Until the leadership of the aviation sector draws up a 10-year master plan of action as informed by a clear vision for its development, the industry will continue to lag behind, experts have said.
The stakeholders, at the LAAC forum to chart path to an enviable air travel sector recently in Lagos, said the authorities must begin to run aviation, not for itself, but for national developmental purposes.
Specifically, they called for aviation policies that are tied to the development of other sectors as obtained in countries like Ethiopia, United Arab Emirates (UAE), Qatar, Kenya, and South Africa, among others.
President of the Aviation Safety Round Table Initiative (ASRTI), Dr. Gbenga Olowo, noted that were tangible assets in the aviation industry; from airlines to airport, and to terminal building that could attract investment, provided the policy thrust is in place.
Olowo said policy is critical for direction, trust, stakeholders’ satisfaction, as well as safety and security. However, the policy must be accompanied by objectives with strong dashboard to measure developments.
“It is not just to run aviation here and there day-to-day, but run into the future five or 10 years from now. The regulatory framework and political environment must be stable. The Mr. President today needs not be there tomorrow for us to respect certain contracts that are signed with stakeholders. Regulations shouldn’t be changing the way we change our dress,” Olowo said.
Travel business consultant and founder of Akwaaba Travel Tourism Market, Ikechi Uko, said it was high time Nigeria defines the purpose of aviation outside of meeting the transport needs alone.
Uko noted that aviation in Dubai is tailored towards tourism for national development and strategic economic positioning. It is, therefore, a little wonder that Dubai is a global hub and the fourth most visited city in the world. Qatar is another example of countries that have used aviation for strategic diplomatic and economic prowess.
Indeed, “all medium-powers use aviation as a soft power tool for global positioning or economic development. Why do we do aviation in Nigeria? Nobody has defined a need outside transport. But without a well-defined business case captured in a national development master plan, we will keep going round in circles.
“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. Chief Executive Officer of Topbrass Aviation Services, Capt. Roland Iyayi, added that the sector has never lacked policies but for the burden of inconsistency.
Iyayi said to grow aviation there has to be a deliberate and consistent policy geared towards ensuring that the airlines, who are the primary players in the industry can actually survive. “That you have airlines failing is not because they can’t run the business. It is because the environment in which they operate is extremely harsh and not even conducive for growth.”
By Wole Oyebade