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Domestic airlines and the need for alliance
There is no doubt that domestic airlines in Nigeria are seriously grappling with myriad of challenges which if not properly managed may lead to a situation whereby the country may end up having one or two indigenous airlines.
This has become obvious in view of the tight financial position they have found themselves.
Presently, only three or four domestic airlines are operating while others are in a state of comatose,
The situation has become worsened by the crash of Dana Air and the subsequent grounding of Air Nigeria by the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) over financial crisis.
Out of the domestic carriers operating in the country before the June 3rd crash of an MD83 aircraft belonging to Dana Air only IRS, Aero and Arik are still operating normally but with challenge of meeting the rise in traffic brought about by the absence of Dana Air and Air Nigeria on the local scene.
It is on record that the local airlines are being confronted with issues ranging from huge indebtedness, self- inflicted problems to government hostile policies.
Prior to now, many key players in the sector have accused the airlines of being the architect of their own misfortune through the way they run their airlines.
This brings to question the ongoing call on the airlines to merge. Those who belong to this school of thought made the call in view of the capital intensive nature of airline business.
This merger call has become controversial with some key players kicking against it on the excuse that the idea will not work.
Latest of the opponents is the assistant general secretary of the Airline Operator of Nigeria (AON), Alhaji Mohammed Tukur.
Tukur had not only condemned the planned merger option for domestic airline operators, but suggested that rather than conduct “a forced
marriage” for the airlines, government should remove customs duties on any imported aircraft parts.
According to him, it would be wrong for the government to merge the existing airlines by fiat, stressing that it was the responsibility of the
airlines “to discuss how they can come together to boost flight operations. “
Well, everybody has the right to his or her own opinion but one fact that remains is that airline business is the same thing all over the world.
Airlines across the world are facing one challenge or the other just like the domestic airlines in Nigeria. As a way of surviving, major airlines in the world have buried their pride by choosing to merge with other airlines of their choice.
We have airlines like British Airways forming alliance with the Spanish carrier, Iberia just like the coming together of Air France/KLM and several others.
Many of these mega carriers that have formed alliances have recorded success as such alliances have ended up making the airlines more formidable and profitable.
It is at this juncture that Crucial Moment is joining the likes of those in support of the airlines coming together in view of the overwhelming financial crisis tearing them apart.
The excuse that the airlines have different background does not hold water as airline business is based on international principles and not on local principles.
Nigeria airlines should wake up from their slumber and join the wind of change blowing if they are to survive and make profits.
Equally, the airlines should consider the option of interlining with some of the mega carriers operating into the country.
Until the domestic carriers decide to come out of their shells and embrace alliances, very soon their case may be that of once upon a time as airline business is not run base on ego or status.Share