Aviation experts and stakeholders have projected a sharp decline in the price of aviation fuel, also known as JET A1. They opined that that 50 percent fall in price of crude oil will prompt a decline in the JETA1, which constitute 40 per cent of operating cost of airlines in the country.
The stakeholders however called on the federal government to maintain and improve safety standard attained in the industry this year.
The price of oil has now dropped more than 40 per cent from “a peak of $107 in June”, prompting the conclusion by the Geneva-based International Air Transport Association (IATA), that net “profit of airlines worldwide would rise to $25 billion (15.9 billion pounds) in 2015, giving a profit margin of 3.2 per cent.” IATA represents around 250 airlines accounting for 84 per cent of global air traffic.
According to aviation experts, the last time the industry reported a margin nearly that high was “in 2010, when it reached 3.1 per cent.”
“The industry outlook is improving. The global economy continues to recover and the fall in oil prices should strengthen the upturn next year,” IATA Director General Tony Tyler said. But, he added a note of caution.
“A 3.2 percent net profit margin does not leave much room for deterioration in the external environment before profits are hit” he said. He further said “Airlines’ spend on fuel will drop to $192 billion in 2015, from an expected $204 billion this year”.
Meanwhile, Aviation unions as well as other stakeholders have called on the Federal Government to brace up and ensure that the sector improved beyond what it attained in 2014.
Managing Director of the Centre for Aviation Safety and Research, Engineer Sheri Kyari said that aviation security is one of the areas that the government should look into by ensuring that security personnel are well trained.
According to him, when that is done, security at the airports across the country will be enhanced. Engineer Kyari also noted that apart from security, safety was another area that the government should improve upon, stressing that the industry was lucky in the outgoing year not to have witnessed any air accident or incident.
He noted that more efforts needed to be put in place to sustain the tempo and ensure that safety is adhered to at all times. He averred that safety was the bane in the aviation industry.
Kyari, who was an engineer with the defunct Nigeria Airways further call on the government to establish a new national carrier as this would create employment opportunities for numerous unemployed pilots and other professionals in the industry. He however frown at the situation where expatriates were freely operating in Nigeria instead of Nigerians doing the jobs noting that this has led to capital flight out of the country.
Commenting on the remodeling project embarked upon by the former aviation minister, Princess Stella Oduah, Engineer Kyari caution the government to ensure that most of the project are fully completed and put into proper use.
“There is always a backlash once there is a change of administration, the project are okay but government should just try and finish those projects, even the minister said that they are not going to abandon the project, they should try as much as possible to finish the project on time, they should not throw away such project because it is not going to be nice” he said.
Also speaking, General Secretary, Nigerian Aviation Professional Association (NAPA), Comrade Abdul Rasaq Saidu said that government should professionalize the aviation industry in the coming year by appointing a professional as the aviation minister stressing that all the appointees of government were politicians who know nothing about the aviation industry.
Saidu however asked the government to abstain from interfering in the aviation industry noting that the industry is a sensitive one that only professionals can handle very well. He said, “Federal government must obey ICAO set standards and practices.
“NCAA is not autonomous and this is because of BASA funds, they do not want NCAA to be autonomous and function properly, when you see the DG that is not trying to play ball with them, they will remove him forgetting that, that appointment was confirmed by the National Assembly. You will just hear from the news that he has been removed without any recourse to the National Assembly. It is because of the BASA funds and the oversight function of the two bodies”.
“So they need autonomy because BASA money is to be spent to repair, replace, to improve the aviation industry, it is not for sharing. It is to be spent in the aviation industry. You must try and retrain people because the staff are getting older, when you serve 35 years you are gone, if you don’t train the younger workers to take over, then the industry is heading for a collapse and that is what is affecting us because the money that is meant to be spent and not to be shared, I know this because it is over 35 years that I have been in the industry” Saidu stressed.