Jan 6, 2015, 10:52 AM
Gambia International Airlines under the new management of GS Aviation, a European airline operator, has registered a pre-tax loss of D84m following one year of operations under a five-year contract with the Gambian Government.
This is of course a concern not only to the government of The Gambia but also the average Gambian who is day in day out struggling to make ends meet.
But who is responsible for this unbearable and unacceptable loss from a company that could very well be a cash cow for the nation? According to the Secretary of State for Works, Construction and Infrastructure, after one year of operations, the contract did not yield the results that the government had wished for. We hope this is an understatement.
The Works, Construction and Infrastructure Secy revealed that during the period 1st June 2007 to 30th April 2008, GIA has registered a turnover of D157 million while total operating expenses amounted to D241 million.
This, needless to say, has seen a pre-tax loss of D84 million for the period under review of which D66 million was said to have been incurred as a result of the 2007/8 Hajj operations.
GIA was also reported to have contracted and paid for 600 block hours from Euro Atlantic Airways when it needed only 210 hours and could therefore not find a buyer for the remaining 390 block hours. It is not unfair to describe this as bad management and money wasting of the highest order.
What the general public would like to know is the reason(s) for the loss of a total amount of D84m. Was there not any proper monitoring system in place to monitor the progress of the contract or was there not a proper management in place?
The public will also want to know what steps, if any, the Government of The Gambia is taking to address the situation? The Secretary of State has informed the National Assembly of his Departments current review of the contract with the objective of formulating a new management to improve the performance of the enterprise. People will want to know how soon we will see the results of this review and action on them as this is a contract that is expected to run for a period of five years.
GIA is viable and can perform reasonably well if it is properly managed. The company has enough potential to merit an improvement, rather than a deterioration, in its situation. This said, it must be acknowledged that internationally the airline industry is going through an incredible downturn that is seeing many airlines going out of business. There are a number of causal factors for this but the main one is fuel costs. These commercial realities must be considered very carefully when a plan is put together to turn around the fortunes of an ailing GIA.
It is therefore our belief that only urgent action by the authorities can avert such huge losses from happening again.
"If all else fails immortality can always be assured by spectacular error."
J. K. Galbraith