Nigeria can save more than N2 billion annually if the country has well equipped Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul (MRO) hanger, an industry expert has said.
Presently all scheduled commercial airlines conduct their major maintenance checks overseas and spend huge amount of foreign exchange. But the expert stressed that substantial amount of this sum could be saved, jobs created and foreign exchange preserved if the country has a major maintenance facility.
Precisely, the CEO of Aero Contractors, Captain Ado Sanusi, said Nigeria can save over N2 billion annually with local maintenance facility if it has well developed and equipped MRO.
He said currently it costs Aero Contractors between $500, 000 to $800, 000 to maintain one engine of a Boeing B737 aircraft, noting that this could cost less if it were done locally and would also fetch about 30 per cent discount.
“If we do the maintenance here about 30 per cent of the cost would be slashed and that gives you 30 per cent discount. This is for a comprehensive MRO that has complement of good workshop and this would also save the country foreign exchange,” he said.
Sanusi, however said such major facility needs huge capital outlay to take off so it usually requires long-term loans with single digit interest, just like the loans needed to finance airline operations.
“Such project needs heavy capital to set up and it takes sometime before it will begin to yield profits. So most MROs require some grants to take off. They provide long term profit but they require heavy investment to start off,” he said.
Sanusi, also disclosed that ECOWAS has plans to establish such facility in Nigeria and it wants to partner with Aero, which already has maintenance facility for Boeing B737 Classic up to C-check.
He noted that ECOWAS was already attracting funding from World Bank and Afreximbank at very low interest rate, noting that if ECOWAS finally decided to site the facility in Nigeria, the Nigerian government would give it incentive by providing land for the facility.
“ECOWAS can partner with Aero and develop big MRO with defined share capital in a very transparent manner for the sub-region and industry stakeholders will key into it. The MRO will serve the whole sub-region. You know we don’t have such facility in the sub-region so the facility is necessary,” he said.
On the maintenance organisation already developed by Aero Contractors, Sanusi said, “The MRO is doing very well, I am very happy about it. They say charity begins at home. We have done three C-checks in-house.
“That means we have done C-checks on three aircraft for Aero Contractors. We have done a couple of 18-months check for our customers, Nigerian airlines. We are about to do a C-check on another airline. We have a couple of Nigerian airlines that are lined up for C-checks.
“We are not interested in making mega profit now. What we are interested in is to develop the place and to ensure that we serve our customers. We want a situation where the Nigerian airlines are very comfortable bringing their airplanes here and we want to deliver their airplanes better than what they get outside the country.”
He also disclosed that that Ghana Civil Aviation Authority has approved that aircraft registered in that country could come to Aero to conduct major checks.
“We are happy to inform you that the Ghana Civil Aviation has given us the authority to do checks in the aircraft that are registered in their company and we have done a lot of major maintenance for their aircraft.
“We are also looking at Congolese government, which has shown interest in coming to give us the approval to do C-checks and other major checks in their country.”
He said ECOWAS has invited Aero for meetings over discussions to have major MRO in West Africa that would serve the sub-region and also Central Africa, reiterating the hope that the facility would be domiciled in Nigeria.