Nigeria’s travel and tourism expert, Mr. Ikechi Uko has said the country’s aviation industry will remain stunted and not growing beyond what obtains today in the sector until there is a masterplan that stipulates why the country engages in aviation.
The travel expert stated that there is no clear description on why the country engages in aviation operations noting that “Today we do Aviation for the sake of Aviation. Aviation is done for the sake of Transportation.”
Uko pointed out that only one airline, Air Peace which is the country’s biggest carrier, has articulated a Business case for Aviation. According to him, the airlines has constantly reiterated that it is in the industry to create jobs for the teeming youths in the country with a projected number of 200 workers to an aircraft.
“I heard the former Minister, Hadi Sirika quoted at the Senate hearing that it is 300 workers for a plane to justify need for National Carrier.”
“Aviation in Dubai is for Tourism and Tourism is for National Development and Strategic Economic positioning. Today it is a global hub and the 4th most visited City in the world. This would not happen without Emirates and the easy Visa Regime.”
“Qatar grows Aviation for Strategic Diplomatic and Economic Prowess. A small country is able to extend its reach and influence globally.”
“All Medium Powers use Aviation as a Soft power tool for Global positioning or Economic development”.
Why do we do Aviation in Nigeria? He queried. He said nobody has defined a need outside Transportation.
“Without a well-defined Business case captured in a National Development Masterplan we will keep going round in Circles.”
“Ghana built a new Airport Terminal and gives out 5th Freedom Rights to anyone who asks in order to build a hub. They added Visa on Arrival and offered residence and Citizenship rights to African Diaspora. They bid and got the AfCTA Headquarters to drive a M.I.C.E and Business Hub. These are intertwined and planned to grow Tourism and Build the Economy.”
“Zimbabwe invested in the upgrade of Victoria Falls Airport and almost Doubled their Tourism figures for Victoria Falls. The $150m upgrade was not for Harare Airport but Victoria Falls.
“South Africa will not allow South African Airways (SAA), collapse for the simple fact that the country makes more money from Trade and Tourism than it loses to SAA and without SAA the Tourism figures will drop.
Rwanda is a small country with big global ambitions that is also Landlocked with some hostile neighbours any wonder Aviation is a National Priority? Same for Ethiopia and Uganda.”
“So Nigeria has to decide why it needs Aviation then build an appropriate strategy to deliver on that.”
“I was the head of the Tourism Subcommittee of Vision 20-2020 and I have read most policy Documents on Aviation development in Nigeria and most are based on Aviation for the sake of Aviation.
“Aviation policy makers need to discuss with Economic planners and Tourism Stakeholders to develop a workable and Sustainable plan for Growth then Aviation in Nigeria will thrive” he said.
By Ikechi Uko