A former Director-General of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority, Dr. Harold Demuren, has said that despite the challenges facing the nation’s aviation sector, it will not be left out of the global industry growth prospect.
Demuren, in an interview with journalists in Lagos, said the future of aviation in the country was bright and would be driven by a projected increase in population from over 180 million currently to about 399 million by 2050.
“Most of the airlines by 2050 will be going low-cost, our airlines are already low-cost airlines, and with the right infrastructure in place and a population of almost 400 million people, if we do the economy right, the industry will grow leveraging the population. Where there is population, purchasing power is sure to increase and more people will take to air travel,” he said.
The International Air Transport Association had predicted that the aviation industry globally should expect between 5.8 billion and 7.2 billion passengers to travel yearly by 2035, a near doubling of the 3.8 billion air travellers in 2016, and an anticipated change for the industry to handle about 16 billion passengers and 400 million tonnes of freight in 2050.
Boeing also recently predicted that over the next 20 years, the world would manufacture over 39,600 airplanes valued at more than $5.9tn as the total number of aircraft in year 2015 would increase from 22,510 units to 45,240 units by 2035.
This, according to the aircraft manufacturer, will come from the manufacture of 39,620 new units of various types of aircraft worth $5,930bn.
“Nigeria will not be left behind in global aviation growth. Nigeria has a large number of youths and when they are strong in Information Technology, things will begin to happen; the government only needs to look at this area and create value,” Demuren said.
He however stated that the government should improve on the ease of doing business in the industry and the provision of infrastructure.
“We need to look critically at infrastructure especially the land and air side. State-of-the-art terminals will not ensure safety. We need to continue to ensure safety regulations without political intervention,” he said.
He added that the government should also consider establishing a national carrier to be able to harness the industry’s potential.
“If we had developed a national carrier, we will not be where we are today. The government must learn to support the industry; all over the world, the government is the biggest supporter of airlines. We don’t manufacture aircraft; we may be able to do that by 2050 but we have to start with maintenance facility. Our government should focus on public-private partnership to make this happen,” he said.