Aviation is a catalyst for development – Satumari

Kudla Milnda Satumari

An aviation expert, Kudla Milnda Satumari has posted that aviation is a catalyst to development in a country. He made this disclosure to newsmen in Abuja during his 52nd Birthday.

 Excerpts: 

 Introduce yourself officially, sir.

 I am Kudla Milnda Satumari, an aviation stakeholder.

 What is your assessment of the aviation industry presently?

 What we are experiencing in the aviation industry is surprising me because aviation is capital intensive. And it is something that deals with foreign exchange. And because of the capital intensive nature of the aviation industry, you cannot do without getting cheap funds. There is no bank in Nigeria that will lend you money with interest of less than two digits.

 I can tell you, any airline that makes 13 to 20% profit is one of the most profitable airlines in the world. If the whole profit that you can make is not more than 20% and you are borrowing money at 21% from the bank, how do you survive? 

 What do you think must be put in place for the sector to become viable?

 So first and foremost, an enabling environment must be created. Taxes and charges we pay are so high. The facilities we have, their capacity cannot deal with the demand on them. What surprises me is that when you go to the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority at every point in time you will still see 3 to 4 airlines at different stages of getting air operator certificate (AOC) to start a new airline.

 It is the resilience of Nigerians that is surprising me. What people don’t understand is that aviation is a catalyst for development. It opens up opportunities. Look at what happened in Dubai. The United Arab Emirate did not open their sky for Emirate Airlines to make profit. They opened it to promote tourism.

 If you look at the value chain, some 3-4years ago, about 61million people entered on transit to Dubai. If each of them was paying one hundred dollars for a visa and an average of 1500dollars to spend before you return, there is municipality tax; there is hotel tax and service charges. Do you know how many resources you have opened up? So it allows people to move into a country and promotes tourism. And by doing so, it opens up the economy. It is a catalyst for development and that is why, there should be a kind of intervention funds made available where it will be accessed by genuine and well structured airlines that have programmes and agenda on how they will ensure sustainable development in their companies.

 When we begin to talk about aviation, there are many things to discuss about it. If you go to our airports, and 2-3 planes are taking off at the same time, and they have about 120 passengers’ capacity; they have to go to the scanners as they are passing through. Imagine that one person will spend one minute to pass through the check, how many minutes will it take for the over 300people to pass through the scanner. There are flight delays, there are cancellations of flights. Some of these things are caused by lack of supporting infrastructure to create efficiency.

 Aircraft are supposed to be in the air for 18hurs a day, not to be on the ground 18hours a day, and fly 6hours.

 When you go to some airports, there are no landing facilities that will enable night landing. So your operations are restricted to sunlight. How many hours do we have sun light? For 6am to 6pm for instance, and between that 6-6 you need to board your passengers, you need to fuel, you need to land. You will not have six hours effectively to fly. And you lease this aircraft, many on 100 block hours and you are paying a certain amount of time and you don’t have the opportunity to utilize that 18 hours that would have given you the opportunity to achieve maximum productivity.

What I want people in government to know is that they should realize that aviation is a catalyst for development and it increases opportunities and opens up the economy.

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