In the past year, Nigeria’s aviation sector has faced many challenges, from increases in JetA fuel and airfares; regulatory, institutional and structural challenges; challenges of poor infrastructure; little access to financial incentives; inability to repatriate funds; as well as the lack of financing of the industry.

Due to the challenges, some airlines (domestic and international) were forced to limit their operations in the country. In this report, PREMIUM TIMES highlights some of the key issues and policies that affected the aviation industry in the past year.

1. Increase in the prices of plane tickets

In February, domestic airline ticket prices soared by more than 100 per cent as major airlines set their minimum base fare at N50,000 and above.

A few years ago, economy class fares were between 23,300 and 48,000 naira, although fares used to rise as high as 70,000 naira during the festive season. But in February of last year, many months before the holiday periods, the prices of air tickets for major airlines such as Air Peace, Ibom Air, Max Air, Aero Contractors, Dana and Azman Air, among others, rose to a minimum. of N50,000.

Similarly, passengers could no longer receive discounts even when booking tickets weeks in advance, prompting reactions from many airline users who lamented the development.

As aviation fuel prices and currency shortages worsened further in August, national airlines set their minimum fare at N70,000 and above. A review of air ticket prices at major national airlines including Air Peace, Ibom Air, Max Air and Azman, among others, showed that minimum air ticket prices increased by at least 40 percent from N50. ,000 it was selling in February when the aviation fuel crisis hit.

2. Kaduna airport attack

In March last year, gunmen invaded the runway at Kaduna airport, killing at least one guard before security forces responded. The incident delayed the takeoff of a Lagos-bound flight by almost 44 minutes. Two days after the attack, Azman Airlines suspended its operations in Kaduna.

“We understand that the security situation around the airport has been managed and normality restored accordingly, but it is imperative that management re-evaluate its operating procedures at the airport to ensure maximum security for equipment, staff and passengers. Azman air management said at the time.

3. New airport terminal

Within the same period, as part of efforts to improve infrastructure facilities, President Muhammadu Buhari commissioned a newly built international terminal at Murtala Muhammed Airport, Lagos. While touring the newly built facilities, Mr. Buhari said that the terminal was built on a plot of approximately 56,000 square meters, with 66 check-in counters and has the capacity to process 14 million passengers a year.

The new terminal is equipped with a censored conveyor belt, seven jet bridges, 10 ultra-modern cooling systems, heat extraction in the baggage room, ample space for duty-free shops and banks, recreational areas for children, a 22-room hotel for stop -overs among others.

4. Human remains found on the Lagos airport runway

He Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) in May last year discovered “unidentified human remains” on the runway of Murtala Muhammed airport in Lagos.

The incident prompted the temporary closure of said runway for several hours to allow the immediate evacuation of the remains and subsequent investigations.

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5. High cost of Jet A fuel and threats to close operations

Last May, as the high cost of jet fuel worsened operational concerns, national airline operators threatened to shut down operations.

In a letter to Aviation Minister Hadi Sirika and the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority, airline operators complained about operational challenges and how it has hampered progress in the aviation industry.

Reacting to the letter, the Minister of Aviation, Mr. Sirika, pleaded with Nigerian airlines to suspend the planned closure of their operations due to the rise in the cost of aviation fuel from N190 to N700 per litre.

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Following the move, four airlines separately withdrew from the plan and said they will continue operations. The airlines were Ibom Air, Arik, Air Peace, Aero Contractors and Dana. Consequently, the aviation union (AON) later “acceded” to government calls to withdraw plans to suspend operations after several meetings with key stakeholders.

Meanwhile, shortly after the airlines suspended their plan to shut down operations, Aero Contractors indefinitely suspended passenger flight operations in July. The airline’s management at the time said they made the decision due to the high cost of maintenance, fuel, inflation, and a shortage of foreign currency that resulted in high exchange rates.

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Last year, the civil aviation regulator said airlines owed the government 19 billion naira and $7.6 million, and have refused to pay despite generating revenue from their operations. The Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority said the airlines instead launched a “campaign of slander and falsehoods” against it.

“Airlines must enter an MoU on how they will pay their debts in the next 30 days from August 30, 2022 or their license will be suspended at the expiration of the term,” NCAA CEO Musa Nuhu said during a meeting. with representatives of local carriers in August of last year.

6. Shortage of dollars and trapped funds

Amid persistent currency shortages in the country, some foreign airlines last year threatened to halt operations to and from Nigeria.

In April, APG Interline E-Ticketing (APG IET), an airline service company, announced that it would start selling air tickets in US dollars due to a shortage of foreign currency in Nigeria.

Likewise, the airline Emirates threatened on several occasions to suspend flights to Nigeria because it did not repatriate 85 million dollars in income from the country. The International Air Transport Association (IATA) criticized Nigeria’s failure to allow international airlines to repatriate their profits, warning that it could cause further damage to the country. The global aviation group hinted that the amount airlines have been unable to repatriate from the country rose to $464 million (N199.2 billion) in July last year.

As the issues drew reactions from industry stakeholders, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) handed out $265 million to airlines operating in the country to clear trapped funds pending ticket sales. But this still has not settled the outstanding debt with the airlines.

7. Nigeria gets national airline license

In June last year, Nigerian Aviation Minister Hadi Sirika announced that Nigeria Air Limited had received an Air Transport License (ATL) from the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA).

Nigeria Air is the nation’s proposed national airline which was unveiled at the Farnborough Airshow in England on July 18, 2018.

The project was put on hold two months after it was announced after critics raised concerns about its relevance and sustainability. The proposed airline was expected to swallow $8.8 million in preliminary costs and $300 million as takeoff costs.

8. Bilateral agreement with Kuwait

In September last year, the Federal Executive Council (FEC) approved the signing of a Bilateral Air Services Agreement between Nigeria and Kuwait.

The deal was expected to serve as a gateway for continued air services between the two countries, which is in line with International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) provisions, aviation minister Sirika said at the time.

9. Civil aviation law

Last year, President Muhammadu Buhari passed the Civil Aviation Act 2022. The Director General of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) noted at the time that the development will help strengthen the power of the NCAA as the leading agency regulator in Nigeria. Aviation industry.

10. Ethiopian airlines emerged as major investors in Nigeria Air

Another significant development in the Nigerian aviation industry in 2022 was the emergence of Ethiopian Airlines as the lead investor in Nigeria Air with a 49 percent stake.

Similarly, in preparation for its operation, Nigeria Air Limited began recruiting qualified crew members for its operation.

“According to the outcome of the panel session on Priority 4 (Improving Transportation and Other Infrastructure), the Ministry of Aviation is hereby directed to conclude and ensure the takeoff of the National Transportation Project before the end of the year” said Mr. Buhari said at the closing ceremony of the 2022 Ministerial Performance Review Retreat in Abuja.

11. ICAO and Qatar partner with Nigeria on aviation university

In October last year, the President of the Council of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), Salvatore Siacchitano, announced the organization’s commitment to partner with Nigeria in establishing the African Aviation and Aerospace University (AAAU) in Abuja. . Similarly, the Qatari government expressed its willingness to participate in the establishment and operation of the African Aviation and Aerospace University located in Abuja.

In the same period, ICAO ranked Nigeria’s level of implementation of aviation safety and security standards among the “highest in the world”.

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