From Uche Usim, Abuja
Leading French aircraft manufacturing and leasing company, Airbus Group, has expressed desire to open an office in Nigeria as parts of its plans to widen its business in Africa.
The Ambassador of France to Nigeria, Denys Gauer, who led a delegation on a visit to the Minister of State for Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika, in his office yesterday said opening the office was a mark of confidence President Buhari’s quest to reform the nation’s economy.
He added that their visit also hinged on acquainting themselves and identifying with the new government vision and plans for the aviation sector, as presented by the Minister to various industry stakeholders both in the country and at the international level.
Also briefing the Aviation Minister, the Vice President of the Airbus Group for Africa, Vincent Larnicol told him that company had expanded its strong European roots to move forward on an international scale with fully owned subsidiaries in the United States, China, Japan, India and in the Middle East with spare parts centres in Hamburg, Frankfurt, Washington, Beijing, Dubai and Singapore as well as engineering and training centres in Toulouse, Miami, Wichita, Hamburg, Bangalore and Beijing; and more than 150 field service offices around the world.
According to him, Airbus, in its desire to get closer to its customers, is also actively developing engineering, manufacturing and service capabilities in Europe, China, India, Russia, the Middle East, Singapore and the United States. This, he said, also informed the decision to establish its presence in Nigeria with the opening of an operational office.
The Airbus Executive also informed Sirika of the Group’s interest in the goverment’s plans to concession major airports across the country, as well as the establishment of a national carrier, while also commending government’s plan to establish an aircraft leasing company in view of the inherent difficulties in acquiring new aircrafts.
In his remarks, the Aviation Minister informed the Ambassador and the Airbus delegation that the vision of the government for the sector include, among others; the establishment of a private sector-driven national carrier, concession of the nation’s major airports to make them more viable and up to global standards, repositioning domestic airlines to make them competitive and profitable, establishment of Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul (MRO) facilities and development of human capital for the anticipated expansion of the sector.
According to him, the plan of the Buhari administration was to gradually reposition the Nigerian Aviation industry in such a way that would turn the nation into a regional hub for air transportation, given the ICAO forecast of a quadruple growth for the nation’s air travel in the next 10 years.