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AMCON Says Some Local Airlines May Collapse Over Debt

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Some Nigerian airlines are facing the risk of collapse under the weight of huge debts, according to the country’s Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria, set up to rescue banks from bad loans.

“The industry remains in the throes of airlines burdened with debts, under administration or on the borderline of collapse,” Amcon chief executive Ahmed Kuru said at the 2018 Colloquium of the Nigeria Travels Mart (NTM) in Lagos.

The colloquium had the theme: “Corporate Governance and Airline Industry Development in Nigeria”.

Amcon acquired the country’s biggest airline Arik last year because of difficulties arising from huge debts and poor corporate governance, it said.

Nigeria’s more than 10 domestic airlines are struggling with difficulties arising from the country’s first economic contraction in a quarter century in 2016, and have seen reduced access to capital and limited leasing opportunities.

The AMCON boss said that lack of regulations and good corporate governance were the main factors responsible for the failure of Nigerian airlines, including the defunct national carrier, Nigeria Airways.

According to him, there are two major problems with the airlines in Nigeria; one being lack of an effective Board of Directors, thereby affecting internal policies and discipline, the other problem has to do with regulation.

“Given the ownership structure of most airlines in Nigeria, the board’s veritable check on management and excesses of airline owners who show very little patience for orderly and planned conduct of business, is practically absent.

“A functional board is necessary for the effective operations of airlines with long term survival and profitability objectives.

“Individuals with independence, experience and expertise from relevant sectors of the economy are not identified and engaged,” Kuru said.

He said on the other hand, regulations were either weak and lack the courage to enforce compliance based on current standards, or need more fine-tuning to ensure effectiveness of the airline.

Kuru said: “The aviation industry is as important as the health industry because it deals with the lives of travellers. It requires more regulations than even the banking industry.

“It is only in Nigeria that an airline can abandon you at the airport for more than five hours without any recourse.

“Indeed, there are consequences for frequent cancellations, however, I cannot recall any airline punished in the recent past.

“That is why I want to use this opportunity to appeal to the NCAA and other regulatory agencies in the aviation industry to show courage and ensure that sound corporate governance systems are enforced.

“A starting point can be the domestication and adoption of the draft Nigerian Code of Corporate Governance 2018.”

Also, Mr. Chris Amenechi, Vice-President, Pricing and Revenue Management, Copa Airlines, Panama, said Nigeria could become an aviation hub if the country addresses the infrastructure deficit in the sector.

He added that the NCAA should not be an economic regulator of airlines but should rather stick to the technical and safety aspects of the business.

On his part, Mr Simon Tumba, Chief Executive Officer of NTM, said the government should focus on airports concession following its decision to jettison the establishment of a new national carrier.

“I believe the government should give more priority to the issue of airports concession. This will give Nigeria an edge and hopefully catapult us to the needed growth in this sector.

“It is very important that this is executed in a transparent manner with full support of the workers,” he said

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NCAA Warns Airlines Against Unauthorised Charter Operations

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The Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) has threatened to wield the big stick over charter operations by unauthorised permit holders.

Mr Sam Adurogboye, General Manager, Public Relations, NCAA, gave the warning in a statement on Sunday in Lagos.

Adurogboye said that any operator caught engaging in such unauthorised services forthwith, would have its Air Operator Certificate (AOC) suspended or revoked.

He said: “Consequently, the general public is hereby reminded that holders of Air Transport Licence (ATL) and Airline Operating Permit (AOP) with valid AOC are the only authorised operators to carry out Charter Operations.

“This is in line with the NCAA statutory responsibilities of safeguarding the interest of the general public and that of the investors in the aviation sector.

“The Nigerian Civil Aviation Regulations (Nig.CARs) 2015 Part 18.2.3.1. states thus: No person shall use any aircraft in Nigeria for hire and reward in public transport category to provide non-scheduled or charter air service unless such a person holds an ATL or AOP issued by the authority.

