Onyema: Aircraft Maintenance Abroad Cost Over N1bn Per Plane

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By Emmanuel Addeh

The Chairman of Air Peace, Mr Allen Onyema has revealed that it costs $3 million or over N1 billion to carry out a Maintenance, Repairs and Overhaul (MRO) on a single commercial plane outside the country.

Speaking on Arise News Channel, THISDAY’s broadcast arm, Onyema stated that it was challenging having to spend such a huge amount with the current foreign exchange issues, positing that the Covid-19 pandemic has made the situation even worse.

The businessman stated that it was laudable that Aero had to set up a maintenance facility, noting that the company has to get its act together in terms of curbing service disruptions due to issues like unionism. According to him, such a facility ought to be running seven days a week.

“That’s one of the challenges we have in Nigeria, having to maintain our planes abroad and doing the checks. For example, when I send any of my 727s abroad, I spend about $3 million for each aircraft before they come back. That’s a lot. That’s over a billion naira. That’s for a two-month maintenance regime and it’s a problem,” he stated.

On the recent federal government bailout for the aviation sector, Onyema argued that no amount of money given for that purpose would be enough, but stressed that it was also understandable because the government has limited resources.

“A lot of people said the money was too small, yes it was small because just one of your engines will gulp the entire N4 billion, or even over. But N4 billion was given to all of us to share because the government was trying to help us, even if it’s just to pay a few salaries. It’s not enough, but we shouldn’t be comparing ourselves with America. The truth is that we don’t have the same capacity,” Onyema added.

He stated that it was to the credit of the current federal government that airlines in the country now enjoy concessions on import duties, saying it will encourage others to bring in brand new airplanes and save millions of dollars.

Onyema explained that the country was not immune to the Covid-19 pandemic, saying that the airlines have been the worst hit by the situation.

He noted that there have been a reduction in number of flights as Air Peace which was doing about 10 flights between Abuja and Lagos in a day now does two. According to him, while it used to be 120 generally, it is now just over 30.

The businessman said the company currently has 21 planes abroad for maintenance, stressing that because of the Covid-19 restrictions, the workers doing the job have not been able to deliver on schedule because of the lockdowns.

He added that the local airlines had given their foreign counterparts too much space to operate in the past, noting that it was time to take over , reason he recently brought in the 777 airplanes.