Africa: Aviation Fuel cost and Absence of MRO is reason why Nigerian Airlines struggle says Expert
Mr Isaac Balami, the Chief Executive Officer, 7 Star Global Hangar Ltd., says the cost of fueling and maintenance of aircraft are the main reasons domestic airlines in the country are struggling.
Balami, an Aircraft Engineer, made this known in an interview on Sunday in Abuja.
According to him, some domestic airlines are spending as much as N800 million to fuel about nine Boeing 737 aircraft monthly at N200 per litre.
He said that the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) had made it clear that aviation fuel could be sold at about N50 or N70 if produced locally.
“There are other variables that can make an airline to succeed that are lacking in the country.
“The issue of aviation fuel is very pertinent because as a member of the National Carrier Committee and a manager at Aero Contractors then, I was privy to some information.
“I knew then that Aero was spending N800 million every month on aviation fuel flying about nine B737.
“As at then, fuel was going for about N200 per litre and what that means is that Aero that was in red then would have been making profit of about N500 million every month.
“That means that Aero would have saved as much every month and N500 million every month would have been enough to pay all AMCON debts then and bring Aero back to life just on fuel alone.
“For instance, if airlines are going to be spending may be, only 20 per cent or 15 per cent on aviation fuel, definitely the passengers will enjoy, more people will travel and the airports will be busy and viable,’’ he said.
Balami said that the second issue was the absence of Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul (MRO) facility in the country, adding that millions of dollars was being spent to carry out C-check on airplanes abroad.
He expressed confidence that the effort of Aero to revive its MRO and the coming of Seven-Star Hanger would help address the challenge of aircraft maintenance in the country.
“Seven-Star Hanger and MRO are the ability to get license after seven years with right personnel, the facility, the equipment and the tool and above all, we have the certifications and ready to take off.
“Air Peace has about 30 aircraft flying and in the next one year, 10 or 15 will be due for C-check and you are talking of 1.5 million dollars to fix one.
“The cost of ferrying the aircraft, the cost of navigational charges, the cost of engineers and crew over there because of the C-check, forex and what have you as well as delays.
“If you are not flying a B737 a day, you are losing about 100,000 dollars and then you use about a week ferrying an aircraft to U.S. or UK or wherever,’’ he said.
Balami called on the Federal Government to expedite action to get the national carrier established to enable the sector to bridge the gap created by inefficient domestic airlines.
He said that only a national carrier would have the capacity to fill the gap, adding that a national carrier would have the capacity to establish a world class catering, flying school and MRO.