UNA not averse to merger, code sharing, interlining – Obiora Okonkwo4 min read
United Nigeria Airline’s current fleet- Embraer
The Chairman/Chief Executive Officer, the CEO, of the latest airline on the domestic terrain, United Nigeria Airline, UNA, High Chief Obiora Okonkwo PhD, has announced that the airline’s management is more than willing not only to interline and agree on code sharing, but to also collaborate with all willing airlines and where and when found expedient, a merger could exclusively be considered as an option with the goal of having a stronger carrier in Nigeria.
High Chief Obiora made these notions public in a chat with members of the League of Aviation and Airport Correspondents, LAAC, while on a familiarization visit to the league’s secretariat to unveil the airline’s short and medium-term program to his host.
The United Nigeria Airline’s UNA’s founder also disclosed that in cognizance of the philosophy of the airline’s management to collaborate and cooperate with any willing industry players that will add value, the airline had signed a Memorandum of Understanding, MOU, with other domestic operators so as to make running airline business less cumbersome.
He said presently the airline is in collaborative arrangement to exchange spares and some other utilities with fellow carriers with the view to returning same as soon as the borrower’s ordered spares arrive.
Chief Obiora said that an airline’s business time is of the essence as acts and deeds that would reduce the distress period of an airline would go a long way to make operators run profitably.
He commended the federal government for some of its import procedures and policies which granted waivers to operators on the importation of certain spares for the aeroplanes.
Chief Okonkwo Obiora who will be contesting for the office of the Governor of Anambra State in a couple of months said, waivers that the government granted and are even gazette but are still very cumbersome to access and often does not positively impact the process, would eventually be of no good to the economy in general and operators in particular.
The UNA helmsman acknowledged that waiver regime is healthy for the industry but especially urged the federal ministry of finance and the Nigeria Customs Service, to device means where both agencies of government will not be working at cross purposes but to dispense in unison all that have been stipulated in the gazette to the delight of investors.
High Chief Okonkwo also said the rationale for his airline’s management to opt for Embraer in its fleet was due to its very high level of fuel efficiency.
He however noted that the gain from high fuel efficiency had resulted in the reduced cargo hold which has given rise to the situation where passengers and luggage often arrive at the destination separately but not in a ver wide different time sequence
UNA Chairman, a venture investor said presently, checks from 1A to 3A are done in-house but the airline had applied to FAAN for land at its operational base in Enugu to build a hangar for carrying out Maintenance, Repairs and Overhaul, MRO, of its fleet.
He added that the hangar would also be made available to other operators with the view to helping airlines conserve their hard earned foreign exchange and make appreciable savings.
He disclosed that the management of UNA is looking at the next 24 months to begin conducting its C check and avail other domestic and regional operators the benefit of the maintenance facility to be built at Enugu.
Explaining on the route expansion program he said UNA is occupied with consolidating on the domestic routes by expanding extensively to other regions in the country.
He disclosed that in three months’ time, the airline would take delivery of more airplanes to expand its fleet and be gearing up for the regional operation but most likely with a set of machine with improved cargo hold.
Okonkwo further said the medium-term plan of the airline is to make forays into regional operation in view of numerous trade measures being pursued to promote intra Africa trade and air connectivity as enunciated in Single Africa Air Travel Market, SAATM and African Continental Free Trade Area, AfCFTA.
High Chief Okonkwo noted that UNA pride itself as a wholly Nigerian airline and has begun building reputation for on time departure.
The Chairman/Chief Executive was accompanied on the familiarization visit by members of the management crew namely, Ms. Barbara Dan-Asemah, Training Manager, Captain Chimara Imediegwu, Director of Flight Operations, Mr. Tolase Idowu, Manager Flight Operations, Capt Lawali Abubakar, Training Captain, Ms. Morounke Babalola, Manager Cabin Crew.
Others were, Engr Alex Iheuwa, Director of Engineering and Maintenance, Mr. Dare Fatiregun, Manager Quality and Safety, Mr. Linus Awute, Director of Administration, and Mazi Osita Okonkwo, Chief Operating Officer/Executive DirectoShare