igerian airlines would need about N4.8 billion to get their airplanes out of storage as they prepare to resume operations whenever they comply with guidelines to ensure lifting of flight restriction.
It is over three months that airplanes and airports have been completely deserted. Nigerian airlines are working to bring them back to service immediately airports are re-opened.
In many ways, bringing a plane back is simply the reverse of the procedure involved in putting it into storage, according to experts.
According to findings, it is not all planes in the fleet of scheduled airlines that will be taken out of storage at once because of low passenger traffic that is likely to hit domestic air travel.
The restriction of flight services to just Murtala Muhammed Airport, Lagos, Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja, Aminu Kano International Airport, Kano, Port Harcourt International Airport and the Sam Mbakwe Airport, Owerri, will further reduce the number of airplanes in operations as the airlines said they were poised to start operations any time the Federal Government decides to allow them operate.
The airlines collectively scored 75 per cent in their compliant assessment mark while the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), which scored 57 per cent is said to be the major impediment to the reopening of five of the aerodromes.
However, about half of the entire 80 fleet could be taken out of storage with over N2.4 billion of the amount spent to put the aircraft in good safety conditions.
The breakdown shows that Dana has nine aircraft with two ferried out for maintenance offshore; Arik Air operates seven B737; Aero has five, but two are undergoing maintenance.
The management of Aero told New Telegraph that the airline would deploy three of its five airplanes, stressing that two were undergoing maintenance.
Overland Airways has nine aircraft. One is outside the shores of Nigeria for periodic maintenance; Air Peace is reported to have about 24 aircraft; Ibom Air has four narrow body CRJ planes; Max Air six airplanes made up of three B737 and three B747 and Azman Air has three aircraft including A340.
Explaining the huge cost of bringing aircraft out of storage, the Managing Director of Aero Contractors, Capt. Ado Sanusi, categorised storage of aircraft into long, short term storage and what he called keeping the equipment active for immediate usage, admitting that all have cost implications.
Sanusi disclosed that airline could spend between $200,000 and $300,000 to bring one aircraft out of long term storage.
His words: “When you decide to bring it out of long term storage for a B737, you can spend up to $200,000 to $300,000. It might be more. It depends on how long it has been on ground, on storage and you need to bring them up to date and all that. So, it might be more and it might be less, it all depends.”
The airline chief further stated that short term storage of airplanes cost more than long term storage procedure because of bigger tasks the airline to need to perform on it.
He further explained that long term storage could take up to three months all the way to five years or more.
“Let us say from three years. Short term storage can take up to 30 days, but then, you will be repeating some maintenance tasks, which may be every seven days for 30 days. In that process, you are spending money also and when you decide to bring it out of the short term storage, you spend money but not as much as what you will spend when you put the airplane on long term storage, that can cost between $100,000 and $120,000.
“There is what we call keeping the airplane active, that means the airplane is on line, that means the airplane can fly any time. What you are doing is that you are making the airplane or leaving the airplane as if it is ready to fly today, now at any minute. You have to do the maintenance that you are supposed to do every 24 hours, every three days, every seven days, change all the lubricants, all the things you are supposed to do.
“That is quite expensive to maintain because it is as if you are maintaining life. When you are asked to fly, you can fly any time because the aircraft is already alive. That is for the aircraft. An airline in Nigeria has chosen different aspects of maintenance storage. For Aero Contractors, we decided to leave the aircraft live and the reason is very simple because when we were going to lock down, we said that our aircraft are available to transport essential equipment for the flight of COVID-19; that is why we left the aircraft live.”