Merger as Best Option for Airlines’ Survival

aviation minister

Stella Oduah


The go-it-alone syndrome currently in operation in the Nigeria’s airline operation has failed woefully. Hence domestic airline operators should co-operate with one other by way of mergers, acquisition, collaboration (code sharing), and the like, in order to succeed.

This was the resolution reached at the 13th National Delegates Conference of the National Association of Aircraft Pilots and Engineers (Naape) held recently in Abuja with the theme “Safety and the Balance Sheet  Striking a Balance.”

The two-day conference had renowned resource persons drawn from within and outside the country and Capt. Fola Akinkuotu, director general of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), as the moderator Naape in a communique signed by Ocheme Aba, its general secretary, adopted the view of Mr. Zemedeneh Negatu, managing partner, Ernst & Young, Addis Ababa, which advanced the formation of about two big carriers from the whole lot of airlines in Nigeria.

This, according to the communiqué will enable them compete with the mega carriers in the global market. “To do otherwise will only prolong the current miserable state of Nigeria Airlines,” it stressed.

The conference cited the experience of Ethiopian Airlines whereby the involvement of all stakeholders at its conception is given as a principal ingredient for its success story today. Accordingly, it advised the Federal Government, through the Honourable Minister of Aviation, to involve all stakeholders in important aviation policy decisions, particularly, ongoing processes to foster a National Carrier and the Aerotropolis project. “This is the only way to guarantee success of the ventures. Naape therefore makes itself available in this regard,” it said.

The Conference noted with delight the transformation taking place in the aviation sector and commended the Aviation Roadmap, new airport terminals (delivered and to be delivered), the aerotropolis concept, aviation policy review, airside development, while expressing hope that the effort will be sustained.

The Conference seriously frowned at those aviation companies including Arik Air, IRS Airlines, Med-view Airlines, Dana Air, Chanchangi Airline, and others that have disallowed their workers from being members of the Union, contrary to the provisions of labour law in the country. The Conference was of the view that non-unionisation hinders human capacity development and holds back Naape’s effort to place Nigerian aviation industry on the global stage.

It therefore mandated the National Administrative Council (Nac) to use all lawful means to ensure that all working pilots and aircraft maintenance engineers are fully unionised. “It should, however, be clearly stated that the notion which depicts union as a foe is a misconception. As a matter of fact, Naape has been, and remains a worthy partner committed to the progress of aviation companies,” it said.

The Conference mandated Nac to immediately set the machinery in motion to stamp out all abuses in the expatriate quota regime to ensure that Nigerian pilots and engineers are gainfully employed and also to enhance human capacity growth in the sector.

The Conference also was of the opinion that the expatriate quota regime should be amended to contain provisions which make it mandatory for any foreigner intending to work in Nigeria to obtain a labour certificate issued in consultation with the union, after being satisfied that such foreigner would not usurp the job meant for Nigerians.

The Conference enjoins aviation companies and parastatals to take the issue of corporate governance very seriously as the absence of corporate governance is at the heart of the current poor financial health of organisations in the sector.

With respect to the Nigerian College of Aviation Technology (NCAT), Zaria, the Conference considers it urgent for definite actions to be taken to upgrade the institution in order for it to regain its world-class status.

It added that the college’s post-graduate programme should be expanded and also extended to PhD level, as it sees the need to build the capacity of its instructors to doctorate cadre, as well as providing for professorship in the institution. This will serve the double purpose of upgrading the quality of products and attracting quality teaching personnel as well.

Resource persons at the Conference included, Negatu as the keynote speaker, Nick Fadugba, managing director/CEO, African Aviation Services, Colchester, UK, as discussant, Chris Aligbe, MD/CEO, Belujane Konsult, Ikeja, Lagos, as rapporteur, and Akinkuotu.

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