Tuesday, January 16, 2018 4:32 pm
By Daniels Ekugo
It has been revealed that West and Central African carriers expend at least $1bn on maintenance of their aircraft annually outside the region.
This is as airlines in the country spend at least $1.8m regularly in carrying out C-Checks on their aircraft outside the country. The Federal Government has also said that it would formulate policies that would make Nigerian airlines to remain in business rather than allow them to close shop.
The statements were made over the weekend at the Murtala Muhammed Airport (MMA), Lagos during the formal roll out ceremony of Aero Contractors Airline’s 5N-BLG aircraft, which successfully completed C-Check maintenance at the airline’s Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul (MRO) facility at the airport.
Engr. Isaac Balami, the immediate past President of National Association of Aircraft Pilots and Engineers (NAAPE), disclosed that all the airlines in the West and Central Africa expend $1bn in maintenance of their aircraft.
He, however said that with the Aero Contractor’s MRO, such fun, which he described as capital flight could remain in the sub-region for the development of the industry within the region.
He lauded the Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON), which took over the management of the airline about five years ago due to the massive debts to its financial partners to divest from airline operations into aircraft maintenance.
He assured that the airline would grow its revenue base with the divestment, stressing that the feat had indicated that Nigerian engineers with proper motivation and right environment could perform excellently on the job.
He said: “”I appreciate AMCON for allowing the C-check to take place despite the challenges in the airline. Most of the expatriates never believed in Nigeria especially our engineers. Except for a few, whenever the expatriates were working on our aircraft at Aero, especially if it has to do with major checks, we were never allowed to go near them.
“Airlines in this region expend $1bn on the maintenance of their aircraft annually, but with this now, such maintenance can now be carried out within the region and this will reduce capital flight out of Nigeria and the sub-region.”
Also, Sen. Hadi Sirika, the Minister of State for Aviation, has vowed that the Federal Government would not allow any airline to go under, assuring that the takeover of Arik and Aero Contractors was a deliberate decision to save the airline industry.
Sirika who was represented at the occasion by Engr. Akim Olateru, the Commissioner of Accident Investigation Bureau (AIB), said the feat by Aero was a fall-out of President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration’s promise to bring about positive change in the Nigerian polity.
He observed that Boeing 737 classics are the most common aircraft used by Nigerian and airlines in the sub-region, he lamented that the country had been experiencing capital flights of not less than $90m any time their aircraft go out of the country for C-check.
“Under the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari, we vowed not to allow airlines fail and go under.
“Prior to now and in the lifespan of any administration, Nigeria experienced huge capital flight of nothing less than $1.8m and $3m per Boeing aircraft that left our shores for C-checks and there are more than 30 of such aircraft operating, so you do the arithmetic. All that is about to end with this initiative birthed by Aero Contractors”, he said.
Ahmed Kuru, Managing Director of AMCON who was represented by Mr. Aminu Ismail, Executive Director, Operations, in his speech said the completion of the C-check justified AMCON’s resolve to develop and stabilise the challenges confronting airlines in the country.
He reiterated that the intervention in Aero and other airlines was to the organisation “a national assignment geared towards both our resolution objective and the need to help in rebuilding the Nigerian economy.”
Capt. Muktar Usman, Director-General of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), noted that Aero Maintenance Organisation was taken through rigorous process before securing the approval in order to ensure that the enterprise didn’t compromise safety in any manner. He further recommended the facilities to the airlines in the country and beyond.