Aviation expert and president Aviation Safety Round Table Initiative (ART) Elder Gbenga Olowo has decried operational difficulties encountered by airline operators in the country and challenged government on the need to put suitable machinery in place to make aviation business lucrative and productive.
Olowo said it is regrettable to see huge investment in the sector collapse after a short time.
Speaking at the 2015 Breakfast Meeting of Aviation Round Table with the theme ‘Ownership Funding and Sustainability of Nigerian Airlines- A Perennial Challenge’ the president observed that airline business in some cases cave in as soon as it is introduced.
‘You can see from the Aviation Round Table breakfast meeting that the Airlines Operators in Nigeria are crying about the problems they are facing in the sector, you will see that the mortality rate of Nigerian airlines is very high, some die after 5yrs, 10years, maximum 15years. Some as the airline is born, it’s gone. We should bother ourselves with why are these airlines dying? What is the exact problem?’ the president grieved.
He said, ‘Somebody cracked a joke that, if you are a billionaire and you want to become a millionaire go start an airline. it is not the same outside Nigeria, so the question to us is what is the objective of the government for Aviation?
They told us about 40years ago when Nigerian Airways was floated that it was not primarily to make profit, it was just for the identity of the nation, today what is the objective? If the objective is to provide an efficient service that is competitive and be opened to customers locally, regionally and Globally, then what the government should do is to say today this is the percentage of the GDP that should be coming from Aviation sector by year 2025 or by year 2050.
There should be a pronouncement on what the government wants, they want 5% or 10% contribution from Aviation, and how is that going to happen’.
On government proposal for a National Carrier, Olowo commended the thought as a welcome development but suggested that it should be well midwife to make it sustainable.
He said, ‘If that is another one, and you have ARIK as number two and all the other ones with two or three airplane, to come under one umbrella midwifed by NCAA, then that is number three, then Nigeria will have two to three strong players to be able to reciprocate all the BASA right, one national carrier cannot reciprocate all the BASA rights.
We have about 57 rights as of now, one carrier cannot do it, but when we have two or three airlines, and government makes the environment easy for all of them, give all of them a backing, because on the tail of these airplane will be a flag green white green, the airplanes will be registered in Nigeria, flying Nigeria flag, then Nigeria will be able to boast of three flag carriers, I recognize the one coming as a flag carrier from my own professional look, because already someone is already flying the flag to London, Johannesburg, and to some other parts of the world, since one is flying already, the one that is coming will fly the flag as well’.
Speaking further, Olowo noted that the concern of the Aviation Round table, saying ‘we don’t want to see a new airline with a monopolistic tendency, we want to see that player play on the same level playing field with all others, we don’t want to see discriminatory offer, what one airline gets should be extended to others.
If one airline is able on get fuel subsidy, other airlines should get too. If one airline gets the backing of any issue out there while negotiating the BASA right, all the other airlines should be able to enjoy the same. Then you will be putting three smart players on the field, and then it will be easy to deliver. You want to see each of the players parading over hundred airplanes, then that will be a kind of the measurable objective that we can drive’.
On security, he complained about numerous security organs operating separately thus making it difficult to have a centralized security system.
‘Take the example of United States, everything is central security, homeland security, and under this, there are information and data to monitor drugs, to monitor people and all kinds of issues, the data is there, you don’t need to have different agencies to handle one singular issue, on arrival here, before you are cleared, narcotics, customs, immigration must check, it must be centralized through data to solve security problems’ he said.