Capt. Fola Akinkuotu, Managing Director of the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA) has charged the oil and gas sector in Nigeria to consider critically the production of aviation fuel (Jet A1) in the country in line with the Nigerian Content Development initiative of the Buhari-led administration.
Capt. Akinkuotu who spoke at the annual Health, Safety, Security and Environment (HSSE) forum organized by PSRG-Richardson Oil and Gas recently, explains that the call became imperative given the high cost of aviation fuel which gulps over 30% of operational cost of airlines in Nigeria.
He says apart from cost, the supply of the product is sometimes epileptic, resulting in flight disruptions, stressing that the production of Jet A1 in Nigeria would regularize supply, bring about reduced cost which would also translate into lower air fares by airlines.
The NAMA boss also laments the high cost of aircraft maintenance which he described as “atrocious, largely because these costs are domesticated in dollars.” He reveals, however, that effort was being made by the federal government to set up an MRO (Maintenance, Repairs and Operations) facility “as part of strategic plans to reduce capital flight, lower the times aircraft leave the country for repairs and lower the cost of maintenance.”
On the state of air safety in Nigeria, Capt. Akinkuotu says: “The recent pronouncement by the U.S Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) that Nigeria’s air carriers’ operations are in compliance with the International Civil Aviation Organization’s (ICAO) standards is good news that rekindles hope in the sector,” adding that “the aviation sector in Nigeria today is all together safe as accidents have remained at zero level for six consecutive years with serious or reportable incidents at acceptable levels” This according to him does not presuppose there are no challenges and issues in the sector which deserve mention and require adequate attention.