The first ever Nigerian Business Aviation Conference exceeded expectations
The first ever Nigerian Buisness Aviation Conference held in Lagos on Tuesday 7 May 2013 was attended by
over one hundred delegates and was said to exceed the expectations of Evergreen Apple Nigeria, who helped organise the conference.
The event was held at the Wheatbaker Hotel in Lagos. It was moderated by Corporate Jet Investor’s editor Alasdair Whyte and opened by Segun Demuren (pictured above), MD/CEO of Evergreen Apple Nigeria.
The finance session was led by Segun Agbaje, MD of GT Bank, who noted that Nigeria had experienced “high octane growth” in the last few years making it the largest market for business jet purchase in Africa. “We are more used to financing rice and fish so aviation is a good way for us to expand business,” he said.
The delegates also heard from the major OEMs in a panel featuring sales directors from sponsors Gulfstream, Embraer and Dassault, alongside representatives of Bombardier and Cessna in the region. All remain optimistic about the future growth of sales in the region and gave at least an eight out of ten when asked where on the scale of sales growth they positioned Nigeria.
Concerns were also aired about service centres and maintenance in the region. Colin Steven of Embraer underlined the need for support to train and identify local engineering specialists to support the expanding sector. The panel also suggested that there was a strong market for smaller aircraft in the region with over 50 small airfields available that can be used by the turbo prop and light jet community.
The need for aircraft management expertise was highlighted in such a young market. “Don’t learn the hard way,” said Achuzie Ezenagu, MD of Toucan Aviation a local operator that serves the oil sector.
The panel suggested that very few of the aircraft based in Nigeria are using aircraft management companies which can leave owners exposed to not extracting maximum value from their asset. Management begins three or four months before the aircraft is purchased suggested Ezenagu and advised potential owners to recognise that experience in regulations, crewing, paperwork and safety amongst others will support the aircraft operations in a young business aviation sector.
The issue of landing permits was covered by the Trip Planners panel which noted that currently permits can take between 48 – 72 hours to be granted. Nwankwo Ifeanyi representing the Nigerian Airspace Management Authority said that a transformation agenda was in process and recognised that automation of this important issue would better serve the industry. Plans are in place to implement automation sooner rather than later he continued.
Demuren finished the conference, saying: “Undoubtedly Nigeria is a significant player in the business aviation sector for Africa and will play an important part in the development of the sector in the region. This conference has demonstrated that whilst we have a lot of opportunity we are still very much in our infancy and must aim to build the infrastructure to support business aviation and the associated framework necessary to create a solid base.”
Demuren confirmed that the event had been more successful than he could have hoped for, and will be the first in a series of annual meetings. “Plans are already in motion for the 2014 NBAC event which we anticipate will be bigger and even better,” he said in conclusion. The event finished with a farewell networking dinner sponsored by Gulfstream.