in Business Aviation / Features

On the right road...

Posted 9 May 2019 · Add Comment

The business aviation market in Nigeria is diverse and growing all the time – but it still faces a few problems. Chukwu Emeke takes a look at the big picture.

Nigeria’s flight charter service sub-sector and other business aviation segments are currently worth more than $3 billion.
The sector features not only private corporate jet users but also companies working in medevac, surveillance, logistics, agriculture, cargo, security and rescue services.
The Nigerian Government generates millions of dollars in tax revenue from private jets – even though the current administration’s 2016 anti-corruption programme culled the number of owners, many of whom had acquired their aircraft through dubious means.
Now, although the country’s business aviation market still faces challenges with issues like maintenance infrastructure, high government charges, muddy aircraft clearance procedures, and chartering constraints, the sector has also witnessed the entry of some new, genuine entrepreneurs, with high-net-worth individuals chartering, owning or intending to purchase or lease private jets.
The Nigerian business aviation market has grown consistently from the 1970s. With the emergence of the oil boom, the use of small aircraft and helicopters has increased.
The market is broad, encompassing FBOs, charter and cargo operators, with genuine entrepreneurial spirit. A company like TAT Nigeria, for example, is a charter airline but owns no aircraft. It specialises in taking Christians to Israel for pilgrimages using chartered aircraft.
Then there’s Flying Doctors Nigeria (FDN), a medical emergency service that homes in on air ambulances, medevac, medico-logistics services and remote site medical solutions.
An older company is Aero Contractors. Established in 1959, it was one of the first providing helicopter offshore oil and gas sector operation services. In 2000, it extended its services to scheduled commercial operations.
Bristol Helicopters, Caverton Helicopters and OAS Helicopters are all privately owned and provide services for individuals, companies and the government.
There are licensed fixed-based operations (FBOs) like Quits Aviation and Evergreen Aviation Services, which have dedicated terminals where they provide integrated FBO and maintenance services.
Some major charter firms include Skyjet Aviation, Skypower Express, Izy Air, Jed Air, Anap Jets, ExecuJet, West Link Aviation, Airstream Aviation, Air First Aviation, and Skybird Aviation.
Dornier Aviation Nigeria, a passenger charter airline, also carries out aerial photography and agricultural flying operations, as well as emergency evacuation services, using Dornier 228s and 338s.
Some 15 business aviation operators boast a total of at least 40 aircraft in their fleets. Types include Bombardier Challenger, Global 6000, Hawker Siddeley, Gulfstream and Embraer Legacy and Citation.
Izy Air and West Link, for instance, operate Challenger 604s. ExecuJet has about eight private jets in partnership with some other operators of its Embraer Legacy 650, Hawker Siddeley 125 and Bombardier Challenger.
Skyjet operates Hawker, Embraer Legacy and Learjets.
There are scheduled local airlines also operating special charter flights. Max Air, for instance, operates Learjet and Embraer, while Dana Air uses two Learjet 45s for charter services.
Overland Airways operates both scheduled and charter services with its fleet of ATRs and Beechcraft, while Arik Air uses small aircraft for special operations.
The business aviation market experienced a boom recently during Nigeria’s political campaigns as many politicians used charter operators.
During the campaigns, operators had to contend with the challenge of having enough aircraft in their fleets to match demand. Operators charged more than $4,500 per hour.
Captain Ken Wemambo, chief operating officer of Airstream Aviation, confirmed the increased orders for charter jets, especially for Abuja-based operators.
Benefits of the campaign season boom also rubbed off on aviation fuel vendors, auxiliary service providers and other business aviation stakeholders.
 

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