By Abdullateef Aliyu
The Federal Government is wooing multinationals and reputable companies in Nigeria and abroad to invest in the proposed establishment of a Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul (MRO) facility.
The proposed MRO facility is to enable local airlines maintain their aircraft locally which is expected to save the nation over N2bn annually.
However, while government makes move to establish the MRO, there are agitations in some quarters to build on the existing Aero Maintenance Organisation (AMO), an arm of Aero Contractors Company of Nigeria, instead of coming up with a new one.
Some of the industry’s experts said converting the Aero MRO to a national MRO might not be a bad idea since the Federal Government owns majority share in the company currently managed by the Assets Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON).
Daily Trust reports that the Federal Government owns 60 per cent of Aero while the remaining shares belong to the popular Ibru family.
It would be recalled that the new management of Aero in 2017 revived the MRO arm to beef up its fleet by locally maintaining some of its aircraft on ground which it did successfully to give bite to its domestic operations by opening more routes.
Aero has further extended its tentacles by conducting third party C-checks for domestic airlines, as well as foreign carriers, in the West and Central African regions.
While Aero, largely owned by the Federal Government, is doing fine, the Ministry of Transportation (Aviation) advertised for interested MRO developers/operators or consortiums to bid for the proposed facility. Some of the industry’s experts, however, believe it will make economic sense to build on the Aero MRO with a view to converting it to a national MRO instead of developing a new one from the scratch.
But an airline’s chief who spoke with Daily Trust on condition of anonymity, said government could settle with the legacy shareholders of the companies, especially Aero, in establishing an MRO. The airline chief said, “AMCON, owned by the Federal Government, owns 60 per cent of Aero. Doesn’t it make sense to use the Aero MRO instead of setting up a new company?
Why will you have 60 per cent in a stake and then go and advertise to establish a new one doing the same thing? “When you are talking about legacy shareholders, does it mean you can’t sit down with them?
Korean Airline was started by a family, but because the government didn’t want the airline to die, it took it over.
The argument of legal fireworks does not hold water.” However, an aviation analyst, Group Capt. John Ojikutu, said government was right in inviting investors to set up the MRO, adding that there was nothing wrong if the government bought holding shares in it.
Capt. Ojikutu reiterated that, “It should not be exclusively a government owned business,” adding that, “Government should encourage foreign technical companies and credible Nigerian companies and investors and airlines to be the major shareholders and take holding shares; not more than 10 per cent, as anything more than that for government will be a misplaced priority and waste of resources.”
The Managing Director of Aero Contractors, Capt. Ado Sanusi, said it was a welcome development that government planned to build an MRO, saying it would not be a bad idea to tap from the talents of Aero.