FG Eyes $2bn Yearly Forex Earnings from new aviation initiative
About $2 billion forex earnings would accrue to Nigeria yearly courtesy of steps taken to designate strong, viable indigenous carriers to operate international destinations in order to grow the country’s foreign exchange through ticket sales.
With the new aviation initiative, certified local aircraft maintenance will henceforth stop Nigerian airlines from taking their aircraft overseas for major maintenance checks.
Director General of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), Captain Muhtar Usman, told newsmen in Lagos that in all the recent Bilateral Air Service Agreement (BASA) Nigeria entered, the government also made it clear that foreign airlines must have to partner domestic operators.
He said the government also designated Nigerian carriers to operate long haul destinations, just as he projected that in the next four years, Nigeria would save over $2 billion annually through the initiative when the policy is fully implemented.
This he said would enable the Nigerian carriers benefit from skills acquisition, fleet renewal and revenue generation.
“Nigeria needs very strong viable airlines to operate those routes. The government has done what it needs to do, designate the operators to operate those routes. I know airlines have been designated along the routes you mentioned such the United States, United Kingdom and some other countries both in the Middle and Far East. It is for the operators to explore it and operate because we have other international airlines coming from those countries.
“The caveat is always for that operator to meet the requirements for both countries they want to operate into. So nobody who has been qualified has been denied the opportunity to go. It is in the interest of Nigeria; that is why we have been promoting our operators to operate along those routes because we will be able to attract foreign exchange or at least conserve what we have instead of repatriating them through foreign airlines,” the Director General said.
He added that with viable and strong airlines, more jobs would be created in the sector, adding that it would promote competition, “which may help in stabilising the market and also bringing down the cost of air fares and also improvement of service.”
Usman said most of the BASA Nigeria had signed has partnership clause with indigenous carriers.
“Most of the bilateral air service agreements signed by Nigeria have those provisions in place, code sharing and so on. But the airline has to meet the requirement of the other airlines.
“So, it is meeting the requirements of both airlines to harmonise and operate. Provisions are always there for Nigerian operators to explore and indigenous carriers that were designated participated in most of the bilateral air service agreements Nigeria signed with these countries,” he added.
Usman stressed that the objective of government to approve and certify indigenous aircraft maintenance organisations was to encourage them to conduct major aircraft maintenance locally and in doing so save the country of over $1.7 billion annually, which is near the amount Nigerian carriers spend in maintaining their aircraft overseas.
Recently Aero Contractors and Seven Star Global received Aircraft Maintenance Organisation (ATO) certification from NCAA to conduct maintenance on Boeing and other aircraft types up to C-check. Aero has since been conducting checks on Boeing B737 classics.
Usman said the objective of granting them licence was to stop Nigerian airlines from taking their aircraft overseas for maintenance.
“Well, that is the essence; in fact we will hope that they can even go beyond C-check and up to D-check if necessary. At least the maintenance facilities will be able to do C-check so that we can conserve that foreign exchange taken overseas.
“This will also create employment and also grow experienced manpower in our country and within the region. Yes, we will continue to encourage and ensure that they meet and they continue to meet the certification that we have given them,” the NCAA boss added.