Opinion: Why we need a national Carrier

by Jennifer Nagu:

“You can’t be a real country unless you have a beer and an airline. It helps if you have some kind of a football team, but at the very least you need beer”.

This tongue-in-cheek quote by Frank Zappa got me wondering about how much longer it would take us to float a national carrier. To me, owning a national carrier could be likened to owning a football team. It is a country’s Brand to the world.

I am often infuriated by the lack of diversity in travel destinations within the country. I wish we could find say, flights from Abuja to Sokoto, Owerri to Port-Harcourt, Calabar to Uyo, more frequently.

I am often annoyed by the rise in costs of flight tickets. Have you checked the prices of tickets lately? Prices of local or international Flights? You should.

Even more, I am frustrated with flight delays and cancellations without prior notice or compensation. The story with Arik Air would be a discussion for another day!

A national Carrier could solve these in no small measure.

According to Philips consulting’s customer satisfaction report (2015), in Nigeria, affordable pricing, high safety standards and good quality of service emerged as the three most important factors that determine the choice of airlines by a majority of respondents.

It also revealed that growth in passenger traffic peaked at over 15 million in 2014, surpassing the 2013 record by 5%. In 2016 surprisingly, traffic grew by another 5% thereby mounting pressure on airlines to outperform one another to maximise profit. International traffic to Nigeria………………………

While carriers like Air Peace have shown strength, reliability and resilience in recent hard times, the story with few others have been most pitiful.

As an airline employee, I know firsthand the challenges airlines face to keep business running on a daily basis. High cost of operations, inadequate airport infrastructure, safety and security issues, issues with fuel supply, are but a few of these challenges. Late last year Emirates halted its operations to Abuja, due to problems with Forex and Aviation Fuel. United Airlines and Iberie also suspended theirs attributing it to the deepening economic crisis.

Local airlines were also affected by the economic crisis. A couple of Airlines shut down, whilst others struggled with issues of aviation fuel scarcity amidst the need to cater to the travel needs of the public.

The implications have been, Fewer Flights and Higher Fares, less choice for fliers, Flight cancellations, a ditch in airline profit margin, increase in unemployment rate, etc.

We all know how high the unemployment rate is today in Nigeria. I can tell you, that too many aviation workers, well trained, and over qualified are unemployed too. Pilots, engineers, Cabin Crew, Ground handlers with qualifications from top schools in the world are still waiting to get a job.

If you base your judgements on how flashy the industry appears, then you are on a long thing!


Op–ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija

 

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