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Harnessing potential of Nigeria’s aviation sector

Undoubtedly, expects say the Nigerian aviation sector has great market, especially with increasing population of the middle class.

They say that the country only lacked modern airline structure, while the operating environment is getting very competitive.

They say that the biggest threat to the Nigerian domestic airlines is from foreign operators.

They suggest that Nigerian airlines should seriously consider effective strategy and acquisitions to facilitate access to intangible assets, such as new markets, airport slots, supply chain integration and increased corporate versatility.

According to them, poor safety and security measures, inadequate funding and resources, inadequate aviation experts and skills, high operation costs, high airport taxes and fees, the weak connectivity and restrictions on transit visas, add to the menu of impediments affecting Nigeria’s aviation industry.

The professionals admit that addressing these challenges will significantly unlock the industry’s potential for future growth.

Minister of Aviation, Sen. Hadi Sirika, in apparent reference to the challenges, said that the ministry would strengthen its Public-Private-Partnership (PPP) policy, in order to advance the aviation sector and boost service delivery.

Sirika, who spoke recently during a consultative meeting with Airlines Operators in Nigeria (AON), said the PPP would boost  job creation and service delivery.

“The ministry will carefully implement its prepared road-map in that line. The policy of the ministry will remain PPP that is safe and secure,” he said.

According to him, the aviation industry is the second fastest growing sector in the country, with an increase of 12.1 per cent over the last quarter.

The minister also said that the establishment of a national carrier; Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul (MRO) facilities and implementation of other components of aviation road-map remained top priorities of the Federal Government.

According to him, establishment of a national carrier will further position Nigeria to compete with other nations in line with the Single African Air Transport Market (SAATM) project and develop as a region hub for air transportation.

He said that the establishment of MRO would save the country a lot of foreign exchange that would otherwise be spent by airline operators sending their aircraft abroad for checks.

According to Sirika, the ministry will continue to lay emphasis on the safety and security of air travelers.

He said the recent acquisition of a calibration aircraft for the country and closure of the Akanu Ibiam International Airport, Enugu, for rehabilitation were some of the steps being taken to guarantee safety of the nation’s airspace.

Nigeria’s effort to improve its aviation sector was recently acknowledged by the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO).

The organisation presented Nigeria the  “ICAO Council President Certificate,”  in recognition of progress made in solving aviation security and oversight deficiencies.
A statement issued by Mr James Odaudu,  Director Press and Public Affairs in the Ministry of Aviation, stated that the award was presented to the Minister of Aviation, Sen. Hadi Sirika, recently, during the opening ceremony of ICAO’s 40th Triennial Assembly in Montreal, Canada.
According to the statement, the President of ICAO Council, Dr Olumuyiwa Aliu, said the certificate was in recognition of the contributions of deserving member-states to the marked improvement in global aviation safety and security.
It further quoted Aliu as saying that Nigeria received the certificated based on its commitment to the effective implementation of ICAO Standards and Recommended Practices.
Aliu said that the efforts of the Nigerian government in transforming the aviation sector had continued to receive recognition at the world stage.
He said that the recognition was meant to encourage the countries to do more.
He added that the recognition would spur other nations to step up their own efforts in promoting the security and safety of their respective air spaces, which would ultimately translate to better global aviation security standards.

On their own part, the Airlines Operators in Nigeria (AON), has promised to cooperate with the government to ensure service delivery in the aviation sector.

Capt. Nogie Meggison, the President of AON who gave the assurance, said that the association would work to sustain the policies of the ministry.

He appealed to the minister to support efforts by the airlines to take the sector to the next level, and urged the minister to address insurance challenges that were affecting the body.

Nevertheless, United Arab Emirates (UAE), said it would deepen collaboration with the Federal Government of Nigeria on aviation.

Ambassador of UAE to Nigeria, Dr Fahad AI Taffaq, gave the assurance, when he paid courtesy visit to the minister of aviation,  recently in his office.

According to him, the collaboration will improve the existing relation between the two countries.

He commended the effort of Nigeria’s Air Peace carrier that recently operated from Nigeria to Sharjah.

“We are to celebrate the first Nigerian carrier, Air Peace, which operated the flight from Nigeria to Sharjah.

“ It was coordination from both sides to see that the process saw the light of the day.

“We will like to see more from Nigeria. I have spoken with our Civil Aviation Authority for Nigeria’s airlines to operate more flight into UAE.

“We want to thank the Federal Government for allowing our carriers to operate from Lagos and Abuja, “he said.

Experts say that with encouragement, other domestic airlines would operate on international routes like Air Peace.

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