With no fewer than 6,974 participants both physically and virtually, the maiden Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) National Aviation Conferences (FNAC) 2022 provided avenues for frank discussions regarding the direction of aviation in Nigeria and is set to continue in the same trajectory in 2023.
Maybe solutions to some challenges that were evasive in the first FNAC can be found at the second edition of the conference which comes up May 15- 18, 2023 at the International Conference Center Abuja with the theme: Sustainability of the Nigeria Aviation Industry
Last year’s conference opened up many challenges yet to be faced squarely in the sector, but even with that it seemed to galvanise tailor made solutions to other age-long problems which had hitherto bedevilled growth of aviation in some quarters, including infrastructure upgrades, although it isn’t yet uhuru for Nigeria’s aviation sector.
The conference gave opportunities for domestic players in the industry, airlines, regulators, airport operators, other service providers to vent and get to the causal factors of some of the challenges faced and where they can proffer solutions.
It equally was a catalyst for hastening some critical projects that would be lauded by the industry as within that time frame some teething challenges were tackled and overcome; including the installation of Airfield Lighting at the 2.7 km, Runway 18L/36R at the Murtala Muhammed Airport abandoned for 14 years and the completion of the Taxiway Bravo.
The former ( Runway 18L) had become an albatross to both airlines and government and was among major challenges domestic airlines had brought up, as it affected their ability to use their equipment to its full potential limiting their operations by several hours daily
Within same time frame, the President of Nigeria, Muhammadu Buhari accented Aviation parastatal Bills into Law and one of the key points was turning the one time Accident Investigation Bureau ( AIB) into a multimodal transportation investigation agency, the National Safety Investigation Bureau ( NSIB).
The FNAC event in 2022 was able to identify the multiple regulations between FAAN and Nigeria Export Processing Zones Authority (NEPZA) as one of the major factors slowing down the growth of free trade zones in the country and suspended the issuance of licences to applicants on the FTZs at the nation’s airports until conflicts in the regulatory framework are resolved.
In fact, stakeholders in that strata will be eager to hear of any developments from that particular discussion as they go into this year’s conference.
Still some salient issues discussed are still begging for solutions with the staggering cost of Jet Fuel unaddressed, the lack of foreign exchange to be consistent in the business since aviation is a dollar-driven, capital intensive business and a host of others.
Like the maiden conference, FNAC will bring together captains of industries, top government functionaries, seasoned aviation experts and key stakeholders like the Minister of Aviation – Senator Hadi Sirika, State Governors and Chief Executives of all Aviation industry, diplomatic missions and embassies as well as development partners and International Organisations.
Despite being a conference made for Nigeria to brainstorm, share good ways to make use of this broad base expert bank and get the industry working better than it is and it gives opportunities to open up the industry further and juxtapose with what is being done elsewhere.
Although there will be presentations, the FNAC is focused on solutions to existing issues and importantly an investment forum, which will focus on attracting local and international investors in order to apprise them with the opportunities in the industry.
There will be speakers who would provide context to the calender event with topics like: Sustainability of The Aviation Industry in Nigeria: The Regulators’ Perspective, Sustainability of The Aviation Industry in Nigeria: The Economics’ Perspective as well as Sustainability of The Aviation Industry in Nigeria: The Airport Operators’ Perspective.
There will also be Sustainability of The Aviation Industry in Nigeria: The Aviation Workers’
Repositioning Cargo Operations through Development of Agriculture and Natural Resources in Nigeria and Mitigating the Impact of Brain-drain in the Aviation Industry in Nigeria as well as Aviation Facilities/ Equipment Leasing and financing with The Aviation Industry as a Stimulant for Economic Development
Same as last year, this year too would feature an investment forum, as attracting Foreign Direct investment ( FDI) is still in the books for the country especially with avenues for investments like cargo and passenger airports springing up in various states and providing mouth-watering opportunities.
States and even FAAN will have the space to market their assets towards achieving commercially viable airports (especially the Secondary Airports), tap from innovative and smart ideas to better run facilities as well as create diversification for revenue generation at Nigeria Airports beyond aeronautical funding.
Cash cows like advertisement, tourism and land development will be key to this diversification process as since the COVID-19 pandemic, businesses world over have had to think outside the box to remain afloat and that may be the main idea.
As more domestic airlines have entered the market, it is believed virgin routes will open coupled with increased passenger traffic which would be a appreciable to investors in the sector especially if opportunities i.e: agriculture, tourism, solid minerals in these virgin routes are adequately harnessed
This year, the conference promises to be bigger and better, according to the organisers as it would cover investments and national economic development, address the future of Nigerian Airports with respect to safety; security; innovations; financing; leasing; sustainability and growth.