04 August 2012, Sweetcrude, Lagos – Bristow Nigeria Operations have decried the high import duty on aviation equipment noting that this is the reason a lot of Nigerian entrepreneurs cannot venture into the business, while also identifying the cost of financing, decaying infrastructure and limited manpower resources as major challenges.
Mr. Akin Oni, managing Director of the west African Business Unit of Bristow made these disclosures while speaking at an interactive session with journalists.
He disclosed that whereas it cost the company about $29 million to acquire an S29 aircraft, import duty on same in Nigeria is 14 per cent or $4 million.
“If this duties are waived, it reduces the pressure. With $4 million I can put up two aircraft hangers in Lagos.”
Oni noted that the state of aviation infrastructure – airspace and runway in the Nigeria is unacceptable, adding that there is no reason for this. He also lamented the cost of financing and manpower.
He disclosed that since the enactment of the Nigerian Content Act, Bristow has been sending quarterly reports on compliance and that there is a 2015 target aimed at ensuring 90 per cent of those who work within the country are Nigerian nationals.
“We have 6 pilots undergoing training in the USA and in a couple of weeks 6 more will be joining them. We have a training arrangement with the Aviation Training School in Zaria. the unrest in Kaduna had forced us to withdraw them to Lagos but we intend to send them back there in September.
“We had 45 of them in training at one time but 10 left. We are also in discussions with the school in Ilorin to commence ATPL training for Nigerians so that we can reduce the cost of training abroad,” he said.
Oni also disclosed that it cost Bristow $250,000 to train each pilot in the USA, adding that in 2011 alone the company spent $4.7 million on its training programme.
On the oil industry where the company provides over 90 per cent of its services in Nigeria, Mr. Oni said ‘we are beginning to see green shoots – PIB hopefully would be passed and we hope it will grow participation and activities in the upstream’.
“We’ve seen that the oil companies are not exploring in the manner that led to big discoveries of oil fields such as Ehra, Akpo.”
He noted that this is probably because of the air of uncertainty generated by the non passage of the PIB, adding that when passed into law, the PIB will clear up the air of uncertainty.
Oni also disclosed that while a fleet modernisation programme by the company is well underway in Nigeria, all maintenance work by the company is done in-country.
“We are probably the most equipped to service and maintain helicopters in Nigeria. We built a new hanger in Lagos and we have done same in Port Harcourt where we are expanding at the moment,” he said.