Relocation to Ghana: Nigeria to lose $12bn foreign airlines investments

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By Oluyinka Onigbinde

Nigeria is on the verge of losing $12 billion investment in aviation sector as major foreign airlines have started relocating to Ghana due to what they termed unfriendly business environment in Nigeria.

The international airlines which hitherto had their regional operational headquarters in Nigeria had started moving to Accra, Ghana from where they came to pick passengers in Nigeria.

This recent move poses a threat to the nation’s income, as  the aviation industry contributes $0.7 billion (N137.9billion) to the Nigerian gross domestic product(GDP), and projected investment of $12 billion in short and medium terms that would lead to passengers growth, between 12 and 25million by 2018.

But with the recent happenings in the aviation industry, it is likely the country may not be able to generate such income anymore.

Already one of the international major operators, Emirates Airline started last Saturday to pick up passengers in Nigeria and take them to Accra where it refuels before heading to Dubai its operational hub.

Speaking with Nigerian NewsDirect via a telephone chat, the Chairman Airlines Operators of Nigeria (AON) Capt. Nogie Meggison   confirmed the report and cited the poor value of the Naira, high cost and scarcity of aviation fuel as some of the reasons for relocation. He also identified lack of maintenance culture by the Nigerian Airspace management Agency of Nigeria, (NAMA) whose incessant demands for the payment of N8 billion by AON members  were some of the reasons for the relocation.

Meggison, who confirmed Emirates’ latest decision said other foreign airlines might follow suit because of the high cost of aviation fuel, which was hurting air transport business in Nigeria. He noted that some of the airlines might even begin to attract Nigerian passengers to travel to Ghana to board international flights.

While aviation fuel is sold at N200 to N250 per litre in Nigeria, the product is sold at N110 per litre in Accra as the West African neighbouring country reduced the price of the product by 20percent about two weeks ago.

This recent move might also discourage foreign investors coming in to the country to invest as many might likely not invest anymore as a result of this quite unfortunate move by international operators.

The rate of unemployment tends to increase as some of these international operators might begin to sack their staff workers in Nigeria in order to cut cost of running.

The Spokesman of FAAN, Yakubu Dati refused to speak on the issue but directed our correspondent to the foreign airline operators to state their reasons.