‘Aviation agencies over-bloated, unhealthy for struggling airlines’
Financial dire straits facing local airlines were yesterday linked to an over-bloated workforce of the six aviation agencies.
Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of West Link Airlines, Capt. Ibrahim Mshelia, noted that the excess glut of support staff not only swells the overhead, it also reduces efficiency and turns the agencies on revenue drive against the operating carriers.
Mshelia added that to save the airlines from the albatross and impending collapse, it was high time the authorities reduced the number of support staff in the agencies and multiple charges, levies and taxes in local aviation.
The six aviation agencies have perennially been faced with an over-bloated workforce and high overhead, over N6.54 billion monthly.
The Guardian earlier reported that the apex regulatory body, the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) requires N750 million monthly to pay salaries. The Accident Investigation Bureau (AIB) has N350 million bills; Nigerian College of Aviation Technology (NCAT) N150 million; Nigerian Meteorological Agency (NIMET) N290 million; NAMA, N1.5 billion and FAAN, N4 billion to pay monthly salaries.
Speaking on ‘How domestic airlines can sustain operations in the face of global energy challenge’, at the general meeting of the Nigerian Air Traffic Controllers Association (NATCA) in Ibadan, Oyo State, yesterday, Mshelia regretted that about 90 per cent of the staffers were non-professionals.
He said the high number of staff in the agencies was responsible for some of the challenges faced by airlines in the sector, alleging that most of them focus on revenue generations, rather than the provision of quality services to clients.
According to him, “Some of our existing agencies are not working at optimal capacity. We have a situation where the agencies are working with more support staff of about 80 to 90 per cent and not more than 10 per cent core professionals. This situation makes the agencies over-bloated and very expensive to run.
“We need a total overhaul of the aviation industry. We should adjust the way we run the parastatals, and the way we fund them for the domestic airlines to thrive,” Mshelia said.
He added that the pressure to fund the overhead was the bane of multiple surcharges by the agencies, calling for some of the charges to be expunged from the system.
With a more prudent outlook, Mshelia noted that the five per cent Ticket Sales Charge/Cargo Sales Charge (TSC/CSC) remitted to the agencies was enough to fund all the agencies and aviation critical infrastructures.
“Moving forward, the parastatals’ funding should be rejigged, while realistic models should be adopted. We are causing a lot of damage to the growth of the domestic carriers under the existing surcharge regime.
“We are blessed with a lot of studies already done on the subject. We can begin to look into the reports already handed to us by committees set up in the past and start a dispassionate implementation of some of their recommendations.
“Government also needs to find a way of funding the industry, while every factor affecting its growth should be checked. Most of our moribund airlines went under as a result of a paucity of funds. We need to know that the same environment leading to the death of those airlines persists, if not getting worse,” he said.