Nigerian has become the fastest growing aviation business in Africa with more new and pre-owned aircraft delivery than South Africa as at 2013.
This was disclosed by the Chief Executive Officer of EAN Aviation, Segun Demuren, who organised the Nigeria Business Aviation Conference 2014 recently in Lagos. He noted that Nigeria's private jet fleet is larger than that of commercial aircraft.
"Nigeria is now Africa's fastest growing aviation business with more new and pre-owned aircraft delivered to Nigeria, than South Africa in the last year. The country's private jet fleet is larger than the commercial aircraft fleet. Growth has been driven predominantly by the oil and gas industry however other sectors including finance, manufacturing, telecoms and agriculture are all contributing to a market which is set to grow by 20 per cent this year," Demuren said.
In spite o this growth, Demuren highlighted challenges faced in the industry which include the fact that any aircraft put on a 5N (Nigerian) registry will lose asset value by as much as 25 per cent, incur higher insurance premiums, up to 35 per cent; even higher in some cases because of the operating environment.
He said maintenance and service support still remains a challenge and while the fleet continues to grow, there are no accurate figures for the amount of jets operating in Nigeria. Educated guesses say between 100 and 150, with an anticipated 350 set to be in operation by 2016.
Emphasising the significance of the conference and the Nigerian pride in its business aviation sector Demuren stated that the Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMS), operators and key stakeholders are all delivering the same message.
"We believe in Nigeria. We are committed to Nigeria and we are willing to understand how we can do business successfully in Nigeria," he said.
The conference which welcomed over 159 delegates, 25 per cent more than last year was designed to provide a platform for analysing and reviewing Nigerian business aviation and to stimulate discussion about what is needed to support continual, sustainable development.
Chairman of the Airline Operators Committee, Captain Nogle Meggison said that transport logistics within Nigeria also stimulated growth of the private jet subsector with poor roads, a limited domestic airline fleet and no train network meant that executive jets provide a solution to much of the logistical challenges in the country.
"The time saving, the convenience and the increased productivity that follows means business aviation is not a luxury but an essential tool for growth in Nigeria," Meggison said.
He argued that the government is supporting expansion, stating it has removed import duties on new jets; has signed the Cape Town Convention thus reassuring lessors about asset security. He noted that government has invested in new infrastructure including a private jet terminal that opened last year in the political centre Abuja and does not impose a time restriction on the amount of time a foreign registered private jet can stay on Nigerian soil.
Whilst this is stimulating growth, he acknowledged that improved regulations, comprehensive MRO offerings, the implementation of structured safety management systems and local participation were all necessary for ongoing success.