Akwaaba 2016: Aviation experts speak on why African airlines fail

Aviation experts at the just concluded Akwaaba African Travel Market in Lagos have identified the problems militating against the growth of the Aviation industry in Nigeria and Africa and why airlines fail.

The experts who were also discussants on the paper presented by the former managing director of the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN),  Mr. Richard Aisuebeogun on the state of African Aviation also proffered solutions on the way forward for the industry.

Aisuebeogun in his presentation observed that  African aviation industry is lagging behind compared to those of the rest of the world at less than 3percent of global RPKs.

He observed that the growth is heavily constrained by the high industry costs, inadequate infrastructure at several airports, slow implementation of the Yamoussoukro Decision, lack of a single traffic rights negotiating body with respect to third parties like the European Union.

“Nonetheless, demand for air transport has increased steadily over the past years with passenger numbers and freight traffic growing significantly. Over the period 2010-2015, Africa will be one of the fastest growing regions in the world in terms of international traffic with an average growth rate of 6.1 per cent compared to the global average of 5.8 per cent. However, African aviation needs to grow at double-digit rates to be a significant player in the global industry.”

Speaking at the event, the chief executive officer of Ropeways Transport and former managing director of Virgin Nigeria Airlines, Captain Dapo Olumide, a seasoned aviation expert observed that lack of good corporate governance and ethics is the major reason why African Airlines fail in Nigeria and Africa.

Olumide pointed out that the ownership structures of the airlines is another factor where the owner appoints family members as directors instead of independent directors who are experienced in aviation business.

He stressed the need for airline operators to have the right aircraft in their operation to determine which aircraft type suits their operations and not just deploying big aircraft on a route that has fewer passengers.

According to him, it does not make economic sense in deploying big aircraft instead of a small one on a route with less passenger traffic.

He observed that the business plans must be right, adding that in most cases the airlines business plans are always wrong.

Olumide identified the problem of maintenance, where there are no maintenance facilities in the country to carry out major repairs and overhaul on aircraft as another problem facing the industry in the country.

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