By ANTHONY AWUNOR,
As the number of private jet owners in Nigeria continues to decrease due to economic recession, the remaining 50 per cent who still own the luxury items now spend about N30 billion on maintenance annually, LEARDERSHIP checks have revealed.
It was gathered that the remaining 100 owners of private jets in the country spend between $500,000 to $1 million to maintain their jets annually, translating to N30.5 billion.
Our finding showed that the number of owners of the luxury items dropped from 200 to between 50 and100, with most of them who are out of the league either selling out their private jets or returning them to their original owners abroad.
Before the present government came into power, it was estimated that Nigeria had about 200 private jets owned by individuals.
With the President Muhammadu Buhari administration maintaining an unshakable posture on the anti-corruption war, the number is said to have been halved to about 100 private jets, following cancellation of orders by potential owners before the new government came into office.
When contacted, the General Manager, Public Affairs of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), Sam Adurugboye, could not ascertain the current number of registered private jets in the country. He said he does not have such records.
But confirming the cost of aircraft maintenance, President of National Association of Aircraft Pilots and Engineers (NAAPE), Engr Isaac Balami, concurred that it is very expensive, as the issue of safety and engineering are paramount.
Balami said that even though modern aircraft has been able to take care of some of the maintenance by just software applications, the cost of maintaining an aircraft still remains a function of the type of the aircraft and the level of specifications certified by the aircraft maker.
Stating that the cost of maintaining an aircraft does not only end at “C” checks level, he added that there was also need for pre-flight, post flight and weekly inspections too, depending on whether the aircraft is Boeing, Airbus, Bombadier or Gulfstream.
He said, “It depends on how the manufacturer specify how you can do checks on the aircraft routine. There are normal routine checks but there is also non-routine checks. Sometimes you land and maybe you applied too much breaks and within two weeks, the break that is supposed to serve in the next four months, five months is now overused and due for replacement.
“There is conditional and unconditional maintenance checks. Sometimes you even have the ones you don’t even expect. A bird may just fly into your engine and that may cost hundreds and thousands of dollars.
“On average, I will say maintenance cost of private jet costs about $500,000 to $1 million US dollars for a year, depending on the size of the aircraft. The reason is because it is the function of the age of the aircraft. The older the aircraft the costlier the cost of maintenance. You must also pay engineers monthly and other costs. All these are part of it”.
Balami who rated Nigeria as the third highest private jet owning country pointed out that private jet ownership has reduced in recent times, while there still exist a couple of them.
He said, “The Bombadier is bigger and more comfortable; we also have the Gulfstream. Apart from America and China, Nigeria is the third in private jet ownership all over the world. From the last administration, we had over 200 private jets and so many other orders were made.
“It was growing up, although some people later cancelled their orders because of the recession, especially when everything is done in Dollars. France, UK and other advanced countries do not come near to Nigeria when it comes to private jet ownership”.
As at March 2014, it was reported that Nigerians spent over $6.5 billion dollars on private jets, making it one of the fastest-growing luxury jet industries in the world.
Some prominent Nigerians who are private jet owners include, All Progressives Congress (APC) chieftain, Ahmed Bola Tinubu; former governor of Abia State, Orji Uzor Kalu; former Borno State governor, Senator Ali Modu Sherrif; General Oversea of The Living Faith Church, Bishop David Oyedepo and African richest man, Aliko Dangote.
Others are second richest man in Nigeria, Otunba Mike Adenuga; head of the Redeemed Church of God, Pastor Enoch Adegboye; Lagos Business woman, Folorunsho Alakija; former president of the Christian Association of Nigeria, Ayo Oritsejafor, amongst others.