Respite may soon come in the way of Nigerian carriers as African Export Import Bank (Afreximbank) plans to support them in acquisition of new aircraft.
The regional bank said it would refleet Nigerian airlines in partnership with the Russian Export Centre to provide brand new aircraft for operations in Nigeria and others in Africa.
Airlines said that would be a great relief to them as they would not pay the high interest rate of 26 percent to acquire aircraft.
Speaking during the partnership, the Global Head, Client Relations, Afreximbank, Rene Awambeng, said the bank has entered into a strategic partnership with the Russian Export Centre, which is the export bank of the Russian Federation to promote aviation in Africa, so that it can meet one of its strategic goals.
â€œThe Russians have invested significant amount in research and development in their aircraft which are very efficient in terms of fuel consumption and are ecologically very friendly.
â€œWe have partnered with Russian Export Centre, to provide solutions so that African entrepreneurs either private sectors, national airlines, private sectors, operators of airlines can acquire these aircraft through asset structures to meet our objective of moving people from one part of the country to another,â€ Awambeng said.
He explained that part of the partnership is to work with Nigerian authorities to certify the Russian aircraft to be able to operate in Nigeria, adding that the bank will enter commercial negotiations with operators of other aircraft or helicopters to see how they can acquire the aircraft and the bank can finance the acquisitions of these aircraft.
On the configurations of the aircraft, Awambeng said â€œThe aircraft are a blend of Italian, French and Russian technology and are very spacious. They are for regional routes. They can take up to 100 passengers in different configurations of business class and economy. The aircraft are quick in take-off and landing, which means they can service short distances.â€
Chairman, Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON), Nogie Meggison said airline operators in Nigeria have always asked for access to brand new aircraft, adding that with Afrexim Bank coming into the picture to finance it, this will open a new chapter for operators into acquisition of brand new aircraft.
â€œOur problems in Nigeria as carriers are our financial structure and access to markets. You cannot finance an aircraft using 26 percent interest from the Nigerian banks. With Afrexim Bank coming in now to lease the aircraft, we will be required to pay just 10 to 15percent deposit of the actual value of the aircraft to operate the aircraft.
â€œWith this, the cash flow immediately gets better and we will have disposable income to take shock. So you can afford to pay a six months lease or put a deposit of 10 percent and still have cash in your pocket,â€ Meggison explained.
He suggested that there should be provision of spare parts, skilled engineers to provide checks and repair the aircraft and maintenance facility for the partnership to be sustained.