National carrier draws flak from industry group - THE NATION
President, Aviation Safety Round Table Initiative (ASRTI) Dr. Gabriel Olowo has faulted plans to set up a national carrier with three wet-leased aircraft, describing it as undeserving for the country where there are bigger operators on ground.
Dr. Olowo, who made this known in Lagos yesterday, faulted the position of aviation minister, Hadi Sirika that the national carrier would create 70,000 jobs.
Olowo however, disagreed with Sirika that a wet lease cannot create jobs for the carrier as it is a leasing agreement where the owner of an equipment supplies the aircraft and crew as well as maintain operational control of all flights.
Accordingly, Olowo decried that government has under its portfolio, airlines like Aero Contractors and Arik lying in state, suggesting that the wet leased aircraft could be added to their fleet, all branded Nigeria Air as a stop gap and later offered to the public.
He said: “A national carrier with startup aircraft of three on wet lease (No single Nigerian crew) is undeserving for Nigeria where there are bigger operators on ground. Arik and Aero are already on government portfolios lying in state.
Why not add the three wet leased aircraft to their fleet as stop gap, rebrand them Nigeria Air, and subsequently offer to the public.”
On the equity structure, he said the government five per cent equity in Nigeria Air should be done for all 22 private Nigerian airlines on ground to level the playing field.
Besides, he said the equity should be spread among airlines which could be put in pool under mutually beneficial codeshare/block seat agreement to build a mega carrier, stressing that the Nigeria Air project can be used as a consolidator of sorts.
He explained:” My first reaction to the five percent government equity in Nigeria Air is that it should do the same with 22 private airlines on ground if the government is that liquid in order to level the playing field and give equal support concessions for concessions, tax relief for tax relief, exchange rate regime for exchange rate regime, handling, over flyer charges, lot and terminal allocation. The nomenclature should be flag carriers.
“ Discriminatory or preferential treatment in any form will be a violation of global anti-trust competition rules. Then on second thought, the carrier should be modeled a consolidator to harness and pull resources of willing and discerning operators together under a mutually beneficial codeshare/block seat agreement and build a united, strong and competitive mega carrier to be known as national carrier rather than a government preferred private carrier. These are more tenable nationalistic options.”