•France Airbus group to open office
An international carrier, Lufthansa Airline, yesterday said it had no plan to reduce its flight operations in Nigeria.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reported that the airline’s Media Consultant, Mr. Hakeem Jimoh, made the disclosure to aviation correspondents in Lagos.
Two foreign airlines, Emirates and Kenya Airways , recently announced the suspension of their flights to the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport in Abuja.
While Emirates Airlines said it would stop flights to Abuja from October 22, Kenya Airways said its flights to the nation’s capital would be suspended from November 15.
Both airlines attributed the decision to the economic downturn in the country, foreign exchange challenges, and the shrinking passenger traffic.
Jimoh said Lufthansa Airline, which operates flights to Lagos, Abuja and Port Harcourt International Airports, would not be following a similar path for now.
“Yes, there has been challenges, particularly with the issue of forex, but I can tell you that Lufthansa has no plan for now to reduce flight operations in Nigeria,” he said.
Jimoh said Lufthansa had been operating in Nigeria for over 50 years, adding that the country was important to the airline’s operation, especially in West Africa.
The efforts of the current administration in the aviation sector have received a boost with the coming in of Airbus Group of France to set up an office in Nigeria.
The Ambassador of France in Nigeria, Mr. Denys Gauer who led a delegation of the Airbus Group to the office of the Minister of State for Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika in Abuja yesterday, confirmed the coming in of the Airbus group to Nigeria.
Gauer informed the minister that the largest aircraft manufacturers and leasers in the world, the Airbus Group, have concluded plans to open an operational office in Nigeria as a mark of confidence in the government agenda for the aviation industry in Nigeria.
Similarly, the Vice President of the Airbus Group for Africa, Mr. Vincent Larnicol, informed the minister that Airbus Group had expanded upon its strong European roots to move forward on an international scale with fully-owned subsidiaries in more than 150 field service offices around the world.
According to him, “Airbus, in its desire to get closer to its customers, is also actively developing engineering, manufacturing and service capabilities in Europe, China, India, Russia, the Middle East, Singapore and the United States.”
This, he said, also informed the decision to establish its presence in Nigeria with the opening of an operational office.
Larnicol expressed the group’s interest in the federal government’s plan to concession major airports across the country, as well as the establishment of a national carrier, while also commending government’s plan to establish an aircraft leasing company in view of the inherent difficulties in acquiring new aircraft.
The Airbus Group also promised to collaborate, through its co-operation programme, with the Nigerian government in the establishment of an Aviation University to which the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) is largely committed.
Sirika informed the ambassador and the Airbus delegation that the vision of the government for the aviation sector included repositioning domestic airlines to make them competitive and profitable, establishment of Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul (MRO) facilities and development of human capital for the anticipated expansion of the sector.
According to the minister, “The plan of the Preisdent Muhammadu Buhari government was to gradually reposition the Nigerian aviation industry in such a way that would turn the nation into a regional hub for air transportation, given the ICAO forecast of a quadruple growth for the nation’s air travel in the next ten years.”
He expressed Nigeria’s preparedness to collaborate with all genuine partners, insisting, however, that government decisions and actions would always be guided by the protection of the national interest.