The Nigerian aviation industry is to receive investment worth over $20 billion, which will be targeted at aircraft leasing, according to a consortium comprising African Aircraft Leasing Company (AALC) and SpringFountain Infrastructure Limited.
The investment would facilitate the lease of aircraft for Nigerian operators, setting up of aircraft maintenance repair and overhaul centre, and spares logistics and supply, as well as aggregated services solutions.
Tokunbo Fagbemi, executive director, SpringFountain Infrastructure Limited (SIL), said her company is in partnership with the United States-based aircraft manufacturer, Boeing Corporation.
She said the aircraft leasing initiative, first in Africa, will create a robust window for Nigerian operators to access 200 Boeing aircraft in the next 20 years.
Indigenous operators including Air Peace have described the aircraft leasing window as one of the best things to happen to Nigeria, given the hurdles operators face in their bid to get aircraft from foreign lessors.
Allen Onyema, chairman of SIL, said the partnership between Boeing and Nigerian operators will stimulate the growth of aviation as it would assist to build capacity in blocking huge gaps in local skills in diverse fields ranging from piloting, aviation engineering, aviation economics and aviation law.
Fagbemi said with an estimated passenger traffic of 19 million , the figures could increase to over 44 million, which would require more new airplanes to meet traveling needs .
“If Nigeria is to have 44 million passenger departures per annum, it will require over 100 aircraft to meet this propensity to travel, Nigeria will need more aircraft.
“To boost its international and intercontinental flight potential, the airlines have to improve in both the quality and quantity of the aircraft. In addition, the aircraft have to be brand new to be at par with competition within Africa at the least,” she said.
To enable the firm deliver on its proposed investment, Fagbemi urged government to create an enabling environment.
“We cannot overemphasize for government to create a right enabling environment for the African Aircraft Leasing Company (AALC), OEM led MRO centre, African Aircraft Spare Parts Company (AASC) and Aggregated Services Solutions provider to be able to list and trade on the NASD OTC, Nigerian Stock Exchange, Aviation Asset Backed Securities (ABS), Enhanced Equipment Trust Certificates and other innovative trade-able monetary and debt instruments,” she noted.
She specifically asked government to provide exemption from certain charges such as customs duties and granting the consortium pioneer status, to create a one-stop shop for the processing and issuance of all necessary permits and licenses.
“The AALC project will need fiscal support from the government. The importation and clearing of aircraft spares will need to fall under a different customs clearance regime. We will need a special visa regime and dedicated immigration procedure for crew and workmen in the aviation industry,” she said.