* As investors decry 90% international air traffic in Nigeria
By Samson Echenim
Multiple entry points given to foreign airlines by the Nigerian government is “disastrous and deliberate annihilation of the domestic market,” says Capt Harold Demuren, a former director general of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA).
This is as airliners and other investors in the aviation sector decry 90 percent traffic in and out Nigeria by international carriers, with no Nigerian airline having similar privileges.
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Demuren at an industry forum themed, “Boosting Aviation Investment through Policies,” said the Nigerian government was deliberately promoting a negative balance of trade by allowing foreign carriers fly to multiple airports in Nigeria without any Nigerian airline enjoying similar privilege in the foreign airlines countries of origin.
“It is high time government reflected on the national aviation policy. There is no national policy plan on aviation development in Nigeria and this not the way to handle it if we want aviation sector to grow. The essence of regulation is not only about safety. We have failed with economic regulations. This is a major weakness,” said Demuren, who was represented at the forum by Gabriel Olowo, president of the Aviation Roundtable.
“The aviation sector needs positive investment driven policies to grow. Unfortunately, Nigeria’s biggest problem is that we make policies, but they somersault,” he noted.
At the 23rd League of Airports and Aviation Correspondents (LAAC) Conference held in Lagos, Wednesday, most of the speakers, were investors in the aviation industry, including some CEOs of domestic airlines and top officials from the regulatory agencies. They unanimously agreed that the country needed a stable legal and regulatory policy frameworks to grow the aviation sector.
Muneer Bankole, chairman of Medview Airline, who chaired the occasion, said the liquidation of Nigeria Airways put a serious stumbling block on the development of aviation in Nigeria.
“The aviation sector is critical for the development of any economy because it services all other sectors of the economy. Government must find ways to harness the sector to begin to earn meaningfully from the sector,” he said.
Nigeria’s aviation sector contributes a paltry 0.4 percent with about N119 billion in fiscal value. This is compared to 3.5 percent for South Africa and a projected 25 percent by 2020 for Ethiopia.
Nick Fadugba, CEO, African Aviation Services, said aviation could be a catalyst for Africa’s economic growth and social advancement.
“Nigeria can tap into this by providing more support to the growth of the increasingly important African business and general aviation industry, which are tools for economic development. A situation where over 90 percent of international air traffic to and from Nigeria is carried by foreign airlines, is damaging to the economy in several ways. It amounts to huge capital flight and the continued deterioration of the country’s aviation industry. If properly harnessed, Nigeria’s aviation sector could become one of the keys to Nigeria’s future prosperity,” Fadugba said.