Home Aviation Discovery Air boss proffers soution to under utilisation of fleet

Discovery Air boss proffers soution to under utilisation of fleet

Chairman of Discovery Air, Engr. Babatunde Babalola has said that one challenge that the airline industry faces is the under utilisation of aircraft arguing that it is not in the number of aircraft but in the deployment by management.
This is just as he said that Discovery air is tinkering plans to make sure that its fleet does not stay on ground but is always on the air as an aircraft should be so that it can maximise its potential.
Speaking in an interview with aviation correspondents in Lagos, Babalola said that most Nigerian carriers die from improper utilisation of their fleets, arguing with proper planning of fleet by airline owners, most of the companies that closed shop early would still have been in operation till date.
He also argued that most airports are closed after daylight operations and does not allow for airlines to operate in them beyond a particular time stressing that this keeps the airlines in the air for barely 12 hours at a particular time
He said, “One of the challenges Nigerians are having is the utilisation of our machines. You can have 50 machines and if they are not properly utilised, you won’t achieve anything. How many machines did Air Nigeria have when they were going to all routes? They had about 12 and they were all over the place. It indicated that somebody somewhere was planning the utilisation properly.
“At the moment, we have only two machines, but what we are planning to do is to maximise the usage of the machines and bring the third and the fourth one to complement our routes. By regulation, we are allowed to use each machine for six landings within the speculated number of hours that each crew sector should work without infringing on the regulation because the regulation says a pilot and the cabin crew should not fly for more than a certain hours in a month. This, we are aware.”
He  however proffered that  for proper utilisation of its fleets, plans are underway to spread the operations of the airline to regional routes so that the extra hours on ground those aircraft can fly regional operations.
“So, what we are doing at Discovery Air is to maximise the usage of the machines; we will use our normal 12 hours in the country and use the other 12 hours on the regional routes,” he said.
He informed that in the next couple of weeks, the airline would commence direct flights to Dakar, Bangui, Libreville, Brazzaville and Malabo; all from Lagos.
Babalola emphasised further that the current Nigerian economy and flying public could not support aircraft in the region of $100m, stressing that no wonder most Nigerian airline operators acquire a relatively cheaper and good aircraft for operations.
He said, “What I have seen in aviation is that there is no way the Nigerian economy or the flying public in the country can support a machine of $100m. I didn’t buy a brand new aircraft and that is why our own strategy is quite different.
“Our machines are in the neighbourhood of $7m to $8m. So, if I’m competing with the likes of Arik and others and my overhead, I learnt that an airline is paying a salary in the neighbourhood of N650m monthly. The flying public of about N10, 000 each cannot support acquisition of brand new planes.
Since it commenced operations in July, he said the airline had airlifted almost 85,000 passengers, adding that it had also been able to open new routes like Lagos-Uyo and Lagos- Port Harcourt apart from the Lagos-Abuja it commenced flight operations with.
on the number of aircraft and his plan on how to handle emergency cases of Aircraft on Ground (AOG), Babalola said that there is a plan to synergise some of the new airlines and makesure that they cooperate to ensure that passengers get the best and ontime services.
He also called for more collaboration or alliance among the indigenous carriers, stressing that those would further propel the sub-sector forward. He said no airline could go it alone.
“If you look at OneWorld Alliance, it took them almost a year to come up with that structure because a lot of variables you have to consider before you go into a codeshare. You can’t be in bed with somebody you don’t love. It is a way to go,” he said.

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