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In a bid to resolve the lingering trapped airlines’ trapped funds, President Bola Ahmed Tinubu has directed that the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) hold quarterly reconciliation meetings with a view to finding a lasting solution to a matter that has damaged the country’s reputation in the eyes of the global aviation industry.
The Minister of Aviation and Aerospace Development, Mr. Festus Keyamo made the disclosure on Wednesday at the 7th Aviation Africa Summit and Exhibition holding in Abuja.
Keyamo noted that the current administration was open to providing tax holidays to encourage existing and new entrants into the Nigerian aviation sector.
It is not clear how much foreign airlines’ fund is still held by Nigeria, it is estimated that it may have risen to more than $500 million. Scarcity and pressure on the country regarding foreign exchange resulted in Nigeria being unable to release all of the monies of international carriers.
The Minister noted that the current administration was aware that one of the setbacks entrepreneurs have suffered in Nigeria in recent years is the fluctuation of foreign exchange and its availability, stressing that it is the vision of this current administration to make Nigeria the aviation hub of Africa.
He, however, noted that in order to attract foreign investors, the government is already looking at the following areas to improve aviation business in Nigeria through infrastructure upgrade, upgrading of the Category Three Instrument Landing System (ILS) at major airports, construction of the second runway in Abuja, airport improvement programmes through concession and government willingness to partner with companies to turn major airports into aerotropolis.
Other initiatives in the aviation sector roadmap which he said the government has fully adopted include the creation of aircraft leasing companies.
The government, according to the Minister welcomes major players in aircraft leasing and head lessors to invest in Nigeria airlines to provide state-of-the-art aircraft, adding that the government would ensure enforcement of contract agreements and the rights of investors and all parties are protected.
Nigeria, being a signatory to the Cape Town Convention he reiterated would help to uphold the international convention.
Meanwhile, the European giant aircraft manufacturing company, Airbus in its forecast said the demand for new aircraft by the Nigerian airline operators will triple the present aircraft fleet by 2042.
Speaking at the media briefing held ahead of the 7th Aviation Africa Summit and Exhibition opening at the Abuja International Convention Centre, Airbus while unveiling its market forecast for Nigeria equally forecast that the country’s aviation sector will record a soar between now and the year 2042.
Speaking at the event, the airline marketing director, Africa at Airbus, Mr. Joel Ellers who described the Air frat manufacturing company as home to two of the world’s fastest-growing cities in the shape of Lagos and Abuja, also predicted that airlines serving Nigeria will require nearly 160 passenger and freight aircraft by 2042, according to the 2023 Airbus Global Market Forecast (GMF).
“This includes 131 single-aisle aircraft such as the A220, and A320 families, and 28 widebody aircraft such as the A330 and A350 families serving the Nigerian market in the next two decades.”
The Airbus director acknowledged that aviation plays a pivotal role in driving economic development across the African continent through creating jobs and facilitating domestic, intra-African, and global trade and regional integration, with its significance particularly profound in the case of Nigeria.
His words: “Africa’s most populous country, marked by substantial landmass, a vibrant, dynamic and ever-expanding economy. The aviation industry in Nigeria possesses the potential to emerge as the connective tissue that binds together its diverse regions and fuels economic progress.”
Airbus also predicted the aviation sector growth on the continent will drive average yearly service demand up by 4.1%, from $2 billion to $7 billion.
Growing Maintenance Repair and overhaul (MRO) services at both local and regional levels according to Airbus are central to the sector’s growth, safety, and longevity.