Moved by the seeming norm of point-to-point operations of domestic airlines which has hitherto not beneficial to their businesses, experts on Thursday, called on the airlines to embrace interline and codeshare and partner with each other in order to save cost and increase their profitability chances.
Interlining and Codeshare allow passengers to book through itineraries on multiple airlines with less hassle than booking each one separately. Usually, if two airlines have an interline agreement in place, they will handle the check in and baggage for each other’s passengers.
The experts spoke during a Virtual meeting of Quarter 1 of Aviation Safety Round Table Initiative (ASRTI) with the theme : Utilising Interlining and Codeshare Agreement as a Tool for Domestic airlines’ profitability and passenger comfort’., in collaboration the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA).
According to the Director General Aviation NCAA, Captain Musa Nuhu, there is need for Nigerian airlines to start pitting their resources together as the region welcomes Single African Air Transport Market (SAATM), adding that only cooperation and partnerships in different forms will enable them harness the huge potentials of air transportation in the region.
According to him, ‘we can only create the enabling environment for their businesses to thrive, we cannot force them on cooperation but the benefits inherent in cooperation and partnerships are huge, IATA has dedicated a clearing house, there is need for members if Airline Operators of Nigeria to work together and interline, it makes their operations more efficient and saves cost.
“We have a huge market, I don’t see why Nigerian airlines cannot dominate the West and Central African region, we have over 600 million passengers and they could do 60 million, with partnerships, these are possible”, he said.
Also speaking, Former director general of NCAA, Dr. Harold Demuren, noted that the domestic sector should have a domestic settlement system but with credibility and transparency, adding that with this, ‘we will have a better industry’.
“Cooperation is very imperative, the airlines can even graduate to joint training and others, let’s take advantage of technology, let’s turn the West African market into a domestic operation, instead of trying to go to London and compete with airlines that have it all. We appeal to the NCAA and the Ministry of Aviation to dismantle the Bilateral Air Services Agreement requirements and allow the airlines to move. When the airline have a track record and when foreign airlines are looking for partnership, they will have the confidence that you are ready”, he said.
Gabriel Olowo, President of ASRTI, noted that the best way to go if the airlines must maxise their profits and cost is to embrace interline, codeshare which make it mandatory for them to be in the clearing house for interline settlements, adding that his directly or indirectly, measures the economic health of the airlines.
Meanwhile, the berthing of an interlining agreement between Ibom Air and a yet to be disclosed partnering domestic airline is in the pipeline. The new interlining will be launched in May 2021.
Mr. George Uriesi, the Chief Operating Officer of Ibom Air and a former managing director of the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) disclosed the arrangement.
Uries mentioned that the new agreement is at the last stage and billed to be launched in May 2021.
He said: “We are aligning our systems and we will launch in May, we started negotiation and other meeting since October 2020.”
He also hoped the agreement will be a platform to be reckoned with, with the expectation that it will metamorphose into an alliance where other airlines are able to join.
“It will take away competitiveness and promote collaboration, ”he said.