VENTURES AFRICA – As part of its Africa sales tour, US-based Cessna Aircraft Company displayed two of its latest aircraft – the Cessna Citation Jet 3 and Cessna Sovereign – in Nigeria at the Abuja airport on Monday and Tuesday, also at the Murtala Muhammed Airport on Thursday and Friday.
The business and general aircraft manufacturer plans to make stops in Accra and Abidjan for similar sales display according to Nigerian newspaper PUNCH.
Two months ago, French private jet manufacturer Dassault Aviation, was also in the country to display some of its latest business aircraft.
The influx of aircraft manufacturers into Africa’s second-largest economy is an indication of the viability of the private jet market in the country.
According to reports, Nigeria and China constitute two of the fastest growing private jet markets in the world.
In 2007, Nigeria had only 20 private planes sitting in its hangars. Presently, records indicate an additional 130 private planes, valued at 1.02 trillion naira ($6.5 billion).
In the forth quarter of 2012, leading aircraft manufacturer Bombardier said Nigeria was its biggest market in Africa with about 35 Bombardier-made business aircraft currently flying its airspace; a growth driven by request from businessmen and leaders in the country.
Captain Akin George, a former MD of a local Nigerian Airline, commented on the increasing number of private jets parked within Nigerian Airports, which has prompted the construction of multi-million dollars private jets hangars, where repairs and maintenance could be done in the country.
Cessna’s business was hit during the late-2000s economic downturn, forcing the company to lay off more than half its workforce between January 2009 and September 2010.
On 23 March 2012 Cessna announced that it is pursing building business jets in China as part of a joint venture with Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC). By late April 2012 the company recalled laid-off workers and started new hiring to fill 150 positions in Wichita as a result of anticipated increased demand for aircraft production.