Tuesday 8 January 2013

Stakeholders' expectations for aviation industry in 2013

Aviation Nigeria

By Abubakar Jimoh
The aviation industry no doubt had its own fair share of ups and downs in the year 2012. In fact, with incessant air crashes that occurred in the year, some people will argue that it was all about downs and no ups.

Nigerians cannot forget in a hurry the Dana plane disaster that killed over a hundred people in Lagos, the aircraft crash that wounded Governor Danbaba Suntai and his aides in Yola, the Naval Chopper that killed 6 Nigerians in Bayelsa as well as the helicopter crash that claimed the life of DIG Haruna in Jos, Plateau state. 

As part of Stella Oduah's Transformation Agenda however, a lot of Airport remodelling was witnessed during the New Year. Repair works at most of the 21 airports across the country are all at advance stages of completion. The General Aviation Terminal 1 in Lagos is a reference point and it was rebuilt in record time at the sum of N648 million.

To put it in the words of Yakubu Dati, GM. Cooperates Communications of FAAN, "It is common knowledge that most Nigerian airports and terminals were built in the 70's and by 2011, they were decayed and in a state of utter disrepair. Airport users attest to the fact that our infrastructure was a disgrace and embarrassment to our national pride and standing in the comity of nations. It sent the wrong signals and scared investors away."

The authority spokesperson said It has been estimated that the country will need to invest about $100 billion over the next ten years in just four basic infrastructure areas; power, rail-track, road, and aviation. According to the Central Bank of Nigeria, N300 billion will be required to bring the aviation sector to a satisfactory condition.

He said on resumption of office, the Minister of Aviation, Princess Stella Oduah has left no one in doubt that she will "walk her talk". 

Worried by the scale of infrastructure deficit at the nation's airports, she initiated the reconstruction of 22 airports across the country. Within two months of being in office, 11 airports earmarked in the first phase were undergoing reconstruction simultaneously.

However industry watchers and experts while expressing optimism for the New Year offer some piece of advice that should guide the country in moving the sector forward.

For Benjamin Okewu, president of Air Traffic Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (ATSSAN), government must take an all encompassing approach to address issues in the industry, but the labour leader opined that the welfare of workers should also top government priority as only a motivated workforce will put in their best.

 Politicisation of issues is another area the ATSSAN leader wants leaders to desist from saying politicians should leave aviation industry alone. Mr. Okewu pointed out that in other climes it was only aviation professionals who were allowed to run and man the industry, adding that aviation entails a lot of technicalities which should only be done by professionals.

According to him, the involvement of politicians in aviation business was a way of mortgaging the safety of the Nigerian travelling publics as he said that if safety should be adhered to as it is done globally then things should be done professionally.

He said "politicians who have turned themselves to aviation analysts and experts should leave the aviation industry alone in Nigeria this year 2013, so as to give safety a chance, this is how it is done all over the world. In the case of the Dana crash you witnessed and hear politicians who don't know anything in the industry saying words that were derogatory to the aviation industry in Nigeria"

"By the grace of God, I will be in the inaugural flight of Dana air tomorrow and I wonder what role the House of Representatives has to play in matters relating to aviation. When have you heard that the House of Congress in the United States of America were legislating on issues relating to aviation, it is left solely to the Federal Aviation Administration ( US FAA) in America."

Commenting on the plans of the Federal Government to give 30 aircraft to domestic airlines and make airfares affordable between the rate of N10,000 to N15,000 for an hour flight, the ATSSSAN boss said that it is possible for airfare to be pegged at such prices depending on the type of the aircraft and the policies put in place by the government.

Also speaking on the emergency installation of the Air Field Lighting System at Runway 18 left of the domestic wing of the Murtala Muhammed Airport, Lagos, Comrade Okewu pointed out that since the installation, airlines have been landing and taking off beyond 6pm.

According to him, from my discussions with Air Traffic Controllers, they said that the airfield lighting system is working, adding that he wants to commend the government for putting such temporary measures in place to ameliorate the plight of the airlines.

"I want to thank the government for putting such emergency air field lighting system in place but we still need a permanent one. If it means re awarding the contract so that we can have a permanent solution to the problem of Runway 18 left once and for all," he added.

Captain Dele Ore was formally in charge of the Presidential fleets in the days of the Nigeria Airways and presently president of the Aviation Round Table, one of the pressure groups in the sector whose voice is noted for its bluntness.

President of National Association of Aircraft Pilots and Engineer, Isaac Balami has been in the forefront for the welfare of members under his association. He at several times fought for the settlement of entitlement of his members in different airlines often times.

Balami said the country is on course but warned against rancour between government and stakeholders while he also advised that the zero percent interest tariff announced by the President must not be delayed in its implementation to encourage air travelling among majority of Nigerians especially now that the terminals are wearing a new look. 

For the agencies, FAAN spokesperson, Mr. Dati said the agencies under the Ministry are being transformed and appropriate laws initiated to make them more accountable. 

He said questionable concession agreements skewed against the interest of the sector and the Nigerian publics were being vigorously reviewed to send the right signals; "it's no longer business as usual for crooked minds," he said.

In the area of safety and security, modern security equipment has been procured following a comprehensive security threat and vulnerability assessment.

"Deliberate strategies are being deployed to change the orientation of the aviation employees through capacity development. 

For instance, the Managing Director of Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), Mr. George Uriesi, has embarked on a campaign to change the orientation of all employees of the Authority towards service delivery, accountability, and self-sustenance of the agency.

The Minister of Aviation has pursued deliberate strategies to grow the domestic airlines.

According to him, the year 2013 will witness the construction of brand new airport terminals in Abuja, Lagos, Kano and Port Harcourt, and the commencement of the Aero-tropolis project; a concept that involves building cities around airports, and thus connecting businesses, suppliers, executives and goods to the aviation global world.


Post a Comment