Boeing To Partner Nigeria To Become Africa’s Aviation Hub, As Bombadier Plans M.R.O. Facility in Nigeria
World number one aircraft manufacturer, Boeing of USA has agreed to collaborate and partner with the federal ministry of aviation to reposition the sector as the reference point on all aviation matters in Africa through a systematic approach that will enhance and sustain the nation’s safety record, develop the industry as the hub on the continent and reposition the industry as the main engine of growth for the nation’s economy.
This declaration is contained in an 8-Point Programme of Action between Boeing and the Aviation Ministry which was brokered by a team of Nigerian officials on The Investors’ Roadshow to the US led by the Minister, Princess Stella Adaeze Oduah and top management of Boeing Corporation of USA.
Under the programme, Boeing is to play a major role in the establishment of Maintenance and Repair Organisations (MROs) in the country, establishment of Boeing Training Hub in Nigeria, carry out technical assessment of all aircrafts operated by domestic airlines in the country, fleet renewal and acquisition programme for the airlines, and develop an aviation database for the country.
The scope also covers the development of an Integrated Air Navigation System (based on PBN), Optimisation System Support for Airports and Airlines as well as assess existing Spare-parts and Material Mart in Nigeria with a view to proposing a business partnership case for the establishment of an integrated spare parts Super Market in Nigeria.
Boeing, whose team was led by Mr. Lawrence Polliver, Director of Sales (Africa) expressed satisfaction with the ministry’s roadmap for the revival of the aviation industry in Nigeria, and declared its readiness to collaborate on the 8-Point programme of action for the repositioning of the sector as the aviation hub on the continent.
Meanwhile, Canadian-based third largest aircraft manufacturer in the world, Bombardier has expressed its readiness to partner with the Federal Ministry of Aviation in the establishment of a Repair, Maintenance Overhaul (MRO) facility in Nigeria. The company has equally agreed to work out modalities with the Nigerian aviation authorities to facilitate the acquisition of new aircrafts by domestic airline operators in the country.
Vice President, Public Affairs, Communications and Corporate Social Responsibility of the company, Helene V.Gagnon made the pledge Thursday in Montreal, Canada when top management team of the company received a delegation of the Federal Ministry of Aviation, led by the Minister, Princess Stella Adaeze Oduah at the company’s facility in Canada.
Gagnon said Bombardier is very pleased with the visit of the delegation and the willingness of the Nigerian government to work with the company in the development of the aviation sector in Nigeria, adding that establishing an MRO facility in Nigeria holds huge potential for the aircraft manufacturer because of the ready market in Nigeria and the West African sub-region.
On aircraft acquisition, she said Bombardier is equally ready to play a major role in replenishing a newer fleet for domestic airline operators in Nigeria, and expressed the hope that both parties would come to a compromise on the modalities as soon as possible.
Earlier in her presentation, Aviation Minister, Princess Stella Oduah said Nigeria is desirous of having an MRO facility in the country to cushion the adverse effect of domestic operators having to fly their fleet overseas always for maintenance. She said the absence of Bombardier in Nigeria in spite of its presence in Africa means the company is harnessing an insignificant segment of its market on the continent, and assured of a good return on investment if Nigeria is made a maintenance hub in Africa.
The Minister also expressed her desire to have domestic operators acquire new aircrafts that are very efficient, stressing that this is the only way they can operate optimally. She called on the aircraft manufacturer to partner with her ministry to facilitate the acquisition of aircrafts by domestic operators through access to cheap funds.
“We are in need of your aircrafts, no doubt but what concerns us really is to agree on a business model that will work for both of us. Now, for us to optimise the utilisation of your aircrafts, we must be able to service and maintain them properly in Nigeria. What this mens is that our people have to be trained, which means the training and maintenance facility has to be established in Nigeria. The MRO facility has to be established in Nigeria”, the Minister emphasised.
She added: “You have talked about your presence in Africa, but it is probably one tenth of what it should be if you have Nigeria as your base with an MRO facility and i will tell you why. Currently we have embarked on rehabilitation and renewal of infrastructure, we are also constructing new ones. By the end of 2013 we are going to have five new international airports in Lagos, Abuja, Port Harcourt, Kano and Enugu; we would also have completed the on-going remodelling of all 22 existing airports. Currently our annual passenger traffic is 14.7 million and we are growing at the rate of 7 per cent annually, no other African country traffic grows at this rate and we haven’t even done anything to enhance the capacity yet”.
She stated that the on-going effort to enhance and grow the capacity means that the sector will experience an unprecedented growth from 7 per cent annually to about 15 percent. “What this means is that we have a huge market, coupled with the fact that we have a very mobile and dynamic middle class as well as being natural travellers. When you put all these together, you can see why we are positioning the aviation sector as a pivotal tool for the growth of the Nigerian economy”.
She however lamented that the huge advantage that Nigerian population should explore and exploit remains largely untapped as domestic airlines are severely incapacitated in terms of access to newer aircrafts and attractive credit facilities, and called on Bombardier to intervene in this regard. She said she looks forward to having brand, new aircrafts for domestic airlines that will enable them operate efficiently and confer on the sector the needed boost as the natural hub in Africa.