Airlines seek friendly policies to remain in business and grow as NCAA assures plans are in place…

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Airlines operating in the country say, they are in dare need of policies and regulations that will not stifle their businesses and growth of the industry.

This just as the operators also stressed the need to adopt a new approach in the way things are done if the industry is to fully recover from the pandemic.

Captain Ibrahim Mshelia, Chairman West-link airlines who was the chairman at the just concluded League of Airports and Aviation Correspondents, LAAC, 25th Conference at the Sheraton Hotel, Ikeja said, many factors were responsible for many airlines closing shop in the country after few years of starting operations.

These factors, Capt. Mshelia says, was a heavy burden on the airlines noting for instance, the way the regulator handles the issuance and renewal of its Air Operator Certificate, AOC.

He explained that, with the lopsidedness in the procurement procedures and the operational limits of AOC holders in Nigeria, there was the urgent need to amend the Act and policy in this area, to empower the civil aviation to also break down the certification process of the airlines commercial operations.

“The word AOC has been so over-valued like a village masquerade that appears once in five years. This is not supposed to be so. Operations specifications, in this regard, is the masquerade and not the certificate”.

Capt. Mshelia therefore proposed that, the AOC should have NO Expiry date unless suspended or revoked while the Operation specifications only should have a biannual expiry, to shed unnecessary expenses to the operators.

“Today, we have an unhealthy situation where there is a blanket issuance procedure of AOC for big, small, or large operations. Under this system, the roles of other segments of operators that are also entitled, by law, to operate commercial operations, unfettered as guaranteed by ICAO, are not spelt out. By ICAO standard, small, large and medium operations, including; Air Taxi, Air Charter, Cargo Only, nonscheduled and Scheduled operations etc, are recognised”.

The Vice Chairman, Airline Operators of Nigeria, AON, Mr. Allen Onyema said, failure of airlines were often blamed on poor management structure but stressed that, it was much more than that as policies were also major problem of the airlines.

He said, there were myriads of problems confronting the sector and presently things were evolving and maybe for the better.

“Government policies in the recent past had been better compared to what we had in the past. The present government has done well in the area of policy such as customs duty waiver on aircraft spare parts and VAT and others that are favourable to the airlines’”.

L-R Senator Adeyemi Smart, Chairman Senate Committee on Aviation, Commissioner for Information, Mr Omotosho and the DG NCAA, Capt. Musa Nuhu at the 25th annual conference of LAAC at the Sheraton hotels, Ikeja.

  The Director General NCAA Captain Musa Nuhu assured that the regulatory agency was working assiduously to ensure that all stakeholders including the airlines would have cause to smile when all its plans have been completed.

He said, the NCAA was shifting gears in repositioning towards the effectiveness and efficiency of its statutory function of its safety oversight. 

Capt. Nuhu listed some of the actions taken by the CAA to include , restricting of the Authority from 8 to 6 Directorates for a more responsive and flexible functionality, automation of internal process through the implementation change management and acquisition of appropriate ICT systems which was ongoing.

The review and repositioning of the Authority’s Regional Offices as tool to ensure oversight coverage of the entire nation and  bringing the Authority closer to all stakeholders and ISO 9001 Certification of NCAA.

Others are; “domestication of all inspector mandatory core courses, sakeholders consultation to review the current Nig.CARS to align with the new Civil Aviation ACT taking into consideration new normal to promote the orderly growth of the industry especially  General Aviation which the key to a successful industry”.

“Development  of a medium and long term strategic plans in consultation with all relevant stakeholders and collaboration with other aviation agencies is in full gear for preparations for the  ICAO Universal Safety Oversight Audit Programme in 2022”.

He however noted that, the Authority like any organization has its  own challenges and difficulties which were attracting and retaining adequate number of technical personnel which was critical for effective oversight of the industry and discovered sadly in the last ICAO USOAP-CMA. 

“This problem is global and not peculiar to Nigeria as CAA’s salaries and wages are not competitive with that of the industry a rival for the services of these technical personnel”.

He promised that, the CAA would continue to partner all stakeholders especially the media for the attainment of industry  potentials for the benefit of people and country. 

“We therefore enjoin all stakeholders to join hands in collaboration and cooperation to grow the industry”.