“For the purpose of verification and authentication, the list of current holders with appropriate authorisation to carry out charter operations can be found on the NCAA website: www.ncaa.gov.ng.

“It therefore follows that members of the public transacting business with any unauthorised operators will be doing so at a high risk as such operations may not have valid insurance cover.

“The NCAA will continue to ensure strict compliance with safety regulations as violation(s)will be viewed seriously, ‘’ Adurogboye said.

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Air Peace Launches Direct Flights to Banjul, Increases Accra Service

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West Africa’s leading carrier, Air Peace has said it will begin non-stop flights from Lagos to Banjul, The Gambia from Monday, January 7.

The airline said it would no longer route its Lagos-Banjul flights through Accra, Ghana. The carrier had earlier broken its connecting flights to Freetown, Sierra Leone. It now operates direct Lagos-Freetown-Lagos flights.

In a related development, Air Peace said it was consolidating its leadership of air services on the West Coast of Africa with scheduling of more flights on the Accra, Ghana route.

The development, the carrier said, would avail travellers an exciting opportunity to cut cost and travel time. It pledged to continue to adjust its schedules to better serve its customers on the West Coast of Africa.

“We are pleased to announce the commencement of our non-stop flights to Banjul, the capital city of The Gambia, from Monday, January 7, 2019. We had routed our flights to Banjul through Accra, Ghana.

The new schedule follows our experiment with direct flights from Lagos to Freetown. The pieces of feedback we have received from members of the flying public indicate that they prefer to take direct flights to Freetown and Banjul.

The option saves air travellers money and time. “We have also increased our offering on the Lagos-Accra with more flights. The new Banjul and Accra flight operations,we are sure, will not only deepen our West Coast operations, but also deliver a variety of smart options to our valued customers.

“We are a customer-centric airline and the strategy of our leadership of the airline business in Nigeria and West Africa is anchored on attaching great importance to the feedback of our esteemed customers,” Air Peace said.

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Air Peace Begins Inaugural Flight from MMA2

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A Nigerian Airline, Air Peace, on Wednesday said it had expanded its operations to the Murtala Muhammed Airport 2 (MMA2), Lagos with an inaugural flight to Kaduna.

Air Peace Reports have it that the airline’s Embracer 145 jet, with registration number, took off at 7:20 a.m. from the MMA2 enroute Kaduna Airport.

Speaking on the development, Mr Chris Iwarah, the Corporate Communications Manager, Air Peace, said the airline was delighted to have been able to move some part of its operations to the MMA2.

Iwarah noted that although Air Peace had its main hub at the General Aviation Terminal (GAT), Murtala Muhammed Airport, Lagos, the expansion aimed at positioning the Airline for better services.

He said Air Peace would henceforth operate its Lagos-Akure, Lagos-Asaba, Lagos-Kaduna and Lagos-Port Harcourt as well as NAF Base flights from MMA2.

Iwarah said other new domestic routes to be will be launched soon would also be done from the terminal which would in future accommodate all flights under the airline’s subsidiary, Air Peace Hopper.

“ We are quite hopeful that the expansion of our Lagos base to MMA2 will afford us the space and convenience to deliver first-class flight experience to our loyal customers.

“As a customer-oriented carrier, it is only strategic that we seek a better operational atmosphere for seamless passenger facilitation and exceptional customer service experience.

“This exactly is what MMA2 offers with its state-of-the-art facilities and we are indeed proud of our decision to annex it to our Lagos hub,” he said.

Mr Rodger Whittle, Executive Director, MMA2 described the action of the Airlime as a fantastic thing for the operator and same for the MMA2.

He said: “I think it is very exciting for us that Air Peace has come to MMA2 and we can now happily say that all the airlines in Nigeria operate from the MMA2. “It brings the destinations of MMA2 to 24. Air Peace is bringing Akure as well as Port Harcourt NAF Base.

Mrs Eniola Ade-Solanke, Head, Corporate Communications, MMA2 said the airport terminal had the capacity for regional operations and attracting major airlines through the provision of excellent passenger experience.

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