…Plans to make Nigeria Africa’s aviation hub
By Louis Ibah
Nigeria’s Acting President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, has waded into the crisis plaguing the domestic airlines with a firm commitment to resuscitate the industry and position it as a hub for the African continent. Osibanjo had over the weekend called for a close door meeting in his office at the Presidential Villa with CEOs of the Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON).
At the meeting it was learnt that the Vice President had expressed his displeasure that in spite of the country’s huge potential with a natural God given geographic location at the centre of Africa (4.30hrs to most parts of Africa); with most of its airports at approximately sea level, being the sixth largest producer of crude oil (JetA1), a human population of 190 million, and skilled manpower, yet Nigeria is not a hub for aviation activities on the African continent.
Chairman of AON, Capt. Nogie Meggison who read a speech on behalf of other investors listed the major issues currently stifling investments in the airline industry and which needed urgent government intervention to include, removal of Value Added Tax (VAT) lamenting that domestic airlines are the only mode of transport paying the VAT; marine, road, rail and even the international airlines don’t pay VAT in Nigeria; harmonization of over 35 multiple charges; reviewing 5 per cent ticket sales charge (TSC) to a flat rate in line with the world practices; Poor navigational and landing aids, high cost and epileptic supply of JetA1; obsolete infrastructure across airports such that it is limiting operations to daylight operation for most airports and making local Nigerian Airlines fly an average of only 5 hours as against the average of 10 hours worldwide per airplane; and lack of consultations with airlines before introduction of new charges and policies among others.
Maggison said: “There is an urgent need for a deliberate economic policy that will support the positive growth of aviation and survival of domestic airlines in the country. For instance, following the air crashes of 2005/06, government came up with a policy to ensure air safety. Similarly, the economic policy for the sustenance of the industry needs to be seriously looked into.