The economic downturn has shrunk Nigeria’s General Aviation market. Private jet ownership in Nigeria has dwindled considerably.
To underscore the precarious situation, the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) admitted that there are some gaps in the system that allows the proliferation of foreign registered aircraft operating in the country.
The Director-General of NCAA, Capt. Musa Nuhu in an online question and answer session with Chairman, Africa Business Aviation Association (AfBAA), Mr. Nick Fadugba monitored by AirInsight, explained that there are 72 foreign registered aircraft operating in Nigeria. This is far more than 23 with Nigerian registrations, including Hawker Siddeley, AW139, Gulfstream G550, Falcon, and Embraers used for crop spraying, training, commercial services and other services provided in the General Aviation sector.
The NCAA chief disclosed that general aviation, expanded about eight years ago, describing this as one of the fastest-growing in the world. But now noted that growth in the sector had seriously dropped, regretting, “That is where we have found ourselves today”.
The boom in the oil and gas industry led to the rapid growth of business aviation with many Nigerians acquiring jets. That business took a plunge due to the economic situation that made owners convert to commercial ventures. The reason for an increased number of foreign-registered private/corporate jets in Nigeria has been traced to lower insurance policy costs, convenience to secure services of crew members as well as a ploy to conceal real ownership. Nigeria over the last decade saw an upsurge in the presence of luxury aircraft at its airports across the country with private flying the preferred mode of air travel among wealthy Nigerians. Within this period, 41 private jets were de-registered with the aircraft either sold off or returned to their owners abroad.
An airline chief, who requested anonymity, in a chat with your correspondent estimates that over 300 business aircraft existed in Nigeria and were owned by the government, corporate organizations, and individuals between 2002 and 2015. The country’s aviation regulatory body used to monthly process over 200 business and private flight clearances but the number has drastically reduced.
As of February 2019, the number of privately owned jets in Nigeria has shrunk by almost 50 percent according to the records with NCAA. He also lamented the situation whereby any aircraft put on a 5N (Nigerian) registration loses its asset value by as much as 25 percent, but incurs higher insurance premiums, up to 35 percent higher in some cases.
Besides, he said: “Overall, however, Nigeria remains one of the largest business aviation markets in Africa with continued growth expected over the next 15-20 years. Demand for Business Aviation is principally fuelled by activities in the oil and gas sector.” He noted that there are expectations that growth in business aviation in Nigeria would marginally slacken due to a downturn in the economy.