Nigeria suspends the import of private aircraft

The Federal Government has suspended the import of private airplanes and helicopters into the country. The measure was taken by the Ministry of Aviation a couple of months ago, in order to develop a new policy regarding the import and operation of private aircraft. No deadline has been set for the completion of the new regulations. A spokesman of the Minister confirmed the development, but stressed that the suspension did not affect the import of passenger aircraft being used by domestic airlines. The number of private aircraft in Nigeria has increased significantly over the past years.



36 responses to “Nigeria suspends the import of private aircraft”

  1. Greg says :

    All sorts of motives and permutations crop up.

    They may actually be scared of the mischief private owners could wreak with their planes. Sometime in 84-85, I heard of planes belonging to FG being used by their daring pilots for smuggling, over the borders. On, it’s alleged that customs cant keep up with sharp practices going on amongst the privates just now. Recall Idiagbon and Buhari hitting private owners too, in early ’84?

    At least there’s one bright spot: the possibility of FG insisting that locals be present on the flight decks of private aircraft, when the suspension is lifted

    • Alaba says :

      Greg, the 1980s were wild west times not only for FG pilots but by some cargo / passenger carriers for illicit activities. Oh, those DC-late and 707 crews. There was a time when technical and cabin crew were not even screened on their way of the country. Many became guests at pokeys abroad.

      Any idea/s how pressure can be brought to bear on owners/ operators of private aircraft to get locals into cockpits? Lack of willingness of the (SE) Senate Embraer and the NCAA isnt going to make that happen.
      Its amazing taking into account of negativity of foreign pilots to working in Nigeria..see pprune.. that there is no lack of them coming here.

  2. Greg says :

    Alaba, let’s divide every year into 4 quarters of 3 months each, and pass a Law requiring EVERY plane (by MSN or CN) operating across any two quarters, in our skies, have a Nigerian citizen as member of its flight crew, and a citizen as member of its MX crew as well.

    All the fancy talk about insurance requirements and foreign reg conditions, we should point out, at the end of the day, assuage the labour problems of the US, Europe and SA; well, we have labour problems of our own. No pretence here, let the gloves come off, let’s be fools if we have to get some of the most intricately trained and valuable human assets we have, working, all towards the equally foolish goal of serving our fatherland.

    If track record is any indication, NCAA will play games. Let them listen very well: we mean to make all those high rollers who abhor local crews aircraft-less, if they think it is too much to expect them to reward the land they’re milking with one or two regular paychecks every year. Yes

    • Anonymous says :

      Maybe start by naming and shaming those who are not employing Nigerians??
      I agree with Alaba the negativity on pprune is not very nice, it is such that our brethren are joining in as well.
      Time for us to start building and as the famous saying goes……..The journey of a thousand miles begins beneath ones feet!

      • Alaba says :

        Great points gentlemen. The ministry should NOT have suspended the importation in the first place. They should have simply have implemented a policy review of the existing one within a short time frame. Our problem is not with policy but implementation, as we all know!

        Putting indigenes in the cockpits etc should be in line with what the South Africans have done..positive discrimination. That has to do with an enforced immigration / employment policy not just for aviation but all spheres of the workplace especially with the large unemployed we have. Our corrupt system isnt ready for either of these points sadly.

  3. Eric says :

    The typical government knee-jerk reaction to any situation is banning or suspension.

  4. Greg says :

    @ Alaba: immigration/employment policy. Believe me, these issues crossed my mind. They are quite simply THE solution too. But I discarded them because I was exasperated: short of GEJ sitting at the vital desks at the public institutions concerned, who dares stick his neck out that they will comply. Like you said Alaba, our corrupt system isn’t ready for realities, sadly

  5. Alaba says :

    An established importation process is in place which might no longer be fit for purpose. Continue importaion, collect fees and issue temporary three month import licence after due diligence.
    Then proffer to the owners a list of unemployed pilots /techies that they might wish to employ subject to type ratings etc.
    If owner employs indigene , offer owner/s a tax break / incentive for the first year of employment and brought to code. No 3000 hr minimum for F/O on twins.
    Owner does not employ indigene or claims not to find qualified candidate, investigate and when 3 month import period is over, do NOT issue full licence.

    Why not aviation as an agent of change for the whole country. Chinese and foreign companies bring in staff who are less qualified and competent than Nigerians and we allow this nonsense?

    The South Africans had to put up with complaints from white people and some locals about how underqualified black SA pilots and employees were. Duh! They hadnt been given a chance. So the line in the graph then drops for the first few years and eventually starts to come up again with experience and even more important..confidence. Now SA have black crews in commercial, GA and state of the art fighters.
    Sorry for the lengthy reply.

