Grounded aircraft cause glut of passengers at airports
The grounding of various aircraft by the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) belonging to over four domestic carriers is currently leading to a glut of passengers on frequent domestic routes such as Lagos, Abuja, Port Harcourt, Kano and Owerri, BusinessDay’s checks found.
A source close to the NCAA told BusinessDay that currently, over eight aircraft have been grounded by the regulator, making it difficult for the affected airlines to carry out daily scheduled operations as planned. This development has led some of the airlines to overbook passengers, rather than lose the passengers to competing airlines.
BusinessDay’s checks show that the fall out of this development has seen Medview enter an agreement with Dana Air to help them carry their passengers while the former struggles to get their aircraft operational again.
A visit by BusinessDay to Lagos, Abuja and Owerri airports recently saw over ten aircraft belonging to Aero Contractors, First Nation airline, Arik Air, and Medview, grounded as Aircraft on Ground (AOG). “Aircraft are not supposed to be on ground but in the sky for operations. If aircraft are on ground, it is either it has insurance issues, maintenance issues or other technical issues,” Sam Adurogboye, NCAA General Manager of Public Relations, said.
Adurogboye explained while some of the aircraft are due for maintenance, the operators do not have enough funds to fix them. He added that other aircraft have expired insurance papers and the operators are sorting out their insurance papers.
He further explained that “If aircraft maintenance is due and it is supposed to be repaired overseas, operators often book overtime to get a slot. It is only when they have a slot for the aircraft that operators take their aircraft abroad for maintenance.
“Airlines pay heavily to have their aircraft parked overseas. So, airlines prefer to have it parked in their country, where they will pay minimal fees.”
A passenger who simply identified himself as Seun booked one of domestic airlines to Abuja recently. He said he had to pay over N50, 000 for a one-way ticket to Abuja for a 5.30pm flight which did not depart the airport till past 10pm.
He said other passengers out of frustration went to book other airlines at a much more expensive rate.
“Apart from paying so much to fly, the same ticket I was issued was also issued to two other passengers. Many other passengers on that flight had similar issues as well. So, there was chaos on-board due to over overbooking of passengers,” Seun added.
However a source from one of the affected airlines which had their aircraft grounded told BusinessDay that their aircraft was grounded because the NCAA said there will be a compulsory inspection of their aircraft following recent rumours on the airworthiness of the aircraft.
Air Peace and Arik Air seem to be benefitting over the reduced fleet of other airlines. During the weekend, Arik Air and Air Peace flights to Lagos, Abuja, Port Harcourt, Kano and Owerri were fully booked even though it wasn’t a peak period for the airlines.
BusineessDay’s checks show that Arik Air used to have 30 aircraft but currently has less than 12 aircraft flying. Aero used to have 17 aircraft with 12 Boeing 737 alone but currently struggles with two aircraft.
Medview came into the business with six aircraft but currently has two operational aircraft. Dana has seven aircraft but has only three operating, while four are outside the country for maintenance. First Nation has since two months been grounded by NCAA over insufficient fleet.
Big Read |