Nigeria says it has taken urgent steps in consultation with relevant Ministries, Departments, and Agencies (MDAs) to improve the operating environment for the aviation sector by introducing zero import duties on aircraft engines and spare parts, as well as a special foreign exchange window.
Currently, plans, just as the Aviation Agencies have stated, are being reviewed along with the National Assembly to provide effective service delivery in line with the international standard for civil aviation practices.
Minister of Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika, gave this address recently at the 25th annual conference of the League of Airport and Aviation Correspondents (LAAC) in Lagos with the theme, “Nigeria’s Aviation Industry: Management, Policy and Regulation.”.
The Minister of State for Aviation, who was represented at the event by Engr. Olateru, the Commissioner of the Accident Investigation Bureau (AIB-N), said improvements to the sector include the availability of aviation fuel, the restructuring of aviation agencies, and improved Aviation Safety and Security.
In addition, he added that both legislatures have held hearings on matters pertaining to amendments to all the Aviation Agencies’ Acts and they are nearing the end of their reports.
The review of the Acts include: The Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority Act (NCAA) 2006; Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria Act 2010; Nigeria Airspace Management Agency Act 1999; Nigerian College of Aviation Technology Act, 1964; Nigerian Meteorological Act, 2003 and Nigerian Safety Investigation Bureau Act, 2019.
The minister also said that the Federal Government has promised to complete all outstanding projects in the Nigerian aviation industry before 2023 when President Muhammadu Buhari is expected to handover political power to a new government.
Part of the projects was the ongoing construction of the new terminal at the international wing of the Murtala Muhammed Airport (MMA), which commenced in 2013.
The $600 million; $500 million loan deal secured from China and the $100 million counterpart funding from the Federal Government, had commenced in 2013 with a completion period of 20 months.
The two leaders of Aviation Committees in the Senate and House of Representatives had last week raised the alarm over the alleged abandonment of the project, which they said had reached over 90 per cent completion stage.
“We are committed to achieving the completion of outstanding projects we have set out for ourselves before our term runs out.
“We have a vision of a sector that will provide utmost comfort, safety, and security for majority of passengers,” he said.
He, however, regretted the negative impact of Covid-19 pandemic on the sector and quoted the statistics from the International Air Transport Association (IATA), but said the country did its bit to cushion the pandemic;s effect on its airlines and auxiliary businesses.
“As you are aware Covid-19 has put the global economy to the test, with air transport being undoubtedly the hardest hit by the pandemic. The statistics from the International Airline Transport Association (IATA) on COVID-19’s economic impact on Nigeria has revealed a revenue loss of $994 million in 2020. In terms of employment at risk in Nigeria, it is 125,370 and loss of contribution to the GDP is $885 million.
“The Federal Government was able to cushion the effect of COVID – 19 by providing intervention of fund of Five (5) Billion Naira domestic airlines