Friday, October 11, 2013

Dana Air: the fall guy in the aviation industry?

A concerned Nigerian sent in this article and after going through, i decided it was worth publishing. Let us try to see this Dana drama from another angle.

In the wake of the recent Associated Airlines crash, the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority in its usual knee jerk style clamped down the wings of  Dana airline to give a false impression of closely monitoring the activities of airlines which it had hitherto abdicated.  Dana Airline has become the fall guy resulting from the inefficiency and incompetence of the NCAA. A crash occurs and the first thing to do is to look for a scape-goat, instead of focusing on the real issues bedeviling the industry.

 Well, the NCAA  has told Nigerians that there will be an audit on the operations of the airline; yet nobody has explained to Nigerians  the basis for the operational audit? how long it will take?  Nobody has told Nigerians  if the audit is going to be blanket, or if Dana is just the only defaulter in the industry? Nobody has also told us if the right thing to do is to ground an airline when an audit is to be conducted? All we know is that there is going to be an audit. Who is deceiving who?
Expectedly, airfares have gone up and the other airlines are smiling to the banks. Even the airlines with just one aircraft and the ones with very poor services,whose cases are far from different from that of Dana. It’s  worse now, as air travelers are left at the mercy of these shylock airline operators! What a country!
I am made to feel that all these issues are coming up because of the yet-to-be-launched Nigeria One. Unconfirmed sources say the aviation minister and some politicians have a stake in the national carrier and are looking  for a way to  portray other airlines in bad light, to give the national carrier the market which might not be there with the recent happenings in the industry; coupled with NCAA’s attitude of scaring air travelers away with their frenzied attempt to do the bidding of a madam at the top.
Dana, I gather from media reports credited to the NCAA, was grounded as a result of an air return it had recently. Where is it written that the regulator should ground an airline because of an air return? Air returns are initiated in line with ICAO standards and in the interest of safety of passengers and crew (It is a precautionary safety procedure). This is not the case in Nigeria, as the  entire airline is grounded by the minister herself, as i was made to understand by insider sources. If this is truly the case, then the NCAA should be grounded! What are they there for?
Under ICAO standards, the NCAA ought to be autonomous to be able to perform its responsibilities without fear or bias. The government’s interference with the responsibilities of the regulatory agencies is a bad precedence that might lead to the country’s blacklist on the ICAO registry and the loss of the coveted Category One status.
This domino effect of this action by madam minister ( if truly she is the one that grounded the entire airline) has indirectly thrown some people into the labour market. Because, if Dana doesn’t return to operations, Nigerians working there will lose their jobs and those they just recruited as a result of their route expansion will lose the opportunity. I really don’t care about the Indian origin of the owners (although I hear the MD  was born and raised here in Nigeria); what I care about is the sincerity or otherwise of the action, and our brothers who will be thrown into the already saturated labour market  just because an ‘entire airline’ instead of a ‘particular aircraft’ was grounded.
Another effect this action will create, if the NCAA doesn’t make the audit a blanket one, is the negative signal we will be passing to investors and the international community.  President Jonathan’s attempt to woo investors will lose its essence, and the transformation agenda will be a mere propaganda. Then, the whole audit thing will be regarded as a mere charade.
We all know that the likes of Jimoh Ibrahim, Femi Otedola and our darling Aliko Dangote get favours from the president as a result of their status as employers of labour and contributors to the economy, but an investor is an investor, be it Nigerian or none Nigerian!
 My advice to the management  of the airline is to make judicious use of government’s intervention fund (that is if the Government is truly committed to it)  to improve its services and acquire newer aircraft to its fleet.  I have flown Dana and I like the fact that they hardly delay flights. Their in-flight and customer service is  wonderful, at least; they rank above other airlines in that regard, but that won’t be enough, if they don’t fulfill their moral and legal obligation to the families of victims of the last crash by completing all outstanding compensation payments quickly, as promised by madam at the top.
Finally, I will advise NCAA to be dispassionate in the audit of ALL the airlines, as it is not only Dana that needs to be audited. They should ensure they maintain their autonomy as interference won’t help the sector.
We are watching!
Comrade Bayo writes from Lagos.


Anonymous said...

This writer has tabled it the way it should be, we are also watching!

Anonymous said...

Exactly. The drama is getting too much joor

Anonymous said...

hmmmmmmm.....thought provoking! ncaa pls conduct a general audit oooo I think they all really need it. lets see how it pans out sha.... really feel for our brothers who dnt knw their job faith now. chai!

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