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The management of the Nigerian Aviation Handling Company (nacho aviance)Plc has said the establishment of Free Trading Zone at the Murtala Muhammed Airport Lagos would attract about $500 million investment to the nation’s economy within five years.
This was disclosed by the Chairman of the company, Mallam Suleiman Yahyah during the national executive council meeting of the Air Transport Services Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (ATSSSAN) in Ijebu Ode, Ogun State.
Yahyah said when the FTZ would become fully operational, it would create employment opportunities for many Nigerians and also boost the nation’s economy.
The nahco aviance chairman, who reiterated the importance of making Lagos the aviation hub in the West Africa sub-region, said failure to actualise this goal would be retrogressive and counter-productive for the aviation sector in the country.
He explained that Senegal and Cote d’ Ivoire are making good progress towards developing their aviation infrastructure and that soon any of these may be designated the West African hub, noting that the implication of such designation is that Nigeria would lose it prime position as aviation capital of the sub region.
He said for the country to develop the aviation sector to be in tandem with international standards, Nigeria needs to invest a minimum of $10 billion in the aviation sector with the plan to target 25 million passengers annually from its airport designated as hub.
While applauding the unique advantages of Lagos as a capital which connects to major world capitals in five to six hours, Yahyah pointed out that there is also the need to develop the soft infrastructure of the aviation sector.
He emphasised the need for the development of the human capital resource of the aviation industry while warning that the country should not jeopardize its Category 1 status.
Yahyah commended the maturity of ATSSSAN in tackling issues in the sector, adding that the aviation industry cannot survive a strike especially at this time when the security infrastructure of the country is undergoing severe stress.
In his remarks at the occasion, the Director of Operations, Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA), Mr. John Chuks Onyegiri observed that ground handling companies are a very important part of operations in the airport.
Onyegiri remarked that the task of managing the air space safely is made more difficult by operators in the sector who fail to pay for services rendered. “The attitude of people wanting service and yet refusing to pay for such a service would not help the industry,” he said.
On his part, the National President of ATSSSAN, Benjamin Okewu, said that while the supervising Minister of Aviation may be doing a well, the industry needs the full attention of a substantive minister.
“Our members are presently disturbed and agitated by the plan of the Federal Government to merge three agencies of the ministry of aviation, NCAA, NAMA and NIMET. As we have profusely stated in our various public engagements in the media, petitions and appeals to pertinent authorities, this proposed merger grossly violates the principles, letters and spirits of standards as prescribed by International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) conventions and protocols. It is logical to perceive that if a regulatory agency like NCAA and a service provider body like NAMA are bundled into a single organization, the aviation industry would most likely become a bedlam of confusion.”