Nigeria's jet set: How the super-rich travel
March 10, 2014
Nigerians have spent $6.5bn on private jets – the BBC visits one in Lagos
This, with the added exclusivity, has made the option of bespoke air travel a popular one for the super-rich.“It is difficult to estimate the exact number of private jets in Nigeria because the majority are under foreign registries,” says Rady Fahmy, the executive director of the African Business Aviation Association. “Aircraft in Nigeria, and most of Africa, are owned by individuals who are businessmen and women,” he says. “This is in contrast to North America and Europe where the account is usually under corporate ownership. “The choice to put it under individual’s name is due to financing requirements.” ‘To owner’s taste’ Most of the jet owners prefer to avoid the spotlight, especially when it comes to discussing their wealth, although within aviation circles it is common knowledge who owns what. The long-range Bombardier Global Express XRS, worth about $50m (£30m), is preferred by those at the top of the rich list, including Africa’s wealthiest businessman Aliko Dangote, oil baroness Folorunsho Alakija, and the mobile phone tycoon Mike Adenuga, who also own both short and long-range business aircraft. Other common models – ranging from about $57m to $39m – are the Gulfstream G550, Bombardier Challenger 605, and Dassault Falcon 900, with owners ranging from politicians to clergymen. Mr De Waal makes a quick phone call to a jet owner and I am granted access to a sleek Falcon 900. A polished dark wood trim sets the mini-bar apart from the rest of the cream interior with grey leather seats. The passenger area is divided into several parts, including a general area with four seats, a business meeting area also with seating for four, an enclosed area with a large couch that can be converted into a bed, and a small bathroom at the back of the plane. It is all made to the taste of the owner, a billionaire businessman, who asks not to be identified. The planes are also mostly registered abroad, mainly in the US, Bermuda, the Channel Islands, the Isle of Man and Mauritius. Some industry insiders think owners prefer such arrangements as aircraft lose their resale value if they are registered in Nigeria because of doubts over maintenance standards. Luxury jet tax axed It is difficult to ignore the tens of millions of Nigerians who cannot afford commercial air travel, not to mention owning aircraft. Nigeria is achieving steady economic growth but the general perception is that few are benefiting from this boom apart from its more than 500 people with estimated assets of above $50m. BBC Africa]]>
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