Capt. Ado Sanusi is the Managing director, Aero Contractors. In this interview at the unveiling of new uniform and accessories at Murtala Muhammed Airport Terminal two (MMA2), Lagos where Thetravelport was present, he spoke about the airline’s plans to add more routes to its networks as the airline continue to get more patronage largely due to its Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul (MRO) facility.
What is the essence of the unveiling of the new cabin uniform and accessories?
We are celebrating the new face of the cabin crew of Aero Contractors and we are also unveiling the success that have been achieved over the last 24 months and that I have been in the seat of managing the airline. The first thing we did was to unveil the new face of cabin services and also to tell customers that we are opening new routes to serve our passengers better.
What are the new routes you are opening?
We are starting new routes and we are also reinstating those routes that we suspended. When I joined we were doing eight flights a day, we were servicing only Abuja and Port Harcourt. In the past 24 months, we are have increased to more than 30 flights daily. We were carrying close to 8,000 passengers a month, now we are almost 33,000 passengers every month. The routes we have included as we go are Kano, we introduced more frequencies into Abuja, Abuja-Asaba, Warri, Uyo and we are now in the process of introducing Yola. We will have Lagos-Yola and Abuja-Yola, Yola-Abuja and Yola-Lagos. This will open more routes for our passengers. Sokoto bound passengers going to Yola can come and join our Yola flight and those from Asaba can join our Yola flight. We are opening up Nigeria for our esteem passengers. We believe that by the end of first half of this year, we will have opened new routes in the Eastern part of the county. We are looking at Owerri and Enugu and it will come very soon. Uyo was there before, so we are reinstating it.
Are you increasing your fleet soon?
We started with one aircraft in the beginning of 2017 and now we have four airplanes. We intend to bring more airplanes into the system. We have two aircraft that we want to conduct C-checks on if the Nigeria civil Aviation of Nigeria, (NCAA) gives us the go ahead to do that. We will conduct C-checks on two B737. Our aim is to have a 15 aircraft airline. What we have done today is that we are telling the passengers that we are back and we pride in safety and reliability, which is the best way to fly in Aero.
Tell us about Aero’s maintenance facility
The MRO is doing very well, I am very happy about it. They say charity begins at home. We have done three C-checks in-house, that means we have done C-checks on three aircraft for Aero Contractors. We have done a couple of 18-months check for our customers, Nigerian airlines. We are about to do a C-check on another airline. We have a couple of Nigerian airlines that are lined up for C-checks. We are not interested in making mega profit now. What we are interested in is to develop the place and to ensure that we serve our customers. We want a situation where the Nigerian airlines are very comfortable bringing their airplanes here and we want to deliver their airplanes better than what they get outside the country.
When are you inking the deal with Ghana to start their C-checks?
We are happy to inform you that the Ghana Civil Aviation has given us the authority to do checks in the aircraft that are registered in their country and we have done a lot of major maintenance for their aircraft. We are also looking at Congolese government, who have shown interest in coming to give us the approval to do C-checks and other major checks in their country.
ECOWAS has recognised of your maintenance facility, how?
We also have been called several times to attend meetings with ECOWAS because we were informed that ECOWAS is interested in opening a regional maintenance facility and the West African countries are bidding to host that maintenance facility and Nigeria is part of the countries that are bidding for that and the committee have come to us and we have shown them our capability and based on that we have seen that they are very comfortable with us are I believe Nigeria has a very strong case to host that the regional maintenance facility that the airports are willing to develop. We have entered into a joint venture with a Nigerian company to operate jointly their chopper. We have increased the number of helicopters we have in our fleet from three to seven and we intend to increase it to 10. Aero contractors used to operate over 30 helicopters out of the Niger Delta area and we were serving all the Golf of Guinea regions and we want to go back to that. We want to put our foot-prints to ensure we are a force to reckon with as far as logistics in oil and gas is concerned.
What are the prospects for Nigerian airline in 2019?
I am appealing to the Federal government to look inwards into aviation industry to make sure that aviation industry is put on the front burner so that we can reap the benefits of aviation in the growth of the economy. We can just look at what the aviation industry has done to many countries. We can look at RwandAir and what it has done to the economy of Rwanda, we can look at what Emirates has done to the economy of UAE. You can keep looking at what airlines have done to the economy of the country and I believe that the federal government can see that developing aviation is key to the success of the economy.