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From banker to travel conglomerate: Bankole Bernard recounts success story

Bankole Bernard, the Group Managing Director (GMD) of Finchglow Holdings has recounted experience of how his love for travel and vision to create international standards in the aviation sector made him resign as a banker to set Finchglow Travel company years back.

“The idea of coming into the aviation industry, started in 2002; I was a banker and I quitted the job in 2003. In 2002, I wanted to go into the aviation industry to float an airline, but I realised that floating an airline is capital intensive and I didn’t have such capital. However, it’s always good to start at the rock bottom; nobody climbs the ladder from the top,” he said.

He also explained why he decided to set up an aviation training school.

Bernard said: “Basically, this vision came when I visited the office of International Air Transport Association (IATA) in Madrid, Spain and I had a meeting with their then Vice President and they told me that in the whole of Nigeria, they had less than 10 Approved Training Organisations (ATOs) and I wondered why we could have less than 10 approved ATOs in an environment where we have more than 200 million people.

“So, I decided to return to Nigeria to start an aviation school and to the glory of God, we started from Toyin Street at Ikeja, but we realised that the reason a lot of people will not invest in that area is because it is highly regulated with a lot of restrictions. I feel if that is the case, there are lots of opportunities for those who are willing to do things right.

Bernard who is also the President of Association of Aviation Training Organisation of Nigeria (AATON) told journalists in Lagos over the weekend that the subsidiaries of Finchglow Holdings, have continued to deliver to the aviation and travel industries top notch products that have created a niche for themselves in their various fields.

Also with Bankole for the press briefing were Bolaji Durojaiye; Head of School, Lagos Aviation Academy, Achimba Juayibim-Enakele; Head of Business, Finchglow Holidays, Babatunde Adenekan; Head Of Business, Finch Global, Ezekiel Ikotun; Managing Director, Finchglow Travels, Adejoju Sikuade; Managing Director, FCM Nigeria, Temidayo Isabemueh; Managing Director, Head Of Operations, TravelDen.

According to him, the company that commenced as a travel agency; Finchglow Travels Limited in 2006, has metamorphosed into six subsidiaries, offering different levels of services to numerous clients for different purposes with the International Air Transport Association (IATA) certifications and recognitions.

The subsidiaries of the company are Finchglow Travels, FCM Travel Solutions, Travel Den, Finchglow Holidays, Finchglobal, Lagos Aviation Academy.

For instance, he explained that the Lagos Aviation Academy (LAA), which came into existence in 2017, barely seven years ago had trained about 2,400 students for the aviation industry, not just in Nigeria, but outside the country.

Also, he explained that Finchglow Travels with 18 years’ experience is a travel consolidator, offering top-notch travel solutions to organisations and individuals through the use of cutting-edge technology, adding that the FCM Travel Solutions Nigeria is a franchise of FCM Global with presence in over 100 countries, offering corporate travel company dedicated to helping businesses transform the way they travel across the globe.

He also mentioned Traveden as an online travel agency with a focus on making travel accessible to everyone by providing affordable flight tickets, hotel bookings, reservations and insurance services to travellers.

According to him, Finchglow Holidays is a premium destination management company, which provides management and consultation services for domestic, international tourism, group travels and others, while Finchglobal is a cargo operator that provides safe, reliable, and efficient air cargo services, within and outside Nigeria.