By Chinedu Eze
The Director-General of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority ( NCAA), Captain Musa Nuhu, yesterday declared that only operational airlines with valid Air Operators ‘ Certificate (AOC) will access palliative packaged by federal government for indigenous carriers.
Nuhu who stated this at a zoom meeting said the palliatives proposed by the federal government would take different forms at a single-digit loan to be paid for many years. The NCAA helmsman said the umbrella body of indigenous carriers: Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON), would not err in putting forward a defunct airline for the palliative.
He said: “Any airline can apply, whether functioning or not but it is a policy that participating airlines must be functioning and with Air Operators Certificate. I also believe that the AON has its own set of rules and they know the criteria, I believe the AON will not put forward a non- functioning airline.”
On the economic viability of Nigerian airlines, he explained that the COVID-19 had dealt a devastating blow on even the strongest of carriers which are being handed bailouts to survive across the globe.
He went on: “The financial health of airlines is not limited to Nigerian airlines; it is a global issue, especially due to the impact of COVID-19. We have seen airlines that have gotten millions of dollars in subsidies from their governments, and they still have issues. Many airlines have sacked workers, BA, Emirates, Lufthansa sacked workers and are withdrawing some aircraft. It is a global thing. But the government is working on the palliative.”
Speaking on Aeropolitics, Nuhu said the NCAA will do all in its powers to protect the airlines, saying, however, that the airlines should always go through the regulatory authority whenever they are planning to launch into any foreign route.
“The airlines should always carry the NCAA, the Ministry of Aviation and the Nigerian embassy in the country they are flying into along, we are here to help them grow, they should carry us along, it will be very helpful when the airlines carry the regulatory body along.
“And when they have difficulties, they should complain to us, we will sit with them and guide them and even go with them, there must be fairness from both sides,” he said.
Speaking on the health status of the airlines, he said the situation in Nigeria is not different from what is happening across the globe, adding that even the airlines that have received millions of dollars in palliatives abroad are yet to get out of the woods.
On whether the NCAA autonomy is not being threatened, Nuhu said the regulatory body is still fully autonomous but it cannot isolate from the Ministry of Aviation.
“We cannot totally isolate ourselves from the Ministry but in terms of regulating, we are doing that without interference from the Ministry, but some things will be difficult to implement without political support from the Ministry.
“We implement our regulations irrespective of who is in the Ministry. All the agencies are under the Ministry, so we cannot operate in isolation, we have some relationship with Ministry, it is not realistic to divorce completely from the Ministry,” he added.