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Industry Chiefs Ask Govt To Float N500bn Aircraft-Leasing Coy

BEVERLY HILLS, April 28, (THEWILL) – For local airlines to survive and keep afloat, the Federal Government should set up and bankroll an aircraft-leasing company up to the tune of N500 billion to help strengthen the industry.

Capt. Ibrahim Mshelia, the Chairman, West Link Airlines, who gave the advice recently, pointed out that it was not a good situation whereby airlines would be looking for dollars to pay for their lease, adding that local airlines operated in naira and that they should also pay in naira.

His view had the backing of the Director-General of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), Capt Musa Nuhu.

Speaking during a chat with the exco of the League of Airports and Aviation Correspondents (LAAC), Mshelia said, “We recommended that N500 billion should be set aside by government in 2013, as a leasing company for local operators to access and bring their planes in.

“The lessor is supposed to be the Nigerian leasing company, so we will be paying here; all the income will be domiciled here and it will help to strengthen our naira. It will be only parts and training that we may be worrying about. If we intensify our things properly, we can even have our trainings reduced to Nigeria as we have all the airplanes simulators here.”

Explaining further, Mshelia lamented that some African countries had been able to set up such facilities simply because Nigeria had not put its house in order.

He noted that such facilities, which are now domiciled in one of the East African countries, should have been set up here in the country because Nigeria had the market.

Citing an example with himself, Mshelia stated that he had also been trying to get land for his flying school here in Nigeria, all to no avail.

“Since five years I have applied, I don’t have the land. So, what do I do? I will be compelled to go back to Ghana. And that is exactly the option I am looking at now. I went through Phase 3, submitted all the manuals. It is remaining to get a place and prepare for the demonstration. I have not been able to get that. The NCAA cannot do anything; it is neither their fault nor mine. It is the fault of the policy; we don’t want to grow our own things. That is why these deliberate policies are in place,” he said.

Corroborating Capt Mshelia, the Director-General of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), Capt Musa Nuhu, equally observed that the issue of aircraft lease had remain one of the major challenges to airlines in the country.

Capt Nuhu had earlier opined that Nigerian airlines were not really benefiting from the Cape Towm Convention decades after its adoption.

Concluded in Cape Town on 16th November 2001, the primary aim of the convention and the protocol is to resolve the problem of obtaining certain rights to high-value aviation assets, namely airframes, aircraft engines and helicopters, which, by their nature, have no fixed location.

Explaining why Nigerian airlines were not benefiting from the agreements, Nuhu said, “Nigeria is not benefiting very well because we have cases where people go and lease aircraft and come to Nigeria. They don’t pay and they don’t want to release the aircraft. So it creates a bad reputation for the Nigerian market.

“That is why I tell you, when you do things. It is not one person. You are damaging the reputation of the country. So when you go now and you want to lease aircraft, they will say that when the aircraft is due to return, you will go and bring one court injunction and you damage the reputation of the whole country. It is damaging. Since II came, I have successfully dealt with three cases with the Cape Town Convention.”