Business travel on private and charter jets appears resilient despite the economic slowdown currently being experienced in Nigeria.
According to BusinessDay findings, passenger traffic for business travel has continued to show steady growth compared to domestic airlines that have lost about 40 percent of their passenger traffic.
“Businessmen still prefer to fly charter planes knowing that there is better flexibility with time and more importantly, avoiding cancellations or rushing out of a meeting in order not to miss a flight,” said Nogie Meggison, chairman, Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON) in an interview with BusinessDay. “With growing numbers of entrepreneurs, top corporate executives and ultra high networth individuals in the country today, private jets have gotten them closer and faster to their final destinations than any airline,” Meggison added. Sources close to the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), say the ownership of private jets in Nigeria grew from about 20 in 2008 to over 150 in 2014 and that this trend has carried on till date.
“Nigeria is the African gateway to reach other African countries. It is the centre of Africa, with four daily direct flights to the US, fifteen daily direct flights to Europe and five daily direct connections to the Middle East; making it the easiest transit for businessmen and entrepreneurs in and out the continent,” the NCAA source added. The International Monetary Fund forecasts that Nigeria’s economy will expand by about 3.8 percent in 2016, down from growth rates which had averaged 6.8 percent in the decade to 2014. Nigeria’s economy overtook South Africa’s and became Africa’s biggest economy in 2014, leading to an increase in the country’s attraction for investors. “Another potential for growth is the fact that due to safety concerns, many high net worth individuals see business aviation as a plausible option,” Meggison said. An operator in the charter market who would not want his name disclosed, told BusinessDay that in the Nigerian charter market today, there are a lot of grey areas and black markets, compared to the scheduled passenger segment. Segun Demuren, Managing Director of Evergreen Apple Nigeria Limited, a private charter terminal operator and aircraft maintenance centre, said the circumstances surrounding the probe of certain public officials over the use of charter jets should not be used to jeopardise their business and send the signal that it is wrong for government officials to hire business jets.
Demuren said many aircraft manufacturers including: Bombardier, Gulfstream, Embraer, Triton Aviation and Dassault Falcon, are partnering with charter companies and aircraft maintenance centres in Nigeria to boost business aviation. He further oberved business aviation is key to the development of the economy, as the over 150 private jets operating in Nigeria contribute significantly to the economy. “Serious business transactions and meetings for top government officials and players in the private sector require fast movement, which is only facilitated by business / private jets,” Demuren said. “It is not a luxury at all,” Demuren added. Private jets are some of the most valuable business tools available in the world today, as it saves time and is convenient, providing significantly more productive output, and fine tunes briefings onboard, before and after meetings. “Executives can make the most of this time to talk business with colleagues, clients or partners in complete privacy, relaxing or entertaining on the same flight. The business jet is a tool for efficiency, those using it as luxury have cut down but those using it as an efficient tool still use it,” Meggison said.
Culled from Businessday