by Isi Esene
Reports have it that wealthy Nigerians have spent about N1.05trillion on the purchase of private jets in the past five years.
Aviation sources say the trend is encouraged by the benefits derived from purchasing private jets by high-net-worth individuals who seek privacy, security, and the removal of unnecessary delays which hinder the effective conduct of business in a dynamic world.
According to sources, private jet ownership in the country has grown by 650 per cent, from 20 jets in 2007 to over 150 jets this year.
A private jet goes for between $40m and $65m, according to available records from manufacturers like Bombardier of Canada; GulfStream and Hawker Siddley of United States; and Embraer of Brazil.
According to reports, the common brands of private jets in Nigeria are Gulfstream 450, 550 and 650; Bombardier Challenger 604, 605; Global Express; Embraer Legacy and Falcons; and Hawker Siddley 125-800 and 900XP.
Using $50m as the average cost of each brand new private jets, the monetary value of all private jets in the country will therefore be N1.18 trillion ($7.5bn).
An aviation source who craved anonymity said, “Two countries buying private jets now are China and Nigeria. Europe and America are going through turmoil; so, their people are no more buying. This accounts for the trend that whenever some of the private jet manufacturers develop any new jet, they take them to Nigeria and China.
“The private jets in Nigeria are owned by top politicians, oil magnates and business moguls. It is difficult to get the real identities of owners of some of the private jets in Nigeria because they buy them through some foreign companies in North America, especially the US. The foreign company then leases it to another company in Nigeria,” explains the source.
The chief executive officer of an airline company recently complained of the difficulty in securing aircraft parking spaces at Abuja airport during major political events.
According to him, over 50 private jets were usually seen parked at the Abuja airport.
“If you go to the old local wing at the Abuja airport, there is virtually no place to park private jets again,” he said
Speaking on the development, industry expert, Olumide Ohunayo, said, “The economy is expanding, with increasing investments within the country and the region. This will invariably necessitate instantaneous travel that scheduled airlines cannot provide.
“Also the privacy needed in a country filled with paparazzi can be an issue. Increasing political and religious issues are contributory. By and large, it will continue to increase if the economy continues with a lot of diversification inputs that naturally spread wealth.”
Soon ‘Agberos‘ will start collecting parking tolls at Nigeria’s major airports.