It is generally believed in Nigeria that running an airline business successfully particularly on the domestic scene is almost impossible.
This notion has been traced to the poor performances put up by many of the local airlines which could not stand the heat and collapsed unceremoniously.
Some of the reasons attributed to the failure of these domestic airlines to remain in business include lack of understanding of what airline business is all about before dabbling into it, ownership factor which prevents professionals from actually managing the airlines in line with international standards, ostentatious living by the owners, diversion of funds for the running of the airlines to other areas, failure on the parts of the airlines to cooperate and form alliances for stronger results.
Equally, the airlines have laid part of the blame on government for creating unfriendly environment through bad policies such as multiple entry points to foreign airlines, loose frequencies to foreign carriers, lopsided Bilateral Air Services Agreements (BASAs), multiple taxations, unstable ordering exchange and expensive price of aviation fuel.
While one may sympathise with the domestic carriers to an extent, one obvious thing is that airlines from other countries that are known to be doing well also have challenges that confront them from their home countries, but they have been able to surmount many of these challenges through proper planning and determination to run profitably and remain in business.
Despite these challenges and the unfriendly situation, kudos should still go to the few of the remaining domestic airlines that refused to give up.
All hope is, however, not lost as the domestic airlines can actually make waves if they are determined and able to manage the business successfully as witnessed in the impressive performance of Medview Airline.
It is no longer news that Medview Airline which started as a travel agency not long ago, subsequently graduated to a chartered entity and then forayed into hajj operations and finally metamorphosed into a scheduled airline.Since then, the airline against all odds has continued to wax stronger based on the combination of core professionalism and full grasp of how an airline should be managed at all cost.
It is the best recognised Nigerian airline by the Saudi Arabia authorities for meeting all standards during the annual hajj exercise through its ability to airlift all pilgrims allocated to it without any hitch.
Since the airline has commenced operations on the Lagos/London Gatwick route, the success story so far is beyond imagination despite the fact that Heathrow Airport and not Gatwick is the major one.
The ability to succeed on the Lagos/London route according to the Managing Director, Alhaji Bankole Muneer, was based on his ability to first study the route and know what to do, before hitting the ground.
“The major airport is Heathrow, Gatwick. There is a standard airport. But we did a study and we went into it and today it is one of our best routes. We are also full all the way to September the 20th and we usually have no empty sits. And that is why we are trying to inject B747 to keep that route going for them and for Nigerians coming home in December.
“For Jeddah we did a run in Umra. I just came in now; I have been there for one month.We ran a charter and a schedule for Saudi Arabia; it was a clean one. I came back after the 11th flight and they were all full. So, we are now hitting hajj. We are looking at three aircraft. We are doing the schedule and we are also doing a lot of movement. We are moving people from West Africa including Mali. We had a contract there.”
There is no doubt that domestic airlines in Nigeria can do it if they understand the business and determined with Medview Airline experience.