As the aviation sector globally faces its most challenging period as a result of COVID-19, Nigeria is not alien to these challenges as domestic airlines and service providers are squeezed.
Globally, airlines are facing a ’throat-cutting’ competition especially from low-cost airlines amidst dwindling passengers due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The pandemic which affected the financial capacity and operational services of airlines is the worst in Africa.
While the challenges have already exposed the over capacities of certain airlines abroad, it is estimated that nearly half of Africa’s seven million aviation and tourism industry-related jobs were lost in 2020.
As a result, operational services deteriorated when normal flight services were resumed, followed by frequent scheduled flight challenges and exorbitant ticket prices. This could be a symptom of the larger financial strain that airlines currently face. Fortunately here in Nigeria the airlines are tremendously picking up tempo with an encouraging passenger turn out.
Speaking during the 25th Annual Conference of the League of Airport and Aviation Correspondences (LAAC) at Sheraton Hotel, Ikeja, Lagos, Alkali Mahmud Modibbo, Rector/Chief Executive of the Nigerian College of Aviation Technology, (NCAT) Zaria, said the aviation industry will require a well-orchestrated recovery plan supported by the government and external agencies to overcome its current challenges.
Modibbo said it is time for the continued financial support for the industry through direct cash injections, provision of credits, offer of deferrals and discounts on charges and most especially concessions.
He said governments and donor institutions should provide the funds to ensure the survival and the business continuity of key stakeholders of the aviation industry as recommended by the African Aviation Industry Group (AAIG) in 2020.
The NCAT Rector said the federal government via the ministry of aviation has been investing in standardizing infrastructure across the various airports before even thinking of privatization, partnership or concession.
“Aviation operational adequacy and efficiency will go a long way in boosting air travel, which is still the preferred and most safe option of mobility that has enormous impact on economic development in any nation, especially where the other options like speed rails are under-developed.
“The Ministry of Aviation under the dynamic leadership of the Minister, Hadi Abubakar Sirika. This Government has and will continue to upgrade infrastructure and services to the Nigerian aviation populace, in terms of security, safety and comfort of aviation end users,” Modibbo said.
He disclosed that for NCAT, it has upgraded its curriculum in tune with the current situation of heightened operations, security, sanitation and most importantly the digital transformation of the industry.
He said the training school had to look deeply into the changes which the aviation value chain is undergoing to enable them to design the training requirements that will critically produce the workforce a post-pandemic aviation industry will require.
NCAT and its growth strategy
The Nigerian College of Aviation Technology, Zaria is an Agency of the Federal Ministry of Aviation and was established by an act of parliament in 1964. Training activities commenced in 1966.
The College is responsible for the training of pilots, air traffic controllers, aircraft maintenance engineers, aeronautical telecommunications engineers, cabin crew, flight dispatchers and other aviation specialists for the aviation industry.
The College is approved by the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) as an Approved Training Organization (ATO) and is designated by ICAO as a Regional Training Centre of Excellence (RTCE).
The school is a Council Member of the Association of African Aviation Training Organizations (AATO) and a Non-Accredited Educator Member of the Aviation Accreditation Board International (AABI).
The College also has full and interim accreditations from the National Board for Technical Education (NBTE) for the conduct of Higher National Diploma (HND) and National Diploma (ND) courses in Aircraft Maintenance Engineering Technology, Electrical/Electronics, and Aviation Management. The College is a member of the ICAO TRAINAIR Plus Steering Committee (TPSC).
Training activities at the College are carried out in six training schools, namely: flying school, air traffic services/communication school, aircraft maintenance engineering school, aeronautical telecommunications engineering school, aviation management school and airport emergency training school.
The College offers ab-initio and advanced aviation training using state-of-the-art facilities.
The College has just acquired new training equipment like the B737NG full flight simulator, six Diamond DA40NG aircraft, one Diamond DA42NG aircraft, Computer Numeric Control (CNC), Mechanical workshop equipment, Thales CVOR/DME NAV Aids equipment for maintenance training, Thales DVOR/DME and ILS NAV Aids equipment for flight training and automated fire/smoke aircraft training simulator.
Some of the achievements of the College include churning out 3376 graduates in the past five years, ICAO Global Aviation Training (GAT) awards, highest number of trained instructors 2015, 2016, 2017 & 2018, highest number of ICAO Courses conducted 2015 & 2016, eight ICAO approved Standardized Training Packages (STPs) developed.
The NCAT DG said the college has always partnered with League of Airport and Aviation Correspondents (LAAC), to conduct training for members in order for them to be very conversant with the happenings in the industry and report factual information.