Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) says it currently has 26 prospective investors in its books that have applied to float an airline but have not met the requirements, saying therefore that no new airline will commence operations this year.
Sam Adurogboye, general manager, public relations, NCAA, told BusinessDay that these 26 prospective operators had commenced the stage of getting an Air Operators Certification (AOC) but were yet to complete the stages.
According to Adurogboye, the stages are thorough to ensure the safety of passengers and the country’s airspace, so not everyone who applies may be qualified to commence operations, especially if they do not meet the requirements.
“If you do not have an AOC, you cannot start an airline. So, many investors may think they will easily get it when they start, but as the stage gets tougher, they just decline,” a source in NCAA told BusinessDay.
The source reliably informed that from its books, no airline would commence operations this year.
It would be recalled that Dikko Nwachukwu, founder of a prospective new airline, JetWest, promised to begin air operations by December 2017, saying the guiding vision for JetWest was to make air travel accessible for more people.
“We are about democratising the skies,” he said.
According to CNN, JetWest planned to launch this year with 100 employees and a fleet of three Airbus A320 jets flying local routes in Nigeria.
JetWest said it aimed to project a fresh and vibrant image, adding that the company’s social media accounts were already trailing colourful cocktails and memos ahead of launch, aimed at youthful, savvy consumers.
However, the Nigerian aviation industry has suffered a prolonged spell of economic turbulence.
Arik Air, the nation’s leading carrier, was recently taken over by the government to prevent it from collapsing. Aero Contractors, which was also taken over, has reduced fleet size from 10 to two, while First Nation has suspended scheduled operations over insufficient fleet, pending when the airline will increase its fleet.
Allen Onyema, chairman of Air Peace, has decried the excessive charges and taxes imposed on Nigeria airlines by governments and organisations, saying that these were part of the challenges that scare away investors who were interested in investing in the business.
Onyema warned that high charges and taxes on operating airlines in the continent would cripple carriers.
Gbenga Olowo, president of Aviation Safety Round Table Initiative (ASRTI), said, “Going back to almost 40 years, government airline, Nigeria Airways, failed; pioneer private airlines such as Okada, Kabo and so on, failed. The third generation airlines: ADC, Bellview, Chanchangi, Sosoliso, and others failed. Fourth generation airlines: Richard Branson’s Virgin Nigeria, Air Nigeria, among others failed. Believe me, given the same Nigeria operating environment the national carrier yet to be born will fail.”
Complaining about Nigeria factor in the failure of businesses, Olowo said, “It is a Nigerian business environmental factor. Business and government are permanently at variance. Cost is permanently higher than income. Tax overburden and infrastructural deficit erode revenue steadily.”