No government runs 3 national carriers – Fadugba

In this interview with IME AKPAN, the Chief Executive Officer of African Aviation Services Ltd, Mr. Nick Fadugba speaks on some topical issues in the aviation sub-sector including the federal government’s floating of a national carrier and submits that there is no country in the world where a government owns three national airlines

Synergy among domestic carriers

Cooperation and partnership, Nigeria is blessed with the biggest domestic aviation market on the Africa continent, bigger than South Africa, Kenya, Ethiopian and many other countries. And yet we have not been able to harness this market for our own benefit. The beneficiaries are foreign airlines; our airlines need to work together. If you have five aircraft, 10 aircraft, it is nothing in the world of aviation. We need a critical mass. If you look at Ethiopian Airlines, they have a 100 aircraft. That is one airline, yet we have 10 airlines here with maybe five aircraft each. We need to work together otherwise the economics of the business are not in favour of the operators. They need to come together to scale up to get a critical mass. They can work together in training, maintenance, in spare pooling, aircraft acquisitions. There are many areas African airlines and Nigerian airlines in particular can work together. So we need more cooperation in Nigeria among our airline brothers and sisters.

Resolving the Arik and Aero issues

I think the government and the ministry of aviation need to sit down and really think carefully on what they want to do with Arik and Aero because they have used public fund to maintain these airlines. Effectively, the government owns 60 per cent of each of them and now you have created a national carrier. So there is a little bit of contradiction here. So we need to, as a matter of urgency, resolve what is happening to Arik. If you want to sell it to investors please go ahead and do it. Aero the same thing, I would love to see the three airlines working together. I think that will be a good strategy for Nigeria.

National carrier

There are many questions that need to be answered in terms of the management, the funding, and the fleet. So I believe the government now needs to brief the Nigerian people on the national carrier. Rather than doing it abroad we need to come home and explain to the whole nation what the concept is. More importantly I am interested in how the national carrier interfaces with all the other airlines in Nigeria. Because remember that the government is the de facto owner of two other airlines: Arik and Aero. So this is the first time I have seen one government own three airlines. So the government needs to coordinate its airlines strategy n terms of moving forward.

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