Olateru seeks pathway to aviation growth, Nuhu says sector making progress

The Director-General of the Nigerian Safety Investigation Bureau (NSIB), Akin Olateru has said that any robust economy is largely dependent on the functioning of one vital sector of its infrastructure-aviation.

He further listed infrastructure, regulations, human capital, and equipment as the bedrock of an organisation’s success, especially in the aviation industry which is highly capital-intensive.

He called on stakeholders in the sector to be proactive and seek ways and invest in equipping their staff with the necessary knowledge and skills, just as he acknowledged that there were challenges hindering manpower development, such as the lack of adequate funding for training initiatives and limited budget allocations.

He admitted that there are challenges hindering manpower development, such as the lack of adequate funding for training initiatives and limited budget allocations.

He noted that allocating resources for manpower development requires careful planning, prioritization, and unwavering commitment from all stakeholders.

This is coming as the Director-General of Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), Capt. Musa Nuhu stated that despite myriads of challenges confronting aviation in Nigeria, Nigeria’s air transport was making steady progress, adding that the International Air Transportation Association (IATA) in a recent study recognized that Nigeria’s air transportation sector has contributed over $1.7 billion in addition to the provision of well over 240,00 jobs.

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“As our traffic figures are doubling so is the number of young airports increasing with the old ones embarking on massive infrastructure upgrade, expansion, and equipment modernization for safety, security, safe air navigation, weather observation and forecasting.”

He said: “In addition, we are also beginning to see operators moving away from a poor choice of aircraft, poor or bad route planning, and operating models. Following the outbreak of the devastating pandemic which almost brought humanity to its knees, many Nigerian airline operators cutting across established and new entrants are appreciating the economics or intrinsic benefits of operating newer and narrow-body aircraft or single-aisle aircraft like Boeing 707, Boeing 727, Boeing 737, Boeing 757, Airbus A320 and Embraer E-Jet families as their immediate recovery and survival strategy.”

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“This is linked to the prohibitive cost of fuelling, management, and maintenance of larger aircraft. In this category are big jets configured for General Aviation such as Boeing 740/777, Boeing 767, Boeing 787, Airbus A330/340/380, MD-11, and MD-11ER. While operators should choose the aircraft that best suits their business plan as the choice of decrepit and wrong aircraft type for flight operations could be the greatest undoing of an airline.”

The COVID-19 pandemic did not only deal a blow to Nigeria’s aviation industry but the global aviation sector.

Despite the impact on it the sector, Nuhu admitted that the country sector had continued to experience steady growth with more airlines processing their Air Operator Certificates (AOCs).

In 2020, IATA, the clearing house for over 290 global airlines called for aviation-specific financial relief measures from the government of Nigeria to address the severe impact of the COVID-19 crisis on the air transport sector.

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The global body said air transport has ground to a halt in efforts to stop the spread of COVID-19, noting that along with the direct impact on jobs and companies in aviation, related industries, including tourism, hospitality, and trade have been hit hard and these sectors play an essential role in creating jobs and powering economies.

IATA said prior to the crisis, aviation contributed $1.7 billion to Nigeria’s GDP and supported 241,000 jobs.

Capt. Nuhu with his award

IATA estimates that the COVID-19 crisis puts 124,000 Nigerian jobs at risk and some $900 million of the country’s GDP.

It is however unclear what the sector in Nigeria in 2021 and 2022 contributed to Nigeria’s GDP and what it would be in 2023.

Wole Shadare