Aviation Business and Challenges of Operating in Austere Economy

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So much attention is always paid to schedule commercial flight operations because that is the flight service that airlifts majority of the people from place to place, but business aviation provides service to the critical entrepreneurs, investors and top government officials that drive the economy of the nation.

This sub-sector of the aviation industry also buoys the oil and gas industry, as it provides shuttle service to oil and gas exploration and production. Business aviation is a niche market that is indispensable, which plays crucial role by providing the fastest service in connecting the intra and international business engagements.

Recently THISDAY spoke with the General Manager, Nesto Aviation Services Limited (NestAv) Ehis Uadiale. The company provides charter, security and oil and gas shuttle services. In his exposition about the company, Uadiale also x-rayed the challenges facing the aviation sector and pointed out ways Nigeria can revamp the industry after the COVID-19 devastation.

Uadiale said that government must make planned, concerted efforts to ensure that operators in the industry both in business aviation and in schedule service do not go under.

He said that the challenges that cut across the sector include high tariff by Customs, high cost of aviation fuel and the need to have consistent transport or aviation policy not subjected to the whims of the Minister in charge of the industry at any point in time.

“Looking at the stringent regulation that we have we expect that there should be consistent implementation of waiver of tariffs on aircraft and spares given by the federal government. This government is a listening government so stakeholders in the industry should request support from government to ensure that airlines do not go under. This is important because the exorbitant cost of exchange rate does not favour any operator. When the right things are done to safe the industry, it will begin to blossom,” he said.

On the company, Uadiale observed that successful entrepreneurship is deep-rooted in identifying opportunities and meeting the demands for value. So, when the flourishing Obijackson Group assessed the Nigerian oil & gas industry, it identified the glaring need for industry-centric aviation services, particularly in the charter and security segments. This gave birth to NestoAviation Services Limited (NestAv) in 2013.

He said that NestAv is a silent but key player in the aviation industry, which has over time, focused on delivering its business objectives while identifying opportunities in areas that competitors may define as tumultuous. 

“While a large number of businesses and individuals might still be lamenting the challenges of the COVID-19 virus, its disruption of businesses and altering the way people live, NestAv has identified clear opportunities to positively impact the Nigerian economy by developing its expansion plans,” he said.

He said Nestav is a company set out with a commitment to render peerless air-travel services to all who demand such, with a focus on the oil and gas industry, particularly in the areas of offshore and VIP helicopter support, surveillance services, in addition to executive jet services locally as well as globally.

“NestAv operates with state-of-the-art hangers from two major locations, namely, the oil and gas operational base at the NAF Base, Port Harcourt, and the Murtala Mohammed Airport, close to the General Aviation Terminal (GAT) Ikeja, Lagos. From these strategic locations, the company has continued to provide its clients with world-class aviation services through its well-serviced fleet consisting of two AW139 helicopters, one Bombardier Global Express jet and a Gulf Stream G-IV.

“In the face of well documented daunting challenges confronting the aviation industry, NestAvhas managed to make steady progress in its almost ten-year history. This has led to the organisation’s confidence that through its solid foundation, substantial planning, and evolution, it is well-positioned to obtain a larger market share in the aviation industry,” he said.

The General Manager said the impact of NestAv’s operations on the Nigerian economy through its surveillance and security services is enormous, as the company has been able to use these aspects of its service rendition to help maintain stable oil and gas production. It has also contributed in no small way to securing lives and properties, particularly in the restive areas where the major oil companies operate. 

According to Uadiale, NestAv’s business success is not only measured in terms of profitability, but also in the organisation’s contribution towards preserving the lives of oil and gas professionals who consistently face security threats in their field of operation.

Seemingly satisfied with its role in ensuring peaceful and safe operations in the oil and gas industry, the General Manager of NestAv said that the company’s growth plan is poised to hit the ground running this year.

“We already have some plans in the pipeline, but our objective today is to deliver the quality service that we promise our clients. We do have a plan for fleet growth before the end of the year. Our target is to increase our brand recognition by potential clients by increasing publicity of our services. We are strengthening our hold on our niche segment and also achieving additional access within the oil and gas industry,” he explained.

Part of its effort to firm up its grip on its market share includes maintaining its rotary wings (helicopters) through a self-sustained maintenance organisation in-country which leverages an agreement with the Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) and entails following a defined maintenance program to aid the in-house maintenance and repairs when an aircraft is unserviceable or requires routine scheduled or unscheduled maintenance.

Though, for the fixed wings aircraft (jets) there exists limited capabilities to service and maintain aircraft in Nigeria, the organisation schedules annual shadow maintenance outside the country with an approved Aircraft Maintenance Organization (AMO), to ensure all its aircraft that require C-checks are serviced efficiently. 

Nesto Aviation Services (NestAv) Limited was incorporated in 2013 and is committed to delivering to all existing and prospective clients the highest possible service in air travel.

Providing offshore and VIP helicopter support flight services as well as Executive Jet Services to its esteemed clients across the country and the sub-region.