The case for Air Peace as Nige­ria’s flag car­rier

Business a.m. - - COMMENT - Uzor Maxim Uzoatu

THE RE­CENT SUS­PEN­SION OF THE pro­posed na­tional car­rier, Nige­ria Air, has elicited mixed feel­ings across the na­tion. The name and logo of the flag car­rier had been un­veiled with so much prom­ise at the Farn­bor­ough Air Show in Lon­don in July. Op­er­a­tions were due to be­gin this De­cem­ber.

The piv­otal point was that the air­line would be pri­vate sec­tor-driven. Hadi Sirika, the min­is­ter of state for avi­a­tion, stated: “It is a busi­ness, not a so­cial ser­vice. The government will not be in­volved in running it or de­cid­ing who runs it. The in­vestors will have full re­spon­si­bil­ity for this.”

Un­for­tu­nately, the drive was sud­denly sus­pended on Septem­ber 19.

The sus­pen­sion may in the end be a bless­ing in dis­guise. Clark G. Gil­bert and Matthew J. Eyring in an ar­ti­cle en­ti­tled “Beat­ing the Odds When You Launch a New Ven­ture” pub­lished in the Har­vard Busi­ness Re­view on Suc­ceed­ing As An En­tre­pre­neur of 2011, said: “When an en­tre­pre­neur learns that a prod­uct or an ap­proach won’t work, it is crit­i­cal to end the ex­per­i­ment and move in a new di­rec­tion.”

Gil­bert who is the pres­i­dent and CEO of Desert Dig­i­tal Me­dia and Eyring, pres­i­dent of In­nosight, a strate­gic in­no­va­tion con­sult­ing and in­vest­ment com­pany in the Bos­ton area of the United States, in this their in­sight­ful ar­ti­cle that was orig­i­nally pub­lished in May 2010, stressed fur­ther: “Quickly de­ter­min­ing what’s right and what’s wrong with key as­sump­tions and then mak­ing speedy ad­just­ments of­ten means the dif­fer­ence be­tween fail­ure and suc­cess.”

It is against this back­ground of mov­ing in a new di­rec­tion that Gover­nor Wil­lie Obiano of Anam­bra State’s timely in­ter- ven­tion on the na­tional car­rier is­sue is very cru­cial. It is in­deed note­wor­thy that while com­mend­ing Pres­i­dent Muham­madu Buhari for sus­pend­ing the es­tab­lish­ment of Nige­ria Air, Gover­nor Obiano made the strate­gic sug­ges­tion that the Fed­eral Government should make Air Peace, Nige­ria’s big­gest air­line, the Nige­rian flag car­rier.

Gover­nor Obiano in a state­ment signed by C. Don Ad­in­uba, the Anam­bra State com­mis­sioner for in­for­ma­tion and pub­lic en­light­en­ment, main­tained: “Buhari did not be­have like most African lead­ers who think that pol­icy re­view is a mark of weak­ness even when the pol­icy is as­phyx­i­at­ing. Buhari rather be­haved like what aca­demic re­searchers would call an au­then­tic leader, that is, a leader hum­ble enough to ad­mit pol­icy de­fi­cien­cies and even per­sonal er­rors.

The Pres­i­dent was not held hostage by the fact that the government had launched the new car­rier’s livery and logo with fan­fare in Lon­don in July, or by the con­sid­er­a­tion that a rea­son­able amount of money has been spent on fea­si­bil­ity stud­ies and the road show in Lon­don. Such ex­penses be­long to what ac­coun­tants know as sunk or spent funds, and it is not ad­vis­able to pro­ceed with a project or pro­gramme that can­not work sim­ply be­cause the government wants to re­cover funds al­ready spent on it.”

A revered ac­coun­tant, au­di­tor and for­mer bank ex­ec­u­tive direc­tor, Obiano stated that it would have been a con­tra­dic­tion for the fed­eral government to make an in­vest­ment in the air­line at a time it is di­vest­ing its 12.4 bil­lion shares in the Nige­rian Se­cu­rity and Mint­ing Com­pany to en­able the firm to be­come more ef­fi­cient and ef­fec­tive in its op­er­a­tions.

The gover­nor upped the ante by ar­gu­ing that the fail­ure of the pro­posed air­line should not “make the na­tion gloss over the need for a flag car­rier but should rather make us look in­ward and pro­mote an air­line, which will be the pride of all Nige­ri­ans.”

A leader noted for dar­ing to al­ways pro­vide so­lu­tions for iden­ti­fied prob­lems, gover­nor Obiano then urged the fed­eral government to make Nige­ria’s big­gest air­line, Air Peace, the Nige­rian flag car­rier.

Ac­cord­ing to him, “Air Peace has a larger fleet than the other indigenous air­lines put to­gether.”

It was only in Fe­bru­ary that Air Peace, as the lead­ing Nige­rian car­rier, be­came the first indigenous air­line to ac­quire the wide-body 777-200 plane for its in­ter­na­tional op­er­a­tions start­ing in this last quar­ter of 2018. Air Peace equally added a Boe­ing 777-300 air­craft to its fleet on Au­gust 25.

The trend­set­ting air­line will next month com­mence di­rect flights to Lon­don, Hous­ton, Jo­han­nes­burg, Dubai, Mum­bai and Guangzhou.

The air­line had last month stunned the avi­a­tion in­dus­try when Allen Onyema, its chair­man, and Larry Tol­liver, Boe­ing Com­mer­cial Air­line direc­tor, signed an agree­ment in the res­i­dence of the Amer­i­can Con­sul-Gen­eral in La­gos for the sup­ply to Air Peace of 10 brand new Boe­ing 737 MAX planes for $1.17 bil­lion.

With this grand de­liv­ery, the five-year-old air­line will in­crease its fleet to 30 and also make it the first West African car­rier to own the MAX model of the hugely suc­cess­ful Boe­ing 737 se­ries.

In rec­om­mend­ing Air Peace as a de­serv­ing Nige­rian flag car­rier, Gover­nor Obiano made the crit­i­cal point that the air­line is not just the fastest grow­ing air car­rier in Nige­rian his­tory but the most pro­fes­sion­ally man­aged. The thou­sands of jobs, eco­nomic and busi­ness op­por­tu­ni­ties the air­line has cre­ated in the avi­a­tion value chain since 2013 when it was es­tab­lished can­not be gain­said.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Nigeria

© PressReader. All rights reserved.