Stakeholders in the aviation sector on Thursday urged the Federal Government to clarify its position on the Nigeria Air project in the interest of the industry.
They said the project failed because government did not adhere to the four principles of corporate governance which were accountability, fairness, transparency and independence.
They spoke in Lagos at the 2018 Fourth Quarterly Business Breakfast Meeting of the Aviation Safety Rou nd-table Initiative (ASRTI).
The theme of the round-table was: “Short Life Span of Nigerian Airlines, the Importance of Corporate Governance.”
In his remarks, Gbenga Olowo, President, ASRTI, said it was still unclear to stakeholders whether the Nigeria Air project was temporarily suspended by the Federal Executive Council (FEC) or not.
According to him, the announcement of setting up a national carrier by government itself was a vote of no confidence in the existing domestic airlines and their ability to represent the country.
“Three years down the lane, we heard that the project has been jettisoned without knowing what happened.
“We need to know if it was merely suspended and will be brought back in the near future because it destabilises the sector.
“The airlines have no choice than to factor it into their own plans; so government needs to clarify the situation,” he said.
Also, Victor Banjo, a former Director-General, Institute of Directors, said lack of good corporate governance was the bane of the Nigerian aviation industry.
Banjo said this was responsible for the short life span of Nigerian carriers, including the recent failure of government to set up a new national carrier as well as lack of aviation infrastructure.
“From conception, the Nigeria Air project did not follow the four principles of
of good corporate governance which are accountability, fairness, transparency and independence.
“The process was shrouded in secrecy and it was bound to fail because many people were not in support of it even after the unveiling at the Fanborough Air Show in London.
“My advice to government is that it should concentrate its efforts on creating an enabling environment and leave airline business for aviation professionals,” he said.
Banjo noted that the former national carrier, Nigeria Airways went into extinction because of undue interference and abuse of privileges by government officials and agencies.
He also advised Nigerian airlines on disciplined adherence to the principles of good corporate governance, particularly by setting up functional management boards to attract investors to their businesses.
On his part, Dapo Olumide, the former Managing Director, Aero Contractors Ltd., said Nigerian airlines had very high operational cost due to excessive aviation charges and high cost of aviation fuel.
Olumide said the airlines also had difficulty in accessing bank loans to boost their operations, and advised them to enter into code-sharing agreements in order to sustain their operations.
However, Edward Boyo, the Managing Director, Overland Airways, said both the government and people should continue to support the Nigerian airlines which had continued to operate under very harsh conditions.
Boyo said: “Government do not give an enabling environment for airlines to prosper and that is why domestic airlines have short life span.
“So, if you are a Nigerian, then you must support your own, but unfortunately, the operating environment is very hostile to the domestic airlines.”