The juicy spot of being an aviation hub of the West Africa sub-region by Nigeria has been lost to Ghana following the harsh economic environment and unfriendly policies of government agencies. Apart from the prestige of being the hub, the economic gains are so enormous that losing it spells doom for the country’s investment opportunities, tourism and associated benefits of employment in many sectors.
With several international airlines preferring to make Ghana their hub, it will take many years of sustained seriousness to win them back.
Here are some of the reasons Nigeria lost its hub spot:
- Uncertain economic environment with unstable policies, especially concerning repatriation of forex by airlines.
With constantly changing policies and regulations, it is difficult to plan, even in the short term. And with the exchange rate unstable, business decisions are difficult to take. Add this scenario to the inability of airlines to repatriate their income to their base, and it is clear why doing business here is unsustainable.
- Scarcity, high prices and unavailability of aviation fuel.
With aviation fuel recording 40 percent cost of running airlines, its affordability and availability are crucial. And here, you cannot predict if the commodity will be available and at what price.
From N120, the price reportedly jumped to N240 per litre. And on many occasions, airlines, with punctuality as a condition for maximizing profit, have lost huge sums to waiting for expensive fuel.
- The state of our airports have diminished our attraction as a destination of choice.
Unkempt and ugly airports with below average facilities have discouraged international travelers, and reduced our attraction as a hub.
From aging airports to abandoned facilities, travel experience is unimpressive.
- Aviation agencies frustrating airlines.
From Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority to Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria and Nigerian Airspace Management Agency, all line frustration on the path of airlines. Corruption and ineptitude combine to frustrate airlines used to plain, clear and straightforward international business practices.
And in the last few months, the effect of losing our top aviation hub to Ghana are so painful. Oil marketing companies who service the international airlines by providing fuel have lost huge sums to their relocation to Ghana.
Hotels around the airports providing accommodation for the crew are also losing out.
So are those running support services such as catering and ground staff.
Airlines are reducing the frequency of their flights to Nigeria and bringing smaller aircraft. And instead, plotting to increase their frequency to Ghana where the government is providing enormous support, from cutting cost of fuel by 20 percent to other incentives.
British Airways reportedly buys fuel from Ghana, and Air France is planning a three weekly flight from Accra in March 2017.