An aviation and tourism expert, Mr Ikechi Uko, on Tuesday said Nigeria should develop an Aviation Masterplan so as to maximise the abundant opportunities in the sector.
Ikechi, who is the promoter of the Akwaaba African Travel and Tourism Expo, made the suggestion while speaking with newsmen in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
He said other African countries especially Ethiopia, South Africa and Kenya were taking advantage of the potentialities of the aviation sector to drive their economy.
“Nigeria first have to create a grand plan of what we want to do with aviation because aviation drives economy, aviation creates wealth and employment.
“So, we have to have a masterplan for aviation. How many people do we want it to employ and what do we want it to contribute to our Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
“We have to bring it down to the number of airlines that we need to activate this vision but unfortunately, we have not been able to implement this as a policy,” Uko noted.
He said it was unfortunate that Nigeria had been unable to establish a new national carrier since the liquidation of the Nigeria Airways in 2004 by the Olusegun Obasanjo regime.
Uko however noted the efforts being made by the Federal Government to set up Nigeria Air as the new national carrier, but said the project would only be successful by strategic planning and appointment of experienced and competent personnel.
“If we want to start a new national carrier, we have to start small. We can have a vision of becoming the biggest airline in the world, but it is not a vision that we start immediately.
“I cannot see a carrier starting that big in Nigeria and succeeding. In aviation from my experience, it is better to start small and grow just like RwandAir and Asky is doing today.
“What I need to see about the sustainability is that we are starting within the capacity of our skills set, management capacity and airport capacity,” he said.
According to him, Nigeria should emulate Ethiopian Airlines (ET) by keeping aside politics from the new national carrier.
“Though ET is 100 per cent owned by government, it is run like a private business. There is a succession plan. Everybody in ET knows where they are positioned and they know where they are going.
“So it is generation after generation and there is a clear plan and that is why the airline has succeeded for 70 years.
“For us in Nigeria, we can do the same thing but the most important thing is to separate politics from business.
“We have a crop of competent managers in Nigeria and we can create a team and use them to run airlines,” he said.