Minister reels out plans to tackle MRO, forex remittance, other aviation challenges
As aviation stakeholders and experts meet in Abuja to discuss aviation and other critical issues, Hadi Sirika, aviation minister, 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 Nigeria.
Sirika, who was represented by Sabiu Zakari, permanent secretary, Ministry of Transport, listed 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.
Sirika however solicited the support of ICAO member countries present at the event to ensure that the president of the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) Council, Bernard Aliu, who is a Nigerian, was re-elected for a second term in office.
The minister said 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, the minister said 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 percent of airlines revenue, he said 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 were welcome to put there resources in the setting up of a refining facility for local consumption and export.
He averred that despite aviation business opportunities in the Nigerian aviation industry, there were challenges that must be addressed and that the government was putting in place measures to mitigate the impact of these challenges.
Other challenges listed include: shortage of management manpower, which he said the Federal Government was partnering ICAO, donor countries and agencies to establish an aviation university in Abuja.
On the dilapidating airport infrastructure, Sirika said the concession of some assets would address this and that the Federal Government would aggressively focus at improving the critical ones.
He said he would have attended the forum but that he had to be in Turkey to solicit support for Nigeria to retain its part 2 status in ICAO council, and to drum up support for Bernard Aliu to be re-elected as president of the ICAO Council.
He said the theme of the forum, ‘Driving Economies through the Power of Aviation,’ was apt as it was relevant to where Nigeria was as a nation today.
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