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More Aircrafts Grounded Due To Shortage Of Dollars 


A large number of aircraft belonging to local airline operators have been grounded in recent times in airports across the country due to lack of foreign exchange to fund maintenance.

It was gathered that over 40% of aircraft owned by domestic operators are currently grounded.

The development is due largely to the shortage of foreign exchange needed in order to send these planes for routine maintenance.

Experts say an aircraft is usually due for maintenance after about 18 months of nonstop operation.

A study carried out by Daily Trust Newspaper revealed that many aircraft are on ground at the tarmac of the Murtala Mohammed International Airport,Lagos.

Though the number of such grounded planes could not be ascertained,findings show that Arik Air has the largest number followed by Aero Contractors.

Recall that Arik Air was recently taken over by the federal government through the Assets Management Corporation of Nigeria, AMCON.

It used to have about 30 aircraft in its fleet but the number had shrunk to nine,according to its new owners.The airline recently suspended flight operations to London and Johannesburg.

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The Daily Trust quoted an anonymous source as saying that an airline is currently operating with only one aircraft, contrary to the provision of the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority, NCAA, which mandates local airlines to have a minimum of three aircraft to operate scheduled commercial flight.

Findings revealed that Nigeria does not have a single Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul, MRO, facility, despite assurances by previous governments.

Experts blame insincerity on the part of government for the inability to set up an MRO facility in the country as many investors had shown interest in establishing one in the past but were frustrated by bureaucratic bottleneck.

It is estimated that a viable MRO facility in Nigeria could save the country over N10 billion annually and reduce the hassles associated with sourcing for forex.

The cost of maintaining a Boeing 737 Aircraft is estimated at between $1 million and $1.5 million, while aircraft that have been grounded for along time would cost as much as $2 million to $2.5 million to maintain.

Ibrahim Kazaure, an air captain agreed that dollar shortage is responsible for the grounding of aircraft.

He said: “To maintain aircraft costs a lot of money. The spares both rotables and consumables are mostly bought in dollars.

“Aircraft leases are paid in dollars too, plus other maintenance reserves for engines, landing gear, APU, etc.”

Another expert John Ojikutu noted that the development poses great danger for domestic airline operators.

He blamed the Federal Government for putting no policy in place to sustain domestic airlines which explains why a big nation like Nigeria does not have an MRO.

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The NCAA on its part, attributed the high mortality rate of airlines in the country to lack of sound corporate governance by the operators.

But the Airline Operators of Nigeria, AON, say the government is not helping them.

The association said that there are about 15 different charges imposed on them by the government which tend to decrease their profit margin and put them out of business.

The airline operators say unless the charges are reviewed, more airlines may go under.However the NCAA insists that charges and levies are normal worldwide,saying that those airlines that have packed up were not set up on a sound corporate governance ab initio.



    General Manager, Public Affairs of the NCAA, Sam Adurogboye revealed that over 140 airlines had exited the NCAA register from 2000 till date.

    Adurogboye also clarified that the five per cent ticket sales charge wasnot a levy on airlines but passengers while the airlines only collect the five per cent on behalf of the aviation parastatals.

    “There is no country where there are no charges, whether landing, parking,overflying, among others. There are some charges that we are not charging in Nigeria, such as hotel, task, tourism development”, he said.

    Adurogboye maintained that the airlines were folding up because the regulatory authority was discharging its duties well.


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