By Chinedu Eze

The Managing Director/CEO of Toucan Aviation Support Services, Achuzie Ezenagu has called on the federal government and stakeholders in the industry to urgently establish a major Maintenance, Overhaul and Repair (MRO) facility in Nigeria.

Ezenagu, who made the call at the Nigerian Business Aviation Conference, which ended in Lagos at the weekend, said the establishment of the facility would save Nigeria huge financial resources, help to train and employ indigenous aircraft engineers, make aircraft checks cost effective for Nigerian airlines as well as reinforce Nigeria as a hub in West Africa.

It is estimated that Nigeria spends over N15 billion annually on periodic maintenance of its aircraft overseas. In addition to retaining this huge amount of money in Nigeria; the setting up of MRO facility in the country would create thousands of jobs for Nigerians.

However, Ezenagu observed that establishing an MRO in the country would face challenges, noting that it would be costly because Nigeria does not have the necessary infrastructure to facilitate it. He added that the cooperation of government and industry stakeholders were needed to make it possible.

Speaking in the same vein at the conference, the former Director General of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), Dr. Harold Demuren said Nigeria was overripe to have such facility and noted that if 40 per cent of the funds spent on the re-modelling of airport facilities in the last few years was deployed by government to establish the facility, it would have been invaluable for the development of aviation in the country.

Demuren noted that Nigeria loses huge resources maintaining aircraft overseas adding, besides the economic losses, Nigerian trained aircraft engineers cannot secure jobs locally. He also pointed out that for Nigeria to become the West African hub, it must have the MRO facility.

The annual Nigerian Business Aviation Conference is about the development of business aviation, which includes private charter services, cargo operations and others and how they help as catalyst to the nation’s economic development.

Ezenagu who was a panelist at the conference said Nigeria needs to focus on aviation development because it is the fulcrum of the nation’s development.

“We should make the airport more accessible and make them more available. Government can encourage stakeholders to grow the sector by providing incentives. Government should also find a way to bring all the data from different sectors of the economy together because every sector works hand in hand with another.

“MRO is costly to set up in Nigeria because of the heavy levies from government, but this can be done. In our own company we operate Embraer aircraft and we have standby engineers for line maintenance for the planes. We don’t have the facilities to get the checks done here but government can partner with the private sector to establish a major MRO in the country,” Ezenagu said.