Bankole, Fadugba seek enabling policy for Aviation development

L-R: President, African Business Aviation Association, Mr.Nick Fadugba, President Aviation Safety Round Table Initiative, Dr Gbenga Olowo, Managing Director/CEO, Medview Airline, Alhaji Muneer Bankole,  Chief Executive, Topbrass Aiation, Captain  Roland Iyayi and  Chairman, League of Airport and Aviation Correspondents  [LAAC], Olusegun Koiki during the 23rd edition of LAAC Annual Conference/Awards held at the Redisson Blu Hotel, Ikeja yesterday

…as Fadugba proposes ‘vision 2030’ for Nigerian Aviation

Posted by Sade Williams

Aviation stakeholders who graced the 23rd League of Airport and Aviation Correspondents (LAAC) Conference, have jointly called for enabling policy that will develop the aviation sector rather than bring retrogression to it.

The conference with the theme: ‘Boosting Aviation Investment Through Policy’, held at the Radisson Blu hotel, Ikeja on Wednesday 17, 2019.

Chairman on the occasion, who is also the managing director of Medview Airline, Alhaji Muneer Bankole, lamented that the beginning of the woes in the sector started in the late 80s when ‘politization, over-bearing governmental intervention and policy inconsistency’ were allowed to be the order of the day the administration of the sector, especially the defunct Nigeria Airways.

He noted that the contribution of the sector to the nation’s economy started dwindling, adding that it is yet to recovered since most of the policies were not favourable.

“In the early period of those glorious years of Nigeria Airways existence, the airline was a National glory carrying the country’s national flag (Green white Green) all over the continents and making the citizen proud with well trained and seasoned professionals handling their roles with dignity in the development of trade and businesses through air transportation.

“It is however unfortunate that politization, over-bearing governmental intervention and policy inconsistency from late 80s happens to be bedrock of the beginning of the nose-diving in the contribution of Aviation Industry to the economic development. The last straw that breaks the Camels’ back was the liquidation of the National Carrier (Nigeria Airways) in 2004”, he said.

He added that ‘Nigeria local carriers has not yet been able to measure up to the expectation of maximizing the country’s potential despite over 200 million population to our advantage but which other foreign carriers are feasting on to the detriment of domestic airlines.

“The gestation period of extinction of domestic carriers from the business which is within the average of 5-10 years should be worrisome to the industry’s stakeholders as the myriads of identifiable causes have been seen as scarcity and high cost of aviation fuel; poor facility at our airports, obsolete infrastructures; multiple taxations; shortage of forex for airline operators; multiple designation for the foreign carriers and absence of Maintenance Repair and Overhaul (MRO) facility.

“It is instructive to reiterate that for the purpose of Industry’s stability, improved safety, robust acquisition of Air Operators Certificate (AOC) among others, it is imminent that Federal Ministry of Transportation through the minister for Aviation and other relevant regulatory agencies need to reflect on the National Aviation Policy in conjunction with various aviation stakeholders holistically”, he added.

He noted that until 2006, when Civil Aviation Act was passed into law, which gave the DG of Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority autonomy, the will power to carry out its regulatory oversight functions were somehow hampered, adding that it is encouraging that policy regulation is improving now but could get better.

While appreciation the Senate for the resolution passed by last week on “Unfair Competition and urgent Need to Protect Nigeria’s Indigenous Airline from Extinction”, Bankole said there should be a follow-up by appropriate regulatory agencies, noting that Bilateral Air Services Agreements (BASA) with other major European and some Asian Countries need to be urgently reviewed to reflect the interest of local carriers.

“Appropriate policy statement regulating double taxation need to be quickly looked into in conjunction with the exorbitant cut-throat charges levied against Nigerian carriers to our various West African routes, particularly francophone States”.

According to him, Ambitious airport infrastructures programme came to being around 1975-1980 when most regional airports were built but coincidentally the poor maintenance culture has reduced some of the infrastructures to a dilapidated level, but noted that the current on-going rehabilitation is well applauded and  airports’ concessionary programme may be a strategic decision to repositioning our airports.

