At a colloquium titled: Leapfrogging Nigeria Aviation To match her potentials, organised to mark the first anniversary of Nigeriatravelsmart.com, Ali Magashi, a financial analyst said one major issue that had contributed to the epileptic state of airlines is high interest rate by financial institutions.
He said financial institutions lending rate, had prevented the sector vis-à-vis airlines, from getting on from the scratch over the years, adding that as long as such obstacles remain, the airlines’ operations will remain epileptic.
According to him, ‘the interest rate we operate in Nigeria makes it completely prohibitive for airlines’ funding, the industry as a whole will be able to attract funding, but the new sources of financing will be tapped into”, he said.
He also itemised poor credit rating of businessmen/companies adding that so many of them are not bold enough to present their cases before financial institutions.
He also added that over regulated financial sector which had impacted negatively on the naira, was also an obstacle.
“Poor and hostile environment and exploitation by the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority through multiple inspection of aircraft as well as multiple charges are serious issues facing the airlines”, he added.
Also speaking, Christope Penninck, managing director of Bi-Courtney Aviation Services Limited (BASL), who spoke on ‘Airports of the future,: the models for Nigeria’, said without proper airports with necessary infrastructure, airlines cannot thrive.
According to him, it is easy to lease aircraft in numbers but is it not easy to build and develop an airport that will accommodate such fleet adding that airports must first be well equipped to meet international standards before airlines can plan can plan on fleet expansion.
He said unless the management style of airports is private-like, the airports would not function well.
“There is no need to put money into airlines, there is no need to acquire fleet when the airports that are supposed to accommodate them are not strong, when the infrastructure is not strong.
“Let me give an instance, Qatar is investing airports to ensure that airlines’ businesses thrive, so in Nigeria, government must invest in airport facilities heavily or find a way of privatising the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria for efficiency, there must be adequate airfield lightings at airports for airlines to realise maximum revenue”, he said.
He posited however, that the future for Nigeria’s aviation is bright with huge population and being the largest economy in Africa.
Also speaking, Capt. Dapo Olumide, former managing director Nigerian Eagle (Air Nigeria), and now managing director of Ropeways Transport Ltd, said unless infrastructure is given priority by concerned authorities, the sector might not take its rightful place in global aviation developments, adding that we need to set a new benchmark for growth.
“Unfortunately, we have adjusted our minds to the abnormal ways things are being done, we have set mediocrity to be the benchmark for excellence, it is not enough to rid airports of touts, it is not enough to say electricity must be available, the only way we can go is with infrastructure and we need to set a new benchmark”, he said.
Chris Aligbe, a former director of public affairs of Nigeria Airways and current managing director of Belujane Konzult, said it is apparent that government cannot finance the 22 airports in Nigeria, advising that privatisation should be encouraged.
He added that the plan to have a national carrier is welcomed but government should not hold the majority shares in it.