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Activating Economic Growth In The Aviation Sector : How Govt’s Meddling Cripples It – Baron Roy

The Oasis Reporters

January 2, 2018

As Aviation minister under president Jonathan, Stella Oduah (right) tried to restructure and modernize the airports in Nigeria by also building airport cities (Aeropolises), but was run out of town by deeply entrenched interests.

As a preamble to understand this economic treatise, let us examine the data below:
The USA has 394 airports, and a passenger traffic of about 150 million per annum.

The Peoples Republic of China has about 200 airports (as at 2015). 240 more are in different stages of construction to be delivered by 2020. They have a passenger traffic of 487 million per annum.

Nigeria has 29 airports (and 13 airstrips). Total passenger traffic of 15.2 million in 2016.

Population by country
USA: 308 million
China: 1.2 billion
Nigeria: 180 million.
GDP by country
USA: $18.5 trillion
China: $11.2 trillion
Nigeria: $400 billion.
Contribution of Aviation to GDP
USA: 5.6%
China: 2.6%
Nigeria: 0.4%.

With the given data, a lot could be analysed. A cursory inspection shows that Nigeria is lagging behind in the stated indices.
All over the world, the Aviation Sector is a prime mover of the economy. It spans across the services and the manufacturing sectors. Every other sector is integrated with aviation. The efficiency of the sector is a reflection of the efficiency of the economy.

Why is Nigeria so different?
Why is the Aviation sector so poor that it has an insignificant impact on the economy whereas, it runs the show in other countries?

Research conducted by examining several data from several countries and sources show the following :

In the USA, China and other OECD countries, aviation rules.
Not so in Nigeria.

Checking the administration of selected airports using the criteria of passenger volume to filter. The results were interesting:
1. Most airports are NOT run by the government.

2. The USA federal government does not own any airport.
3. Most airports in the OECD countries are either owned by the Municipal government, the County (Local Government), or the State or Region.
4. Most airports are run by an airline or private firm.
5. All airports are in serious competition to attract business.

In comparison to what obtains in airport administration in Nigeria, the federal government runs the show. All aspects of Aviation in Nigeria are under the direct control of the government, therefore, no competition among airports exist whatsoever.
In real terms, the Aviation industry in Nigeria contributes less than $1 billion to the GDP whereas Aviation contributes about $200 billion to the GDP of China.

In the USA, when a county or municipality decides it needs an airport for a particular purpose, it invites the FAA to discuss the location and how to integrate it to the radar coverage area. They get it constructed, and hand it over to an airline or administrator. The business of the municipality or county ends there!
The airline promotes the airport and runs the show. Of course, the taxes are closely collated and paid to the municipality & state. The FAA posts some officials there with specific duties on the federal regulations. The FAA does NOT run the show in any airport.

The airline running the airport improves on the business and goes international. The designation as an international airport is not the business of the Washington Government but the business expansion of the Airport Operations! Once they go international, by a simple memo, they inform the US Border Control Agency (equivalent of Immigration). The Border Control sends personnel there to oversee passports and immigration. That is their only job; they do not run the show. There are no FBI, CIA, NIA or Customs to be seen anywhere!

With the model above, what gives?
Fantastic Terminal buildings, seamless operations, high passenger volumes, orgasmic experience at the airport terminals.
In fact, the airport terminal and services give one an idea what the city would be like.
From JFK to La Guardia, St. Paul to Chicago International, Heathrow to Aberdeen International, Schipol to Dubai International…my goodness, fantastic airport terminals with marvelous services. The airports are a tourist attraction!
Even some airports in Africa like Oliver Tambo International in Johannesburg and Addis Bole in Addis Ababa have far better administrative and governance structure than it is in Nigeria.

The federal government and its ridiculous centralization runs the show in the Aviation Industry in Nigeria, and inherently run it aground, making Nigeria’s airports look like glorified bus stations.
The best we have is perhaps, the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport in Abuja. And it is nothing compared to airports all over the world.
The Nigerian Aviation sector is underdeveloped, such that the airlines struggle and passenger security within the airports remains a mirage.
Ubiquitous uniformed touts and general touts control the show. Checked-in bags are regularly raided and items stolen.
Cooling systems don’t work. Toilets stink and maintenance is zero. You find unnecessary officials duplicating the same job and asking idiotic questions that easily exasperate passengers.
Most times, carousels don’t work and operations are a huge mess.
The experience one gets in the Nigerian Airport is something out of this world.
Yes, no where else is it done in the world save Afghanistan or Somalia!

Necessary and urgent steps needs to be taken to rescue the Aviation Sector in Nigeria which is being killed by the Federal Government, and the economy alongside it.

Written by Baron Roy

Greg Abolo

Blogger at The Oasis Reporters.

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