Airlines At Risk Over Falling Naira As Dana Commences Accra Route
BEVERLY HILLS, December 12, (THEWILL) – Obi Mbanuzuo, chief operating officer of Dana Airlines, laments the falling value of the naira, saying it has brought untold hardship to airlines in the country.
The situation has led to astronomical rise in the cost of aircraft maintenance, payment of salaries, aircraft spare parts, which he says are dollarised. He however expresses optimism that the situation will improve with the administration that is in place.
Speaking during its inaugural flight launch to Accra, Ghana, the airline chief said the prevailing situation was putting a lot of pressure on airlines operating in the country, adding that the situation portend serious problems for the sector and the industry, as carriers would spend so much on spare parts and maintenance.
TheWill learnt that some airline operators were already tinkering with the idea of passing on the increased costs of maintenance (which is done in dollars, hence the increase) to their travelling customers.
However, experts suggest that doing so would lead to many travellers completely boycotting air travel because of their inability to afford any increase in air fare, considering that many already consider less than $100 for one hour flight astronomical.
In Nigeria, compared with other nations, domestic air travel is considered ridiculously low; a situation that has adversely led to the extinction of many carriers.
The airline chief said the cost of aircraft maintenance could double coupled with insurance premium, which could also be high. It is already a tough era for operators in the Nigerian aviation sector as wary international aircraft lessors classified the country among “high-risk nations” for doing business.
As a result of incessant air mishap, which claimed the lives of passengers and crewmembers, major aircraft leasing firms such as GE Capital Aviation Services (GECAS), International Lease Finance Corporation (ILFC), Cab Tree and Aercap have raised the lease on aircraft to Nigerian airlines by over 40 percent.