January 3, 2013/ By Kelvin Osa-Okunbor / Nation
The Federal Government is to procure 30 aircraft as part of its efforts to boost domestic operations of the aviation industry.
The Corporate Communications General Manager, the Federal Airports Airthority of Nigeria (FAAN), Mr Yakubu Dati, who stated this during the inspection of the renovated Benin Airport, said the fund would be sourced from part of the aviation intervention fund of the Federal Government.
Dati, said the development entailed buying and distributing aircraft to domestic airline operators, unlike the old practice of giving out aviation intervention funds to them, which they allegedly misused.
He said the procurement of the aircraft would be funded by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) in conjunction with the Bank of Industry (BoI).
He added that the initiative would help in reducing the cost of travelling by air in the country. “ I also want to say at this point that the issue of assisting domestic carriers has been uppermost on the mind of the Honourable Minister of Aviation, Stella Oduah.
“And that is why the issue of the removal of tariffs and taxes on aviation spare-parts was done by Mr. President.
“This is to help the airlines operate profitably and also make it more attractive for investors because spare-parts are the major cost component on the aviation sector.
“The minister of aviation is also making plans to bring in about 30 aeroplanes to be able to assist local airlines. “So with all these, we believe that eventually, we will now have cheaper tickets and by the time we have cheaper tickets, there will be higher traffic.
“Because if you cut the cost of doing business, then the person doing the business has no reason but to also cut the cost of running it because we believe that one hour flight in Nigeria shouldn’t cost more than N10, 000 or N15, 000. “
And the whole idea is to make the business cheaper and easier to operate so that Nigerians who are the ultimate beneficiaries should be the passengers and they should board with cheaper tickets,” he said.
He said that the Benin Airport was one of the 11 airports that were remodelled and reconstructed in the first phase of President Goodluck Jonathan administration’s transformation agenda.
He said that the reason for the transformation of the aviation industry was to ensure that the nation’s airports and terminals became the centres of commercial and economic activities.
The manager said that the Benin airport underwent major renovation for the first time since it was opened in 1979. He said that the reconstructed airport would be inaugurated soon as additional 22 airports had been earmarked for major reconstruction nationwide.
He said the revolution in the sector is a deliberate plan as contained in the aviation master plan to restore Nigeria’s aviation industry to where it truly belonged as a hub in Africa aviation and to be able to contribute to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
Commenting on the issue of abandoned aircraft littering most of the airports, Dati said the owners had been directed to remove them as they constituted a menace and danger to the flying public.
Dati, however, said that some of the owners were in court as the aircraft were subject of litigation. He said that the matter was being handled by the legal department of FAAN, adding that as soon as the case was dispensed with, the aircraft would be removed.
Earlier, the Benin Airport manager, Mr Ayodele Olusegun, who conducted the inspection team on the facility tour, said between 25,000 and 26,000 passengers travelled from the airport monthly.
He said that the 200 seat capacity departure hall had been upgraded through the on-going renovation to 350 seats.