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As Nigeria’s national carrier, others gather steam

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With the race to delivering national carrier, concession of airports and others hotting up, WOLE SHADARE writes that there is need to resolve all issues pertaining to these project to ensure their success

 

 

Race hots up

There is no doubt that the pressure in handling the concession of the four international airports, the establishment of a Maintenance Repair and Overhaul (MRO), development of cargo/agro allied terminals, establishment of an aviation leasing company, establishment of a National Carrier, development of Aerotropolis by the Ministers of State for Aviation, Hadi Sirika have warranted the call for another Stakeholders’ Forum.

This to consolidate his position, which was hitherto shrouded in secrecy. Only few people are in the know of what the Minister is up to as he races against time to deliver on them. Many are delighted that he has unveiled the transaction advisers for the projects. There are indications that the enthusiasm that trailed the roadmap is waning by the day, less than one year to elections and stakeholders are wondering why it took Sirika so long to come with a road map years after assuming office or looking for transaction advisers when there are seasoned experts and professionals who can deliver on them abound in the industry.

Stakeholders’ advice

Stakeholders have advised the government to ensure that all the legal tussles of various concession deals are resolved before the four major airports in Lagos, Abuja, Port-Harcourt and Kano are concessioned to avoid litigations that may derail the projects. There are so many concession deals that went awry. The two concession deals notably the ones involving Bi-Courtney Aviation Services Limited (BASL), which has dragged on for over 10 years in spite the firm reportedly winning at the Supreme Court to protect its N35b MMA2 investment. Also contentious was the Maevis deal.

Notwithstanding the company’s alleged indiscretion over certain matters, the concession assisted the country in seamless passage of passengers at most of the major airports, especially Lagos airport, which witnessed congestion sometimes ago and made air travel in and out of the terminal cumbersome. Also in dispute for nearly 20 years, is the hotel project, AIC Limited owned by Chief Harry Akande; Promoworld among others are having issues because of lack of respect for agreements and the rule of law, which has been the fundamental problem with FAAN and the Federal Ministry of Aviation, leading to loss of billions of naira by the investors.

Illegality

A former Minister of Aviation, Ms. Stella Oduah in conspiracy with a former Managing Director the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), George Uriesi, allegedly chased them away with security operatives from their offices at the Lagos airport like thieves in the night. The case is still in court and has caused FAAN like many other concession litigations more than N2 billion. If Nigeria must make any progress this time in moving the aviation industry forward, wellthought out plans into the future must be conceived. Looking at local needs, the world aviation requires direction and bearing in mind the economic projections of the nation, the country need to have an articulated and well-thought out concession programme that will address all the components required for this industry. This must be done by professionals and industry players who must submit memoranda on their ideas and thoughts. Thereafter, information must be processed by unbiased independent international consultants before unveiling such programme to industry players first for review. Then, the implications of such projects and financing by local and international reputable companies must be examined.

Experts’ views

An expert in airline operation who spoke on condition of anonymity decried the attitude of people saddled with the process, describing it as alarming. His words, “It is alarming that the same actors who were once involved in the same process that led us to near calamity are the same people promoting this process. Meanwhile, they are hesitant to address the lingering historic concession issues entered into by private investors with the Federal Government and its agency, FAAN. We suggest that this process be independent of both the ministry and its agencies Further to this, the Transaction Advisers should work in collaboration with committees of critical stakeholders in the industry. “These committees should be endorsed by the Presidential Committee on Ease of Doing Business. It is a good thing that the Transaction Advisers have said that they are going to engage Bi- Courtney Aviation Services Limited (BASL) on the MMA2 concession. Stakeholders in the industry are looking forward to this and will be hoping that this will be the issue to be resolved first before going ahead with the proposed concessions”. Speaking on the matter, respected aviator and former Director of Operations of liquidated Nigeria Airways, Capt. Dele Ore, stated that the government must assuage the pains and anguish of concessionaires already bruised by the indiscretion of its agencies and resolve all the issues slowing down the progress of the sector. He insisted that this is the only way to boost the confidence of would-be investors who are ready to do business with the government despite the biting economic hardships in the country. A travel investor told New Telegraph that “MMA2 concession, executed by Bi-Courtney Aviation Services Limited (BASL), is the first successfully executed concession in the country. It continues to suffer multiple breaches of the concession agreement since inception, including the redevelopment of the General Aviation Terminal (GAT). Despite several court judgements and decisions of the Co-ordinating Committee, as well as the recommendations of various consultants, FAAN has continued to flagrantly flout the rule of law over this concession and also oppresses and hinders the development of the concession ideals”.

