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Appraising the evolution of Nigeria’s aviation industry



Appraising the evolution of Nigeria’s aviation industry

Appraising the evolution of Nigeria’s aviation industry
By Gabriel Agbeja
The desire by man to meet his needs necessitated his movement from one place to another.

Aircraft provide one of the fastest means to achieve that objective.

In addition to the movement of people, the aviation industry also plays a major role in the movement of goods.

It promotes commerce and industry, two of the major determinants of the Gross Domestic Product.

Aviation experts describe the industry as a catalyst for socio-economic development.

The aviation industry in Nigeria has witnessed various trajectories in its growth.

Capt. Rabiu Yadudu, the Managing Director, Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), recently told the News Agency of Nigeria that from one terminal before independence in 1960 Nigeria now has no fewer than 30 airports.

Yadudu said the passenger traffic has also witnessed an exponential growth, increasing from around 1,000 passengers in 1960 to no fewer than 18 million passengers in 2022.
According to the managing director, the industry now has millions of stakeholders from employers to employees.

“After 62 years of independence, we have about 18 million passengers, over 30 airports, multiple airfields across Nigeria, and stakeholders raging from cleaners, handlers, caterers, among others employed in the industry.

“I think Nigerian aviation is doing great.

Recently, it was announced to us by the Airports Council International (ACI) at ICAO conference that Nigeria is the second country that has recovered above pre- COVID-19 numbers in the whole world, “ he said.

According to him, Colombia came first.

They have recovered over 120 per cent, which means that they are now 20 per cent above of their business pre-COVID-19 Nigeria is now 11 per cent above pre-COVID-19 number.

“If you are doing 10 Million before pre-COVID-19 came.

You know everything dragged down to 2 to 3 per cent.

“ But for now, we have already recovered our business to where it was before the pre-COVID-19. We have even grown beyond that by 11 per cent.

“So, in the whole world, Colombia is first and Nigeria is second in terms of recovery, I think that is a very remarkable achievement.

It sums up all our efforts.

We are very resilient,” he said.

Similarly, the Minister of Aviation, Sen. Hadi Sirika, said there were lots of developments in aviation sector since independence.

According to him, the present administration of President Muhammadu Buhari is determined to create responsive conditions for Public-Private Partnership to advance nation`s airports.

“Since the coming of President Muhammed Buhari, we have quadrupled the passenger numbers, doubled the number of airports, doubled the number of airlines and increased catering and other business.

“ This made aviation before COVID-19 to become the fastest growing sector of Nigerian economy.

“Our determination is to make Nigeria the most competitive hub of the African region, and make air travel the preferred mode of transportation.

“Also taking advantage of our population of over 215 million, 923,768 square kilo meter land mass, at the center of the continent with rising middle class and modest formal GDP of $450billion,” he said.

The minister said the Nigerian government was making efforts to maintain a robust industry that is safe, secure, efficient, and environmentally friendly, with modern and adequate infrastructure.

Sirika also such move had been the focus of the Nigerian government and had been succeeding thus far.

According to him, Nigeria has continued to make significant investments in aviation infrastructure for a safe, secure, environmentally friendly, and sustainable economic development of international civil aviation.

Nevertheless, retired Group Capt. John Ojikutu, a former Commandant of the Murtala Muhammad Airport, Lagos, recently explained that there had been significant progress in aviation sector.

He said it is unfortunate that the developments had not been well sustained from the independence.

“Outside the safety regulations, they were more or less self-regulatory.

There was no much emphasis on commercial regulations on these airlines as the then newly established FCAA (Federal Civil Aviation Authority) was mainly concerned with Safety and to limited extent, security.

“In those days, airlines were forced to have their operational base outside Lagos which somehow reduced the congestion in Lagos.

For instance, Kabo had its base in Kano, Okada in Benin, ADC, in Calabar, among others.

“They would fly into Lagos in the morning from their operational bases about the time those in Lagos were taking off to various destinations.

As more airlines came on board the enforcement of the regulations needed more skilled inspectors for the oversight and enforcement of regulations on the operators and the allied services, “ he said.

He reiterated that there had been significant progress but the developments had not been well sustaining in aviation sector.

“We have built many Federal Airports but less than 30 per cent of them can sustain themselves from their earnings.

“ Over 30 airlines have come into operations but hardly had many of them lasted 10 years in operations; the average lifespan of most have been about five years.

“ The oversight on the commercial activities of these airlines by the regulatory authority has been very inconsistent and ineffective.

“Can you imagine an airline coming into operations with about 20 fairly new aircraft and within five years had gone down with accumulated debts of over N200 billion.

“How could this have happened if the regulatory authority had complied with the standards required for oversight before and during operations, “ he asked.

According to him, most of the airlines recycle the business plans of previous operators ignoring some facts of differences in equipment costs, periodic maintenance costs and available passengers on routes, among others.

Ojikutu observed that there were more foreign airlines operating into the country now but for the present holdups on the repatriation on their earnings.

He however said with improved supervision, more strategic planning and given its large market, the future looks bright for Nigeria’s aviation industry.

“The future is bright for us only if we can review the multiple destinations given to the foreign airlines.

“We can restrict the multiple frequencies to just two airports, Lagos or Abuja and one other airport in the alternative geographical area, “ he said.

According to him, the nation needs to go the way of concessions for all our airports as it is the way now worldwide.

He said Nigeria should concession only the non-aeronautical services include the terminal buildings, car parks, tollgates, land areas, but not the aeronautical services among others.

“ However, if we must include the runways, aprons, taxiways, it must be at airports where the terminal is only one or where the multiple terminals are going into concession to only one company.

“ Otherwise, these air traffic facilities, runways and taxiways,  except the aprons should go to Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA), with FAAN becoming the Holding Company of all the airports planned for concessions“ he said.

If used kindly credit the writer and the News Agency of Nigeria 

NewsSourceCredit: NAN

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