By Sade Williams/Business a.m.
Want end to multi-designations for foreign airlines
Makes N20bn refunds on flight delays, cancellation
Bird strikes set domestic operators back by $60m
Domestic airlines, under the aegis of Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON), have for the upteenth time raised concerns over the harm being done to the economy and local aviation business by the Nigerian authorities continuing designation of foreign airlines to multiple routes in the country.
They also released an estimate of the losses suffered in 2021 as a result of flight delays and cancellation, as well as bird strikes, which they put at N20 billion and $60 million, respectively.
Rising from the association’s 2021 annual general meeting (AGM), AON said the recent designations of Qatar Airways on Kano and Port Harcourt routes, and also that of Ethiopian Airlines, is a disservice to the domestic airlines, adding that such policy stagnates the airlines’ growth, besides harming the Nigerian economy.
Abdulmunaf Sarina, president, and Allen Onyema, vice president, who spoke on behalf of AON, said the capital flight that is involved is huge, while domestic airlines suffer the consequences.
“Multiple designations deplete our national treasury, it inhibits growth of domestic airlines that provide the jobs. All the foreign airlines in Nigeria cannot provide 10 percent of the jobs being provided by domestic airlines. The policy tantamounts to loss of jobs. This is worsening the precarious crisis being faced by domestic operators.
“Qatar Airways operations are like domestic operations because it limits our capacity, some operators could close shops as a result of this,” AON said.
Speaking on other issues affecting the operations of the airlines, Onyema, who is also the chief executive officer of Air Peace, said domestic operators lost $60 million in 2021 to bird strike incidents, while they lost over N20 billion to issues arising from flight delays and cancellations.
He said many of the issues were fixable but there has not been a deliberate action taken on them by the authorities.
“Delays and cancellations are not what we enjoy, rather 98 percent of the issue is not caused by the airlines. Many issues, ranging from bird strikes, bad weather, lack of adequate space for check in, lack of adequate space for parking aircraft, sunset airports and a host of others, are the real causes of delays and cancellations.
“For instance, Air Peace alone had 14 bird strike incidents in 10 months in 2021, aircraft engines are replaced when these incidents occur, the airlines are losing billions of naira to the menace. Government needs to improve on wildlife clearance at airports’ environments,” Onyema said.
Speaking on the recent uproar over fare increase, the operators said the N50,000 fare was not new, adding that the insinuations that the operators held a meeting to discuss fare increase was not true.
“We are debunking the story that we met and agreed to increase the fare. The N50,000 had always been on the inventory, it is a matter of working out the unit cost per seat. Increase in Jet-A1 prices, forex crisis, among other issues, will also affect fares,” the operators explained.