• Sunday, July 14, 2024
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Private charter operators see growth opportunity in Nigeria

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The growth opportunities inherent in business aviation (small jets/private charter aviation), was brought to the fore during the week as experts gathered to differentiate between the use of private jets for luxury and business purposes.

They were of the opinion that the use of jets in this part of the world, especially in Nigeria, is being misunderstood as “some probes into the use are not necessary” due to the nature of the business.

According to Nogie Meggison, chairman, Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON), who spoke on the growth opportunities in business aviation at the 2014 Nigeria Business Aviation Conference, organised by EAN Aviation in Lagos, a private jet is one of the most valuable business tools available in the world today.

He said for a growing number of entrepreneurs, top corporate executives and ultra-high net-worth individuals in the country today, private jets can get them closer and faster to their final destination than any airline; get better flexibility with time and more importantly, “avoiding cancellations or rushing out of a meeting in order not to miss a flight.”

Meggison said the time-saving and convenience provides significantly more productive time, fine tune briefings onboard, before and after meetings.

Executives can make the most of this time to talk business with colleagues, clients or partners in complete privacy, relaxing or entertaining; en-rely on the same flight.

“Going by sources at Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), there are indications that the ownership of private jets in Nigeria has grown exponentially from about 20 in 2008 to over150 in 2013 and this is a growing trend.

“Nigeria is the African gate way to reach other African countries. It is the centre of Africa with Four daily direct flights to the US, fifteen daily direct flights to Europe and five daily direct connections to the Middle East; making easiest transit for businessmen and entrepreneur in and out the continent. The International Monetary Fund forecast that Nigeria’s economy will climb to about $400million by 2016.

“According to Morgan Stanley, Nigeria’s economy is forecast to climb and overtake South Africa to become Africa’s biggest economy by 2025. Another potential for growth is the fact that due to safety concerns, many high net-worth individuals see business aviation as a plausible op-on”, he said.

Meanwhile, at the conference, aircraft manufacturers and private jet operators in Nigeria expressed grave concerns over the growth of their business on account of the probe by government of officials that patronise them.

Segun Demuren, convener of the conference, who is managing director of Evergreen Apple Nigeria Limited, a private charter terminal operator and aircraft maintenance centre, said the circumstances surrounding the probe of certain public officials over the use of charter jets should not be used to jeopardise their business.Demuren said the operators are not against government carrying out probes on the circumstances surrounding how much was allegedly spent on the maintenance of the said aircraft chartered, but that such exercise should be carried out diligently so as not to send the wrong signals that it is wrong for government officials to hire business jets.He said many aircraft manufacturers including: Bombardier, Gulfstream, Embraer, Triton Aviation, Dassault Falcon, are partnering with charter companies and aircraft maintenance centres in Nigeria to boost business aviation.

He said unsavoury comments in certain quarters about the use of private or business jets and their operators have the tendency to stunt the growth of the business which is fast growing in Nigeria.

Demuren added that business aviation is key to the development of the economy, as the over 150 private jets operating in Nigeria contribute significantly to the economy.

“Serious business transactions and meetings for top government officials and players in the private sector require fast movement, which is only facilitated by business/private jets.

“It is not luxury at all, as most people are talking about the petroleum minister. We are not interested in the cost of the aircraft repairs, as to whether the sum is big or small, but that people who utilised private jets should not be demonised.

“It is an essential tool to facilitate business and meetings, that is the global practice. But, in Nigeria, the issue is being misinterpreted in some quarters that government officials are using business jets,” he said.

Alan Peaford, moderator of the programme, said lawmakers were drawing undue attention to the aviation sector, adding that it is global practice for oil and gas corporations, including the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), to hire private business jets for its operations, which could also serve the minister in charge of the sector.

Sade Williams