The chief operating officer of Ibom Air, Mr. George Uriesi, has attributed the stunted growth and limited profitability of Nigeria’s domestic carriers to under-utilisation of their aircraft.
He said the airlines lose an average of N4 million per flight, N12 million in every flight, N360 million in 90 flights and N4.3 billion annually on every flight because their aircraft are utilised only for sunset operations.
Uriesi made the remarks in a paper entitled ‘Maximising runway utilisation: A Nigerian airline perspective,’ which he presented at the 26th edition of the Annual League of Airport and Aviation Correspondents conference held yesterday in Lagos.
He listed the impediments to the growth of the carriers’ productivity to include, limited runway availability across the domestic network, multiple operational infrastructure deficiencies, poor organisation and many others.
“You are operating within a systematic limiting environment. That makes it harder to be as productive as your colleague in Europe, Asia and so on who fly their C-class aeroplane (737s and A320s) a number of hours that make them highly productive than you who can hardly fly yours to maximize it.
“At the end of the day, the system is set up to threaten the survivability of airlines in Nigeria. There is no way to it. You will buy aeroplanes, more expensive, and pay expensive insurance costs. You will continue to sell naira and maintain your aeroplane in dollars. On top of it when it’s harmattan you cannot fly the aeroplane,” he said.
To tackle the challenges, Uriesi urged the government to prioritise airfield infrastructure and provide the necessary instrument landing system and accompanying accessories for every airport, while also keeping the aerodromes open to meet the needs of airlines and other users.
Besides, he advised the government to make current, approved master plans a regulatory requirement for every airport and illegalise non-adherence to the master plans by any organisation.
“Establishing a local aircraft lessor /financing vehicle that would allow for the domiciling of aircraft payments in local currency would make a huge difference to the air transport sector in Nigeria,” he added.