By Chinedu Eze
The Association of Foreign Airlines and Representatives in Nigeria (AFARN) has stressed that what will guarantee success of the planned national carrier, Nigeria Air is if it is efficiently managed.
The body, therefore called on the federal government to take cognisance of inputs from industry stakeholders and urged the government not to alienate stakeholders in the industry.
AFARN decried the fact that mismanagement by the federal government and its appointees killed the former national carrier, Nigeria Airways, and hoped that the government had learnt a lesson from the past.
The President of AFARN, Mr. Kingsley Nwokoma who made this known, recalled that as at the time the fleet of Nigeria Airways was depleting, its counterparts on the continent, which were equally government controlled – Kenya Airways and Ethiopian Airlines, were increasing their fleet and expanding their routes.
Nwokoma remarked that for the airline to make meaningful impact, the government must be transparent in its dealing while also carrying every Nigerian along in its plans.
He insisted that foreign airlines operating into the country would also be competing with the new carrier when it debuts, stressing that quality of service to consumers, on-time-departure and safety would distinguish the airlines from one and other.
He, therefore called on the Minister of State, Aviation, Hadi Sirika to ensure the payment of the severance package of ex- Nigeria Airways workers, saying that anything short of this amounted to injustice.
“Mismanagement killed Nigeria Airways as it flew from one turbulent to the other. As at the time our airline was going through crises, its counterparts like Kenya Airways and Ethiopian Airlines were doing pretty well and increasing in profitability.
“The success of this airline would be determined by its management. The former workers of Nigeria Airways should first collect their severance packages even though the government has approved their severance packages, but they are yet to receive any amount of money,” he said
Nwokoma also urged the government to urgently look into the lingering issue of operational cost inhibiting the progress and growth of the industry.
AFARN called on the leadership of the Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON) to as a matter of urgency engage the government on some of the issues affecting its members, noting that it was necessary for the government to give everyone in the system sense of belonging for the common good of every Nigerian especially those who had invested heavily in the sector.
Nwokoma charged the indigenous airline operators to code-share and be part of international alliances for them to make impact on the international routes.
The federal government, through the Minister of State for Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika, recently revealed the new national carrier, Nigeria Air, due to be launched in December. Sirika had performed the unveiling at the Farnborough Air Show in London, United Kingdom.
The minister had said, “I am very pleased to tell you that we are finally on track to launching a new national flag carrier for our country, Nigeria Air.
“We are all fully committed to fulfilling the campaign promise made by our President, Muhammadu Buhari, in 2015. We are aiming to launch Nigeria Air by the end of this year.”
“Following extensive market research, the branding of our new airline, Nigeria Air, demonstrates a true flag carrier of our nation, soaring through the skies in the shape of our nation’s eagle.”