Perennial inconsistency in government policies has been blamed for stagnation in the aviation industry.
Experts, who spoke in Lagos, at the 23rd League of Airports and Aviation Correspondents (LAAC) yearly conference, Wednesday, blamed the government and aviation regulatory bodies for failing to maximise the potential of the sector to stimulate growth and economic development.
Specifically, the sector has in the last two decades, seen about 12 ministers and multiple heads of agencies with diverse policies that were short-lived.
Chairman of the conference, Muneer Bankole, noted that in the early period of those glorious years of Nigeria Airways, the airline was a national glory carrying the country’s national flag all over the continents, and making the citizen proud with well-trained and seasoned professionals handling their roles with dignity in the development of trade and businesses through air transportation.
Bankole, who is also the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Med-View Airline Plc, said it was, however, unfortunate that politicisation, over-bearing government intervention, and policy inconsistency from the late 80s were the beginning of the downfall of the industry.
The last straw that broke the camels’ back was the liquidation of Nigeria Airways in 2004.
Since then, “Nigeria local carriers have not been able to measure up to the expectation of maximising the country’s potential despite over 200 million population to our advantage, but which other foreign carriers are feasting on to the detriment of domestic airlines.
“The gestation period of extinction of domestic carriers from the business, which is within the average of five to 10 years, should be worrisome to the industry’s stakeholders. The myriads of identifiable causes include the scarcity and high cost of aviation fuel; poor facility at our airports, obsolete infrastructures; multiple taxations; shortage of forex for airline operators; multiple designations for the foreign carriers and absence of Maintenance Repair and Overhaul (MRO) facility,” Bankole said.
President of the Aviation Safety Round Table Initiative (ASRTI), Dr. Gbenga Olowo, said it is not too late for the government to address those problems and revive the industry through policy thrust.
Olowo proposed four of such policies in the area of operational excellence, stakeholders’ satisfaction, safety security assurance, and regulatory effectiveness.
He said investment in aviation will only come under stable regulatory and legal frameworks and a willing government.
He advised the government to, along with the policy direction, design objectives and Key Performance Index (KPI) to measure developments in the area of safety management, airport, aircraft, human capital management, and business continuity focus among others.
The CEO Topbrass Aviation Services, Roland Iyayi, said the industry currently has no policy thrust since none has been a review or presented in the last couple of years.
Iyayi said the norm is to have policies made from knee-jerk reactions to issues, because “we have a lot of people in government privileged positions that little or nothing about the offices.”
CEO African Aviation Services, Nick Fadugba, said aviation could be a vital catalyst for Africa’s economic growth and social advancement.
Fadugba said Africa needs a safe, reliable, efficient and portable air transport industry that facilitates business, trade, and tourism across the continent and between Africa and the world.
He said a situation in which over 90 percent of international air traffic to and from Nigeria is carried by non-Nigerian airlines is damaging to the economy in several ways, such as the huge capital flight from Nigeria, the continued deterioration of the aviation industry and the loss of skilled aviation employment opportunities.
He recommended that African governments and regulators need to provide an enabling environment, while African airlines should work together through inter-lining, code sharing, joint ventures, and mergers and acquisitions so as to form stronger carriers that can compete effectively and can grow and prosper.
By Wole Oyebade