‘Air travel to contribute one per cent GDP by 2020’

‘Air travel to contribute one per cent GDP by 2020’
Hadi Sirika, Minister of State for Aviation

The master plan for the development of the aviation sector has been estimated to worth at least one per cent of Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) by 2020.

The Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, who disclosed this, said efforts were in top gear to ensure that the industry is maximised to full potential.

Recall that the aviation road map, launched in 2016, has as its main components: a new national carrier, concession of airports, Maintenance Repair and Overhaul (MRO), and aircraft leasing programme.

While the components were already in the works, Sirika, last May said the industry recorded marginal growth of 33 per cent rise in local passenger traffic and 11 per cent in international travels. Both segments bring the total yearly traffic to 18 million passengers a year.

In effect, the industry’s contributions to the GDP have improved some notches from 0.4 to 0.6 per cent as at last year.

The minister told reporters in Abuja that the plan was to deliver on the agenda and shore up the aviation’s contribution to GDP to one per cent.

Sirika said the entire vision was to continue to maintain an industry that is secure, safe, efficient and comfortable for passengers.

Besides critical safety, the next goal is to create an industry where entrepreneurs can invest and make money out of it, to help grow the industry.

“The industry itself is a catalyst for economic growth and development of any nation, especially Nigeria with 200 million people, 923,766 square kilometres of massive land. The 20 per cent of the request of demand of Africa economy is in Nigeria. Nigeria is at the centre of Africa, centre of the world, which supports air transportation.

“Air transportation itself by value is the highest contributor to any economy. Aviation links businesses, links nations, links markets, people, traditions, industry, culture and tourism. From the little we did, we have not even implemented the road map fully. We were able to push the contribution to GDP from 0.4 per cent to 0.6 per cent. And our hope is that within the next one year, it goes to one per cent,” he said.

Sirika added that components are interdependent, beginning with the airport.

“We also need airlines to feed into the airports – a robust airline that is efficient. Mark the work efficient. Secondly, you need a Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul (MRO) centre – to maintain those aircraft when they come in or go out. You cannot come here and have a landing gear issue and wait for some people to come from Germany to fix it.”

The third is the need for aerospace– to go into research and development for the future. We cannot continue to be consumers, he said.

He recalled that Nigeria started with Brazil, but the latter is manufacturing airplanes today.

“We also started long time before many of these countries. China just started aviation few years ago, China has started manufacturing aircraft. We can do it. We can do so many things in aviation. Dubai started over ten years ago, and today they are producing parts of airplanes. If you had flown a B787, you would have flown some component parts produced in Dubai.

“We need an aviation leasing company, where we can access cheap funds at one digit that you can invest in aviation businesses to grow them. The challenge is finance, so, we think we should establish a leasing company that can handle that. Then, we have our training institution with manpower development.

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