Aviation industry expert and a former Director General of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), Dr. Harold Demuren has said establishment of a national carrier will amount to a waste of resources. Demuren said such project could only succeed if three major factors were in placegood corporate governance, maintenance facility, which must also include flight training simulator and strong technical partner. The former DG acknowledged that some successful airlines, such as Ethiopia Airlines, Emirates, Qatar and Etihad Airways are national carriers but that Nigeria’s peculiar “culture and attitude may not allow it to thrive.
“It is not that it is impossible, but if you won’t do it right; don’t do it. There must be good corporate governance for it to succeed; there must not be interferences so it must be run professionally; otherwise you will be flushing your money in the toilet,” Demuren said. He said noted that for a national carrier to succeed, it must establish a Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul (MRO) facility so that huge resources would not be spent ferrying its aircraft overseas for maintenance.
“You must have MRO, flight training simulator, good technical partner. If you do that you can make it. But that does not mean we should abandon our airlines. We must support the other airlines,” he said. Demuren suggested that one of the ways to support Nigerian airlines is to make West Africa a domestic operation. In other words, to increase connectivity in West Africa as there is no immigration barriers to flying to any country in the subregion as member of ECOWAS and as the economic dominant country in the sub-region.
“How do we support our airlines? You can turn West Coast into domestic operation. Nigerian airlines can fly anywhere in West Africa. Nigerian airlines are going through hell in order to survive. There is the high fuel prices, they earn their money in Naira but all the expenses they make they do so in dollars. Now there is problem with foreign exchange. Foreign airlines do not bring anything in but they take the money away. “It is tough for the airlines to survive in Nigeria. In other countries government assist airlines. They cannot allow the airlines to die because it is not the fault of the airlines that drove the value of Naira down,” Demuren also said.