The 2016 edition of Akwaaba African Travel Market (AfTM), held at Eko Hotel and Suites in Lagos, has set a new rescue agenda for a better, structured and economic-driver travel, tourism and aviation sector, to reposition and sustain Africa business hub and destination.
The three days travel exhibition, which consolidated on its past effort to add more value to the content of the platform, streamlined its offerings to build a robust business frontier for participants.
The trade show created a well modified platform where seasoned and core players in the tourism, travel, aviation and hospitality industry from within and outside Nigeria brainstormed on trendy issues hampering the smooth growth and development of the industry in Africa.
The well selected panelists at the Akwaaba aviation day, individually, gave step-by-step solution to prevailing problems facing aviation industry in Africa.
Speaking on the theme, State of Aviation in Africa and why airlines fail, Richard Aisuebeogun, Former Managing Director Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) said that the potentials of Aviation in Africa are under-utilised. This means that there are huge opportunities for the sustainable Airlines to thrive. “Therefore for the continent to realise its full economic potential, aviation, particularly commercial air transport must be prioritised.
The phenomenal growth of Air Transport Industry, which includes the development of modern Airports facilities, upgrade of navigation services, fleets upgrade/renewal amongst African airlines, Globally certified aircraft maintenance facility and training institutions and a robust legislation that supports civil aviation have all joined to stimulate and enhance the growth of civil Aviation in Africa.
“There is need for diversification of local economies to create economic empowerment for locals, and economic attraction for foreign business, people and traders flying in for business, etc. Governments should ensure this is achieved to support African Airlines.
Captain Dapo Olumide who attributed the problem of aviation in Nigeria to lack of corporate governance and ethics said that, it is not that things cannot work in Nigeria, but a high level of interference and bureaucracy hampered the grow and development of the sector, and in most cases kill good model and plans.
Olumide who took the Ethiopian Airlines as a model, explained that the airline is 100 per cent owned by the Ethiopian government, but the management of its operations is in the hand of a management board, who were given the autonomy to grow the airline to its present enviable status.
“Right equipment and specification must be used for specific destination. An airline that uses an aircraft meant for a long haul for short haul and vise versa, would have a problem in the consumption of fuel and other areas of operations.
“Every airline that has failed has either used wrong business plan and financial modules. You must have your plan that drives the growth of the business. An airline must not replica other airlines module because he wants to compete.
In her offering, Mrs Fatimah Gabati narrowed down the problems of the aviation industry and why airlines fail in Nigeria and Africa, into three basic factors, which she enumerated as fear, attitude and refusal to obey international conventions, blaming African leaders for neglecting the Yamoussoukro accord that called for open skies in Africa.
In her submission, another panelist, Docas Aketch from Rwandair, highlighted the problems in Africa as ignorant. According to her, “we consider each other as competitors instead of partners.
To sustain ourselves as Africans, we must start to interline in different operational ground to grow each other business, because it is only by interlining with each other that we can jointly succeed.
Speaking on how to go forward with present state of Nigeria aviation sector, Chike Ogeah, the Vice Chairman, Skyway Aviation Handling Company Ltd (SAHCOL), said concessioning is the way out.
“Concession should be given to people who can find international partners to make things right. And if we must go the way of concession, it must be done with all transparency and everyone must be carried along.
Abayomi Jones who believed Nigeria has people who can bring the change needed to reposition the aviation sector said, “we should not allow competition to kill our systems. We have over 170 million people in Nigeria, if only two per cent of the population travel, it is a hell of money.
“So we must understand the dynamics of the industry and how things work, we must stop thinking of flying alone because that aspect of the business only give you five per cent but we all know an airline with conglomerate of business and we have what it takes to do it.
Another expert in the industry, Chris Aligbe, in his presentation raised the issue of man-power, saying that it is a big problem in aviation sector in Nigeria.
According to Aligbe, we need capacity building in core management areas in our airports.
He also explained that internal and external problems must be addressed in Nigeria to succeed.
Departing from the summation of other panelists, was Captain Mike Omokore’s presentation who focused on finance and the role it plays in aviation.
“Finance has been a major issue in the aviation industry in the world and Nigeria and for anything to work, there must be a ready source for funds and invests.
“Nigeria banks should be transparent in their dealings to create chance for international banks who are willing to partner with Nigeria in areas of interest that will enhance development.