Nigeria’s National Assembly Calls for Innovative Enabling Approach to Boost Aviation Growth

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Aviation committees in the lower and upper chambers of the National Assembly together with other stakeholders have called upon operators and policymakers to think outside the box in as much as revitalisation of the aviation industry is concerned.

The committees stressed the need to craft and implement new strategies aimed at ensuring that the aviation sector sail through the challenges whilst contributing to economic development.

Review of aviation financing mechanisms to align with services on offer, the committees highlighted, commensurate bailout funds for airlines, efficiency in operational and management system, competitive pay for technical staffers, and reduction in the cost of operations is of paramount importance.

Chairman of the Senate Committee on Aviation, Smart Adeyemi pointed out that aviation plays a crucial role in the nation’s economic development thus it must continue to play a leading role in revenue generation.

He was speaking at the recent conference organised by aviation correspondents in Lagos.

Adeyemi said there are six aviation Acts pending at the National Assembly and awaiting passage as part of measures to revamp the industry.

The Acts include the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority Act (NCAA) 2006; Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria Act 2010; Nigeria Airspace Management Agency Act 1999; Nigerian College of Aviation Technology Act, 1964; Nigerian Meteorological Act, 2003; and Nigerian Safety Investigation Bureau Act, 2019,” said Adeyemi.

He said these bills have already scaled second reading, and when passed into law, there will be new approaches to management and oversight functions.

Adeyemi further emphasised that it was imperative to put collective measures to scale up the industry making it the one that has an enabling environment, emanating from good legislations and resources.

Speaking at the same event, the other member in the lower chamber, Nnolim Nnaji, said despite the fact that the Federal Government has been most complacent in that area, aviation adequate financing mechanism cannot be ruled out in aviation.

“The government didn’t do much in terms of a bailout for the airlines. The cost of a Boeing (aircraft) engine is close to $10 million and what the government provided for all the airlines (as COVID-19 palliative) is about N4 billion. So, when you compare what our airlines got with those of other countries, you will find out that they (government) didn’t do much for the industry.

The aviation industry is a very expensive business and most people (operators) do not break even. What they succeed in doing is to just keep the business going because everything about the industry is offshore and that is a challenge,” Nnaji said.

The National Assembly, he said, has succeeded in getting zero duties for the commercial airlines’ spare parts, though not the same for scarce foreign exchange.

For now, I don’t know how the ban on forex to BDCs will affect airlines but I heard that the black market rate has gone up. I still wonder if banks can manage but from next week, we will get to know how airlines will be affected.”

Seconding to this, Managing Director of the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), Capt. Rabiu Yadudu, said the industry was experiencing difficulties and for it to fully recover, he pointed out that policymakers and operators should begin to deploy new thinking and concrete approaches to align local operations with global best practices.

The times are dire for the entire industry and policy formulators must engage in policy engineering and make great financial decisions to get out of the woods.

Without financial relief, I do not see a quick recovery. We need an aggressive policy and we need to do much more on implementation that is very aggressive. As you are aware COVID-19 has put the global economy to the test, with air transport being undoubtedly the hardest hit by the pandemic.”

According to The Guardian, the International Airline Transport Association (IATA) recently measured the COVID-19’s economic impact on Nigeria, estimating a revenue loss in excess of $994 million in 2020. No fewer than 125,370 jobs were put at risk, with loss of contribution to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in excess of $885 million.

Yadudu also communicated that the failed automated passenger and baggage check-in systems at Lagos and Abuja airports were being resolved, with the new handler now deploying equipment as he explained that the 10-year CITA contract for Lagos and Abuja airports expired last year and FAAN decided to improve the process.

The new contract and the project have already been approved by Mr, President. We have improved the process from two airports to now cover all the five international airports – Lagos, Abuja, Port Harcourt, Kano and Enugu. At the end of the day, it is going to be better for all of us.

“We have already started taking delivery of equipment from RESA of France. FAAN went with the right procurement process and we got a better deal. I believe by the middle of next month, we shall be ready to move forward.”

Managing Director of Finchglow Group, Bankole Bernard, said the industry was experiencing challenges not because it lacked good policies but lacked the strategic implementation to rob off positively on the entire sector.

“There is a need for proper assessment of impacts of policy implementation over the years.The Act that governs NCAT was enacted in 1964, whereas those of other agencies had been reviewed.

How come the one that affects the industry’s personnel has been abandoned for decades? It shows that we pay very little attention to our workforce and that explains why we more often export that aspect of the aviation business,” said Benard.

He further pointed out that there was need to go back to the drawing board and make sure that the personnel are well trained and properly remunerated.

“As of today, we only have 20 accredited training organisations in Nigeria, to serve a population of over 200 million people! It is not that people are not interested in aviation, but there are no enabling laws to attract investors into this critical aspect of the industry. I think we need to pay more attention to issues that affect human factor too.”


By Joyce Mukucha

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