  6. Greg says :

    Alaba, no reply is too lengthy for ideas which could save Nigeria. Your suggestion is creative, clever. I’ll pitch it if God sends a suitable op my way. God bless

  7. CaptFantastic says :

    @ Alaba, I can only say Bravo! Sir. I hope somebody at some desk making these decisions, can have access to such professional advice, and most importantly, use it!

    • Alaba says :

      Greg & CaptFantastic,

      Thanks. I have tried to find the existing aircraft import protocol at Customs and it seems to be ‘hidden’. (What else should I have expected!).
      I actually created a flowchart linking import duty collection sans the percentages, VAT etc with the recruitment of locals as technical / maintenance crew.

      A quick look where I reside shows that there are ways of beating the tariff. Atimes a temporary licence is issued and some operators just fly the plane out the country before expiry and fly it back a week later meaning a fresh start!

      Suggestions: Get the tax office to launch investigations against the corporate houses that bring in or lease these planes for evading taxes and fine them.
      Cut time frame when a foreign registered plane can operate in Nigeria to a max of 30 days. Yes, more paperwork for the Tax office but could be ‘jeun jeun’ at the same time.

      Let this forum make representations to FG that the continued use of foreign pilots on foreign registered planes poses ‘Saycurity’ risks to the country. This will be another driver for the use of indigenes.

      • LAF says :

        Another highly technical sector suffered similar is Oil & Gas.
        See what progress is being made there with reforms.

        If adapt practices in the EU and elsewhere to rejig labour laws.
        On the national scene, when no suitable Nigerian can be found for a position, the next best option should be ECOWAS citizen then spread out to the continent before going all out to recruit non-Africans.

        Was Nigeria Airways close to achieving the milestone 0% foreign pilot in service or the equivalent (enough local pilots available)?

  8. Alaba says :

    Never 0 % but few numbers of Indian, Pakistani pilots but not on the flagship planes, at first on the F-27s and 28s. Virtually all Nigerian crews on all Boeings and DC10s. Im sure the Airbus was fuly Nigerian.
    Pprune would have you believe Nigerian content across commercial ops is max of 50%. GA and bizjets lower than that.
    Wonder how many of the unemployed crews apply to the numerous security agencies ?

  9. Naijajet says :

    As a Kid between the lte 80’s and in the 90’s I had a lot of access to WT central control and dispatch room and during theat period I believe that WT was able to achieve a 100% Local content on all it own aircraft it. At period crew seem to be more available that aircraft at times, as a crew may only fly a leg say wt470 los – abv – los in two day till he is duty again. During this period operational fleet normally never exceeded 4 B737, 2 A310 & 1 DC-10..

  10. Greg says :

    Alaba, Naijajet on crews, 100 % correct (boy, central control !).

    The only foreigners by ’85 were the folks on the Guinness Peat 732s, EI-BJE, -BEF etc, (six machines at their peak in ’83). Some 747 wet leases too. The pilots’ and FE union had made sure it was locals only, as early as ’84.

    There seemed to be an Indian on A310, but the locals felt comfortable with him; seemed he was one of them. Same with Joe Roy, an Indian Ugandan, who later set up DAS Cargo in London, with mostly Nigerian pilots. There was Cpt Valerio, a Philipino who could well have had local roots; chose to strike in april ’84, and wound up with Okada 1-11s.

    August ’75, I flew an F28, Lag-Bni, commanded by an Indian. Rain at Bni, some aerobatics (as the crew searched for the runway, seems).Sadly, one of them commanded the F28 lost on approach to Kano, early ’77

  11. Alaba says :

    As a blog, we can write until we are tired about this unemployment of pilots & Techs. What is the stance of the Airline Pilots Association? They can’t still be moribound since 1984.

  12. Greg says :

    There is a pilots’ / tech union, Alaba, headed by a pilot called Balami; seems he flies with Aero.

    But, imo, public perception of them (and to some extent, our commercial pilots just now) is low. The days of fascination/awe, or at least, respect, faded with the demise of WT. It can be traced all the way back to the april 84′ WT strike, in which military thugs administering WT dismantled the pilots’ union, triggering the demystification of the flying profession, at least in our shores.

    Today’s union, lacking the deep roots, credibility and formidable antecedents only a national carrier can bequeath its members, has its work cut out for it on every front. Let’s hope they can hack it on the long run

  13. Anonymous says :

    Guys, as pilots and engineers unfortunately do not employ flight and ground crew we can do little until the Ministry and NCAA start to enforce the hiring of Nigerians. In the oil and gas industry there is a big drive for local content, yet our high net worth compatriots still have the blinkered view that foreign is best.
    What we should do as a group is to ensure that we show the highest standards of professionalism and have spokes people who are erudite and knowledgeable to bring this problem to the attention of those who can do something about it! The one benefit we have is that we know people who access to the corridors of power and we should start making use of our influence until something changes!!

