Foreign airlines may takeover local market by 2020 if…
There are fears that because of the challenges facing domestic airlines, amidst the Federal Government’s back and front assistance promises and forex crisis, the local route operators may relinquish the market shares to foreign airlines any time next year.
This was the key submission of the Chairman, Governing Council of the Nigeria Aviation Safety Initiative (NASI), Captain Dung Rwang Pam in an interview in Lagos.
Answering questions on the fears that the sector is on the verge of a collapse that will give way for foreign airlines to take over the local routes, he said “It is possible that the local sector will suffer a lot of attrition but it will not collapse completely. What will happen, in a scenario where most of the Nigerian local airlines go bankrupt and are unable to operate, is that you will end up having foreign carriers coming in to operate”.
“ Because we have economic groups like the South African Development community, Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) in East Africa and we have the Banjul Accord Group. And they grant Fifth Freedom Rights, which mean you can actually come into Nigeria, take passengers from Nigeria to other countries that are not even yours.
Explaining more on how it will work out, Pam said “That was what happened when Arik had that botched insurance matter. They allowed their insurance to run out, so they could not fly and their passengers were more or less stranded. But we had other airlines based in Ghana or other places coming in to operate.
“That is one thing with the Economic Community Of West African States (ECOWAS) region with some of those internal agreements; which are good. We may end up having that with other airlines doing great things.
“For instance, Rwanda, which is a very small country, is making quite a lot of smart decisions with regards to aviation industry. At the moment they have close to nine airplanes and they have got some more plans as well. Not only do they fly in here, but they have also successfully been able to attract quite a number of our pilots; very experienced ones. I know about eight that have gotten jobs with RwandAir.
Pam added that “they left their employments here; some from Arik, some from Air Peace and others from Dana; they have all left to join RwandAir”.
He however decried that “The Nigerian industry is, therefore, going to suffer to the benefit of other African carriers. I know South African Airways is in a bit of problem, Kenya Airways is not doing too well, Ethiopian is alright, but when they come here, they look like the golden boys compare to our performance locally. When you look it from regional perspective, we do not impress even our African counterparts not to mention the international ones”.