‘Nigeria’s Aviation Market Needs Policies to Boost Profit’

‘Nigeria’s Aviation Market Needs Policies to Boost Profit’

Chinedu Eze

The Chief Executive Officer of the Togo-based Asky Airlines, Mr. Esayas WoldeMariam Hailu has said that Nigeria has big aviation market and also high number of travellers but needs policies that will empower its airlines to operate profitably.

In a recent interview, the Asky CEO said that Nigerian needs efficient and well-functioning airlines that would cater for domestic and international markets  and appealed to Nigeria’s national assembly to introduce laws that will enable Nigerian carriers to thrive.

“Nigeria aviation is a very big aviation market by the share, by the mobility, the people are very high travellers. In Nigeria it is good to have a well-functioning domestic and international Nigerian companies. But the aviation ecosystem in Nigeria, the way I look at it, it is a little bit formidable and difficult for the Nigerian authorities. So my advice and my appeal for the Nigerian lawmakers is that they need to enable the operators in Nigeria to be able to thrive because the market is so big for the international and domestic operators.

“There is no shortage of market but the government should enable the Nigerian operators by way of good regulation that would create the enabling environment, by way of making them to thrive. Making the law, so that they can help them develop the aviation infrastructure, making the law to be very conducive for the local operators, so that they can grow up to the task and cover the region and the continent. So this is my appeal. Otherwise, there are a lot of people who are really interested to make aviation to work in Nigeria. And also the market is so in demand and saturated and there are a lot of operators in the sector. So my appeal to the Nigerian government is to enable them and push them to grow. That is my simple advice. Of course the whole aviation ecosystem needs to be built to be an enabling environment for aviation,” he said.

Hailu said Asky Airlines, which is a private multinational passenger airline, was established in 2010, 13 years ago and has done so well and has become a profitable carrier in West Africa.

According to Hailu, Asky is not only profitable in terms of economics, but it is also profitable in terms of fulfilling its vision and mission of connecting West, Central, South, East Africa with each other and connecting people and goods and cultures. So, it is profitable in all dimensions. 

The CEO said Asky is fulfilling its mission as pan-Africa airline and has effectively operated to fulfil its set out goals.

“First of all, the commercial tagline for Asky is the pan-African airline. By saying this, we are not just invoking slogans, we mean what we say in Asky. Asky is a real Pan-Africa, number one. By connecting people from Cape Verde, from the westermost to Kenya, Nairobi the eastermost to Niamey, Niger, the northermost and Johannesburg, South Africa, the southermost. And just about anywhere else in between 28 destinations. This means west, central, south, east Africa, building one of the largest networks connecting Africa. That means serving the Pan-African initiative, the Africa Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA), and before it is even being fulfilled, the Single African Air Transport Market (SAATM). So this is one of the Pan-African attributes of Asky, by the sheer network architecture. It shows pan-Africanism.

“Number two, look at Asky’s name. Asky means African Sky. Look at the color of the logo. The golden and the brown. The brown is the brown color of the Africans. The golden is all the minerals and the gold which is in Africa, be it in Ghana, Mali, Niger, and elsewhere. Number three, Asky is Pan-African because Asky is employing pilots and cabin crew from Senegal to Chad to Ghana to Gabon to Benin to Togo to Niger and from everywhere. Even from Nigeria, from Sokoto to Maiduguri, to Ogun State and to Abia State, all geopolitical zones. In fact, the largest concentration of pilots flying as Asky are from Nigeria. So this shows you that Asky is Pan-African in terms of its employment opportunities, in terms of its brand, look and feel and logo, in terms of its network. It is living true to its claim. It does not deny its claim of being Pan-African,” the CEO said.

He said that the highpoint of what he would want to achieve as the CEO of Asky Airlines is to instill proficiency and technical knowledge in Africans, to train aviation experts who could market their technical skills globally.

“The singular high point I have in mind is that Africa needs aviation proficiency. People talk about brian drain from Africa to the developed world, but when it comes to aviation, Africa does not have the trained aviation expertise to drain. So, Africa needs to train a lot of aviation experts. This is a highly skilled intensive industry which requires license, modulated license and other things. So, the high point is that Asky should be bent on developing aviation in the region by way of training aviation professionals.  This needs to be done in every country in Africa; to train aviation professionals. The more aviation professionals we have, we can help aviation to grow in the continent,” he said.

Hailu disclosed that Asky started from a humble beginning, operating Bombardier Q400s, which are Turbo props aircraft with ultra narrow body. Now Asky has migrated into jet engine. Asky is operating Boeing B737 MAX, B737-800, which are new generation aircraft.

“Asky is now having 15 aircraft and 28 destinations. And Asky has diversified its network all the way to East Africa, Kenya, Nairobi, and all the way to South Africa, Johannesburg, as well as to the westernmost part Praia Cape Verde, and a big network of 28 destinations. So Asky has grown within the last 13 years. It has outgrown from a humble beginning of a regional operator, and has truly become a pan-African airline,” he added.

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