    • Alaba says :

      Further to the two comments from Greg & Anon above, I spent the last hour researching comments from foreign pilots who work / or have worked in Nigeria on pprune and many other sites. With the exception of one, maybe two, the overwhelming majority were vitriolic about life in Nigeria. It was negativity at its best. I don’t know if Nigerian employers have a clause about bringing the name of their employers into disrepute but since all were under pseudonyms, not a lot can be done.
      From daily bribes to refuelers, dispatchers, visa issues, unsafe environments, ATC calamities, where not to have night stops, nightfighters (prossies), it was an indictment of our industry. However they love our money, love the tips from the ogas which allegedly range from $100-$2000, love the rotation, tell their compatriots not to take any bizjet job for less than $10k a month etc. I would love to say we turf the morons’ outta here because of this but they then say they love Ghana.

  14. LAF says :

    Ouch, ouch and more ouch!!!

    Don’t think many Nigerian employers read pprune that much.
    Besides flight crew working in Nigeria, foreign airlines crews aren’t thrilled when they are on duty to NGR, They besides the psychological preparation, they’re not excited about the restriction to their hotels. of course, they must get paid some extra security risk allowance of some sort.

    Looks like nothing short of the thoroughness of an accident investigation type of approach will get these labour and organizational problems which have been decades long in the making solved.

    The 84 WT strike over years long frozen salaries. What was the outcome for the salaries after the pilots union was dismantled?

    Also, not delved in so much here yet but starting from scratch anno now, how can training systems be redeveloped to get the numbers of competent Nigerian personnel up in every area as to restore normalcy as a natural sequence?

    • LAF says :

      It’s going to be a tonne of work to correct these anomalies but it can be done.
      Somehow, I don’t envy the current pilots. Their careers can be richer in work terms, not just money.

  15. LAF says :

    Let’s stay up and not freak ourselves out.

    We’ve got the other Eagles to deal with today (Mali)
    At least in the labour/ organizational , with 4(Keshi) and 14 (Amokachi) in control and achieving respectable results, that trend is set to continue and air transport will get back to itself.

    Great day everyone :-)


    • Anonymous says :

      Let’s hope they don’t come up short in the final and with Moses, Emenike and Mikel all being walking wounded, in the words of the BBC, it may end up being a Pyrrhic victory!!
      @ Alaba, the other annoying thing about the foreign crews is how much more they earn, I suspect most of them would laugh at 10 as being a ‘derisory offer’
      I know that even in a company like Bristow Helicopters which has consistently trained Nigerian pilots and engineers for decades, the Nigerians are undervalued. It used to be that Nigeria Captain based in the company year round earned less than an expatriate co-pilot who worked half the year on a 6 and 6 rotation!
      I heard of a contract Captain on bizjets getting $14k a month and some salaries as high as 20k.
      How many of our brethren can claim to earn that kind of money, even those employed in the corporate world?
      This favouritism has to stop but when it the war is being waged against us by our own with their “foreign crews are best mantra” what can we do?
      Vistajet is looking to expand in Nigeria big time but how many Nigerians do they employ?
      Again, why are the government and regulators not doing more about this?
      Why are the people chartering the jets not wondering where the Nigerians are?
      Time to start networking and lobbying for our own I think!!!!

  16. Anonymous says :

    Please excuse the typos, my secretarial skills are not what they should be :)

    • Alaba says :

      Anon my brother,
      Dont worry about typos. When writing with passion about the subject, it can happen.

      Your point about the pay of foreign pilots is spot on. Many get their monies paid into tax free havens (like our politicians!). We all fly in the same weather, same ATC, same facilities, environmental and local threats are the same.

      So, we’ve talked about it over many comments…what next? Form a lobby group to the senate? Use local print media to make the case? Tap into special interest groups looking at issues of foreign staff over local employment in other industries?

      Let this not be another talking shop.

      • Anonymous says :

        Thank you for your kind comments, I favour using our influence in whatever form we can to lobby the politicians and power brokers as they did not grow up in a vacuum. They are our friends, relatives, brothers and sisters.
        Those of us who know these people should start educating them on the wrongs and injustices going on everyday.
        A lobby group will be nice as a start but I’m open to contributions from anybody who has ideas as to how best to proceed!

  17. Alaba says :

    2012 survey of pilot pay in the US broken down into corporate/ commercial and military.

    • LAF says :

      That’s how it ought to be. The heli pilots should be getting <$10K in Nigeria,.

      Nigerian pilots are essentially 2nd class employees or less.
      We do have a Ministry of Labour and Productivity. It's theirs to handle such. Perhaps an area the ART and other avi bodies can pitch in things.

      Anon, petition tools like are available.

