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Nigeria’s aviation sector set to soar: Airbus forecasts demand for new aircraft to almost triple by 2042

The aviation industry in Nigeria possesses the potential to emerge as the connective tissue that binds together its diverse regions and fuels economic progress.

During a media briefing ahead of the 7th Aviation Africa Summit and Exhibition opening at the Abuja International Convention Centre, Airbus unveiled its market forecast for Nigeria.

Home to two of the world’s fastest-growing cities in the shape of Lagos and Abuja, airlines serving Nigeria will require nearly 160 passenger and freight aircraft by 2042, according to the 2023 Airbus Global Market Forecast (GMF). This includes 131 single-aisle aircraft such as the A220, A320 families, and 28 widebody aircraft such as the A330 and A350 families serving the Nigerian market in the next two decades.

Aviation plays a pivotal role in driving economic development across the African continent creating jobs, facilitating domestic, intra-African and global trade and regional integration. Its significance is particularly profound in the case of Nigeria. Africa’s most populous country, marked by substantial landmass, a vibrant, dynamic and ever expanding economy. The aviation industry in Nigeria possesses the potential to emerge as the connective tissue that binds together its diverse regions and fuels economic progress.

Airbus also predicts that the aviation sector growth on the continent will drive average yearly services demand up by 4.1%, from US$2 billion, to US$7 billion. Growing Maintenance Repair & Overhaul (MRO) services at both local and regional level are central to the sector’s growth, safety and longevity. The expansion of MRO capabilities in the country could serve to bring in additional revenues, reduce aircraft maintenance costs and provide even further opportunities for job creation and skills development in Nigeria and the continent at large.

As Nigeria and indeed Africa’s aerospace industry grows and becomes more dynamic, an increasing demand for specialised skills is creating thousands of new opportunities for young people on the continent. Already, an estimated 7.7 million direct and indirect jobs have been created by the industry in Africa. Airbus predicts that a further 17 000 technicians, 14 000 pilots and 23 000 cabin crew positions will be required across Africa in the next 20 years.

Regional cooperation and cross-country licensing are important in ensuring that talent is retained, while government and private sector partnerships and training academies are essential in creating a pipeline of talent for a robust and sustainable aerospace industry in Africa.

In the wider African continent, Airbus predicts that 1180 new aircraft will be needed for the continent by 2042, made up of 295 widebody and 885 single-aisle aircraft. During this period, the fleet in the region will transition to new generation types such as the A220, A320neo family, A330neo and A350 bringing significant efficiency improvement and a corresponding reduction in carbon emissions per passenger.

Over the past 10+ years, significant improvements to the industry have been made across the continent, including the creation of the Single African Air Transport Market (SAATM) as well as the modernisation of fleets by national airlines. There are currently 265 Airbus commercial jetliners flying with 36 operators in Africa. Today African carriers such as Ethiopian Airlines, Ibom Air, Air Senegal, South African Airways, Air Côte d’Ivoire, EgyptAir, Uganda Airlines and Air Tanzania, have chosen to operate some of the most technologically advanced aircraft such
as the A350, A330neo, A320neo and the A220.

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