The Chairman of African Business Aircraft Association (AFBAA), Nick Fadugba, has said the airlines can actually brace the inclement operating environment and operate profitably if they form healthy partnerships and mutual cooperation to help one another.

Fadugba made the remarks at a seminar organized by the League of Airport and Aviation Correspondents (LAAC) held recently in Lagos.

Harping on the theme of the seminar ‘Financing Aviation in Nigeria’ the industry top player pointed out that though the nation’s economy was just recovering from recession, the airlines could latch on the huge size of the Nigerian air travel market through partnerships to compete favourably in the increasingly competitive market.

He explained: “Nigerian is blessed with the biggest domestic aviation market on the Africa continent, bigger than South Africa, Kenya, Ethiopian and many other countries. And yet we have not been able to harness this market for our own benefit. The beneficiaries are foreign airlines, our airlines need to work together. If you have 5 aircraft, 10 aircraft, it is nothing in the world of aviation.

“We need a critical max. If you look at Ethiopia, they have a 100 aircraft, that is one airline, and yet we have 10 airlines here with maybe 5 aircraft each. We need to work together otherwise the economics of the business are not in favour of the operators.

“They need to come together to scale up to get a critical max. They can work together in training, maintenance, in spare pooling, aircraft acquisitions. There are many areas African airlines and Nigerian airlines, in particular, can work together. So we need more cooperation in Nigeria among our airlines”, Fadugba added.

Specifically, he advised operators on leveraging their operations through the pooling of fleet, training of personnel and co-running a Maintenance Repair and Overhaul facility, amongst others options, until government introduces a more thorough approach to funding aviation.

In a paper presentation entitled: “MRO Financing Options For Nigeria,” which he presented on behalf of the former Director General of the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), Harold Demurin, at the forum, the AFBAA chief said running Maintenance Repair and Overhaul facility required sound business plan, pooling resources, competent management, scheduling aircraft, training and retraining of experts, among other critical needs.

He submitted that to have an efficiently run MRO facility would require support from the government and financial institutions for low-interest loans and development of aviation infrastructure, especially for the airports to attract traffic.

According to him, government can support such initiatives through allocation of land around the airports at affordable cost.

He urged the FAAN to adopt a policy of giving out land at little or no cost to attract investment in tooling hangar and manpower training for a robust aviation industry that would contribute to the nation’s economy in double digits.

Noting that Africa’s MRO business is over $2 billion yearly, which should be explored by African carriers and governments desirous to grow the aviation industry, Fadugba lamented the absence of MROs in West Africa, taking cognizance at aircraft type available for line maintenance and the possibility of business for potential investors.