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ECOWAS to Establish Aircraft Maintenance Facility

Written By Joseph Y. Musa on Friday, May 10, 2013 | 5/10/2013 11:50:00 am

The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) is carrying out feasibility studies on how to establish Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul (MRO) facility for the maintenance of aircraft in the region.

This is in order to save the airlines the huge resources in foreign exchange they spend in Europe and the United States as the cost of carrying out major checks every year.

The Regional Director in charge of Air Transport, Dr. Paul Antoine Marie Ganemtore, stated this in Lagos during the recent tour of Ark Air facilities at the airline headquarters in Lagos.

Impressed by the facilities of the airline, including its Operation Control Centre, IT department, the training centre, spare parts store and the maintenance programme, Ganemtore disclosed that ECOWAS would be sending a working group to visit the airline, noting that as the carrier with the largest fleet in the Sub-region, the body would encourage other airlines to tailor Arik Air’s modality of operation, including competence in aircraft repairs.

Ganemtore said the MRO facility would be provided by the African Development Bank (ADB), which has mobilised some experts to review previous studies carried out on how to build the facility.

He also disclosed that the regional body is also working on how carriers in the region could come together to set up stronger airlines that could bridge the gap in intra-African connections, which became difficult after the demise of Air Afrique and some national carriers, including Nigeria Airways Limited (NAL).

He explained that his visit to Arik Air was to explore opportunities for partnership on possibilities of where the regional aircraft maintenance facility could be sited as it would be lucrative for it to be cited at the area that has the largest convergence of aircraft in the region.

“We were invited to visit Arik Air to consider how air transport could foster economic integration in Africa. This visit has afforded the team the opportunity to see the working of the airline and its operating capacity. We are impressed by the high level of competence, we have seen. We have visited the maintenance facility to see what is on ground, in terms of training,” Ganemtore said.

He added that the ECOWAS Commission would continue to canvass the creation of a conducive environment through harmonised regulation and policy to fast track the growth of air transport in Africa.

“The role of ECOWAS Commission will simply be to create a conducive environment through policy and harmonised regulations for the growth of air transport and regional integration in Africa. Our goal is to turn the entire African airspace into a single market through air traffic rights and other measures that will give airlines the edge to enhance their capacities and compete favourably through the removal of restrictive bottlenecks,” he also said.

“There is need for airlines in Africa to cooperate in areas of training and capacity building. The main target of the commission is to fast track the integration of the region. We could cooperate with all airlines in Africa to be competitive and profitable. This is key because of the challenge of intra connectivity in Africa.”

He further said, “Last year, the commission carried out a feasibility study funded by African Development Bank and World Bank to set up a maintenance facility in Africa. We are working very hard on this to see the project through”.
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