The Managing Director of the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA), Captain Fola Akinkuotu has said airlines operating in the country and West Africa will gain immensely if Maintenance, Overhaul and Repair (MRO) facility is built in Nigeria.
Akinkuotu said even if the cost of maintenance is the same in Nigeria and overseas, domestic airlines would still gain immensely because other costs, which include the ferrying of aircraft overseas, the cost of logistics and expense incurred in forex.
“An MRO will improve the bottom line of our airlines. We spend a lot of money on maintenance, so the cost of maintenance will be reduced, you take this business out to go and maintain it, even if the cost of maintenance here in Nigeria is the same outside Nigeria, it will still be cheaper to maintain the aircraft locally.
“At least you spend $50,000 if not more and that is just to fly the airplane out of the country. And success is about bottom lines, so whatever you save in any business is profit. If I can save that money it is profit. And it will also give our people the opportunity to improve themselves technologically. They understand the airplanes more; they know how to fix it,”he said.
Akinkuotu said having MRO in Nigeria would not only save money for the airlines, it would develop indigenous technical personnel and it would improve the standard in the conduct of checks of airlines in Nigeria.
“We have done engine change here. But you will be doing engine change in an ideal condition when we have maintenance facility in Nigeria. When you are doing an engine change on the tarmac like I have seen airlines do, they can’t work at night. But in a hangar that is properly lit you can do it 24 hours a day.
“You cut down the work time and time is money. The turnaround for your airplanes if you have a good hangar is easier. If you have a maintenance facility close by that you work with it will improve on the availability. Overseas you will have a situation where you fly your airplane to France and they park it outside for some time because you have not booked at the right time,” he said.
According to him, the gains would be massive, saying that for an airline, “for you to be a big player you need to have your own maintenance facility.”
“Even if you don’t own it, it has to be close by. So, an MRO here will save the airlines money, it will bring more money to the economy, it will improve the technological know-how of the airline business and over time the bottom line will be reflected to the airlines. And a lot of the airplanes that are in the West African sub region can come here,” Akinkuotu added.