‘Government lacks policy, commitment to float aircraft maintenance facility’
Experts in the aviation industry have blamed the Federal Government for the perennial lack of at least a Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul (MRO) facility for domestic aircraft in the country.
The stakeholders in the know said that the all-important facility had continue to elude Nigeria not for lack of trying to build one, but for dearth of clear-cut policy and commitment that can attract investors.
Chief Executive Officer of Bi-Courtney Aviation Services Limited (BASL), Capt. Jari Williams, said that a MRO is a critical aviation infrastructure and Nigeria was long overdue for one, to serve the domestic and regional maintenance requirements of the aviation industry and provide support for the aircraft leasing business.
Williams noted that the Akwa Ibom State government first conceived the vision of a world-class MRO and an implementation plan was put in place.
“Unfortunately, and to the detriment of the Nigerian aviation industry, this noble vision was truncated due to the absence of the much required support from the stakeholders, who ordinarily should have charted a roadmap for implementing the project,” he said.
Globally, a MRO facility is critical to the sustainability of the aviation industry, particularly in developing the capacity for maintenance of aircrafts from A to D checks, which cost between $300, 000 to $500, 000 per plane.
Establishing a MRO entails a lot more than just building a hangar or developing the capabilities to manage the facility. There are many complimentary activities that need to be put in place to support the industry which are currently lacking at airports in the country.
Investing in such facility is known to be extremely capital intensive, requires significant collaboration with other industry stakeholders, and the rate of return on investment (ROI) is rather slow.
Thus, to attract willing investors, the government of the day has a key role to play especially by providing juicy incentives and business-friendly policies.
Williams said: “With regret, we look back at the failure of past governments in providing the required leadership to undertake this sort of project. Similarly, they failed to put in place necessary policies and legislative framework for such a project to rest on.”
Chief Executive Officer of Aero Contractors, Capt. Fola Akinkuotu, said that a MRO globally is often a standalone business set-up that is independent of the airlines, but are known for high turnover and capacity building.
Akinkuotu said that since maintenance takes the largest cost of the airlines operating cost and in foreign exchange, it makes a lot of economic sense to keep the facility functional in Nigeria.
He estimated that with the sum of $55 million, the facility could be set up, with an opportunity to recoup the investment in nine years.
Representative of the Minister of State for Aviation, Hadi Sirika, however, said that the Federal Government has no plan to setup such facility but ready to support investors by creating an enabling environment.