Domestic airline operators in Nigeria have been advice to brace up for the challenge of their trade and not expect government to create sacred cow of any of them by denying international airlines access to citizens in the hinterland who are desirous of connecting international flights at the nearest point to their homes/businesses within the nooks and crannies of the country.
Captain Hadi Sirika, Minister of aviation sounded the warning while fielding question on a television talk show on Channels television. He said he was appointed as aviation minister to cater for the entire value chain in the air transport industry and as such will not do anything to discourage the passengers or unwittingly adding to their travel costs by denying international airlines access to either, Portharcourt, Kano, Abuja or Lagos.
The minister said as a policy formulator, he would not view issues with a narrow outlook but would at all times have a broader view of issues hence he would not be jaundiced as to discountenance other critical factors in the formulation of policies with the potential to bring succour to all the players in the aviation value chain.
He explained that as aviation minister, part of his task was to grow trade, commerce and industry and as such for the small and medium entrepreneur who have international business trips to make, it was his duty as minister to create enabling environment for the businessman or woman to embark on his or her trips with minimum burden in growing their businesses.
Sirika noted that should he accede to the prayers of the domestic operators by denying international airlines access to hinterland, the travelling public would bear the avoidable burden as they would be subjected to extra cost for their trips which flying to only Abuja of Lagos would have created for the passengers especially those who have international flights to make.
He said most of the domestic operators had failed to do necessary due diligence of their operations and as such acquire wrong equipment for the right operations or displayed crass ignorance on crew resource management and even on the development of business plan that matches their operating environment or the routes they intend to profitably service but turned out unprofitable for them.
The minister who is also a captain urged domestic operators to be at their wits end as the industry was fast becoming highly competitive with various conventions being introduced and of which Nigeria is a signatory.
Sirika cited the recent agreement reached by Africa’s head of states in the signing of Single African Air Transport Market, SAATM, as another treaty that does not encourage undue shielding but demands strategic thinking, strategic planning to reap the enormous benefits inherent in the SAATM. He noted that under SAATM which Nigeria is a signatory, no airline can be stopped from coming into Nigeria rather the operators need to up the game.
He added that, the roadmap drawn by the aviation ministry has taken cognizance of the challenge from such competition and provisions have been adequately made by which those ready for business will no doubt weather the storm.
The aviation minister noted that the high mortality rate of domestic airlines had been worrisome to government and the aviation road map had already taking consideration of this element which if the provision therein is complied with, it will help to drastically reduce the high mortality rate of domestic airlines.
He said most of the domestic operators don’t possess the right machine for their operations and as such doomed to fail before they even commence business. He said the owner Chief Executive syndrome had got the airline owners intoxicated hence they find consideration of merger highly objectionable thus they were unconsciously limiting their chances of survival not to talk of growth.
The aviation minister, however, revealed that the roadmap already developed will bring sanity to nearly all facets of air travel in Nigeria as the national carrier establishment will also provide the necessary elixir in creating a bee-hive of activities in the domestic terrain and in the west coast of Africa.
TOP PICTURE: Nigeria’s Minister of Aviation, Capt Hadi Sirika, at one of the ICAO conferences in Montreal, CanadaShare