• Sunday, June 23, 2024
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Spare parts clearance: Airline operators, customs partner to establish aviation desk

Nigeria needs airport upgrade, not national carrier — Air Peace

Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON) has disclosed that it is working with the management of Nigeria Customs Service to establish Aviation Desk for the federal agency to enable its personnel undergo training on aviation matters for better understanding of the sector.

This partnership is also expected to facilitate aircraft and spare parts clearance.

AON said that this would also enable Customs to understand the importance of air travel and the urgency to clear aircraft spare parts, especially when under AOG (aircraft on ground).

This was disclosed by Allen Onyema, the Vice President of AON and Chairman/CEO of Air Peace, during a recent meeting organized by Aviation Round Table (ART) in Lagos.

“For easy clearance of aircraft spare parts and other related imports by the Nigeria Customs Service, one of us, Roland Iyayi spearheaded a move that AON should work with customs so that they would have aviation desk. We suggested this to the leadership of Customs and they agreed. They are disposed to doing that with us, in establishing an aviation desk where some of their personnel will be trained specifically to deal with airlines.

“This is important because currently many of the officials do not understand how aviation works, like what is AOG. So, an airline’s aircraft spare parts might come and it might remain there for three weeks because they do not understand the urgency of clearing it so that the aircraft would return to work,” Onyema said.

He said that in other climes, once any aircraft spare part is brought in under AOG, Customs would allow it to be cleared immediately and later the airline would deal with the processes.

“This is because the aircraft is treated like a human being; it needs to fly due to the critical role it plays in the economy of any nation. But over here it is not the same thing. So, we need to expedite clearance of spares or aircraft from Customs. The ease of doing business should be improved. It is not only with Customs, but everywhere. This will enhance the support Nigerian airlines need to be stronger,” the AON Vice President said.

Reiterating the challenges faced by domestic airlines, Onyema said that not having transit facility at any of the nation’s major airports is a hindrance to intra-regional connectivity and even international operations.

Ideally, in passenger movement, airlines on international service can use airport with transit facility as hub where passengers are brought together and taken to other destinations, but Nigeria does not have such facility at any of its airports, he said.

“To support Nigerian airlines to be stronger, the airport infrastructure must be improved too. Government officials said Nigerian airlines are not flying international. They compare them with Ethiopian Airlines.

“The Nigerian airport does not have a transit facility. We don’t have the infrastructure for transiting. We wanted to do it, but the infrastructure at the airports does not support it. We don’t really have a facility where we can bring a large number of travellers, keep them before we fly them to their destinations.

“Immigration and Customs will tell you that they have not provided for that yet. So, why are we now blaming the airlines for not doing these things? Put everything right and see the airlines succeed. That is the only time you can really assess the airlines rightly; when you have these things working for them. So, there is nothing like transiting, we don’t have the transiting infrastructure in Nigeria,” Onyema said.

On aircraft maintenance facility, the AON Vice President said Nigerian carriers lose millions of money in dollars maintaining their aircraft overseas because Nigeria does not have major Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul (MRO) facility in the country.

“As I speak to you now, I am sure I have about eight aircraft abroad and these are costing millions of dollars. Even to ferry those planes abroad is a lot of money already. So, the Nigerian airlines is destined to fail from the beginning. You are dead on arrival because there are so many things against you.

“You don’t have MROs that could take care of maintenance. That should have been a major priority government should have facilitated. I don’t believe in government doing business but government can provide the enabling environment for people of means to come and build the facility.

“If government sets up MRO it will fail, because government businesses fail anywhere in the world. All they need to do is to provide the enabling environment and people will build the facility,” the Air Peace Chairman said.