Last line

It is expedient to have a robust plan for these proposed concessions. If we are to be successful, the government must first resolve all the issues surrounding the earlier concessions by adhering to its obligations and negotiate the way forward. This will build confidence in would-be investors. If this proposal is not considered and the old brigade continues to use the same propaganda by legitimising their cronies as fronts, the resultant effect will be another failure of the whole projects. Unfortunately this time, it will be at a tremendous cost to Nigeria as litigations will be global and multiple because of the nature of these proposed concessions.

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Aviation

MRO: Africa’s untapped potential

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The commercial aviation sector in Africa is yet to find its feet, but with over one billion people, a burgeoning economy, poor rail and road infrastructure, the indicators for growth are promising. WOLE SHADARE, who was at the just-concluded 27th MRO Africa in Cairo, Egypt writes

Africa’s voice

 

Publisher of one of world’s authoritative magazines, Nick Fadugba is perhaps one of Nigeria’s few exports to the aviation world.

 

His deep understanding of the workings of the aviation industry globally informed the need he had yet remained Africa’s voice in global aviation interface, the reason most airlines on the continent consult him for any aviation matters including buying outright of airplanes or wet-leasing aircraft for their operations.

 

Fadugba’s intervention on many occasions led to the release of several aircraft operated by African airlines impounded by lessors in Europe, America and other parts of the world due to inability to honour financial obligations.

 

Aircraft manufacturers, engine makers, lessors and MRO operators across the world fall over themselves to be part of his annual MRO conference, which he rotates from one African country to another.

 

He does this to promote the level of awareness among airline operators in Africa about current trends in global aviation.

 

At the just concluded 27th African Aviation and Exhibition MRO in Cairo, Egypt, he talked about the imperative of MRO for African carriers, adding that such facilities would help African carriers to grow and be profitable.

 

Captive MRO market

 

Only Egypt Air, Ethiopian Airlines, Kenya Airways, Royal Air Maroc, RwandAir and South African Airways own their MRO centres resulting in the majority of the carriers sending their aircraft outside the continent for maintenance.

 

Nigeria’s Aero Contractors is the latest to have a functional aircraft maintenance facility in Lagos with capability to offer services to airlines in West and Central Africa.

 

Managing Director, Aero Contractors, Capt Ado Sanusi, said the summit, MRO Africa is one of the real opportunity for any maintenance organisation to showcase itself, not only to gain customers but also to look for partnership with a well-established MROs to how other MROs are operating, to see the latest technology like Lufthansa Technique has just shown “us the utilisation of everything; six steps of the utilisation of the MRO business.

 

Those are the things you gain from the MRO.

 

The most important thing is that you expose yourself to the world”.

 

Networking for deals

 

“I have met with a lot of customers and also intending partners. Infact, I had discussions with some MROs that cannot accept works or clients that are close to me.

 

They said if I can accept them; we are in discussion on that. I am also in discussion with partnership with other MROs and other service providers. It is a very informative and beneficial meeting that we have held. Like I said, MROs that cannot accept clients are also asking us to take their clients”. On whether its foray into MRO was not a distraction, Sanusi said it is rather complementary rather than a distraction.

 

His words, “Why I said so is this. I have an airplane that needs maintenance and I have maintenance organisation. That was what I was saying at the conference.

 

Because I have built my infrastructure based on the maintenance organisation not based on number of aircraft, so, I would have a lot of staff that would be redundant if the airplane is only one or two.

 

But if I now put them to work for third parties, they would make money and they are kept in employment – meaning that my airplane would be serviced all the time. It is actually complimentary and not distraction. Since the liquidation of Nigeria Airways by the Federal Government in 2004, which had functional Maintenance Repair and Overhaul (MRO) facilities that could occupy at least two Boeing 737 aircraft at a time, airlines in the country resorted to taking out their aircraft outside the country for required checks.

 

$1b capital annual flight

 

The repair of aircraft in Nigeria would save the country about $ 1billion annually. For Boeing 737-300 and 737-500, the C-check is conducted after 4,000 flight hours, while for Boeing 737-400 and Boeing 747-400 it is conducted after 4,500 and 6,400 flight hours respectively.

 

In the case of Airbus A-330-341 this check is done every 21 months. The most detailed inspection is the D-check; this inspection is generally an overhaul.

 

For Boeing 737-300, 737- 400 and 737-500, this inspection is conducted after 24,000 flight hours. Boeing 747-400 requires a D-check after 28,000 flight hours while for Airbus A-330-341, after six years. Further investigations revealed that for instance, to carry out a Ccheck on a B737-300 aircraft outside the country costs between $220,000 and $250,000, while the changing of a landing gear of the same aircraft brand costs around $80,000. D-checks costs much more.

