Africa: Weak Naira bites Nigerian Airlines hard as fleet depletes to 42 from 81, Air Peace becomes biggest Airline
The crisis rocking the Nigerian aviation industry is taking a toll on the nation’s carriers with the depletion of their fleet of aircraft in the last one year.
Independent investigations revealed that the fleet of the nation’s airlines, which was about 81 barely 12 months ago has plummeted to just 42 aircraft.
At least 39 aircraft from the nine Nigerian airlines have been grounded.
This represents 49.9 percent depletion within the period.
Going by INDEPENDENT findings, the most affected are Arik Air and Aero Contractors.
Arik’s has been reduced from 26 to 10, while Aero’s has been reduced from 10 to just two.
However, there has been relative growth in Air Peace’s aircraft fleet.
Air Peace’s fleet appears to have witnessed some stability as a result of a recent aircraft acquisition.
Dana Air and Med-View have maintained their fleet of aircraft within the period.
INDEPENDENT findings revealed that the registration numbers of the grounded aircraft in Aero Contractors are 5N-BIZ (Boeing 737-4B7), 5N-BJA (B737-4B7), 5N-BJO (Canada DHC-8), 5N-BKQ (B 737-522), 5N-BKR (B737-522), 5N-BLC (B737-522), 5N-BLD (B737-522).
Others are 5N-BLE (B737-522), 5N-BLG (B737-522), 5N-BOB (B737-42C), 5N-BPT (Canada DHC-8) and 5N-BPU (Canada DHC-8).
Some of the aircraft have been returned to their original owners by the Nigerian carriers while one of the known aircraft in the fleet of the once vibrant airline was a Boeing 737-42C with the registration number 5N-BOC.
For instance, aircraft with registration numbers 5N-MJC (B737-7BD), 5N-MJD (B737-7BD), 5N-MJI (B737-76N), 5N-MJJ (B737-76N), 5N-MJO (B737-86N), 5N-MJP (B737-8JE), 5N-MJQ (B737-8JE) and CS-TF (Airbus A340-542) are all grounded.
Some of the active airplanes in the fleet of the carrier are 5N-BKU (Canada DHC-8), 5N-BKV (Canada DHC-8), 5N-BKW (Canada DHC-8), 5N-JEA (Canadair CRJ-900) and 5N-JEB (Canadair CRJ900).
Others are 5N-JIC (Airbus A330-223), 5N-MJE (B737-7GL), 5N-MJF (B 737-7GL), 5N-MJG (B737-7BD), and 5N-MJH (B737-7BD).
Also, FirstNation Airways has only one active aircraft in its fleet of two about a year ago.
The active airplane is an Airbus A319-113 with registration number 5N-FNE while the other, 5N-FND (AA319-113), has remained grounded at the Murtala Muhammed Airport Two (MMA2), Lagos, since November, 2016.
Besides, Hak Air, which secured an Air Operators’ Certificate (AOC) in 2013 has all its four aircraft, which it allegedly used to secure the AOC, parked at the graveyard of the Lagos airport since the acquisition of the AOC. The airline, since it obtained the AOC, is yet to operate.
The registration numbers of its aircraft are 5N-BOT (B737-4U3), 5N-BOU (B737-4U3), 5N-BOV (B737-4U3) and 5N-BOW (B737-4U3).
As for Dana, the active aircraft in the fleet of the airline are 5N-DEV (MD-83), 5N-JAI (MD-83), 5N-JOY (MD-83) and 5N-SRI (MD-83).
Overland Airways has seven active aircraft in its fleet with only ATR 72-202 (5N-BPF) grounded.
The registration numbers of the active aircraft are 5N-BCR (ATR 42-320), 5N-BCS (ATR 42-300), 5N-BJM (Embraer ERJ-145LR), 5N-BND (ATR 42-320), 5N-BPE (ATR 72-202), 5N-BPG (ATR 72-202) and 5N-BRQ (ATR 42-320).
All Air Peace aircraft are in active position.
Some of the aircraft are 5N-BQO (B 737-36N), 5N-BQP (B737-33R), 5N-BQQ (B737-524), 5N-BQR (B737-528), 5N-BQS (B737-524), 5N-BQT (Dornier Do-328JET), 5N-BQU (B737-36N).
Others are 5N-BQV (B737-33V), 5N-BRN (B737-528), 5N-BUJ (B737-5L9) and 5N-BUQ (B737-33A).
Similarly, all the four aircraft in the fleet of Azman Air are in active capacities.
They are 5N-AIS (B737-5L9), 5N-HAI (B737-36N), 5N-SYS (B737-56N and 5N-YSM B737-36N).
For Med-View Airline, which went public in 2016, four out of its five aircraft are in active capacity.
The active aircraft are 5N-BQM (B737-5Q8), 5N-MAA (B737-4D7), 5N-MAB (B737-4D7) and TF-AMV (B747-412).
Its Boeing 5N-BQN (B767-352) is currently grounded.
Engr. Sheri Kyari, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Centre for Aviation Safety and Research (CAS-R), attributed the depletion of aircraft in Nigeria’s aviation industry to absence of a viable maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) facilities in the country.
Other stakeholders INDEPENDENT spoke with corroborated Kyari’s views.
Kyari explained that it was always costlier to carry out checks abroad as this is done in foreign currencies while they charge for their services in naira.
Unfortunately, the value of the naira has continued to crash in the international market, especially in the past 18 months.
He said: “The issue of fleet depletion that we are witnessing in the country is nothing new because the main factor is the lack of MRO facilities.
“If there are MROs in the country, people will simply move their airplanes to such MRO and you can have a slot that is well-planned for you, but this one that we take our aircraft outside the country, if they don’t get a slot here, they have to start looking for slots around the world, which is not good enough.
“Two, if they are going to do checks in the country, it’s going to be a lot cheaper.
“There is a high tendency that you are going to have cheaper labour at home and you are going to pay using naira, but what is happening today is that operators take their aircraft outside the country and start sourcing for dollars.
“For some, who are leasing aircraft for usage in the country, if your aeroplane is due for check and you take it down or it’s due for check and you cannot pay, the owner of the aircraft will definitely go for his aircraft and once this happens, it is removed from the inventory of that airline.”