Capt. Ado Sanusi, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Aero Contractors Limited, has disclosed that several investors are indicating interest in the airline, which was taken over by Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON) as a result of unpaid debt. Sanusi also confirmed that AMCON has indeed commenced divestment of its investment in the foremost airline.
Aero has been under AMCON in the past six years following massive debts to financial institutions and other creditors, but AMCON intervened in the running of the airline to prevent total collapse of the once bourgeoning carrier with 18 aircraft in its fleet. Aero is the oldest Nigerian airline having commenced operations in 1959. Sanuis disclosed this in Accra, Ghana at the just concluded Accra Weizo where he won Balafon award as Aviation Man of the Year (West Africa) in recognition of his feat in resuscitating the ailing Aero Contractors and developed its maintenance hangar.
He said: “AMCON has plans to divest its shares in Aero Contractors and I think they have been doing that with more investors and that is what they want and that will be done very soon.” Speaking about the planned national carrier for Nigeria, Sanusi said such carrier boosts the nation’s aviation industry, but warned that Nigeria should learn from the sordid experience of the former Nigeria Airways Limited, which was ran aground by its supporters.
According to him, establishing a national carrier would enhance the performance of the Aero Contractors’ Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul (MRO) facilities, but cautioned the government in its plans. On the recent complaint by Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON), which alleged that the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) may not guarantee equal opportunity for the planned national carrier and other airlines, Sanusi said the apprehension of the airlines may not be misplaced but noted that NCAA had already allayed such fears.
”In every industry where you have a regulator and the industry is well regulated, you need to have a fair level ground, a fair environment. So, I believe what Air Operators of Nigeria is just asking for is that the national carrier that is coming should be allowed to compete favourably with them, and I think that is fair and I don’t think the government is going to unduly give the national carrier some advantage. “I think it will allow the national carrier to grow as a business, the moment you don’t allow it to grow as a business, then it might not be sustainable and that is the truth. That is why Ethiopian Airlines is sustainable because they allow it to grow as a sustainable business. And if you allow a business to grow as a sustainable business, you must allow it to compete with its peers so that it can now get immunisation of competition,” he said.