Nigeria has now taken a front seat in the business of private airplane ownership which is now a trend and competition among the rich in the country.

More exciting revelations have emerged that the penchant for private jets acquisition has cost wealthy Nigerians over 1 trillion Naira in five years.

The luxury trend actually rose by 650% between 2007 and 2012, this has increased the rate of private jet acquisition from 20 in 2007 to over 150 in 2012 which has placed Nigeria and china as the fastest growing private jets markets in the world.

A republished report by Forbes magazine said that that in the last five years, wealthy Nigerians had spent over $6.5 billion acquiring new private jets, which made it the continent’s biggest market for private planes

Contrary to media reports that there are more than 100 private jets in Nigeria, the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority, NCAA, said that there are only 71 operating in Nigeria.

The NCAA’s spokesperson, Mr. Sam Adurogboye disclosed in an interview that only ten private jets are registered in Nigeria while 61 others are registered in foreign countries.

“Foreign registered means the aircraft is registered with the Civil Aviation Authority of another sovereign state or country while Nigeria registered means it is under the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority registry of aircraft,” Adurogboye said.

“Where you register your aircraft has the oversight (function) over the aircraft. Any aircraft that has 5N at the tail means it is Nigeria registered. 5N was given to Nigeria by ICAO (International Civil Aviation Organization),”he said.

Such aircraft, Adurogboye added, “fly in and out. They can be here today and elsewhere tomorrow. They pay for landing, parking, overflying and fueling.”

He did not disclose how much it costs to register a private jet with the NCAA but said “it is a little amount of money.”

He said, the figure of 130 private jets in Nigeria published in the local and foreign media, including in Forbes, was false.

“I don’t know how they got their figures. As I am explaining to you, we just have 10 Nigeria registered private aircraft owners and 61 foreign registered.”

He said all the aircraft in Nigeria were registered in company’s names rather than private names.

He could not, however, give our correspondent the name of the companies, whose owners can easily be found from the Corporate Affairs Commission, CAC.

The rising cost of maintaining four private jets has forced flamboyant Nigerian pastor, Bishop David Oyedepo, to set up a commercial airline that uses four airplanes that had hitherto served as part of his private fleet.

According to findings, the cost of chartering a private jet ranges between $6,000 and $8,000 per hour, while chartering a helicopter costs between $8,000 and $10,000 per hour.

Industry analysts are of the opinion that each chartered aircraft operator makes an average of four flights per week, with each lasting three hours on the average.

Using an average of $7,000 per hour, the seven chartered jet operators make at least $588,000 (N88.2m) every week, broken down to 12 hours each, multiplied by $7,000 and the number of operators.

Further investigations revealed that chartered aircraft operators were now engaged in intense competition over Nigeria’s emerging niche market, as they had introduced diverse upscale products to capture the country’s bourgeoisies.

Both the chartered jet and helicopter markets have been buzzing with activities in recent times, according to operators.

Industry sources revealed that more foreign operators were planning to enter the market very soon.

The development, it was gathered, had forced the indigenous operators to begin re-strategising by buying new jets and helicopters.

A visit to some of the chartered jet and helicopter operators’ terminals at the Murtala Muhammed Airport, Lagos, revealed a fast emerging market.

At the Caverton Helicopters hangar and Apple Green aircraft maintenance hangar beside the international wing of the airport, workers enthused about the prospect of a growing market.

Various manners of VIPs from the corporate world and government circles usually throng the terminals to patronise the services of the operators.

Governors from a particular region in the country and key senators are known to be regular faces at the terminals.

It will be recalled that recently, the Rivers State governor Rt Hon Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi acquired a Brand new Bombardier Jet at the cost of 45 million U.S dollars, placing him on the list of wealthy Nigerians with private jets.