The first jointly hosted African Business Aviation Association Regional Symposium and Nigerian Business Aviation Conference highlighted the need for regional stakeholders to collaborate to make real change happen. At the end of the two-day event, held at the Eko Hotel Lagos, 24 and 25 March, Segun Demuren CEO of local organisers EAN Aviation, pledged to form and launch a new Nigerian business aviation organisation within 90 days. Work has already begun on forming the administration and board of the AfBAA Nigeria Chapter which will be launched by July.
The announcement was made following two days of presentations and panels that clearly demonstrated local operators, suppliers, brokers and government bodies all derive benefit from meeting in a dedicated environment to create mutual understanding that can positively affect business aviation in the region. The AfBAA Nigeria Chapter will follow the template of the first AfBAA Country Chapter which was launched in Addis Ababa in May 2016. It has already succeeded under the guidance of local President Dawit Lemma, MD of Krimson Plc, in making great strides in raising the business aviation profile in Ethiopia. The AfBAA Nigeria Chapter will receive ongoing support, guidance and direction from the continent’s official association. “This is exactly the kind of positive action we welcome at these events, and look forward to working with, supporting, and participating in the organisation’s future,” commented Rady Fahmy, CEO of AfBAA. “I encourage all those involved in Nigerian business aviation to join the association to maximise the knowledge sharing opportunities,” added Fahmy.
This was welcome news for national attendees who have had a particularly challenging time following the reduction in oil prices, the Nigerian recession, and a scarcity of Forex. Combined these phenomena have reduced purchasing power, stalled jet transactions and slowed business development. However, Demuren noted that opportunities do exist, and have been bolstered by the appointment of an aviator as the Minister for Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika.
Some 150 delegates agreed that challenges need to be approached with a coordinated strategy. There were numerous calls for stakeholders to submit a list of priorities through the new association to begin to lobby for change to deal with the varying issues of grey charter, complex and long AOC applications, and excessive import taxes for jets and spare parts.
Group Captain Edem Oyo-Ita, Director of Air Transport Regulation at the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority stated that the CAA was willing and ready to collaborate with the sector. He acknowledged the need to amend parts of the aviation regulatory structure that had originally been formulated for commercial aviation. Delegates applauded the significant progress that has already been made by the CAA in creating an automated permit process making it easier for unscheduled last minute requests to be processed in a timely manner.
Several new additions to this year’s schedule were well received. A dedicated helicopter operators panel with representatives from Bristow Helicopters, Nestav Aviation, and Caverton Helicopters, congratulated the chief pilot of Genesis Global Aviation, Captain Abayomi Coker, on the recent awarding of its AOC. Continuing the challenge as opportunity theme the panel discussed the notion of exploring operational diversification in the tourism, medevac, security, bullion movements, and emerging mining markets.
The first Women in Aviation panel was also well received by the predominantly male audience who confirmed that women bring a diverse and valuable set of qualities to business aviation including relationship building, efficiency, loyalty, organisation and a balanced view of business opportunities. A call was made for AfBAA to raise the profile of the sector’s opportunities for women, and to create engaging, attractive strategies that would appeal to women at early stages of their career selection.
A meet the operators speed-networking session also spawned new relationships as Nigerian operators met with local and international suppliers keen to work with them, whilst potential customers took the opportunity to search for the right aircraft for their specific mission.
Nick Fadugba, the chair for this year’s meeting closed the event suggesting that Nigerian Business Aviation must work harder, closer, collaboratively, and with one common purpose to enhance business aviation in Nigeria. As one delegate quipped, “Nigeria should be heaven for business aviation.” With the launch of the AfBAA Nigeria Chapter organisers expect this to the be the first step in that direction.