Friday, 21 September 2012

New African Airline



Medview-aircraft
AT a time many Nigerian airlines are folding up due to tough operating environment and government’s policies, some are braving the odds to offer new airline services to the huge Nigerian travelling public.
The question is, won’t new entrants like Med-View Airlines, which had taken bold steps to dare to step into a difficult terrain not encounter the same problem as many other airlines that have become extinct?
The Guardian learnt that about three more airlines are at the advanced stages of securing all the important Air Operators Certificate (AOC) from the aviation regulatory body, the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA).
The decision of a new airline, First Nation Airways and others to commence scheduled domestic and regional operations has elicited joy in the sector and afforded older carriers to begin to strategize to continue to retain their market share.


While some expressed pessimism whether they would not go the way they come, others were of the opinion that with a good business model, devoid of ‘unnecessary’ interference, use of right type of equipment among others, Nigerian or African airlines can hold their own in the intricate airline business.
The crash involving Dana’s MD 83 aircraft on June 3, 2012, had done incalculable damage to air travel, reduction in air travel, and the sudden shut down of Air Nigeria by its owner, Mr. Jimoh Ibrahim led credence to the hidden truth that all is not well with Nigeria carriers.
Virtually all of them are heavily indebted to several billions of naira to various aviation agencies, banks, and aircraft lessors. Almost all of them are now partially owned by Asset Management Company of Nigeria (AMCON). The outlook is really scary and one that calls for government’s urgent rescue measures for the dying airlines.
For now, just few domestic airlines are visible. They include Aero, Arik, IRS, Overland and Associated which provide small travel needs of Nigerians. These airlines may have taken advantage of this to hike their fares, in what has come to be known as demanding outweighing supply.
But with the new entrants like Med-View, perhaps, Nigerians would now have choices to make for their air travel needs.
Many African airlines, for years have been crippled with issues such as blatant mismanagement, corruption, in-efficient staff, poor aircraft, poor maintenance of facilities, poor security and limited infrastructure. These issues have led to a great need and demand for re-structuring and re-organization within the African airline industry.
Notable banks and lenders who had lend financial support to the airline operators are similarly in quandary over the unimpressive returns on their investments particularly as the industry witnessed many troubles occasioned by high cost of fuel, high aviation charges, astronomical navigational charges, among other sundry charges.
The passenger growth increase margin highlights the huge client base within Nigeria‘s airline industry, for which demands and services need improvement.
Already, Med-View Airline had acquired two Boeing 737-400 for the commencement of domestic flight operations.
The aircraft, which were acquired from United States of America, would be used for flight operations into Abuja and Port Harcourt while another expected two would be deployed to Yola, Maiduguri and Kano.
Speaking on the planned commencement of scheduled operations at a time the existing airlines found it difficult to operate due to uncomfortable environment, the Managing Director of the airline, Mr. Munir Bankole said that the airline would comply with all the safety and international standards in the sector.
Med-View, which is famous for annual hajj operations, Bankole said would operate with total safety at the back of its mind, adding that it was presently going through the last leg of certification from the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA).
He told journalists on arrival at the Murtala Mohammed International Airport (MMIA), Lagos that the aircraft are configured to accommodate 144 passengers with 12 leather seats for business class and 132 economy seats.
He stated further that the airline has already signed a maintenance agreement with a foreign company, Mytechnic, maintaining that the company is reputable for maintenance of aircraft of all brands all over the world.
He could not, however, confirm on the exact date the airline would commence flight operations, but explained that it would do its flight demonstration before the end of this week.
He said, “We want to ensure that the aircraft you are flying is airworthy with standard in-flight services, on time departure and reliability of your service so that people will have comfort and believe in whatever you say you are doing.
“For purpose of information, we have been in the industry for quite sometime, in average for about 30 years. So, we’ve always been talking about aviation. That is why we believe what we are giving out to Nigerians is something for them to sleep.
“Truly, we’ve been doing pretty good on hajj, carrying over 20, 000 Nigerians annually for hajj operations out of this country yearly for over seven years and we found out that there is a need for us to make our contribution in the domestic market and that is why we believe we are coming in to give our best.
“Very soon in a couple of days from now, we will commence flight operations. We can only commence operations after going through the remaining certification process by the NCAA, which is the last leg of it. We are presently in the final leg and that is why you find the NCAA officials with us who came for inspection of the aircraft. We have done all the necessary demonstrations, evacuation and others”.
Bankole described its entry into the domestic market as a dream comes through, stressing that Nigerian travellers had been suffering over the years due to lack of qualitative and comfortable airline.
On the choice of routes to be flown by the airline, he emphasised that the management carried out rigorous surveys and discovered that Abuja being the seat of power required more airlines with prompt delivery of service while routes like Port Harcourt, Yola and others needed more airlines to service them.
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