 

Challenge to govt.

 

Nigerian aviation stakeholders have repeatedly challenged government to find a solution to the problem leading to capital flight as airlines have had to ferry their aircraft out and pay in dollars to those that have maintenance facilities.

 

 

In all, Nigeria can boast of having about 42 aircraft owned by airlines in the country, servicing domestic, regional and international routes. Unfortunately, a country like Nigeria with its pedigree as ‘Giant of Africa’ did not have an aircraft MRO facility until Aero took the bull by the horn.

 

Airlines have also used the excuse of maintaining their aircraft outside Nigeria not to pay federal agencies promptly what they are expected to remit after collecting same from passengers.

 

Expert’s view

 

Capt. Dele Ore, the former Director, Flight Operations, Nigeria Airways, and the immediate past president, Aviation Round Table (ART), lamented the government failure to actualise its plan to build the maintenance facility several years after the collapse of Nigeria Airways.

 

He said if the project was executed Nigeria would have saved the country’s airlines from expending huge revenue on aircraft maintenance overseas. He said half of the amount of money expended on carrying out checks abroad was used on ferrying the airplanes abroad, crew accommodation, allowances, over flier charges, landing and parking in the country of repair and other sundry charges.

 

Last line

 

While Africa’s current fleet of aircraft is relatively small, many are convinced of its growth potential.

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Aviation

Caverton Helicopters Unveils New Brand Fleet, Promises Quality Service

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After a rigorous tender process, Caverton Helicopters Limited had been selected as the preferred air transport provider for the NNPC/Chevron Nigeria Limited Joint Venture based in Escravos, Nigeria.

 

To this end, the airline took delivery of eleven new helicopters; an investment that gulped several millions of dollars.

 

To celebrate this feat, the carrier at the weekend hosted a formal Business Luncheon at its Executive Flight Facility at Murtala Muhammad International Airport, Ikeja where the fleet of new helicopters to be used for the venture was unveiled.

 

Among the dignitaries that attended were Managing Director of NNPC, Dr. Maikanti Baru, representative of Chief of Army Staff, former Group Managing Diretor, NNPC, King Edmond Dakoru, Mrs. Yoyin Makanjoula, Dr. Oba Otudeko, MD, Sales, Middle East and Africa, Bell Helicopters, David Sale, managing Director/CEO, Nigerian Stock Exchange, , Mr. Oscar Onyema.

 

Others were representatives of Bell Helicopters, Mr. Monday Ovuede, Managing Director of Access Bank, Mr. Herbert Wigwe, representative of Minister of State for aviation, Hadi Sirika, United States Consul General, Mr. John Bray, expatriates partners, Managing director, Caverton Helicopters, Captain Josiah Choms, CEO, Caverton Offshore Support Group, Mr. Bode Makanjuola, Chairman, THISDAY Editorial Board, Mr. Segun Adeniyi and other too numerous to mention.

 

The new fleet of aircraft that includes the state-of-the-art Bell 407 GXP and the industry workhorse Bell 412 EP. The Bell 407GXP incorporates new avionics, an upgraded engine, and new executive interior design options. Fitted with Rolls-Royce M250-C47E/4 dual channel turbine engine, this aircraft delivers exceptional hot and high performance, with efficient fuel economy.

 

The Bell 412 EP is highly reliable aircraft that has been known to perform extremely well even in inimical climatic conditions. With a spacious cabin, the aircraft can be configured to in a variety of ways to accommodate up to 14 passengers.

 

Both helicopter types are equipped with a variety of safety features which include rupture resistance fuel cells, wire strike protection system, vibration and engine exceedance monitoring systems, flight data monitoring.

 

In his speech, the Chairman, Caverton Offshore Support Group, Mr. Remi Makanjuola said the unveiling of Caverton fleet of Helicopters is a feat and a day that Nigeria and Nigerian should be proud off, describing it as a day that the aviation industry should be proud off that a Nigerian went to America to acquire 11 helicopters.

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Aviation

Long road to new terminal completion

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Nigerians have long waited for the completion of four of the new airport terminals. WOLE SHADARE writes that despite many assurances, the completion date remains uncertain

 

 

Fresh hope
Last week, the Managing Director, Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), Saleh Dunoma gave assurance that the new airport terminals at the Lagos and Abuja airports would be commissioned July 2018.
He said that the Ministry of Aviation and Federal Capital Territory are working on integration of the Abuja light rail project with the terminal when completed.
Dunoma stated these at an interactive session with journalists at the Murtala Muhammed Airport, Lagos.

