VENTURES AFRICA – Reports indicate that over $25 billion has been generated in Nigeria by foreign and domestic airlines, charter service providers and cargo operators.
According to ThisDay, the earnings have been generated from passenger tickets, cargo freight charges and payment for charter services, while government operators or service providers, including the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) and the Nigeria Airspace Management Agency (NAMA) earn about 300 billion naira ($2 billion) annually from passenger service charge, landing and parking, navigational charges, among others.
This was made known by the former Commandant of the Lagos-based Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Group Captain John Ojikutu (rtd), who also cautioned the government on its recent decision to boost growth in local airline operators with a $300 million intervention fund for new aircrafts.
“Don’t forget airlines had accessed 300 billion naira ($2 billion) initially through the Central Bank of Nigeria and the Bank of Industry to settle debts owed to the banks and service providers, how many of them used the money for that purpose? Do you think they will honour the loan obligation of the $300 million on refleeting without economic regulation and financial audit of their books in accordance with the Civil Aviation Act? Don’t be deceived, this intervention is as good as another bazaar for the airline operators,” Ojikutu said.
However, the Minister of Aviation, Stella Oduah, has said the airline operators would not be funded directly in liquid cash to avoid inappropriate use of the funds.
“The money will not go to the operators; the money will go to the aircraft manufacturers who will in turn bring these aircraft for us here and we have criteria again that the potential airline operators must have to scale through. It has to do with the professionalising their operations. It has to do with good governance, it has to do with several things, including ownership structure,” the Minister said.
Based on report, Ojikutu stressed that whichever way the government wishes to facilitate the acquisition of new fleet by the indigenous airlines, it must first of all audit their financial books and put in place economic regulation regime for the operators.
The aviation security expert also suggested that certain effective changes be made to give sustainable impact to the industry.
“Allow private investors in the industry, give concessions or free taxes on charges on airlines on landing and parking, navigational charges and others, reduce multiple landing for foreign airlines to our international airports to create markets for domestic airlines. If government does these, the industry will grow. Airport remodelling, national carrier or government financial intervention cannot individually or collectively grow the industry,” Ojikutu said.