…Sanusi asks FG to implement duty free on parts importation
By Sade Williams
Nigerian airlines are expected to save over $48 million annually on aircraft maintenance overseas as Nigeria’s oldest airline, Aero gets Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) approval to carry out C-Checks on B737-300, B737-400 and B737-500 at the airline’s terminal effective September 12, 2017.
A highly elated Captain Ado Sanusi, the airline’s managing director, at a press conference at the Murtala Muhammed Airport, Ikeja, Lagos on Wednesday, said that the feat is a relief for Nigerian airlines as they will save over $48 million annually on such type of maintenance adding that it will also afford them to pay in Naira.
Sanusi, who said the airline spent over N60 million in expanding the existing maintenance facility before the NCAA gave the final approval, added that plans are still on to expand the already approved base, adding that the airline, even-though it has challenges, its future strategic plan is to turn around the company, by first ‘domesticating our maintenance. This is a major feat for Aero, and the first by a flag carrier in Nigeria’.
It would be recalled that Aero had earlier received an AMO certification from the NCAA in 2011 which allowed the airline to carry out third party maintenance for other airlines.
There are over four airlines that operate the B737-300, 400 and 500 series in Nigeria, excluding neighbouring West African countries.
“In Nigeria, we have up to 24 B737 classics, a normal C-check will cost an airline between $1.8 million to $2 million and you know it takes about 18 months to do that, including ferries and the downtime, it’s very expensive. But this is a positive change for Nigeria because airlines in Nigeria, West Africa and sub-region can save a lot on maintenance.
“The maintenance facility is in three phases, expansion is still on, we have the required number of personnel as approved by the NCAA, we have signed Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with South African tehcnik, they will advise us on the quality of checks, we have an MoU with Ethiopian airlines on manpower and tooling and another one with AJ Waters in Europe, we have qualified engineers but we will increase that based on expansion.
“Aero had challenges, but we have strategy to put it back on track, most challenges have to do with the fact that aircraft were down for maintenance and we have to bring them back in dollars but if we are able to have our MRO, before the end of the year, we will recover most of the routes we were flying”, he said.
Sanusi, who said the airline has the capacity to carry out maintenance on between 8 to 10 aircraft in a year, however called on the Federal government to give airlines free trade zone, ‘so that we can import parts without impediments from customs, we need free access to import parts and MRO tools without cost of custom clearance or bottlenecks’.
Commenting he said: “We are proud to receive the certification by NCAA to commence this service for airlines across the West African sub region.
“This is the first in Nigeria, and West African aviation industry and is a huge boost to our position as a maintenance facility. We are pleased to announce that our hanger has been expanded and all necessary facilities and manpower for the C-check maintenance have been put in place”.
“This is a great relief for Nigerian airlines, as local maintenance of aircraft up to C-check level will bring huge savings in foreign exchange in aircraft overseas maintenance. This will reinforce the strength and quality of our brand. We will continue to offer the most reliable, safe and secure operations, which the airline is renowned for.”
“This feat has benefits far beyond Aero. The fact that C – check on the Boeing 737 can now be performed in Nigeria by Aero will reflect directly in significant drop in maintenance costs for airlines in Nigeria and the sub region as well reduction in downtime for such checks. In the present state of foreign exchange difficulties, this is no mean relief. Therefore, this milestone by Aero will benefit the entire Nigerian aviation industry.
“It is important to note that the approval by the NCAA came about after completing a number of checklists items at the hangar as directed by the regulator, including extensive expansion of the hangar space. This approval also adds to existing facilities such as wheel and brakes, battery shop and upholstery.
“On the whole, we look forward to greater feat as we bravely March out of our present downturn to a future that is set to be even brighter than our past glory”, he added.
He disclosed that already, the airline has requests for Flaps, Landing gear and Engine change for airlines, apart from another C-check request.