…seeks govt support for project
By Sade Williams
As SpringFountain Infrastructure Limited, a Nigerian company and African Aircraft Leasing Company (AALC) partner Boeing to invest over $20 billion in the setting up of aircraft maintenance, Repair and Overhaul (MRO) as well as in lease of aircraft and others, Air Peace Managing director, Allen Onyema has said that the initiative when operational, will save the country over $500 million annually.
Speaking in an interview during and after the signing of agreement ceremony between Boeing Corporation and SpringFountain Infrastructure in Lagos, he said the huge capital flight that is being to other countries as a result of non-availability of critical infrastructure such as MRO, leasing companies and others have impacted negatively on the sector, adding that the signing of this agreement on Monday was the beginning of a new phase for aviation in Nigeria.
According to him, the stringent conditions given to Nigeria airlines whenever they plan to lease aircraft was the bane of the whole plan, adding that rather than go with the conditions, some operators, especially, Air Peace outright purchase with the meager amount of money.
“I can confess to you that it has been difficult leasing aircraft to airlines in this part of the world, the conditions given to Nigerian airlines is killing, they tell us we are unsafe, government is not supportive, their planes can be endangered, the condition are outrageous, so we make do with what we have but it is capital flight and there is nothing we can do.
“But we will be happy if we can have our own GECAS in Nigeria, this country will be saving over $500 million every year, if we have our own MRO, because we spend millions on aircraft maintenance I am truly in support of this, this is what we have been yearning for, if this can happen, all the challenges will become a thing of the past. This is a great idea that will jobs for Nigerians”, he said.
While urging the Boeing company to also consider relaxing some conditions, Onyema said if the initiative comes to fruition, ‘Nigeria can become the Arizona of Africa where are aircraft are kept’, saying that the Northern part of the country is good enough to use as aircraft storage environment.
“I also appeal to Boeing to make things easy for us, for instance, I bought two B777 for some months but they have not arrive Nigeria due to Type Certification issues, Boeing needs to take some things into consideration”, he said.
He added that the fact that Boeing is going to support them is a lot of plus to the sector, saying that all this will improve the lot of the sector a great deal.
“A lot capital flight will be saved, a lot of people will be trained, we will have new aircraft in Nigeria, they can create about 10, 000 jobs if they can make this happen.
“But I call on govern net to support them, I call on civil service to shun wickedness and support them, even the press, we do not want people to shut this down, the only way to go about it is to support this intention.
“Government can give them land, I applied for land two and a half years ago to build a maintenance hangar up till now, they have not given me and when they gave me, they told me to pay N670 million for 15 years…but these people should be supported because it is untidy for for airlines to be opening engines of aircraft on the ramp. Government should give them land immediately”, he added.