      • Anonymous says :

        Thanks, will check out the page, helicopter Captains in a certain indigenous helicopter company get a bit more than ten grand. Some particularly lucky ones are rumoured to be on about $14k or more!!

  18. Alaba says :

    Quick question…does anyone know how foreign registered planes pay for services like fuels, landing in forex or local currency?
    Well done Eagles..just coming out of the bookies.

    • LAF says :

      Never delved into this. What’s standard practice?

    • Anonymous says :

      Depends on what they are paying for, I know of one airplane that pays for fuel and landing feesin Naira but parking fees in a place like Execujet are sometime paid in dollars as you’ll need quite a lot of Naira to pay there :)

  19. Alaba says :

    LAF’s petition tool is quite direct and simple. Problem will be getting email addresses of key people in Senate, Ministry of Aviation, NCAA and allied interests. A paper that we can attach should list objections to non use of Nigerian crews by foreign registered and 5N aircraft.
    @ LAF talked about from EU guidelines.
    Developing of local talent
    Increased revenue collection in forex
    Forced development of key services in Nigeria- Shame that Kabo et al have to go to Indonesia for heavy maintenance. Indonesia and Nigeria were on a par back in the 60s and 70s and like everything else we lost our way and focus due to inept leadership and corruption. Ethiopia for all its economic woes is still Africa’s aviation leader in maintenance and training. We sadly are Africa’s leaders in nefarious / 419 type activities.
    Why build so many cargo hubs when we should also look at maintaining what we have? Bad runway surfaces, Inadequate radio / ATC communications and goes on and on.

    There is oil money in the system now that directed properly will mean change. Let us give Nigerians the aviation services it deserves. ‘By our people, for our people’. Cognac induced slogan!

  20. LAF says :

    A good idea is to to write a paper. it’s not clear how much this issue has been thoroughly investigated.

    Fortunately, there’s enough industry data that can be sourced from Nigeria and other countries to make a convincing business case to review policies on the salary disparities with the intent to better harmonize wages and competencies.

    Borrowing heavily from countries with better organized labour policies especially with regard to national-expatriate situation, we can also essential look to reverse engineer the negative trends here to achieve a more market-conform wage situation.

    Beside the pure business economics of it all, maybe an approach from the social/human development angle would help as well. What makes it difficult for organizations to take proactive steps to curb this trend?

    Let’s examine the National Team coaching. Hoping all goes well on Sunday, in any case the AmoKeshi setup will have to go down in history as one of the most financially efficient and sound investments till date. The not so nice part of the story is that it’s with no real thanks to the sports authorities who never really believed in them anyway and perhaps only ‘made do’ with them because of budget cuts in hiring the usual strangers for far away.

    Perhaps theire are some genuine parallels that can be drawn with national football and the air transport situation.

  21. Greg says :

    Gentlemen, LAF with social/human engineering is a good idea. But the bodies best placed to effect such our our institutions (said to be weak and in fact, spectacularly so), and our leaders (the most crucial aspect of the problem).

    We like to call ourselves the giant of Africa, right? In 2000 or 2001, a Chinese factory caught fire in Lagos. So many Nigerians were killed, partly because they were locked in by the owners, who did this to prevent the workers from stealing the goods. There are allegations that the owners were in the vicinity, shooting into the air, to frighten the workers from trying to escape.

    In investigating the matter, a senior police officer called Arebamen, is said to have observed that the workers should have counted themselves lucky to have jobs in the first place. The details escape me, but the context was one in which Arebamen was making a case for the Chinese.

    I’m not aware the Chinese were ever brought to book.

    But last year in “lowly” Zambia, two Chinese were remanded in custody whilst investigation ensued, after locals were killed in the Chinese’ employ. At the initial court hearing, the judge was so harsh in his criticism of the Chinese’ behaviour, I feared he was exposing himself to being accused of bias.

    Contrast the above with Nigeria’s case.

    Last year or so, (sorry I don’t have the details), a mobile phone opertaor, after threatening local staff who grumbled over poor conditions, fired the whole lot and replaced them with Indians. GSM company o, not some slippers and rubber toy manufacturer. By the way, we DO have a Labour minister; his name is Emeka Worgu. Evidently, he eats supper, has a good sleep, takes breakfast also, and goes to work. Everyday.

    The foregoing is not to say change is impossible, it’s just to put things in perspective, so that everyone realises the scope of the problem at hand. Is it not in this thread that Alaba pointed out that Indians and Chinese, in setting up here, bring workers from their own countries to man the companies?

  22. LAF says :

    Super Sunday, Super Eagles!

    An undeniable victory for MADE IN NIGERIA and a great kickoff of our Centenary celebrations. A full textbook on what is possible on the pitch, in the air and everything in-between. Let’s celebrate!

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