There is growing anxiety among private jet owners, operators and the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) on the mode of regulations of business in the industry.
Business aviation, according to experts, constitutes a significant part of commercial aviation in Nigeria, with over 150 aircraft in the fleet of private jet owners and operators. There are more private jets in Nigeria carrying out non – scheduled operations, compared with the number of aircraft on the fleet of the existing nine domestic operators.
At a regional conference in Lagos last week by African Business Aviation Association ( AfBAA), and Nigerian Business Aviation Association, experts across the globe gathered to examine the challenges of private operations in Africa and allied issues.
The conference convener and Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Evergreen Aviation Nigeria (EAN), Segun Demuren said the event was to enable experts redefine new concepts that will prepare operators for the next phase of business aviation in West Africa.
Demuren said the conference provided another platform to spearheard discussions in stimulating new ideas to help navigate the increasingly challenging world of business aviation in the West African region.
He said apart from providing a forum to exchange ideas on how to practically support a sustainable business aviation sector in West Africa, the forum also provided a platform by operators and regulators to adopt industry – enhancing regulations in line with developing business aviation policies.
Demuren said: “The forum assisted to create strategies that will strenghten the business of executive aviation in the region. This brought together high networth individuals, who charter, own or intend to purchase or lease private jets. It was also an opportunity for industry regulators, airport authorities, Customs, Immigration, the Ministry of Aviation, aircraft manufacturers, operators and service providers in business aviation, national and international companies with business aviation interests for input gathering to improve the business.”
Speaking at the event, Chief Executive Officer of African Aviation, Nick Fadugba, said the Nigerian government needs to create policies that will stimulate the growth of business aviation. He said the NCAA, should create a different layer of regulation for business aviation, and even as he observed that the General Aviation Directorate of the NCAA was under resourced to enable it appreciate how that arm of aviation could revolutionise the industry.
According to Fadugba, private jet operators should set up a body to enable them engage the government on policies and issues that affect the business.
Such collaboration, he said, will assist private jet operators to pool their expertise and equipment for optimum utilisation that will stimulate the growth of business aviation.
In his presentation, ANAP Jets Chairman, Atedo Peterside canvassed fractional ownership of business jets. This model, he said, will reduce costs for operators and its managers in addition to enhancing the utilisation of the equipment.
He said the proposal christened: “sharing economy”, was the financial outlay worked out by the firm under the platform that could significantly transform the business of corporate jet by giving business people access to the jet “on demanded” for a few years.
The model, he said, will help business people eradicate their regional travelling headaches in the most efficient manner.
Such model, to him, is good for business aviation because the culture of shared economy will enable corporate clients to pay less and fly smart.
According to him, there was need to change the narrative about private jet ownership because many saw business aviation in West Africa from a different perspective.
“Business Aviation has a terrible reputation in West Africa. Unfortunately, private jets are still seen in the region as expensive toys for playboy millionaires, insensitive and wasteful heads of state and government officials or politicians, who acquired their wealth through questionable means. And yet it needs not be so,” Peterside said.
He continued: “Private jets can be and are indeed, indispensable and efficient big business in West African region where efficient travel between neighbouring capital cities can still be a nightmare because many of our airlines are seriously challenges.
Peterside said Presidents and Governors, who insist on developing modest airstrips in the hinterlands, should not be vilified because business aviation could be the forerunner that will lead to significant investment activity in their undeveloped backyard.
But the NCAA representative in charge of the department of air transport regulations, Modupe Olasunmibo Oyerinde, accused private jet operators of not carrying the regulator along in their transactions.
She said many private jet operators hoard information on their flights from the NCAA in order to short change the authority of right payment.
Regulating private jet operators, according to her, could pose a challenge for the NCAA because some operators are using jets registered for private operations for charter.
Flight permits, she said, are not difficult to secure from the NCAA, if the affected operator has fulfilled all requirements prescribed by the regulator.
Oyerinde said the NCAA maintained a tight nooze on private jet operators on issues relating to insurance and aircraft maintenance because of safety.
She said: “Private jet operators should be more sincere about their operations. The NCAA requires more transparency on their part. Most times the operators under declare what they collect from their clients in order to reduce what they have to pay. Mosat of them do not have full year insurance cover for their aircraft and this is very risky. They need to give the NCAA full details about their operations”
In his presentation, former NCAA Director-General, Harold Demuren said business aviation has grown in the last decade. The NCAA, he said, should design a separate regulation for private jet operations to enhance safety and sustenance of the business.
Operators, however, accused the NCAA of delaying flight permits and indulge in multiple taxes and charges that inhibit the growth of charter business.
Also speaking, Kings Air Chairman, Musa Adede, said the regulators need to be fair to private jet operators in rolling out policies and charges that are targeted to kill the business.
Adede said: ‘Operators need to come together to align their positions to engage the government. “