft and get them back into their fleet and expand their route network.”
The Assets Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON) took over the management of the airline in 2005 and said about N5 billion was committed into repositioning the airline but industry experts say AMCON’s taking over of the airline has not yielded positive results.
AMCON currently owns 60 per cent while the remaining interests belong to the Ibru family.
An aviation expert and Secretary of Association of Nigeria Aviation Professionals (ANAP), Comrade Rasaq Saidu, blamed the failure of the airline on persistent change of management.
He said the airline could still be revived with a proper management structure in place backed by technical partners.
The company is presently left without head as Capt. Fola Akinkuotu who was last appointed as the managing director has been appointed as the MD of the Nigerian Airspace Management Authority (NAMA).