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Amaechi Seriika

Depending on airlines, mergers & acquisitions can deepen investments—Tounsi

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The Secretary General of Airports Council International (ACI) Africa, Mr. Ali Tounsi has given fresh insight on how best to grow private sector investments in the Nigerian aviation industry.

In an interview whether merger and acquisition can be the magic wand to revive the nation’s aviation industry, he said “Yes and no. In fact, it depends on the airlines involved. Airline business is very complicated; sometimes airlines cannot merge; and sometimes they can. But now, we have airline groups working together, it is a good development and concept. Sometimes, they complement each other especially in regional operations, where some airlines bring traffic to international airlines like what is happening in Togo with Asky and Ethiopian Airlines”.

“So, it depends on the airline; it is not my skill but I feel some airlines can benefit from the partnership and merging if they are willing to try it. Sometimes also, when you merge with someone very weak, he will keep you down; so they must take care. But I know that there are a lot of partnerships that can create more value for airlines.

On the chosen focus of discussion at the just concluded ACI Africa, Tounsi noted that “The old model of getting revenue is through airlines, taxes and fees. This means that to make more revenue, we should increase taxes. But by increasing taxes, airports will become very expensive and will not attract airlines and passengers. That means the more taxes, the lower the revenue and we cannot continue like that. This is because our airports will become one of the most expensive in the world”.

“So, the idea is to create more business from other areas like retail, concession and airport cities which can help to create more revenue for the airports and help them to grow, reduce taxes, attract more airlines and develop the system. So, this is the concept; it is to be more aggressive on commercial, not looking for taxes only from airlines. This will help us because it will be a win-win situation for airline operators, airport managers and passengers.

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