FEDERAL Government says it has taken urgent steps, in consultation with relevant Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs), to urgently improve the operating environment in the aviation industry by introducing Zero import duties on aircraft engine and spare parts, special foreign exchange window for the aviation sector.
This is just as it has said plans are ongoing in conjunction with the aviation agencies working with the National Assembly to review all the Aviation Agencies’ Acts to provide effective management of services and align with modern technological development in line with International Civil Aviation best practices.
Sen. Hadi Sirika, the Minister of Aviation stated these in Lagos recently at the 25th annual conference of the League of Airport and Aviation Correspondents (LAAC) with the theme: ‘Nigeria’s Aviation Industry: Management, Policy and Regulation,’ in his keynote address.
Sirika who was represented at the occasion by Engr. Akin Olateru, the Commissioner, Accident Investigation Bureau-Nigeria (AIB-N) said among other steps taken to improve the sector are improved availability of aviation fuel, restructuring of the aviation agencies as well as improvement in Aviation Safety and Security.
He further said the two Legislative Houses have held public hearings on matters concerning amendment of all the Aviation Agencies’ Acts which is at the stage of finalization of their Report.
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