At least 12 brand new private jets ordered by Nigerians and some corporate bodies will be delivered to the country this year. This is an offshoot of the projection by private jet manufacturers to deliver 70 brand new private jets to the country within the next five years. The Regional Vice-President, Sales, Middle East, Africa and Turkey, Bombardier Business Aircraft, the Canada-based aircraft manufacturing firm, Mr. Khadar Mattar, who made the disclosure in an exclusive interview with our correspondent, described the private jet market in Nigeria as currently “booming.”
He spoke on the sidelines of Nigerian Economic Summit organised by London-based Economist in Lagos on Monday. Mattar, who said his company delivered 88 out of the 138 aircraft currently flying in Nigeria, noted that Bombardier was currently the market leader in terms of the number of aircraft in Africa. He said, “In Nigeria, we are looking at another 60 to 70 new business aircraft within the next five years; that is about 10 airplanes a year. There are 138 airplanes in Nigeria at the moment.
“Bombardier is currently leading the market in Nigeria and Africa. Twelve new ones should be delivered this year.” According to him, the 12 new business aircraft to be delivered to Nigeria this year will be supplied by Bombardier and other private jet manufacturers, which he did not mention. He also did not give the organisations and people who had ordered for the private jets in the country.
Other private jet manufacturers with significant market share in Nigeria are Embraer, Hawker Beechcraft, Gulfstream and Cessna Citation. The state-of-the-art private jets being flown by business moguls, pastors, politicians and public office holders in the country are made by one of these manufacturers. Mattar said medium-size and large-size private jets were currently more in demand in Nigeria because their owners were flying them to longer distances in Africa, Europe and other continents for business engagements. As a result, he said the demand for small-size private jets were relatively low. Most medium-size and large-size private jets currently go for between $30m and $65m. Taking an average price of $40m per aircraft, the 12 new private jets slated for delivery in Nigeria this year are expected to cost about $480m (N76.8bn).
Also, the 70 new private jets projected for delivery in the country over the next five years are estimated to be about $2.8bn (N448bn). The Bombardier senior official also said he expected the 138 private jets currently in the country to double to 276 in the next 10 years because of the manner the business aircraft market was growing in Nigeria. Mattar said, “The business aviation market in Nigeria is booming. It is actually its time. I will expect that it will double in size in the next 10 years. People are flying outside Nigeria now; people are flying within Africa because of their business expansion; people are flying to Europe because of their business expansion and the financials that they require. “Nigeria as a country has actually changed; we have more laws and regulations. Infrastructure is changing, which is adapting to the new expansion. Because of this, you will see more private jets actually flying in Nigeria.” Aviation experts and analysts have said that Nigeria is the fastest growing aviation market in the world after China.
According to them, the global financial meltdown has made the private jet market to slow down in Europe and the United States, and private jet manufacturers are now turning to the Middle East, China and Africa for survival. In the last two years, private jet manufacturers from the US, Europe and other parts have held several exhibitions in Nigeria and other parts of Africa in their bid to outdo one another. A London-based aviation expert and Chief Executive Officer, African Aviation, Mr. Nick Fadugba, said lack of effective air link within Africa had created a major opportunity for the growth of the business aviation market on the continent.
He said most times, people travelled to Europe first on commercial airlines before they could connect some cities in Africa. But the Bombardier official said Nigeria and other African governments needed to improve on existing aviation infrastructure to ensure more growth for the business aviation or the private jet sector within the continent. Mattar said, “I am very optimistic about the business aviation market in Africa. People are now taking it seriously. They are looking at investing in fixed-base operations. They are looking at smaller airports to develop within and outside Africa. “But it takes time. Infrastructure is needed. It is that serious in Africa, which is good for the business aircraft because people need to fly. Imagine I want to fly from Lagos to Namibia; it takes me two days to get there on commercial airlines. I will have to go to South Africa first before going to Namibia, or I have to go to Europe first. But with business aircraft, I can go and come back the same day and do my business.”