Determined to provide a forum to exchange views about how to practically support a sustainable business aviation sector in the African region and to encourage networking amongst business aviation stakeholders at all levels, the African Business Aviation Association (AfBAA) in conjunction with Evergreen Apple of Nigeria (EAN) brought various experts from around the world to brainstorm on how to further reposition jet business against all odds.
At the two day conference held in Lagos, all the aviation experts came together to spearhead discussions on the value of creative business thinking and how it can stimulate new ideas to help navigate the increasingly challenging world of business aviation in the African region.
The organizers were able to design a programme with the aim of providing a set of pragmatic tools that will support the region’s future planning and development.
Speaking on the occasion, the Chief Executive Officer of EAN, Segun Demuren (Jnr), described business aviation as a key economic driver which in the face of economic challenges requires strong steps by the business jet operators to ensure they find means of managing the commercial future in a sustainable and accountable way.
Demuren who has described Nigeria as a strong force to reckon with in business jet operations on the African continent with high expectations of growth in the next 20 years declared: “Overall, however, Nigeria remains one of the largest business aviation markets in Africa with continued growth expected over the next 15-20 years. Demand for Business Aviation is principally fuelled by activities in the oil and gas sector.”
While agreeing that the growth in business aviation in Nigeria would marginally slacken in view of the obvious recession confronting the country presently, he however expressed hope that the sector would bounce back as Nigeria begins recovery out of recession which he said would end next year.
Lamenting how economic hardship had made aircraft owners to give up their planes for charter operations to make money for themselves, Demuren recalled how the boom in the oil and gas sector led to a rapid growth of business aviation with many Nigerians acquiring jets to travel in leisure and in class which sadly took a plunge due to bad economic situation.
It was generally accepted by stakeholders present at the event that while trying to develop aviation on the continent that the aspect of business aviation was considered, they however agreed that business aviation was critical to the development of any country.
Speaking on the advantages the business aviation has over the scheduled airline business, chairman of ANAP Business Jets Limited, Atedo Peterside declared: “It is good to remember that business aviation has a positive social impact. The airlines in the region are not able to absorb all the indigenous pilots and engineers.
“Two pilots are deployed to fly a 7seater Embraer Phenom 300 aircraft by ANAP Jets. This is the same number of pilots that are deployed on the largest commercial airlines with 500 seats. In a sense therefore, business aviation is more labour intensive and so it contributes significantly towards reducing unemployment amongst highly skilled pilots and engineers in the West African region.”