The International Air Travel Agency (IATA) has revealed that the aviation industry in Nigeria has created over 650,000 jobs and contributes $8.2 billion to the domestic economy. IATA Vice President Ali Bakri made the assertion when he met with industry operators in the country recently. The jobs created include those directly related to aviation as well as the tourism sector.
Despite this, challenges remain.
As cheerful as this news is, the aviation industry in Nigeria is plagued by several challenges. The poor state of the airports and multiple taxes and levies by the government have made air transport in the country relatively expensive. Local airlines in the country have a very short lifespan and the two major carriers Arik Air and Aerocontractors were recently bailed out by the Asset Management Company of Nigeria (AMCON). A massive depreciation of the Naira against the dollar due to a drop in dollar revenue led to an increase in operating costs for airlines. Maintenance activities which takes place outside the country became more expensive, as well as aviation fuel which is imported. They are however reluctant to increase prices due to the economic recession in the country which has led to a drop in air travel.
In a bid to tackle these issues, the Federal Government had announced its intentions to concession several of the airports in the country. Beyond the announcement, not much progress has been made. Approaching elections mean government may be reluctant to go on with the exercise to avoid clashing with labour. Some analysts have also suggested that the government establish another national carrier.
IATA, founded April 1945 in Havana Cuba is a trade association of the world’s airlines. IATA member account for over 80% of global air traffic, and membership consists of 274 airlines.