Initial conflicting figures notwithstanding, the harmonised data of the aviation industry has shown a positive outlook for air travel business, with marginal growth across the board in 2017.
The new statistics, recently released by the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), showed stability, improved safety, robust regulatory oversight, increase passenger volume, more applications and renewals of the Air Operators Certificate (AOC) among others.
Meanwhile, no fewer than 200 participants will brainstorm at the forth Airport Business Summit and Expo for Africa (ABSE), scheduled to hold in Abuja, between July 4 and 6, 2018.
The international forum will deliberate on the theme: 'Repositioning the Airport Business to Sustain Air Transport growth'.
Director of Consumer Protection Unit of the NCAA, Adamu Abdullahi, who presented the report on behalf of the NCAA Director General, noted that there is a renewed confidence in air travel, with Nigerian airlines opening new routes in the region and outside the continent.Abdullahi said the implication is improved opportunity, patronage, additional workforce and capacity building.
According to the new NCAA's figures, a total of 14.14 million passengers with 222,413 flights used the airport in 2017, compared 2016 figure of 14.9 million passengers with 220,333 flights. The shortfall in passenger traffic was attributed to the six-week closure of the Abuja runway.
However, total value of ticket sold rose from N422.4 billion in 2016 to N505.2 billion.Abdullahi attributed the difference of N82.8 billion to stable foreign exchange regime, effective implementation of Executive Order and resumed flight activities to Maiduguri.Total cargo sales charge also rose from N285.2 million in 2016 to N400 million in 2017.
In terms of personnel, licensed pilots increased from 2,226 in 2016 to 2,356 in 2017, while expatriate pilots reduced from 631 to 609. Licensed cabin crew rose from 1888 in 2016 to 1946 in 2017, while flight dispatcher increased from 543 to 602.In addition, 26 drones/remotely pilot aircraft system (RPAS) are undergoing security clearance at the office of National Security Adviser (ONSA). A total of five have been issued, with two Remote Operating Certificates (ROC) granted.
Achievements of the NCAA are the sustenance of the FAA Category 1 status certification of Lagos and Abuja airports, review of weather minima in 18 airports recertification of 86 heliports/helidecks and helipads. Others are 29 Operators' Certificate (AOC) applications, three airlines issued AOC and 11 airlines renewed AOC, among others.
The three day conference and exhibition, according to the summit director, Fortune Idu, is aimed at promoting total air transport development from the airport perspective.Idu said that the summit steams from the understanding that a sound airport development, concept, plan and programme are vital for a viable, sustainable and safe total air transport system, which also has direct positive impact for fast tracking economy development.
The Airport Business Summit and Expo is held annually to further share thoughts and information on current challenges in the airport sub-sector of the aviation industry. The deliberation at the summit is centred on helping operators, investors and the airport business community to find a common ground to prosper. The summit provides a veritable platform for reviewing airport development policies, programmes and projects.