The Minister of Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika, has said that the current administration has laid the groundwork for the growth of local aviation, with the potential to earn $14.16 billion in revenue and contribute five per cent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) yearly.

Sirika, at the inauguration of the Murtala Muhammed International Airport (MMIA) terminal-2, Lagos, said a series of interventions carried out in the last seven years in the area of policy and infrastructure had repositioned local aviation.

He noted that when the present administration came into power in 2015, the aviation industry experienced major challenges, some of which were unemployment of professionals, scarcity of foreign exchange, budgetary constraint, sustainability of waiver on aircraft and spares, decaying and ageing infrastructure and obsolete equipment, poor and intolerable conditions of airport facilities and equipment, as well as blocked airline funds.

He said: “We have been working to reduce them to the barest minimum. Consequently, the aviation roadmap was developed and graciously approved by Mr. President on October 18, 2016, which includes, the national carrier, airport concession, Maintenance , Repair and Overhaul Centre (MRO), Aviation Leasing Company, Agro-Allied Cargo terminals, as well as Aerospace University, and so on.

“The roadmap projects are being undertaken through Public Private Partnership (PPP) and the Ministry has been working very closely with Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission (ICRC) to ensure we have a credible and transparent process,” Sirika said.

The minister added that the airport concession project, including the newly commissioned terminals, has reached an advanced stage. The ministry will be issuing Request for Proposal (RFP) to the shortlisted firms before the end of March, and expect to announce a partner in the second quarter of 2022, and handover by fourth quarter.

Sirika said those efforts are already yielding massive returns. “In 2015, the total passenger figure was eight million. With the implementation of some aspects of the roadmap, the passenger figure grew to about 18 million in 2019, making aviation the fastest growing sector of the national economy pre-COVID-19 pandemic.

“Despite devastating impact of the pandemic on the global aviation industry, the domestic industry has grown in leaps and bounds, becoming the third fastest growing sector of our economy. The overall goal is to grow the aviation sector’s contribution from the current 0.6 to five per cent, with approximately $14.166 billion in earnings.

“A recent aviation sector study for Nigeria by International Air Transportation Association (IATA) in June 2020 showcased the significant contribution of air transportation to the national economy, through providing 241,000 jobs (direct and indirect) and a contribution of $ 1.7 billion to the national economy.

“In the same vein, IATA projects the air transport market in Nigeria under the ‘current trends’ scenario to grow by 174 per cent in the next 20 years. This would result in an additional 9.4 billion passenger journeys by 2037. If met, this increased demand would support approximately $ 4.7 billion of GDP and almost 555,700 jobs.

He reiterated that aviation provides the only rapid worldwide transportation network, which makes it essential and most important infrastructure for the global logistical ecosystem. The minister said it boosts economic growth, creates jobs, and facilitates international trade, commerce and tourism ultimately raising the standards of living of the teeming population. Aviation remains the only medium to achieve continental integration and interaction, the dream of African Union (AU) agenda 2063, and should enjoy consistent support of the Federal Government.

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