To sustain its aircraft maintenance capacity, Aero Contractors may utilise the Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul (MRO) facility at the Uyo airport, built by Akwa Ibom state government.
The Chief Executive Officer of Aero Contractors, Captain Ado Sanusi said airlines in Nigeria and in the West and Central Africa have been bringing their planes to the airline’s facility in Lagos, but due to the high demand for maintenance, the company would wish to partner with Akwa Ibom government to utilise the Uyo facility.
With the adverse effect of COVID-19 pandemic and the attendant economic depression, it would be difficult and costly for airlines in Nigeria and in the sub-region to ferry their aircraft overseas. Therefore, it is expected that major maintenance would be conducted by Aero locally, hence the need for more capacity, which could be provided by the MRO facility in Uyo.
“We in Aero are willing to partner with the Akwa Ibom government to utilise that facility. If they are willing, we can work together because we need more space. Some airlines are already talking to us. We are the ones that will conduct maintenance on many of the aircraft operating in Nigeria because with the economic crunch occasioned by COVID-19, it would be too expensive for airlines to ferry their aircraft overseas for maintenance. Once we take over the place we can change it,” Sanusi said.
The Chief Operating Officer of Dana Air, Obi Mbanuzuo said Nigerian carriers would face huge challenge in the maintenance of their aircraft overseas because of the diminished economy and remarked that it was high time Nigeria started having those maintenance facilities and know-how locally.
He commended Aero’s maintenance capabilities, noting that the company ought to expand its facilities to be able to take up the challenge of maintaining more aircraft.
Mbanuzuo, also said it would be a good idea if Aero and Akwa Ibom would collaborate so that Aero MRO could utilise the hangar but noted that he would always prefer private sector driven enterprise.
“Yes, the Aero hangar is small for doing the maintenance work it is doing. They have the capabilities in terms of the engineers, trained engineers and things like that. When you talk about Akwa Ibom, I have personally been to Uyo hangar, I have seen what they have done and a lot of documentation on what they have done. It is actually a huge hangar, very sophisticated, but it still needs a lot of financial input to complete the job.
“I am not in support of government in business. The Minster called us a year and half or two years ago to discuss about national carrier, MRO, leasing company and I said the idea is okay. I support all that, if it is a matter of putting the right things in place for somebody or some consortium to do that job not for the government to be involved. I will never be in support of the government to run an MRO.
“You and I know that if it is run by government it is going to fail. It will fail. Rather, if for example Aero or Arik or whoever shows interest, they give the companies the proper support, and not just mouth support,” he said.
Mbanuzuo, added that he would support the partnership that would utilise the hangar at Uyo, noting that what the private sector needs is support by government to grow the economy and not government taking over and managing businesses.
“I am in support of Aero and the Akwa Ibom government on whatever commercial discussions they have that makes sense. I will support all kinds of assistance to get the MRO going. You might not know this, in Dana Air; we actually have an agreement with Aero MRO to work on our aircraft just as I am sure a lot of airlines in Nigeria do.
“So, yes, I think it is better, why should I want to fly our aircraft abroad, just to fly our aircraft abroad for maintenance could cost us $30,000 just for flight. The fuel alone is $12,000 one way before you talk of the flight and other things,” the Dana Air COO added.