Air Operators of Nigeria (AON) has expressed dismay at the threat by Senate Aviation Committee Chairman, Senator Smart Adeyemi, that foreign airlines may be asked to operate a domestic service in Nigeria if the airlines local airlines did not stop the incessant flight delays and cancellations.
AON in a statement signed by its Chairman and Chairman of Azman Air, Alhaji Yunusa Abdulmunaf and other air operators including Max Air, United Nigeria Airlines, Ibom Air, Arik Air, Aero Contractors, Air Peace, Overland Airways, Green Africa and Dana Air, said such comments by the Senate committee chairman had only aggravated feelings and sent the wrong message to passengers and the general public.
Adeyemi made the threat recently in Lagos, during a joint oversight visit by the Senate and House Aviation Committees to the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA).
However, in the statement, AON explained that commercial airlines around the world, including Nigeria, have been established with strict adherence to flight schedules.
The AON noted that the schedules are put in place not only for the benefit of customers, but also to enable airlines to maximize the use of their aircraft to achieve their defined goals over a period of time and ensure their safety and durability. , adding that it is therefore not in the interest of any airline, whether in Nigeria or elsewhere, to delay or cancel flights as this has serious financial and image consequences.
“For these reasons, delays and cancellations are therefore the last thing an airline wants. While flight delays and cancellations occur all over the world, however, it is instructive to note that in Nigeria, 80% of the causes of delays and cancellations are due to factors that are neither within the control of the airlines or caused by them,” the operators said.
They also pointed out that they operate in a very hostile environment with deteriorating infrastructure and inefficiencies.
“Therefore, AON urges the public to be aware that airlines operating in Nigeria are forced to operate in an environment characterized by infrastructural deficiencies which greatly disrupt the reliability of normal schedules and punctuality.
“Any airline in the world forced to operate in Nigerian domestic circumstances would be mired in delays over which it has no control,” the statement said.
Operators detailed the causes of flight delays to include weather conditions and explained that due to the lack of basic navigational and visual aids at most airports across the country, airlines are forced to delay flights. flights unnecessarily, while waiting for visibility to improve at departure or destination airports. .
“This is the main cause of delays during the months of October to March every year (along with harmattan haze and dust fog) and it has a significant impact on the whole system.
“Almost every morning, the first flights to several destinations are delayed, affecting the airline’s schedule for the rest of the day. This problem of lack of navigational and visual aids at most airports in the country is the cause of more than 50% of system delays, for which airlines are still unfairly responsible.
“This would be easily avoidable if the required infrastructure was put in place across the entire airport network. Fortunately, airlines will never jeopardize safety, but will instead choose to wait for weather conditions to improve or be forced to cancel flights if the situation persists,” the operators said.
The AON also identified inadequate parking space for aircraft due to congested aprons – the two domestic terminals in Lagos; restrictions caused by Sunset Airports, which refers to airports without night landing facilities; delays due to the movement of very important people (VIPs), which involves closing airspace for security reasons to allow the President, Vice President or other VIPs to depart or arrive and frequent bird strikes and foreign object damage (FOD).
They further explained that bird strikes and foreign objects damage many aircraft while landing, taxiing or taking off at airports across the country, thus causing the aircraft to be parked abruptly until substitute can be provided to perform a flight.
Operators also identified the unavailability and ever-increasing cost of aviation fuel; unavailability of Forex for spare parts and maintenance; customs delays in clearing safety-critical spare parts; poor air circulation; inadequate check-in counters and the like as major factors responsible for flight delays and cancellations.