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Developing regional hub with flight connectivity

Published by The Nation on Tue, 08 Jun 2021


The need to open up cities for economic activities through flight connectivity is gaining traction among state governments in Nigeria.To achieve this, airports and airlines have a major role to play in connecting people with places for business, investment, tourism and other activities, writes KELVIN OSA-OKUNBORAir transportation is becoming a vital catalyst for development. Such anticipated development could be leveraged latching on the provision of reliable flight services by airlines operating into various routes.To drive this initiative, Bauchi State Government and AeroContractors have sealed a deal to connect flight services into the Northeastern state.Last week, the deal was activated as AeroContractors operated its maiden flight into the Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa International Airport, Bauchi.In an interview, Managing Director of AeroContractors/Accountable Manager, Captain Abdullahi Mahmood said the choice of Bauchi as a destination was thought out by the airline after series of strategic planning.He said the carrier was convinced that extending flight services into Bauchi, which is the political and economic capital of the Northeastern, would accelerate commercial, tourism and other activities. Assuring the government and people of the state of unmatched air services, he said the airline would increase the flight from daily frequency to two as operations consolidate on the Lagos- Abuja-Bauchi rotation.The AeroContractors chief affirmed that with the recently released aircraft from its maintenance facility, the carrier will offer premium services to link passengers residing both in Bauchi and contiguous states namely: Taraba, Gombe, Jigawa, Yobe, Plateau and other states into the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) and Nigerias commercial capital, Lagos.Governor Bala Mohammed said the deal with Aero Contractors was not only timely, but also would accelerate the drive by the administration to make Bauchi the air transport hub of the Northeastern given its strategic location with other states.He commended the airline for the initiative to add Bauchi to its route network. Noting that AeroContractors did not give any condition for extending flight services to the state, he spoke of plans to create a conducive atmosphere that will make the flight profitable.Such plans, they said, would include incentives, subsidies and other interventions that would trigger patronage for the airline.Before AeroContractors inroads into the route, the state government had invested huge amount to attract another carrier, which gave conditions before flights commenced.The governor lauded the Managing Director of AeroContractors, Capt. Abdullahi Mahmood and his team for what he termed a great a business decision to expand operations to Bauchi promised to support the airline in a way of subsidy to remain on the route.He further explained that flight operations to the state would help the state open up economically for the benefit of the state and carrier, stressing that unlike Max Air, which ventured into Bauchi on the states government invitation, Aero came on its own because of the huge business potential in the state.He admitted that competition on the route would engender best practice and help the carriers to up their game in providing quality service to passengers, adding that Aeros track record in the business of aviation stands it in good stead.His words: One remarkable thing about Aero is that they chose to come on their own unlike Max Air that we begged to come. We are assisting Max Air. This will open up communities in the state and open up Bauchi as the hub of air transport in the Northeast. I want to thank my brother, the Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika for all he has done for the development of aviation in Nigeria.If need be, we will go all out to support Aero by way of a subsidy for expanding operations to Bauchi. We have to do everything to be on this route. They have the track record and they have done their due diligence. We also plan to develop this airport into a cargo hub in this region.Mahmood thanked the governor and his team for the support and desire to see the airline operate to the city, promising that the carrier would continue to operate promptly and efficiently to Bauchi like it had always done to all the places the airline flies to. To him, these routes would add fresh breath to their schedule and complement the quest to rebuild the network to other cities as part of strategy to expand, hinting that Bauchi and Maiduguri are some of the under-served cities in North.The Boeing 737-400 aircraft, which will be used for these new routes, has just been released from C-Check by the MRO team of Aero. We are proud of our team for their expertise and the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) for their professionalism and support, he said.
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