Reminiscent of global airline alliances like Star Alliance, One World, and SkyTeam, six Nigerian airlines signed an agreement called Spring Alliance. The carriers signed the agreement in Lagos, Nigeria. The carriers, Azman Air, United Nigeria Airline, Arik, Air Peace, and Max Air inked the deal which would help to mutually support one another’s operations and improve service delivery.
This is historic because it is the first time something of this nature has happened in Nigeria’s aviation industry. The carriers are fully committed to making sure that passengers are satisfied despite what many envisaged could be difficult at the initial stage by harmonizing their operations. Although the carriers did not elaborate on what the partnership or alliance entails, there are indications that they are working towards easier ticket booking, simplified operations such as check-in and baggage handling among others.
Taking a cue from global alliances
Having seen the impact of the three major airline alliances like SkyTeam, OneWorld, and Star Alliance, the operators are keying into an arrangement that will provide seamless passengers facilitation, reduce costs and align operations that would be less cumbersome for their customers.
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. Onyema explained that with the alliance, passengers of any of the airlines would be protected if one of the airlines had an issue. “It is our response to the complaints of the flying public, so this alliance will enable us to satisfy them,” he said. He further stated 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.
Spring Alliance open to African carriers
Onyema said that the Spring Alliance was not limited to Nigerian airlines, as other African airlines could join, adding that the alliance originated from Nigeria, but is open to the world.
“In the aviation world, we have so many alliances for airlines. We have the Star Alliance; there is OneWorld and others. Airlines decide to key into those alliances for the benefit of both the passengers and the airlines themselves. So, today, some airlines in Nigeria notably, Air Peace, Azman Air, Arik Air, Aero Contractors, Max Air, and United Nigeria have decided to come together to form what we call the 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. But with this alliance and what we are going to be doing henceforth, the flying public will reap the benefit. For example, if Air Peace has a tech issue on any of its aircraft, the passengers of Air Peace need not be delayed. If any member of this alliance is going to the same destination, all we need to do is move the passengers over to that other airline, a member of the alliance, at no further cost to the passenger”.
Some of the airlines’ chief executives that spoke to AirInsight are of the view that this initiative would the development of the nation’s aviation industry including the sustainability of their operations, just as it would help travelers to experience seamless commuting whenever they choose to. The Managing Director, Aero Contractors, Capt. Abdullahi Mahmood noted that the formation of the Spring Alliance was a historic move, which prioritizes the satisfaction of the passenger.
“Safety is the number one priority and this is what we stand for and coming together, like my colleagues rightly said, you find out that all these delays are caused by problems that passengers do not know and we just carry them from one point to another on time and make sure that everything goes smoothly. We are asking passengers to give their utmost cooperation, we are doing our best, it is a challenging situation we find ourselves but yes, we are all in this together and we are hopefully coming out together,” Mahmood said.
He also thanked all the relevant aviation stakeholders, adding that “this is just the beginning. Like my colleague rightly said, this alliance is not only for Nigerian airlines; we are looking at other airlines around the world keying into the Spring Alliance”.
The Chief Executive Officer of United Nigeria Airline, Obiora Okonkwo, said the alliance would revolutionize flight services for the Nigerian flying public, noting that passenger satisfaction was the major objective behind its formation.
Nigerian airlines are currently going through a rough patch occasioned by scarcity of aviation fuel, difficulty in accessing foreign exchange, high taxes, and a tough operating environment that have made it extremely difficult for them to be profitable. They are adopting what they have seen work in other places.