A Ghanaian pilot and chief executive of Mish Aviation West African Flying School, Capt. Ibrahim Mshelia, has appealed to the federal government to abolish customs duty on aircraft and aircraft spare parts for Nigerian-owned airlines.
Addressing aviation correspondents in Lagos recently, Mshelia said since Nigeria does not manufacture spare parts, duty on such imported items should be waived.
“This is what obtains in Ghana today, and that is why we are able to successfully bring in all our training jets to Accra with little or no difficulty.
Considering that Nigeria does not manufacture aircraft or spares, I recommend strongly for a 100 per cent waiver on these imports in order to help indigenous airlines to be competitive with their global counterparts. Most competing airlines from Europe,
North America and even some Asian countries do not need to spend additional money to ship and pay customs duty for such items. The young and very small Nigerian airlines can better compete if they enjoy such import duty waivers,” he stated.
He also urged government to ensure regular and adequate supply of aviation fuel to airlines by building refineries and refining the product locally.
“This will beat down the price and the airlines will be able to purchase the fuel at reduced rates, thereby leaving them with more money to plough back into their operations as it is understood that aviation fuel gulps much of the finances.
This will help to check the incessant delays and outright cancellation of scheduled flights that we are beginning to witness in Nigeria today on a large scale,” said Mshelia.
Thereafter, he spoke about the flying school, saying the institution had got the approval and necessary documents from the Ghana Civil Aviation Authority, adding that the first set of student-pilots will resume classes in August 2011.
He announced that Mish Aviation West African Flying School was the first private school established in the West African sub-region to train commercial pilots exclusively and that it was meant to complement what the Nigerian College of Aviation Technology (NCAT) is doing.
Furthermore, he said that the school would afford young Nigerian, Ghanaian, Sierra-Leonean, Liberian, Gambian and nationals of other countries who desire world-class and affordable commercial pilot training a good place to realise their dream.
“As a fall-out of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attack on America, which was carried out by people with civil aviation expertise, the United States which had hitherto provided over 80 per cent of commercial pilot training worldwide, has now considerably reduced the amount of access that would-be pilots from many countries of the third world have to attend American flying schools.
“Moreover, acquiring the US visa has also become very difficult. Against this backdrop, Mish Aviation West African Flying School comes handy for interested students across West Africa, the rest of the continent, and even beyond.
“Our fleet of aircraft, classrooms and training facilities in Accra are equipped with state-of-the-art technology.
With the advantage of our own maintenance hanger, located at the Kotoka International Airport, we are able to maintain very high safety standards, surpassing the requirements of the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA),” he added.
On the cost implication of setting up the school and what standards were already put in place, Capt. Mshelia said:“The cost implication of setting up the school is like the airline.
The airplanes that we use are small airplanes which are a lot cheaper to acquire.
And also we have some arrangement of lease and because of the number of people that is going in there, we don’t need much.
We would not say that cost has not ended; we have simulators which we are leasing, the aeroplanes we are leasing. So...the actual cost to us at the moment is going to be the facility itself which in essence is under a million dollars.
“And the standard, the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) has standard for aviation activities.
ICAO has three principles it recommends to people for individual states.
There is a standard document that guides all civil aviation to certify a particular operation in aviation from the airline itself. Once training organization is certified by a particular state it is a common check list that ICAO uses in Africa, Ghana or Nigeria.
So once we have met that requirement then we get the certification then everything falls in place, so that we meet international standard automatically.”