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)
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.