BusinessDay

How lack of central data system cripples Nigeria’s aviation sector – Finchglow GMD

Bankole Bernard, the group managing director of Finchglow holdings, has said that the absence of a Central Data System (CDS) has continued to hinder the growth of Nigeria’s aviation industry.

Bernard, who said the establishment of the central data system would resolve half of the many challenges the industry is facing, explained that with a central data system, it is possible to know the number of pilots, engineers, Air Traffic Controllers(ATC) that have migrated to other countries for greener pastures.

Bernard made these comments during an interview session with members of the League of Airport and Aviation Correspondents (LAAC) conference committee at the company’s Victoria Island office in Lagos.

“The issue of data is a serious challenge in the Nigerian aviation industry and I remember I told the minister some time ago that anybody that will be bold enough to create a central data system for the aviation industry has solved half of the problems of Nigeria, not even the industry alone.

“Once the ministry or a sector is willing and ready to do it, every other one will follow suit. Till tomorrow, I don’t have a database I can log in to see the number of people leaving Nigeria. Why are they keeping the record? Is it not public information?,” he said.

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Speaking further Bernard said without a central data system, it is difficult to ascertain the personnel within the industry, adding that the a data system is all encompassing; containing personnel, assets, number of aircraft and many more.

“The foreigners that the airlines intend to engage or the ones they engaged with in the past, they are going to pay them in dollars. Where is the dollar today? Once we have a central data system, our problem is automatically solved,” he said.

He insisted that the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) should be in position to set it up and be the custodian of the system as the regulator, adding that the International Air Transport Association (IATA) has its own data of airlines operating into Nigeria.

“The regulator should be the custodian of such information or it can have an arrangement where an organisation can get the data on their behalf. IATA has its own record of airlines that operate into Nigeria. If I contact IATA now for the number of flights coming into Nigeria, they will give it to me, but I will pay for it. The reason is because they have all the numbers of their member carriers. The only ones they will not have are those who are not their members. So, why will IATA have data and Nigeria as a nation doesn’t have one?”

On how Nigerian airlines can stay longer on international routes, the Finchglow GMD, said that the lack of commercial directors has placed a lot of burdens on the airlines, advising them to take time to understand the business they are into

“I think the Nigerian airlines need to take a step back and really understand their businesses. I think the lack of commercial directors is putting a lot of burdens on the Nigerian airlines. Before any airline goes into operating a new route, you must have robust planning of your expected performance on such a route.

“The Nigerian airlines should get their commercials right. Other people are getting it right and they come to Nigeria despite the aviation fuel challenge and the problem of forex,” he said.

He pointed out that anytime airlines go to the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to buy dollars, it is subsidised by the Federal Government, adding that what some Nigerian airlines are saying is that the government should continuously subsidise gfor them to remain in business.

Bernard argued that Nigerian airlines chose the international routes they wanted to fly and as a result, they should have planned the operations very well before they started the route.

“Our airlines choose the foreign routes they want to operate into and one expected them to have put their figures together. Why can’t Nigerian carriers realise the fact that there are more opportunities in the domestic market and the West Coast for them, which will add more value to their bottom line than the long hauls?

“Someone told me recently that a return flight to Maiduguri is now about N400,000 and I said that makes a lot of sense. It is either you want to fly or you go by road where you may be kidnapped. It is not the airlines’ fault that they are charging that amount of money, but it is the reality on ground,” he explained.

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