Gunter Endres/LONDON

THE NIGERIAN Government has sacked the entire management team, at loss making Nigeria Airways and dismissed the chief executives and other senior managers at the Federal Civil Aviation Authority and the Nigeria Airports Authority.

Aviation minister Air Cdre Nsisak Eduok has announced that the two authorities are being merged into a single unit.

While management changes at Nigeria Airways have been happening regularly since it was founded in 1958, the extent of the operation still took observers by surprise. It indicates, however, a recognition of the depth of the malaise which has been afflicting Nigeria and Nigeria Airways, which has not only lost most of its fleet and routes, but also its international credibility.

The task facing the new managing director, Grp Capt. Peter N Gana of the Nigerian air force, who replaced Andrew Agom, is immense, but he has wasted no time in implementing a strategic plan for a more stable and profitable future. Non-core activities - catering, ground handling, properties and printing/publishing - have already been turned into subsidiaries and will be operated as semi-autonomous profit centres under the new Directorate of Commercial Ventures and Investments, led by Allwell Brown, who has previously held other senior positions within the airline.

Other priorities are the re-activation of its largely non-serviceable fleet and a re-assessment of personnel strength. Some 130 of the 4,500 staff were laid off in September, and more layoffs may follow, but no large-scale redundancies are planned.

Nigeria Airways' operational fleet includes one McDonnell Douglas DC-10-30, one Airbus A310-200 and three Boeing 737-200s. Three A310s and four 737s are unserviceable, with one of the Airbuses stated to be beyond economical repair. The Nigerian Government has informed the airline that no money will be made available for maintenance and overhaul, but it hopes that sufficient revenues will be generated to return one 737 into service by the end of October, with an A310 to follow in January/February 1996.

This would enable the re-introduction from November of most of its important West African services. A new Lagos-Johannesburg route is high on the agenda, but will have to wait until the A310 becomes operational.

A revitalised Nigeria Airways, is not good news for the country's many independent airlines, which depend in part on the ill health of the national carrier. Under its bilateral air-services agreements, only single designation is possible, and the only room for manoeuvre on international services for independents so far comes from negotiations to take over some Nigeria Airways regional routes, which it had temporarily abandoned.

Source: Flight International