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Pricing, route disparity threaten domestic airline alliance – Experts

EXPERTS in the aviation industry have said pricing, profit, and route disparity may pose a danger to the recent establishment of Spring Alliance, an alliance of six local airline operators.

The airlines in the alliance are Air Peace, Azman Air, United Nigeria Airlines, Arik, Aero Contractors, and Max Air.

The carriers said the alliance was formed as a response to issues of flight delays, cancellations, and other challenges affecting operations within the industry.

Speaking during the launch of the alliance, the Chairman of Air Peace, Allen Onyema, said, “It is our response to the complaints of the flying public, so this alliance will enable us to satisfy them. With this alliance and what we are going to be doing henceforth, the flying public will reap the benefit.”

However, aviation experts have reacted to the alliance, expressing various opinions on the challenges the coalition may face.

In an interview with our correspondent, the Chief Executive Officer of Centurion Aviation, John Ojikutu, said while the alliance was a good step, it would also bear its own challenges.

According to him, issues surrounding routes and pricing may stall the success of the alliance.

He said, “It is good, I want to liken it to interlining, but they have not come out. I heard a story about two of them (outside Lagos and Abuja) which was bad before they came up with this issue of alliance.

“There are a lot of things that the airlines are supposed to be doing which they are not doing. Now if they go into an alliance, how many domestic routes do we have in this country? There is what we call a triangular route.

“There is one route to the North, another to the South,  the West, and then to the East. How are they going to divide it among themselves? What is the traffic of each of the routes? And it is something like this that created a problem in past collaborations.”

He added that the issue of price difference might affect the alliance except the operators agree to a unified or a flat rate of N50,000 for flights along the triangular routes.

According to him, the present economic realities in the nation cannot allow for airlines to charge less than N50,000 as flight fees.

Ojikutu added, “What I expect the alliance to do is find out how many passengers are available on all the routes they want to cover because all of them are competitors on the routes before now.

“So, how do they want to divide it? Will the bigger ones tell the small ones, I will be going from Lagos to Abuja, I will be going from Lagos to Port Harcourt, I will be going from Abuja to PH, so the other ones, where will they be going?  Will they be bringing passengers from Ibadan? Will they still be on the same routes? If all of them will be going on the same routes, there will be no alliance.”

According to him, there are about 40 routes in the country with a few major routes such as Lagos (with approximately five million passengers), Abuja (with approximately three million passengers), and Port Harcourt (with approximately three million passengers).

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