Ado Sanusi

Nigeria’s Top 10 CEOs of the year, 2019 – Ado Sanusi

Managing Director/CEO, Aero Contractors

Capt. Ado Sanusiwas appointed Managing Director/CEO, Aero Contractors by Assets Management Company of Nigeria in 2017. His mandate was to reposition the airline and return it to full operational capacity. This means returning the airline to a state of offering reliable, safe and secure operations. In the light of the state of the airline at that time, this was a big mountain to cross.

There were inherited strains and pressures at various points such as ownership crisis, labour matters, hanging debts and lack of adequate operational aircraft.  How Sanusi has transformed this state of affairs of the airline and has begun to build back to glory is the victory he has won for stakeholders and for the nation.

Resilience to overcome operating adversity and resolution to make a difference in the aviation sector seem to have found a meeting point in him. These were the essential kits for his rescue mission and with which he faced the challenges on the job.

He took over the mantle of leadership of a company that was in full blown crisis. The company was under receivership and had shut down for four months at the time of his appointment. The stage was one of crisis management – a kind of emergency treatment of a patient in critical condition.

The company was in a state of operating difficulties that daunt the skillful and the talented but Sanusi saw it as an opportunity to innovate and optimize strengths and opportunities. One key factor made all the difference – Sanusi understood the task assigned and the urgency it deserved.

On assumption of duty, Sanusi structured the company’s operations into four smart business units made up of airline services, maintenance, approved training organization and charter services. “My idea was to turn around the company and put it on the path of recovery”, he said. His turnaround strategy was to chart a course for how to do things differently.

Corporate physicians seek to find what works and what doesn’t in an organization and then focus on what works and cut off what doesn’t work. That was precisely what Sanusi did at Aero. “We looked inward and looked at what we could do differently”, he said. He simply reinvented the business and gave its goals a rebirth.

He took up the assignment at a time that the issue of aircraft maintenance had become one major challenge for airline operations in the country. It cost between $1.8 million and $3 million to carry out a C-check on a Boeing 737 outside the country. Necessity proved to be the true mother of invention and the inventor here is Sanusi.

He put his skills into action and relying wholly on indigenous engineers with technical partners, he successfully carried out a C-check-2 on a Boeing 737-500 aircraft in the fleet of the airline in-house. Since then, the capacity for C-checks has been born in Nigeria, providing a big cost saving centre for airlines in Nigeria and beyond.

The good news is that Aero has become a centre for aircraft maintenance serving Nigeria and other countries. Its maintenance repair and overhaul [MRO] facility in Lagos has capacity to handle maintenance of aircraft in West and Central Africa and beyond. Sanusi has a broad vision of building the aviation industry in West and Central Africa and the dream is making West Africa a hub of aviation.

He has attained great milestones with MRO to the extent of naming it the lifeline of Aero. He picked up the service from its point of neglect and has revived it and brought it back to limelight once again. This has positioned the company to fill the MRO gap in the region. “By so doing, we are just creating business for us and also creating jobs for the region”, Sanusi said.

The company’s MRO doors have opened widely to serve airlines in Nigeria, the rest of West Africa as well as central Africa.

Sanusi is highly knowledgeable and experienced in the aviation sector. He has been in charge of Nigerian Airspace Management Agency where he developed local capacity building blueprint for air traffic controllers and engineers. He has a wealth of experience built in airline management while he worked at Arik Air and Kabo Air. He was captain and flight safety officer at ExxonMobil and also served as captain on the B737 Classic at Virgin Nigeria.

AMCON believed that with his credentials, Sanusi was capable of turning around the fortunes of an airline that was critically gasping for survival breath. He is the corporation’s bet that an airline with depleted fleet of aircraft and helicopters would rise again. With the unveiling of positive developments in commercial flight services, charter operations and the critical maintenance services within a short space of time, the nation now shares AMCON’s faith.

In less than three years of his captainship, the airline has grown its fixed wing operational aircraft from one to four and hopes to add additional two by the close of 2019. The increased fleet has enabled the company to raise domestic flight operations from eight to 32 daily and from 8,000 passengers to 52,000 monthly. Also, from one helicopter in 2017, it has moved up to five operational helicopters and plans to double the number at the end of the year.

Sanusi’s plan is to attain yet new heights in the company’s recovery and growth over the next five years. His objective is to establish Aero as a reputable name for critical maintenance services in West and Central Africa. He also expects the company to become a dominant name in the oil and gas industry through its charter operations.

For these great accomplishments, Sanusi has made the top 10 listing of The Top 10 Magazine CEOs of the year, 2019.