Thursday, December 15, 2011

Foreign Carriers Airlift 12,000 Nigerian Passengers Daily

Foreign airlines that operate in country airlift about 12, 000 Nigerians passengers every day from the nation’s four major airports in Lagos, Abuja, Kano and Port Harcourt.

Besides its dominance in the West African sub region, it is only Arik Air that is an indigenous carrier that operates international routes, which include London, New York and Johannesburg and the airline has less than one per cent chunk of the market.

Many industry experts had posited that the only way to protect indigenous carriers was for the Federal Government to introduce Fly Nigeria Act, which would make it compulsory for government officials and others travelling on government expenses to fly Nigerian airlines.

Travel expert and the organiser of Akwaba Travel Market, Ikechi Ukoh, shared the same view when he spoke with THISDAY in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia on Wednesday.

Ukoh said that while foreign airlines should be allowed to operate into the country, government should introduce Fly Nigeria Act, which would make it criminal for government officials to travel with foreign airlines, unless no Nigerian carrier flies to that destination.

Ukoh explained that without such legislation, it would be difficult for Nigerian airlines to really compete in the market, which is shrinking every day.

“Nigerian carriers can only provide point to point flights. They cannot now effectively compete with these global carriers who are giving you global destinations at the click of a button. The market might keep shrinking for Nigerian airlines as foreign airlines expand, consolidate and integrate. We can only do the West Coast very well, some part of Africa and point to point.”

He observed that now that three African carriers, Egypt Air, South Africa Airways and Ethiopian Airlines had become members of the Star Alliance, which had given them global reach, African destinations might soon become out of reach from Nigerian carriers, “because they can collaborate within themselves, code share on some particular routes, which effectively covers the whole of Africa.”

“We are at that situation where we need to do something and something very quick because if all the premium passengers fly on foreign carriers, you will have a situation where only the poor and the needy will fly Nigerian airlines and these ones are price sensitive and foreign carriers can also do some promotions and wipe out that base from the Nigerian carriers.

Ukoh fingered as one of the reasons why Nigerian airlines did not survive as the attitude of most Nigerians not to believe in what they have.

He added that the unconscious feeling that foreigners could provide better service, even when they are being exploited as well as Nigerians’ lack of faith in the ability of other Nigerians to do well.

“Even when that assumption is wrong, the Nigerian believes that the grass is greener on the other side; he believes that anything foreign is better than anything Nigerian. So that belief of the Nigerian creates the first huddle for any Nigerian product to thrive.

“So you have a situation where, for example, a Nigerian carrier like Arik Air has the best aircraft flying out of Lagos; yet most Nigerians do not patronise them the way they ought to be patronised, despite having the best equipment, Airbus A340:500.”

The travel experts also said that while Nigeria should introduce the Fly Nigeria Act, it should not hamper the business of foreign airlines because their operations into the country establish Nigeria as a global power, not only in aviation but in the world politics and business.

“Those airlines are not carrying air; they are carrying people and these people are going somewhere to do business and not only that, they are getting exposure, this adds to the training, enlightenment and enlargement of the Nigerian economic space.”

No comments:

Post a Comment