Capt. Ado Sanusi is the managing director of Aero Contractors, popularly called Aero, which has been under the receivership of Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON) since February 5, 2016. In this interview, he speaks about the future of the airline, its maintenance, repair and overhaul facility, exemption of airlines from paying value added tax and how AMCON is gradually divesting its shares in Aero
Progress with MRO facility
We are happy to say that the MRO has been developing; we have opened our doors to everybody. We are getting customers in Nigeria, West Africa, we have gotten Ghana Civil Aviation to recognise us and give us certification; we are working with Congo, Cameroon to get the certification. So we want to serve the West and Central African communities in the aviation sector.
The lifeline of Aero is the MRO because the MRO is a business that was neglected and now we have revived it and want to bring it back to limelight to serve. Fortunately for Aero Contractors, there is a lack of formidable MRO in the region, so we are just filling that gap and by so doing we are just creating business for us and also creating jobs for the region.
National carrier proposal
You know every country in the world will like to have a National Carrier, so I support the national carrier for all the countries that are looking for National Carriers. But what I want to say is with caution that yes we want to have a national carrier, we want to establish a formidable carrier that will serve our people and the tourism industry, but we must learn from our past mistakes. So, establishing a national carrier will bring more jobs to me because definitely they are not establishing a national MRO. So I will definitely have an opportunity as an MRO to serve the national carrier.
Floating a national carrier with tax payers’ money
In every industry where you have a regulator and the industry is well regulated, you need to have a fair level ground, a fair environment, so I believe what Air Operators of Nigeria (AON) is just asking is that the national carrier that is coming should be allowed to compete favourably with them, and I think that is fair and I don’t think the government is going to unduly give the national carrier some advantage. I think it will allow the national carrier to grow as a business, the moment you don’t allow it to grow as a business, then it might not be sustainable and that is the truth and that is why Ethiopian Airlines is sustainable because they allowed it to grow as a sustainable business. And if you allow a business to grow as a sustainable business, you must allow it to compete with its peers so that it can now get immunisation of competition.
Expectation from Aero and its MRO in the coming years
I expect Aero to be a formidable name in West and Central Africa for MRO; I also expect Aero to bounce back as an airline. I also expect Aero in the next five years to be a dominant factor in the oil and gas industry, so there are my expectations for Aero.
Independence from AMCON
The Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON) has a plan to divest their shares in Aero Contractors and I think they have been doing that with more investors and that is what they want and that will be done very soon.
Preferential treatment as government-run carrier
No, no, we don’t get any preferential treatment and we are not government protected airline, we are just under receivership and the law under receivership protects you from other creditors, that is what it does and after that, you are not protected from any other thing.
Exemption of airlines from VAT payment
The removal of Value Added Tax, VAT in the aviation industry by the federal government is a welcome thing and we love it, off course AON has been canvassing for that. I think it will help the industry in easing the taxes levied on it.