January 24, 2023

Aircraft leasing: Nigeria loses $2bn annually over absence

•Scuttles FG aviation roadmap 7 years after

•Air Peace, Ibom, 2 others lease 16 aircraft overseas


There are indications that the Federal Government may not achieve its aviation roadmap unveiled seven years ago by the current administration.

This is coming against the background of the federal government’s inability to establish aviation Leasing Company, ALC, in the country, thus denying Nigeria’s aviation sector over $2 billion annually.

Airlines lease aircraft from other airlines or leasing companies either to operate the aircraft without the financial burden of buying them or to provide a temporary increase in capacity.

Vanguard Aviation World gathered that a B737-8 can be leased for slightly more than $385,000 per month and a 12 year term with good credit. While an A320neo generating $53 million revenue and over $8.5 million at the end of lease cost $370,000 per month.

However, domestic airlines have continued to lease aircrafts from foreign countries, thereby denying the sector the revenues that would have accrued from the transactions.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Aviation, under the leadership of Hadi Sirika, had reinstated its commitment to delivering the key components of the aviation sector roadmap.

Vanguard Aviation World gathered that the roadmap which was aimed at creating enabling environment for the industry to thrive comprises the following: Concession of four Airports, Establishment of a National carrier (Nigeria Air), Development of Agro filled / Cargo Terminals, Establishment of Maintenance, Repairs and overhaul (MRO) centre, Establishment of an Aviation Leasing Company (ALC), Development of Aerotropolis (Airport cities), Establishment of an Aerospace University and improvement in Aviation Safety and Security through upgrades and Modernization of Aviation infrastructure and facilities.

Amongst the eight key pointers in the roadmap yet to be actualised is the ACL, another project which has failed to kick-off despite huge capital flight involved in the transaction.

Air Peace, Ibom, 2 others lease 16 aircraft overseas

Stakeholders have stated that the absence of a leasing company is negatively affecting the fortunes of indigenous airlines as they leased aircraft at exorbitant exchange rates.

Over four domestic airlines have leased or acquired aircraft from abroad recently, all running into billions of dollars.

A breakdown of the development showed that, Air Peace has a grand total of 10 Airbus A320-200s, all of which were leased from SmartLynx and its Malta and Estonia subsidiaries as part of the flag carrier’s attempt at diversifying its narrow- and widebody fleet since last November.

Also, Ibom Air procured two aircraft from GetJet Airlines UAB (operating as GETJET), a European aircraft leasing company, on a one-year wet-lease agreement. The airline is also expecting to acquire 10 additional Airbus A220-300 aircraft before the end of 2026.

Lagos-based value airline, Green Africa leased three aircraft from ACIA Aero Leasing, while United Nigeria wet-leased A320-200 (1454) with CFM56s from Trade Air, Croatia.

They noted that Nigeria loses over $2 billion annually to the absence of ALC, with high bank interest rates and foreign exchange rates, aircraft leasing outside the country has continued to erode the revenues of airlines.

Expert reacts

According to Aviation analyst, Olumide Ohunayo, ACL in Nigeria is very good for us as a country.

He said: “But we should look outside the government involvement. We should as a country look at how we will encourage the private sector to push this.

“If we keep hoping on the government, at the end of the day we will never see a company like that. They will just keep saying it will come, eight years down the line nothing has happened even when it was part of their road map.

“As stallholders in the sector, we know the beauty and benefits to the economy, to the airlines, and also to improve the fleet size of our carriers and also save the cost of leasing during the seasonal period where air transport is high.

“I am looking forward to seeing a capable company and I am sure it is an idea that is overripe and it will blossom before the end of this year, if we are free from government interference and allow the private sector to push the strike.

 “If this company comes in we are sure of more airlines and those on ground will have options when they have huge issues when they have to take aircraft out for maintenance, when the aircraft is down they can easily address or within 3 to 4 days of paperwork an aircraft is out for them to use.

“That will help to increase schedule reliability, we would have less of this flight cancellation and delays because there is no flight. This is just a beautiful idea that is long overdue for the economy.

“For the airlines, it is good for them rather than changing naira to dollars you have the company here discussing naira. It brings the cost of operation down. Again you are looking at the cost of professionals and crew, all this are taking away because the aircraft is here.