The Nigerian aviation industry plays a key role in the country's transport system and overall economy. Thus, it is exasperating that air passengers still encounter numerous challenges, such as delays or cancellations of scheduled flights and lost, stolen or delayed baggage. Although existing laws and regulations govern passenger rights, key issues concern the level of passenger awareness regarding such rights and the inadequate enforcement of the laws and regulations.
As a signatory of the Kyoto Protocol to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, Nigeria must reduce its greenhouse gas emissions from both domestic and international aviation. To demonstrate its commitment in this regard, Nigeria has developed an action plan to reduce aircraft emissions and implement the Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation. Further, it intends to explore regulatory measures to reduce its aircraft emissions.
For the Nigerian aviation industry 2018 began on a relatively high note. In 2017 the sector experienced a number of milestones which should serve as leverage for building success as the country becomes an air travel hub in West Africa. These developments include the country's increased ranking in the Level 3 State Safety Programme Implementation Process, the International Civil Aviation Organisation certification of two airports and the signing of the Executive Order on Ease of Doing Business in Nigeria.
For the aviation sector to generate more income, the government must address a number of challenges to maximise the sector's full potential. Such challenges include compliance with the International Civil Aviation Organisation global standards, the difficulties experienced by aviation stakeholders wanting to access funds or ensure financing for the modernisation and expansion of their infrastructure, the slow implementation of the Yamoussoukro Decision and Nigeria's requisite skill shortages.
It is important that the safety and security standards adopted in the Nigerian aviation sector be given proper attention to ensure the protection and safeguarding of all stakeholders against acts of unlawful interference or other threats. However, aviation security in Nigeria is fraught with challenges and this has brought about recent deliberations from the government, regulators, the aviation industry and the public.
In May 2017 the Federal Executive Council approved the allocation of N1.52 billion for the financing of preparatory steps towards, among other things, the reintroduction of a national airline. While this is commendable, the need for a national carrier cannot serve as the conclusive basis for a decision that will have adverse effects on national and economic planning. As such, the government must carefully consider and address the concerns regarding the re-establishment of a national airline.
The Nigerian aviation industry has the potential to contribute in excess of 5% to the nation's gross domestic product and support over 1 million jobs. Nigeria's recent achievements and Level 3 rating in the state safety programme implementation process have positioned the country to become a travel hub. However, the inherent challenges facing the industry must be addressed before this status can be achieved.