Sirika Lists Lack Of MRO, Forex Remittance Bane Of Aviation Business

Minister of State,Aviation,Senator, Hadi Sirika

…Drums Up Support For ICAO Council President’s Re-Election
As aviation stakeholders and experts converge in Abuja to discuss aviation business and other critical issues, Aviation Minister, Senator Hadi Sirika, has listed the high cost of aircraft maintenance, cost and availability of aviation fuel and foreign exchange remittance as some of the challenges that must be tackle for aviation business to thrive in the country.
He enumerated the challenges while delivering a keynote address at the International Air Transport Association (IATA) Aviation Day 2016 with the theme, “Driving Economies through the Power of Aviation’ in Abuja, Nigeria.
This is just as he solicited the support of ICAO member countries present at the event to ensure that the President of the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) Council, Dr Bernard Aliu, who is a Nigerian was re-elected for a second term in office.
Speaking further Sirika stated that the Federal Government was in the process of establishing a major Maintenance Repair and Overhaul (MRO) facility through Public Private Partnership (PPP) to allow for an A to D checks of most aircraft type, adding that the MRO would have an engine, battery, wheels and brakes, upholstery and galley shops among other sections.
On foreign exchange remittance, which is one of the major challenges to aviation business in the country, the Aviation Minister hinted that this temporary problem was receiving full attention of government and would surely be a thing of the past.
On the cost and availability of aviation fuel- also known as jet A-1, which takes 40 per cent of airlines revenue, the minister stated that arrangements had reached an advance stage to commence the production of aviation fuel in Nigeria in order to bring down the cost and regularise supply, adding that investors are welcome to put there resource in the setting up of a refining facility for local consumption and export.
He averred that despite the many aviation business opportunities in the Nigerian aviation industry, there are challenges that must be addressed and that the government was putting in place measures to mitigate the impact of these challenges.
Other challenges listed by the Aviation Minister include; shortage of management manpower, which he stated the Federal Government was partnering with ICAO, donor countries and agencies to establish an aviation university in Abuja.
On the dilapidating airport infrastructure, Sirika said that the concession of some assets would address this and that the Federal Government would aggressively focus at improving the critical ones.
He stated that he would have attend the forum but that he had to be Turkey to solicit only for support for Nigeria to retain its part 2 status in ICAO council but to drum up support for Dr Bernard Aliu to be re-elected as President of the ICAO Council.
The Aviation Minister stated that the theme of the forum, ‘Driving Economies through the Power of Aviation’ was quite apt as it was relevant to where Nigeria is as a nation today.
According to him, “I believe it is of immense significance, not just to Nigeria, but to the entire African continent. Aviation connects people, businesses and ideas across borders in a way no other industry can; it shortens distances and bridges cultures and is at the core of every socio-economic endeavor. Therefore, it is with great confidence that I state that the ‘Power of Aviation’ is a major tool in the great task of national development and economic rejuvenation, which this administration has set for itself and is working assiduously to achieve”.
Nigeria as a nation, he posited is sitting graciously on the mid-belt of Africa, serves the West and Central African aviation market and that this belt with a population of 600 million people has no significant aviation businesses, adding that despite this, Nigerian aviation remain largely untapped.
In his words, “There is no strong carrier, no major Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul Centre (MRO), no efficient airport, in fact not even a significant catering company”.