Six Nigerian airlines including Air Peace, Azman Air, United Nigeria Airline, Arik Air, Aero Contractors and Max Air have signed a pact tagged the ‘Spring Alliance’, to mutually support each other’s operations and improve service delivery for their clients.
The carriers signed the alliance on Tuesday, March 8, 2022, in Lagos.
Speaking, the Chairman of Air Peace and Vice-president of the Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON), Allen Onyema, stated that the Alliance would benefit passengers who fly with the six airlines.
Daily Trust reports that the alliance is structured after the popular global airline alliances.
This was coming a few weeks after airlines across the board jacked up their fares with a one-way economy ticket costing N50,000 as against N25,000 to N30,000 in the past.
This is why some experts are calling for caution and asking the regulatory authorities to be involved in the alliance to ensure that it was not turned into a platform to fix prices.
But Onyema explained that with the alliance, passengers of any of the airlines would be protected if one of the airlines has an issue.
“It is our response to the complaints of the flying public, so this alliance will enable us to satisfy them,” he said.
Onyema stressed that the initiative to form the alliance was a revolution in Nigeria’s aviation sector, while urging other airlines to tap into the benefits offered by the alliance by joining.
He said that the Spring Alliance is not limited to Nigerian airlines alone, noting that other African airlines may wish to join.
His words: “In the aviation world, we have so many alliances airlines key into. We have the Star Alliance; there is One World and several others. And airlines decide to key into those alliances for the benefit of both the passengers and the airlines themselves.
“So, today, in Nigeria, the 8th day of March 2022, some airlines in Nigeria, notably Air Peace, Azman Air, Arik Air, Aero Contractors, Max Air & United Nigeria have decided to come together to form what we call the Spring Alliance.
“The name of this alliance is Spring Alliance. We decided to come together to do this for the benefit of the flying public that uses the opportunities provided by these airlines to fly.
“By this alliance, our passengers are protected whenever there is a problem with one airline. It is our response to the complaints of the flying public, so this alliance will enable us to satisfy them.”
The Managing Director, Aero Contractors, Capt. Abdullahi Mahmood, noted that the formation of the Spring Alliance is a historic move, which prioritises the satisfaction of the passengers.
The CEO of United Nigeria Airline, Obiora Okonkwo, said the alliance would revolutionise flight services for the Nigerian flying public, as passenger satisfaction is the major objective behind the formation of the alliance.
A former Managing Director of Aero Contractors, Capt. Ado Sanusi, in a chat with Daily Trust, described the partnership as a welcome development.
However, he said the regulator must be aware of it to be sure it was well regulated.
He said: “Airlines can form alliances. Like you have internationally, what they call alliance where you coordinate with other airlines to assist so you can have a better outreach, interlining, code-sharing and the rest of them. But we have not seen this in our domestic market and all alliances, code-sharing, and everything are being regulated. The regulator must be aware of it and make sure there is no connivance to have price-fixing or route allocations, to protect against any anti-competition because at the end of the day, if the flying public will pay more or the alliances will not serve the flying public, then it is not in the interest of the aviation industry,” he pointed out.
“It is a welcome development, but I will caution that it has to be well looked at and there is no hidden agenda behind it.”
Sanusi also noted that the timing is wrong as it was coming at a time the “public is accusing the operators of meeting and fixing prices and then you come up with an alliance. It is quite suspicious though…”
On his part, Capt. Roland Iyayi recalled that he once suggested it 10 years ago for airlines to form a Domestic Network Alliance (DNA) to manage capacity.
Iyayi, who is the President of TopBrass Aviation Limited, said, “I once suggested it over 10 years ago which I called Domestic Network Alliance. The whole idea is for domestic airlines to come together to manage capacity better.
“Six of them coming together is a good indication that maybe, there is now some maturity in the industry and the issue of ego is going to be put aside and everybody would come together and do that for the common good of the industry.
“What it means essentially is that if you are carrying a ticket of any airline, you can fly on the next available airline. That’s a very good one and a welcome development and maybe finally we are waking up to the reality of the industry,” he said.
Also speaking, aviation analyst, Group Capt. John Ojikutu, rtd, said, “If it will involve interlining, it is reasonable development among the airlines hoping that the FCCPC will again not call it a cartel. My worry about the alliance is the number involve on how many national domestic routes. Are they all using same type of medium size of aircraft; who is dropping passengers and who is taking the passenger is not known.
“The major and frequently routes for the six airlines would be the triangle routes Lagos/Abuja; Abuja Enugu/Owerri/PH; Lagos/PH/Enugu/Owerri. Others that are not frequently run are Lagos/Benin/Osubi/Asaba. There are other not frequently routes of Lagos/Abuja/Kaduna/Kano/Sokoto or Lagos/Abuja/Yola/Maiduguri. The distribution is left for the alliance to determine provided the passengers distribution and interlining fares on the routes would not bring about conflicts between them. I wish them good luck.”