Minister of State for Aviation, Sen. Hadi Sirika, on Friday said the Nigerian economy would retain over N20 billion annually through local C-Checks on Boeing 737-300, B737-400 and B737-500 aircraft.
Sirika said this in Lagos after a successfully conducted Boeing B737-500 C-Check in Nigeria, which was carried out by Aero Contractors’ Aircraft Maintenance Organisation (AMO) at the Murtala Muhammed Airport, Lagos.
The minister, represented by the Commissioner of the Accident Investigation Bureau (AIB), Mr Akin Olateru, said: “Boeing is the most common aircraft type used by indigenous operators in Nigeria and we have over 30 of such aircraft.
“A normal C-Check cost between $1.8 million to $2 million outside the country, and the fact that we can now do it here in Nigeria is a huge milestone because it will reduce the demand for foreign exchange by airlines.’’
According to him, it will also reflect directly in significant drop in maintenance cost for airlines in Nigeria and the sub-region, as well as reduction in downtime for such checks.
The minister said the feat had made Aero the only airline carrying out Boeing C-Check in West and Central Africa. He said it was even more remarkable because the airline was struggling a few years ago and was taken over by the Asset Management Company of Nigeria (AMCON) due to its huge debt profile.
Sirika said the President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration had demonstrated its commitment to the aviation sector by repositioning domestic airlines such as Aero and Arik Air, which were hitherto facing various challenges.
Also, the Managing Director of Aero Contractors, Capt. Ado Sanusi, thanked the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) for certifying the airline to carry out the C-Check.
Sanusi said the airline in conjunction with its technical partners, S.A.A. Technique and AJ Walters, was poised to make the facility the best in Africa in order to attract more patronage.
He said: “Aero hereby invites airlines to conduct their C-Checks for B737 Classics with us, bearing in mind the tangible deliverables to be derived from patronising Aero.
“These include saving foreign exchange, getting a quicker aircraft turn-around time, enriching Nigerian technical expertise and knowledge base and strengthening the Nigerian aviation sector as the regional and sub-regional hub for aviation activities.’’
Mr Ahmed Kuru, Managing Director, AMCON, said AMCON’s intervention in ailing airlines was due to the strategic role the aviation sector plays in national development.
Kuru, represented by AMCON’s Director of Operations, Mr Aminu Ismail, said the maintenance facility would attract more foreign exchange to Nigeria as it would be patronised by operators from other African countries.
He, therefore, urged the NCAA to issue a directive to Nigerian airlines to make use of the facility in carrying out their C-Checks as a way of addressing the problem of capital flight.
On his part, the Director-General of the NCAA, Capt. Muhtar Usman, assured airline operators that the facility went through a rigorous audit and that the C-Check was of international standards.