- Airline has paid over N300 million redundancy claims, reduced seven months debt to four
- Says MRO hangar’ll give West/Central Africa options
AERO CONTRACTORS is due to roll out one of its Boeing 737-300 currently undergoing C-Check in the next 10 days and is already carrying out light maintenance for airlines in the country showing it has the capacity to handle major maintenance.
This is just as the company revealed that its strategic foray into MROs has enabled it to foot some of its debts as it has currently paid N 300million out of the N2.2 billion meant for redundancy package and reduced the 7 months debt to 4 months.
Managing director, Aero contractors, Captain Ado Sanusi made this known at Aero headquarters at the Lagos airport on Thursday, where he said an MRO in the region will be of immense benefit to the airline and provide succor to airlines in West and Central Africa as that region of the continent is the only one without a formidable facility.
Speaking to reporters, Sanusi explained its current maintenance on its Boeing 737 stating,”We have one here it is almost being rolled out now, we are carrying out functional checks of the aircraft now, it’s a C-Check , the C-Checks almost concluded, the other one we have pulled the engine, it has been fumigated and it will be pulled in once we roll this one out. That one is coming out in the next 10 days and the other one is going in. In fact if we finish all the aircraft that we have we will do three in Nigeria and bring the one in that is in France that has been there for two years and so making four so by the middle of next year we will have four Boeing flying and hopefully two dash 8.”
The Aero boss also disclosed that AMCON had not abandoned the airline in its trying period stating that the asset managers is spearheading a tripartite investor collage consisting a preferred bidder, the airline’s legacy owners and AMCON itself to rescue the company.
He said a core investor would soon be settled for who is likely to take more shares in Aero, adding that the company started with 19 bidders which was pruned down to six and will eventually be pruned to three (The preferred bidder, the legacy owner and AMCON).
“Let me correct the impression that AMCON is not ready to turn things around, AMCON is very committed to making sure that the company does not go into extinction, they are spearheading the restructuring and bringing in a core investor, the investor will rejuvenate the company.
“We have looked at a long-term plan for Aero, say between 5-25 years, the core investor has been informed that there is need for fleet renewal, everything is on the table for the core investor”, Sanusi added.
On the redundancy declared on staff by management of the airline, he explained that with the establishment of the MRO, the current management has stabilised the company, adding that out of the N2.2 billion meant for redundancy package, the company has paid N300 million and reduced the 7 months debt to 4 months.
He said the balance of N1.9 billion would soon be paid as soon as more aircraft are back in operation.
“We have the MRO now as a successful business and we have called back 120 workers from the 60 percent of the workforce on redundancy, we have put them on contract but as the demand for aircraft maintenance increases, they will become permanent staff and we are likely to call more or everybody back depending on the fleet size, we have managed to stabilise the company for the past 8 months and we are still trying to do so.
“By the end of next month, we will have the aircraft on C-check back in the country and we will start paying the money until we liquidate the debt, we are not irresponsible to discharging our duties and by the middle of next year or so, we will have four Boeing aircraft and two Dash-8
On building its MRO capacity for the region, Sanusi said,”What we have done is also to look at the African MRO to partner with them because if you look at African continent, the West and Central Africa is purely underserved with maintenance, you cannot see a formidable MRO in West and Central Africa but you find it I Eastern Africa, you find it in Southern Africa and you find in North Africa but you don’t find in West and Central Africa so we have identified that and we are working closely with other African MROs.”
“As we speak now we are doing wheel and brake for majority of the airlines, we are doing their batteries, we are doing some of their line and light maintenance, we are doing some of their structural repairs that they have we are doing all that . So the workshop capabilities has increased a lot and What we intend to do, we intend to develop the MRO business to the level that we can provide line maintenance for airlines in this country, meaning that airlines do not need to go out of this country to go to Ethiopia, South Africa, Morocco , Cairo or Jordan to get this service of line maintenance, we here provide that line maintenance for the airlines that is what we are moving towards. That is why we have separated the airline from the MRO so our customers can be comfortable dealing with an entity instead of dealing with Aero Contractors. Aero contractors is also a customer to the maintenance organization,” he said.
The Aero boss also disclosed that many organisations have indicated interests and brought aircraft for maintenance since the airline secured the approval, adding that from all indications, ‘the MRO base would be fully occupied for the entire next year’.
“As soon as we secured the approval, three companies came for maintenance and as we speak, we are in the process of getting approval from Ghana Civil Aviation Authority to start carrying out maintenance on aircraft from Ghana, we are also getting responses from other international organisations, I just received a mail from another company indicating intention to do business with us so the C-Checks is where the airline makes money now, we carry out maintenance on wheel and brake for majority of the airlines in Nigeria, since there is no formidable MRO in this part of Africa, we feel that if we develop this very well, it will be of great benefit to the whole country. We want to develop it to the extent that we will be selling spares to companies”, he added.
On partnership for the MRO and importation of spares, Sanusi disclosed that South African Technik, A.J Waters (AJW) of the United Kingdom and Ethiopian Technik have partnered the organisation in a bid to assist in developing the MRO.
“We have a wide range of partnership, for us what we have done is identify the strength of each of the MRO we have gone too. we have partnered South African Technik on quality inspection and specialised manpower, they supervise our C-Checks, we have A.J Waters of UK, they are a very strong name in tooling and spare parts we have entered into partnership with them they have their office here in Aero, the next step is that they will bring spares here so we can have local stock, we can sell to third-party and can buy for our MRO. We have also entered into a broader agreement with Ethiopian technik, they are very good in specialized manpower, they will support the growth of the MRO. Those are the three main support we have and we are also in talks with Kenyan Airways, we are also in talks with others because we discovered that there is no formidable MRO in West and Central Africa so we intend to develop the MRO to a level that will be able to provide line maintenance for airlines operating in Nigeria, that is why we have separated the airline from MRO”, he said.
On how the organisation’s intends to get its spares Sanusi said,” We are using AJ Waters
to bring in our parts and I say we want to have minimum stock value where we can use it to service other airlines and then we are talking to customs, we are talking to NEPZA, so we can have this status of Free Trade Zone where we can bring in spares to the country . We have already put in our application, in fact we are thankful to them because they want to expedite the process for us and do probably we will be the first in aviation to get the free trade zone status.”