By Ikechi Uko
Consistency pays if the steps are sure and steady. That is the story coming out of Accra Ghana.
There is this arrogance and Chutzpah ingrained in any Nigeria once he finds himself in any Competition. Every Nigerian believes he should win the argument -any Argument. Now when his opponent is Ghana he is ever motivated to win Statements like “Ordinary Ghana here bla bla bla. .”
So it is with alarm that Nigerians are reacting or Over reacting to the rumour that Ghana has stolen their bragging rights of “Lagos is the Aviation Hub ”
Accra is not yet the hub, Lome is still ahead of Accra in the pecking order of growth rate of Airports. Lagos is still a the bigger Airport of all 3 but is fast losing brand equity because it’s lack of efficiency in providing seamless travel experience. The Aviation Fuel issue gives Lagos a bad name.
The revelation in all of this is the success story of Africa World Airlines AWA. It started flying to Lagos in 2013 and had struggled to survive. It’s 50 seater Embraer 145 sometimes flew almost empty
They changed flight times almost a dozen times before they settled for the evening schedule and 4 times a week schedule.
They persevered and suddenly the Market turned on its head and the only one sitting pretty today is AWA.
All Nigerian players in the market entered with B737 or MD83 all seating more than 100 passengers. Aero alternates with the Dash 8 Q400.
After the election of President Buhari the market changed. First the Aviation Fuel crisis started. Till today it has not abated. It took its toll on the Airlines. In the process a new Nigerian Airline Dana entered the market with an MD83 aircraft creating Excess capacity.
Foreign Exchange became scarce commodity in Nigeria and Nigerians could not pay foreign suppliers. Nigerians could not use their cards abroad because of foreign currency restrictions leading to reduction in Passenger numbers. So the available 1500 daily seats to Accra became surplus to need.
The battle of attrition began and at the end only Arik and Medview survived the brutal battle on the Nigerian side.
Because of the size of Equipment used by AWA it was built for attrition. It came out of the battle smelling like roses. With exit of 4 daily flights by 3 Nigerian carriers AWA ramped up operations from 4 flights a week to 6 then to 11 and as is been speculated to 21 flights a week all under 2 months.
How are the mighty fallen? Most of the victim airlines are now fighting for Survival. They lost to a small but ambitious Ghanaian carrier.
Meanwhile the story now is that Air Peace another Nigerian Airline will be joining the Ghana route but they have chosen to go against Arik from Abuja instead of AWA from Lagos.
There are lessons to be learnt from the success story of AWA. The same lessons are evident in the slow but steady rise of Accra Airport which is small but functional . With its constant restructuring and rebuilding it may well replicate the AWA success story and finally steal the Aviation Hub pie from Lagos in Reality.
As at now we can only doff our hats for the guys at SSNIT Emporium Accra. Kudos to AWA.
Experts are lining up to discuss this issue at the 12th Akwaaba Aviation day Conference on the 31st of October at Eko Hotel.
With the topic Aviation in Africa and Why Airlines Fail, the 2nd Aviation day at Akwaaba will draw on the experience of major players in Nigerian Aviation.
The most Influential Players in Aviation between 1999 and 2010 will be sharing their experience.
Harold Demuren former DG of NCAA, Richard Aisebeogun Former MD of Federal Airport Authority FAAN and the former COO of Overland Airways and ADC airlines will be joined by Capt Dapo Olumide former MD of Virgin Nigeria, Edmund Yomi Jones former MD of Nigeria Airways, Capt Mike Omokore a search and Rescue expert and Kenyan Female Aviator Dorcas Aketch formerly of Kenya Airways, Virgin Nigeria and lately Rwandair will be pointing the way out of the Miasma.
Akwaaba African Travel Market is a 3day Travel expo in its 12 year now. It will be holding from the 30th to the 1st of November at Eko Hotel and Suites in Lagos.
30 speakers have been lined up to discuss Aviation and Tourism in Africa.
Already Exhibitors from Kenya, Bahrain, Dubai, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda, Nigeria, Ethiopia and Benin Republic are booked for the 3 day expo.