Chief Executive Officer, Westlink Airlines, Ibrahim Mshelia
Chinedu Eze and Martha Momoh
The Chief Executive Officer, Westlink Airlines, Ibrahim Mshelia, has said the radical transformation in the aviation industry is a good development that is a testimony of the commitment of the Federal Government towards the revamping of the industry and repositioning it to become a pivotal revenue earner for the country.
Mshelia, who stated this while speaking to journalists last Wednesday noted, the current transformation across the nation’s airports will put Nigeria back into reckoning regarding air transport industry, and therefore urged Nigerians to appreciate the contributions of some individuals who fought to actualise this noble effort.
He said that it was good when critics were fair and were driven by selfless and patriotic passion. However, he said critics only condemn what was obviously good one begins to question their motivation, adding that he had observed that many who felt that they were not benefitting personally by the current efforts to remodel the airports want to destabilise the minister and her team with negative publicity.
Mshelia said credit must be given to anybody that deserves it, noting that with good airports Nigeria could begin to maximise the potential it has in the sector.
He predicted that the aviation industry would grow if government and airline operators give it their unalloyed commitment.
According to him, although the aviation industry is riddled with problems, with the introduction of some new policies, the government has stepped in to eliminate these problems, especially the enforcement of zero tariff on aircraft spare parts
He said that once that zero tariff policy comes through, airlines would stop paying for importing spare parts and that could translate into some profit for airlines.
On how to reduce air fares of domestic flights, Mshelia advocated the refining of Jet A1 (aviation fuel) locally, stating that the commodity is the major reason air fares in the country are high.
"We send crude out, it is refined and sold back to us at exorbitant cost. I believe that if we refine our own aviation fuel, it would cause the price to come down and air fare reduced,” he said.
Mshelia also called for sincerity of purpose by operators stating that with the right attitude, discipline and will power the industry can be turned around extensively.
The West Link boss also commended government for doing a lot on safety through strengthening the regulatory authority, noting that safety could be improved through robust oversight.