Sunday, 28th May 2023

ASRTI flays local airlines over 41% flight delays, poor services

By Wole Oyebade
12 May 2023   |   2:00 am
Think-tank group in the aviation sector, Aviation Safety Round Table Initiative (ASRTI), has flayed local airlines for incessant flight delays, and abysmal treatment of customers.

Chairman of ASRTI, Dr. Gbenga Olowo

•‘AMCON’s takeover of Arik, Aero is misplaced’

Think-tank group in the aviation sector, Aviation Safety Round Table Initiative (ASRTI), has flayed local airlines for incessant flight delays, and abysmal treatment of customers.

The group of aviation professionals said it was unacceptable of the regulatory authority continues to have a passing interest in poor schedule reliability of the carriers.

In a related development, the ASRTI has described the Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria’s (AMCON) takeover of distressed airlines as grossly misplaced, and part of the sectoral challenges.

By the recent industry record, about two in every three local flights are now delayed in Nigeria with the entire industry’s schedule reliability dropping to 41 per cent in 2022.

The implication has more dissatisfied customers at airports, and huge loss of revenue despite more people relying on air travel in 2022, and paying between 100 to 200 per cent more for airfares.

President of the ASRTI, Dr. Gbenga Olowo, regretted that even the number one airline in the country has less than 50 per cent on-time departure, and over 70 per cent on others.

Olowo said: “None of these airlines can say its on-time performance is good. So, we are not operating an airline business in this part of the world. A noon flight is departing at 10 p.m., what does that suggest? Operational reasons? No, it is simply inadequate service.

“They don’t have enough fleets or the fleets are frequently breaking down. When they break down, you cannot operate a flight that is not safe. So, you will continue to delay departure. How can you delay a flight for five hours? Maximum delay you can have should not be more than two hours,” he said.

Indeed, the local sector is not new to flight delays and cancellations. The malaise, however, reached a new low in 2022 and has further worsened in 2023 Q1.

A summary of 2022 industry performance by the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), on the overall, showed a market rebound with over 16.17 million passengers recorded on both the domestic (12.7 million) and international (3.5 million) market segments. The 2022 total traffic figure showed a 13 per cent increase when compared with 2021 figures (14.2 million), and the highest passenger traffic since the COVID-19 post-pandemic era.

However, 11 domestic airlines operated 80,328 flights out of which 47,144 were delayed and 795 flights cancelled. A total of 26 airlines operated 13,003 international flights with 4,628 of the flights delayed in 82 cancellations.

Olowo added that one of the airlines under the care of AMCON has turned out the worst, which gives credence to critics of AMCON’s foray into air transport business.

“For me, from day one, it was a misplaced judgment to put AMCON as a turnaround manager of an airline. Since 2016, they have not been able to deliver the airline of your dreams, nor have they been able to sufficiently pay the banks’ debts.

“I flew on one of the airlines under AMCON receivership one day en route to Ghana. Onboard, I was able to meet a senior official of AMCON, and I asked if that was the standard they came here to deliver, because I saw wires that can short-circuit and could cause fire breakout inside aircraft. That is a safety measure and somebody is doing oversight on that airline. But, because it is a government affair, somebody turned away his eyes. As it is, we cannot afford to compromise safety.

“So, for me, AMCON coming into that sector is absolutely a misplacement of judgment. We didn’t get it right. Shut the airline down, collect your money and you know the airline has become a history. But to ask them to run and at the same time collect money, it is an effort in futility,” Olowo said.

In this article