Nigeria Aviation at 90: experts condemn status; profer likely solution
ZAINAB JUNAID ELESHO
From the very first flight that landed in Kano in November 1925, Nigeria’s aviation industry has continued to witness archaic developments that have been multi-dimensional in nature.
This was the view of stakeholders that spoke at the two day conference powered by New Age Communications to celebrate 90 years anniversary of Nigeria Aviation.
Former Managing Director of the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency, Roland Iyayi, affirmed that airlines operating in the country are in a destructive competition.
Mr. Iyayi said the airlines had not been able to maximise the huge potential of the aviation sector in generating employment and contributing to the country’s Gross Domestic Product.
He said Nigeria currently boasts of 15 million travelling passengers out of a population of 170 million which accounts for only 10 per cent.
Mr Iyayi, who is currently the Managing Director of Topbrass Aviaton, said out of the 26 airports in the country, 80.2 per cent of the total traffic passes through the Abuja, Lagos and Port Harcourt Airports.
“I scarcely see any major airline in the country today that will survive the next three years except that there is a major injection of capital. The promoters of airlines don’t take time to study the market. So, they need to think outside the box and find new ways to make the industry grow,’’ he said.
Mr. Iyayi later advised the government to enact policies that would support the growth of the sector, including the establishment of a strong national carrier like the defunct Nigerian Airways, "we dont need coersive regulations, human capacity should be developed, corporate policy should be looked into and on national carrier, the structure of its ownership should be looked into. Government has no reason to engage financially in it but should provide basis on how it should be run," he advised.
The Director-General of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority, Muhtar Usman, who was represented by Director of Administration, Aba Ejembi, said the authority was strengthening its regional offices to effectively perform its oversight functions.“I think in 90 years, Nigeria aviation has contributed immensely to the GDP but we can do better, so Nigerians should be dissuaded from seeing air travelling as an elitist thing,’’ Mr. Usman said.
Also speaking, Nogie Meggison, Chairman Airline Operators of Nigeria, who tasked the government on infrastructure and enabling environment for the aviation sector to grow, said the aviation sector was only contributing four per cent to the country’s GDP, while that of Ethiopia was contributing 26 per cent.
Travel expert and organiser of Akwaba African Travel Market, Ikechi Uko earlier this year said that Nigeria has benefited from air travel during this period in terms of increase in mobility, noting that air travel provided the platform for Nigerians to interact with the world and also do business with the rest of the world.He said: “In terms of participation we have not done very well. We are supposed to run the best airlines in Africa and one of the best in the world, considering the fact we have robust and the largest economy in Africa. Also in terms of airport infrastructure, we have not achieved much. Nigeria does not have up to five standard airports. So I don’t think we have done well in that area, but we have benefited from the industry.”
Organiser of the two day conference, Mr. Ariyo Akinfenwa, the Principal Strategist/chief executive officer of Media Age Communications Nigeria
also noted that from when the very first flight landed in Kano in November 1925, Nigeria’s aviation industry has continued to witness developments that have been multi-dimensional in nature.According to him, after decades of highs and lows in this critical sector described as the gateway to Nigeria’s economy, it has become expedient for stakeholders to evaluate the industry’s past, present and the future in order to chart a better course.
He said despite the challenges facing the country’s aviation industry, there is still need to celebrate the years of existence because aviation has brought so much of growth and development to Nigeria, he said