EXPERTS ADVISE GOVT ON MAKING AVIATION CRITICAL FACTOR IN NATIONAL ECONOMY

Experts in the nation’s aviation sector have reached a consensus that the sector can only experience significant growth and   development   if   all   parties   to infrastructure   and   commercial   related agreements respect the terms and adopt transparency   as   well   as   corporate governance in administering such agreements.

The experts came together recently at   the   GulfView   Hotel, Lagos, under the aegis of the Aviation Round Table (ART) and resolved that   it   was   time   a   culture   of corporate   governance   and transparency in the business of managing the aviation sector was evolved such that government and other   parties   involved   in infrastructure-related   commercial agreements in the industry should respect   the   terms   of   such agreements if the industry is to move forward.

As a first step in this direction, they’re c o m m e n d e d                t h a t     existing concession/agreements   that   have developed into controversies affecting the entire   industry   should   be   resolved immediately in the interest of the industry taking   cognisance   of   initial   capital invested. Besides, they said political interference, under any guise, should be avoided in the sector’s regulatory activities.

These views and many others aimed at making aviation a critical factor in the national economy, were expressed by experts   at   a   conference   tagged:” Nigerian   Aviation   Infrastructure: Development and Challenges”

The experts include Dr. Harold Demuren, former  Director-General  Nigerian  Civil Aviation   Authority,   who   spoke   on; Nigerian   Aviation   Infrastructure Development   And   Challenges;   Mr. Richard Aisuebeogun, former Managing Director,  Federal  Airports  Authority  of Nigeria; Mr. Peter Amangbo, Managing Director,   Zenith   Bank;   Engr   Yinka Akinlabi,   Director,   Sky   Enterprises; Captain   Fola   Akinkuotu,   Managing Director, Nigerian Airspace Management Agency and Captain Samuel Caulcrick, former   Rector,   Nigerian   College   of Aviation Technology Zaria. Chairman of the occasion of Mr.  Nick Fadugba, former Secretary General Africa Airlines Association.

According to them, there is a need for the   establishment   of   an   Inter- governmental   Agency   Stakeholder Group led by the industry’s regulator for the administration and management of Bilateral Air Services Agreement(BASA) funds for implementing our aviation development plans.

Additionally, they recommended that there should be an aviation projects implementation stakeholder teams in every airport.

Bilateral   Air   Service   Agreements (BASAs), Multilateral   Air   Service Agreements (MASAs) and International Routes, they noted are the nation’s infrastructure and assets, while air traffic rights are like oil blocs and therefore, should not be treated with levity in administration   or   by   unilateral exploitation.   They   therefore recommended that BASA funds should be appropriately deployed into the provision of critical-safety infrastructure development as provided for in the Civil Aviation Act 2006.

They also said there is the need to have surveillance cameras in and around every   airport   in   Nigeria   to   be complemented with the establishment of Aviation   Industry   Cyber   Security Emergency Response Team (CERT) to enhance Aviation Security. Additionally, the forum concluded that there was need to enhance the airport perimeter fences where they are non-existent in order to sufficiently comply with Annex 17.

It was also suggested that an integrated aviation communication infrastructure be established especially with the increasing importance of Information Technology in order   to   achieve   massive   levels   of

efficiency, effectiveness   and profitability in air transport in the country.

Similarly, with the increase in traffic and   number   of   aircraft   in   the Nigerian airspace over the years, the existing CNS/ATM Systems need to be optimized while improvement should be made to match capacity at the airports with the adoption of satellite and digital technologies. Government should also ensure the provision of regular public power supply at the airports and all en-route stations   nationwide   which   will naturally facilitate the continuous provision of safety – critical services.

They   advised   local   airlines   to   pull resources together and establish a local maintenance   hangar   as   a   way   of minimising their aircraft maintenance cost.

For Nigerian airlines to attract funding facilities from financiers and institutions that are predominantly based outside Nigeria, our airlines must be within these parameters; viability, capacity and the potentials to earn more revenue from commercial agreements in view of the weakness of the local currency. “Therefore, we urgently call for regulatory consolidation process that increases the minimum fleet for AOC issuance for scheduled passenger airline operations from two (2) aircraft to twenty (20)

aircraft.”

The   observed   huge   human   capital deficiency in the industry needs to be rapidly   addressed   by   establishing Human   Capital   Development   Plans, Succession   Planning   and   mentoring programme   across   the   industry   and organisations, with huge investments. We   should   deepen   training   in commercial, marketing   and   financial analysis   which   are   the   bedrock   of profitability in the industry.