By Mojereola Mustapha
IT HAS NOT BEEN all singing and dancing for this brawny one in the Nigerian aviation sector. Many great airlines have fallen flat at the pose of professionalism which has deflated the confidence of most Nigerians, home and abroad, in the sector. Today, there is a ray of hope. Aero Contractors has passed the death test and resurrected, birthing a new order in the Nigerian aviation industry as she marks 60 years of flying!
A little over 6 years ago, popular on the headline news were the travails and woes of Aero Contractors Company of Nigeria Limited. The conversation subjects were around the cancer of corruption and mismanagement sucking life out of her. It seemed inevitable, the demise of another giant in the aviation industry. Heartbroken by the news making the daily rounds, many gave up on the sector, yet again. How could we not? After one, two, three airlines had gone under in recent times! Was this another case of the rug being pulled from under our feet? Employee –Management crisis ensued. Many employees were laid off whilst management changes occurred. Union protests greeted travellers at the airports; all in a bid to save their jobs. These aforementioned events posted fears in the minds of the people which gave birth to questions that only the future happenings of the Nigerian aviation industry could provide answers to.
However, beyond everyone’s imagination, Aero contractors did not only rebound but made a leap! She took the bull by the horns in reshaping the industry. Within just about 2 years of a new management team from AMCON with the technocrat aviator, Captain Ado Sanusi, the airline bounced back from the state of being left for dead with 2 commercial flights a day to now, over 30 commercial flights daily! With an inclusive management style, a winning employee disposition to work, on-time departures and arrivals far above industry average, putting the airline on a steady, uprising growth again has been a most natural occurrence. Employees are most confident of their new airline, so proud of their management! You walk through the offices feeling the calm in every nook and cranny.
Amongst the many salient strides she undertook is the opening up of Nigeria to other West African States; the Aero maintenance, repair and overhaul facility! It’s a delight to see Nigerian-owned commercial airlines have their planes parked in the hangar of our own (proudly Nigerian) Aero Contractors Company Limited for routine maintenance and C-checks! I see the ray of sunshine! This means the era of not believing in the Nigerian Aviation sector is being wiped away. The Economic Community of West African States commended this great stride, whilst Ghana Civil Aviation Authority solidly expressed approval of this milestone and encouraged the country’s airlines to carry out various maintenance checks at the facility when due. This is long- overdue. Nigeria, gradually taking its place in the continent’s aviation matters.
This is a great stride for the Nigerian Aviation industry and ultimately, in no time at all, the benefit of these strides from the daring management of this rebirth, will not only trickle down but I believe, flow down amazing benefits to the Nigerian populace. I know for sure that when Nigeria breathes out such as this, West Africa lives! Imagine thousands of job opportunities created, large savings on our foreign currency spending on maintenance of aircrafts, far-improved safety standards and records; and maybe to you and me, far greater savings on our local travel expenditures, to begin with! Maybe, “The death of a dream can serve as the vehicle that endows it with a new form, with reinvigorated substance, a fresh flow of ideas, and splendidly revitalized color.” (Aberjhani, The River of Winged Dreams).
Happy 60 years flying!!!