The Managing Director of Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA), Capt. Fola Akinkuotu, has urged the Federal Government to encourage investments in the production of aviation fuel, also known as Jet A1, locally with a view to guaranteeing its adequate supply and by implication, reducing airlines cost of operations.

The industry expert made the appeal while delivering a paper as the guest speaker at the annual Health, Safety, Security and Environment (HSSE) forum organized by PSRG-Richardson Oil and Gas company in Lagos.

Akinkuotu explained that the call became imperative in view of the prohibitive cost of aviation fuel and the need to address the supply challenges usually resulting in flight disruptions for airlines in the country.

According to him, local production of Jet A1 which accounts for over 30 percent of operational cost of airlines, will assure uninterrupted supply, reduced cost and translate to lower air fares with the attendant positive implications for airlines survival and profitability.

Speaking on the topic titled ‘Aviation Safety in Nigeria – Challenges, Issues and Solutions’, the industry chief bemoaned also the high cost of aircraft maintenance, describing it as “atrocious, largely because these costs are domesticated in dollars.”

The NAMA boss hinted that the Federal Government had initiated steps to set up Maintenance, Repairs and Overhaul facility (MRO) in the country as part of its plans to reduce capital flight, lower the times aircraft leave the country for repairs and reduce the cost of maintenance.

Akinkuotu, who spoke also on the safety on the Nigerian airspace for aviation business, pointed out that “the recent pronouncement by the U.S Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) that Nigeria’s air carriers’ operations are in compliance with the International Civil Aviation Organization’s (ICAO) standards is good news that rekindles hope in the sector.”

He pointed out that the aviation sector in Nigeria today remained safe as accidents have remained at zero level for six consecutive years with serious or reportable incidents at acceptable levels

On initiatives of the NAMA to fulfil its mandate, he disclosed that the agency embarked on the modernisation of airspace infrastructure through the Installation of Instrument Landing System (ILS), Distance Measuring Equipment (DME), Doppler Very High Frequency Omni-directional radio Range (DVOR) and Wide Area Multi-Lateration (WAM) for low flying aircraft surveillance and control.

Other facilities he spoke on include the ongoing installation of ILS/DME and DVOR/DME in 12 airports, and the CAT III ILS project which, he said, would be completed in Abuja and Lagos before the end of the year.