Nigeria’s Aviation in coma
Sir, there is no gainsaying that the current forex challenges are having its toll on this particular sub-sector of Nigerian economy, which is very important and capable of taking Nigeria out of recession. The current challenges are basically about the inability of the foreign carriers to repatriate their ticket proceeds to their home countries. This situation should be an opportunity for Nigeria’s main international carrier—Arik Air, which is private driven to be our pride. However, the reverse is the case.
Arik Air being a proudly Nigerian airliner has not made a significant progress to the aviation growth in Nigeria. Though it could be argued that since it began operations in Nigeria, air travel has become a bit affordable amongst travelling population unlike in the previous times.
However, the main contributions the airline should have made to Nigerian economy are not significantly present. In the past few years of its operations in Nigerian airspace, it is obvious that it has been enjoying some sort of government indulgence and not until the birth of Buhari’s administration, hence sustainability suddenly becomes elusive amidst flight cancellations and disruptions coupled with its grappling financial status.
In any developing Nation like Ethiopia, where its aviation sector has boosted its tourism and other sectors of its economy. It is said that aviation contributes about 15 per cent to its GDP while in 2014 our erstwhile Aviation Minister asserted that ours was just about 0.4 per cent, which is a far cry compared to the traffic of passenger travel to Ethiopia and Nigeria.
Without doubt, Nigeria has the capacity to develop its aviation faster than what Ethiopia, Kenya and other African countries and it could be an harbinger to take us out of recession if it can be well harnessed. Government can start by assisting and consolidating the low-cost carriers like Aero Contractors, which is now moribund and few of them that are epileptic in the country thus moving the country closer in getting its national carrier.
• Yusuf Afunku