Why Aviation Sector Needs Urgent Transformation

Aviation industry operators have agreed that one of the major problems dwindling the fortunes of the sector is the inability of the federal government to maintain continuity in policies and execution of projects.

The consequence of this, according to them is that the sector, which is the most regulated in the world, has been adversely impacted as the disjointed policies and actions have left it in retrogression.

The operators noted that while Nigeria has heavy passenger traffic, she does not benefit from it in terms of revenues. Also, while the country is strategically located, it cannot operate as a hub because it does not have modern airport infrastructure with facilities like transit lounge, transit visa service and efficient and profitable airlines.

The operators estimated that given the poor standard of airport infrastructure and the inability of Nigeria to have viable airlines, she loses over $2 billion annually and Nigerian passengers are the most exploited because foreign airlines, which dominate the international market fix fares arbitrarily without checks from government.

The operators attributed this to the failure of government to maintain policy continuity in the Ministry of Aviation and its agencies, noting that ministers can come and go but the ministry bureaucracy should be able to maintain continuity of policies and action as new ministers should not be allowed to deviate from developing a road map for the industry.

Another problem, they noted is that as a highly technical industry, successive governments have always appointed non-aviators as minister and they spend average of one and half years, a period they spend to learn about the industry and shortly after they were removed.

Since 1999 the industry has had about 10 ministers. Again, there have been many reports aimed at repositioning the industry, but none of these reports was implemented.

Immediate past Minister of Aviation, Osita Chidoka said he only got to know about one of such reports, the Air Vice Marshal Paul Dike report very late in his administration.

The report, which centred on how to improve safety, security and improve the industry and was described as a masterpiece by aviators was not implemented because many of the ministers that were appointed after the report was published didn't know about it and never acted on it.

Industry observers however argued that if government has been appointing ministers from the industry, they would have known about the report.

Chidoka said that these problems must be tackled before Nigeria can begin to benefit from the huge opportunities in the air transport industry.

"Beyond building world class airline operations and infrastructure, Nigeria needs to play a leading role in West Africa economic integration that removes the barriers to the movement of traffic. Such as visa requirements and onerous Customs clearance, procedure for passenger movement and cargo need to be streamlined, it should ensure that African states need to attain and maintain global safety and security standards, if we must play in the global arena.

"While the rebased economy holds its inherent opportunities, including an economic environment that correlates with growth in the sector, it will take a more proactive aviation policy framework to increase economic output, create opportunity and increase the attractiveness of the sector to investors. For Nigeria to maximise its full potential and develop national aviation competitive advantage, it must take into account emerging trends in airline operations, airport infrastructure and aviation regulation," Chidoka said.

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By 9jatravel / Administrator, bbp_keymaster

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on May 30, 2015

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