Dashed hope?
Thrice, FAAN had promised to deliver the project for use, thrice the promise had gone unfulfilled because of circumstances surrounding the project, which range from citing the facility in Abuja airport wrongly, blocking the control tower and other structural defects that are being rectified.
Dunoma’s assurance would have elicited joy among airport users and stakeholders. But that seems not to be as the latest assurance makes it about the third or fourth time that a target date would be set for the completion of facilities that started in 2014 but yet to be completed.
Dunoma, it would be recalled last year, said the two terminals in Abuja and in Lagos will come on stream because these are where we are experiencing upsurge in traffic.
“So since we have the same contractor handling the five terminals, we are asking the contractor to concentrate on Lagos and Abuja for now. When they are completed it will alleviate some issues as far as traffic growth is concerned in these two airports. Now, the other effort that we are making to get them on stream in good time is to make sure that other technical issues that are affecting or that will affect the operation of the terminal building are quickly handled.”

Brick wall
The $500 million terminal buildings in Abuja, Lagos, Port-Harcourt and Kano Nigeria were said to have stalled in their initial plan of completion of the facilities in 18 months, but lack of coordination by the last administration, coupled with delay in Nigeria’s little financial commitment led to delay, according a source who is conversant with the entire project but pleaded that his identity be shielded.
Since 2015, several completion dates had been set for the terminals’ completion for the Lagos and Abuja aerodrome, being the two airports with the biggest passenger traffic.
While the Abuja facility has reached 80 per cent completion stage, that of Lagos is said to be within 75 and 80 per cent stage.
Nigeria and China had, five years ago, signed a $500 million loan pact for the construction of the four new international airport terminals in Abuja, Lagos, Port-Harcourt and Kano.
The 20- year, 2.5 per cent interest loan for the project has a grace period of seven years before payment.
The other three locations for new terminals are Lagos, Port Harcourt and Kano. Chinese construction giant, China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation (CCECC), which is handling the contracts, gave assurance that it would deliver the four new terminals in March 2015.

Default
The project was expected to have been completed a year ago, but Nigeria’s default in paying her own counterpart funding had delayed the project.
The loans reflect the deepening economic ties between oil-rich Nigeria and China, which already is involved in building major roads and railway projects in the country.
Last November, members of the Joint Aviation Committees of the country’s Senate and House of Representatives, who inspected the airport, expressed satisfaction with the on-going work at the new terminal and have assurance to air travellers that the facility would be ready for use by next year.

Challenges
Senator Adamu Aliero, who led the team, said: “The ministry is already aware of the power and water challenges and I think that they are doing something about it. Once they bring it to the notice of the legislature, we will do the needful and give them the necessary support, because we need this building to be put to use immediately after completion.
Aliero confirmed that the building is 80 per cent completed and what is left to be done is the finishing and the pieces of equipment to be used are already on ground.
He said: “The project manager also said that the control tower and fire station have to be relocated and that is why they are giving us till next year. If those things are relocated, maybe we will inaugurate it earlier than the end of next year.”
Chairman, House of Representatives Committee on Aviation, Nkeiru Onyejiocha, at the inspection of aviation facilities with her committee last year, stated that with the snail speed at which the project is going on, she doubted if the contractor would be able deliver the project to the Federal Government in December 2016 as earlier planned, urging the contractor to make haste so as to meet the deadline.

Facilities in airport terminals
Nigeria urgently needs to work speedily on the completion of the terminals to ease congestion at the ones in use that are overstretched.
Most of the airport terminals in Nigeria have inadequate and poorly maintained cooling systems. Whenever the airport is jam-packed, you see people sweating. Passengers have collapsed on several occasions while waiting at the arrival or departure terminals. Most airports make use of standing fans instead of air conditioners and many of the toilets at the airports are in horrendous conditions.

Airports infrastructure
Nigeria has 26 airports, 22 are owned by the federal government and managed by FAAN, which is actually a huge mark in the aviation sector because several African countries don’t have these number of airports.
However, the major challenge in the sector is the lack of maintenance and no developmental policy to help improve the sector. Most of the airports lack the basic equipment and facilities such as passenger facilitation equipment like flight information display system, perimeter fencing, adequate fire cover and airfield lighting. It is worth noting that without airfield lighting, airplanes cannot land in an airport at night.
The greatest achievement FAAN record this year when it will open the five new terminals at the Lagos, Abuja, Port Harcourt, Kano and Enugu airports.
According to FAAN management, it is expected that when the terminals would come on stream there would be increase in passenger movement by 25 per cent in the next three years.

Last line
So it is projected that there would be overall passenger traffic from the current 15 million per annum to 22 million and international passenger traffic will increase from the current 4.2 million to seven million.

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