As part of a bold step towards making Nigerian airlines more efficient and effective, Ibom Air, one of the major airlines in the country, has stated that the first interline and codeshare agreement between it and an undisclosed domestic airline would be unveiled in May 2021.
This was disclosed by the Chief Operating Officer(COO) of Ibom Air, Mr. George Uriesi while speaking at a breakfast virtual meeting organized by the Aviation Round Table(ART) in conjunction with the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority of Nigeria (NCAA).
Though Uriesi did not mention the local airline Ibom Air will partner with, feelers from the industry indicate that the unnamed airline may be Dana Air, as they both share certain things in common such as On-Time Departure and providing customers excellent service and comfort.
Recall that the last time Nigeria witnessed what could be called interline was the one between Air France and two domestic airlines; moribund Belview and Aero airlines some years ago, when it was still managed privately.
Since then, the Nigerian aviation industry has not seen anything that has any partnership with a resemblance of interline and codeshare agreement.
This is just as he said that the airline will use interlining and codeshare agreements as tools for domestic airlines profitability and passenger comfort”,
The former Managing Director of the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria(FAAN) also states that the interline agreement with the yet-to-named airline was at the stage and was scheduled to be launched in May 2021.
According to him, “We are aligning our systems and we will launch in May. We started negotiation and other meetings in October 2020.”
Ibom Air stated that he hoped that the platform would not only be a platform to reckon with, but also a system that would metamorphose into an alliance where other airlines would join
n his words, “It will take away competitiveness and promote collaboration.”
He listed the challenges facing interline and codeshare to include: finding an equally committed partner with a smaller business with culture, organization workforces, have the capacity and scheduled coordinated, the reservation system has to integrate service standards need to align, marketing, which includes frequent flyer program coordination has to be organized.
He also said that operational capability, schedule reliability, On-Time Performance(OTP), recovery are some of the challenges.
The ex FAAN boss said that the discipline to see the herculean effort to get the codeshare arrangement from start to the end.
Also speaking, the Director-General of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), Capt. Musa Nuhu said that the NCAA welcomes a new and a good initiative of Ibom Air in the domestic air transport market.
“We welcome the first interlining agreement between two domestic airlines and which is desired to grow into an alliance, ” he said
He urged local airlines in the country to pull resources together to benefit from the Single Africa Air Transport Market (SAATM).
Nuhu stated that to achieve interline and codeshare, airlines must be disciplined, transparent and observe good corporate governance.
He wondered why Nigeria with a population of about 200 million can dominate the market in the West African Sub-Region that has about 600 million people.
“Nigerian airlines have to work and cooperate with one another as it will make them effective and will also save them some cost. If we do the right thing Nigerian airlines can dominate the West African market, ” he said.
On his part, the former DG, NCAA Dr. Harold Demuren said that when Nigerian airlines interline and codeshare it would be beneficial to both airlines and the passengers, adding that what Ibom Air is about to do is a welcome development.
Earlier, the ART President Dr. Gbenga Olowo in the opening address pointed out that airlines’ poor schedule integrity have overshadowed their performance, as passengers oftentimes complain about the poor quality services rendered by airlines
According to him, “Poor On-Time Performance(OTP) depleting and inadequate fleet have led to many of the challenges of airlines. If we had an interline arrangement, It would have helped to reduce the hardship faced by passengers who in most times are faced with long hours of delay and in some cases, cancellation of flights.”
According to Wikipedia, “Interline is a relationship between airlines which allows one airline to sell services to a customer that are provided by another airline.
Airlines use interline to sell itineraries that they would otherwise not be able to serve alone.”