“In Nigeria, the expansion of air services is a necessary condition for development and diversification of nation’s economy away from oil to a more diversified export based natural resources, including tourism that can be boosted under more nationalistic and patriotic policy regulation, hence LAAC Conference of this year is timely and constructive. Aviation industry is indispensable to the socio-economic development of any country and Nigeria not in exception; therefore it should be given proper attention it deserves.

 Chairman/CEO, Airpeace Airline, Barr. Allen Onyema, Managing Director, Skyway Aviation Handling Company Plc, Mr.Basil Agboarumi and Managing Director/CEO, Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria [FAAN], Capt. Hamisu Yadudu during the 23rd edition of LAAC Annual Conference/Awards held at the Redisson Blu Hotel, Ikeja yesterday
 

Bankole was however quick to point that the sector has witnessed some positive changes.

“Notwithstanding the challenges bedeviling the industry, the strategic position of Aviation industry to the stability and boosting of socio and politica-economy of our nation cannot be overstressed. The industry has enhanced improvement on the efficiency of industries mobility and delivery of products and services. It has also derived investment both into and outside the country and regions with the influx of foreigners coming to the country through Tourism development. The sector has made important contributions to the economy through its impact on the performance of other sectors growth, not to mention job creations for both skilled and unskilled workforce”, he added.

Also speaking, Nick Fadugba, Chairman of the African Business Aviation Association (AfBAA), noted that the achievements of Government-owned Ethiopian Airlines, was enviable, adding that its success can be traced to its solid foundation in the 1940’s, good corporate governance, to its hardworking management and staff, and to zero government interference in management affairs.

He said Nigeria can take a cue from this for the sector to develop.

“Ethiopian Airlines has had great success with its Vision 2010 and Vision 2025, so let me outline my own vision for Nigerian aviation: Vision 2030”.

Enabling Environment:

By 2030, the Federal Government of Nigeria will have adopted the business models of Singapore and Dubai, UAE, by seriously embracing aviation as a strategic tool for economic and social development.

There will be zero import duties on aircraft, engines and spare parts. Value Added Tax (VAT), as promised, will have been removed.

Bilateral Air Service Agreements (BASA) with non-African states will have been reviewed on the basis of reciprocity, as access to the Nigerian market has an economic value.

Airlines:

By 2030, Nigeria will have two airlines operating regular scheduled services on intercontinental, regional and domestic routes. One will have a minority Government stake and the other will be totally private sector-driven. Each airline will have a fleet of 25 to 40 modern aircraft. One will be a member of a global airlines alliance.

Four or five smaller carriers, each with five to 10 aircraft, will provide niche services, such as domestic routes, regional routes or cargo operations. One will become Africa’s established leading Hajj operator. 

The Government and AMCON will have, at last, taken the necessary tough steps to resolve the receivership impasse at Arik Air and Aerocontractors, so they are no longer in limbo.

The sizeable combined fleets of Nigerian airlines will have provided a ready market for the establishment of a viable aircraft maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) facility in Nigeria, a joint venture with an experienced foreign MRO.

Meanwhile, the Nigerian College Aviation of Technology will have partnered with at least one Nigerian University to offer Aviation Degrees and build manpower capacity, especially in Air Transport Planning and Management. 

By 2030, Nigerian carriers will be maximising the benefits of the Single African Air Transport Market (SAATM) through regional growth and win-win partnerships.

Aviation Infrastructure:

By 2030, a new modern Murtala Muhammed International Airport will have been built and the previous building torn down as it was no longer fit for purpose. The new airport will have three runways and will be a leading hub in Africa with seamless connectivity for domestic and international flights.

The structural and planning problems at Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport will have been resolved and the airport will have two runways to boost connectivity.

By 2030, Nigeria’s airports will have been concessioned in a transparent manner and will be run efficiently and profitably.

By 2030, a well-run Nigerian aviation industry, in which loans and leases are repaid on time, and there is no financial leakage, will attract more financing at a lower cost.

Fadugba, who believes that he believes that the solutions to the challenges facing the Nigerian aviation industry are within our grasp, added: to succeed we need discipline, focus, hard work, patriotism, unity and good governance. Nigerian Aviation: Vision 2030 is achievable.

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