AON, a house divided against itself

Nigeria’s airline operators under the aegis of Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON) recently elected new executives that will manage the affairs of the crucial association for the next couple of years.

The basic functionS of the association include, among others, fighting the course of its members and serving as the mouthpiece of the members when the need arises.

The latest election saw the emergence of Alhaji Abdulmunaf Sarina of Azman Air as the new Chairman and Mr Allen Onyema of Air Peace as the new Vice Chairman.

While believing in the capability of the new executives to use their wealth of experience to take the AON to a greater heights in the face of the myriad of challenges confronting it, the new executives should better realize that the job ahead of them is bigger than what they can imagine.

Without doubt, activities of the AON hitherto has not impressed ordinary stakeholders across the aviation sector for so many reasons ranging from lack of coordination to disunity and members allowing their ego to dictate their understanding of what the association stands for.

In other words, the AON is one of the most divided groups one can think of, may be because most of the members often get carried away to realize the importance of the need for their coming together, which is basically to protect their business vis a vis Nigeria’s airline domestic scene.

Prior to now, beside the AON that was generally known, there was a time the sector witnessed the formation of a parallel association known as Airline Operators Association of Nigeria (AOAN), under the leadership of Captain Mohammed Joji, owner of Skyway Express. From all indications, the parallel body is still in existence.

Some operators who spoke to Nigerian Tribune had expressed their displeasure at the manner the latest election was held without carrying many airline operators along on the excuse that such operators were left out for not having a functional Air Operators Certificate (AOC).

At any side AON will want to stand at the moment, one obvious fact is that there is an ongoing acrimony among many of its members both within and outside the core body.

A house divided against itself, as often said, cannot stand in the face of any confrontation from the enemy.

The time has therefore come for the new AON executives to hit the ground running by going all out to pacify the aggrieved members and start afresh.

The need for each member of AON to drop their ego and reach out to all becomes pertinent for the purpose of preventing the final collapse of the domestic airline business in the country, which is presently gasping for breath.

Presently, the domestic airline business is living on life support made possible by various challenges ranging from self inflicted crisis created by the airlines such as uncooperative attitude, lack of understanding of the nitty gritty of running an airline, many unfriendly government policies including granting of loose frequencies and multiple entry points to foreign airlines, too many taxes and failure of government to support the airlines and many other troubles.

Without doubt, with all these and many more challenges hanging on the neck of the operators, their ability to survive these crises falls on the shoulders of the AON executives, who can achieve a lot through togetherness.

Obviously, this is not the time for the AON executives or those in the core body to display any toga of superiority as every airline owner including those with one aircraft or expired AOCs is needed to fight a common cause.

It is only a united AON that can join hands to challenge the government on the need to review cases like preferential treatment for foreign airlines which has negatively impacted the domestic operators. There is the need for AON to take the government up on why it chose not to engage in aero-politics on their behalf and many more.

Rather than cast away some members, the present crop of AON executives need every airline operator behind them to be able to confront the government on the need to make the domestic airline business more profitable for them and make the scene more comfortable and seamless for domestic airline activities.

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