By Chinedu Eze
Experts in the aviation industry have called on the National Assembly to amend the 2006 Civil Aviation Act to empower the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) to carry out effective economic regulation of domestic airlines in order to save them from going under after 10 years of operation.
They made the call in response to the plan by the National Assembly to commence a review of Civil Aviation Act 2006 next week.
The experts noted that while NCAA has performed well to improve safety in the industry since the Act was passed into law, however, the existing Act has not really empowered the agency to enforce the economic regulations of the industry especially on the airlines and other organisations in the sector.
They also enjoined the National Assembly to ensure the retention of the 5 per cent Ticket Sales Charge/Cargo Sales Charge (TSC/CSC), which were the main sources of NCAA revenues before other agencies were included in the sharing formula.
Industry analyst and former senior official of the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA), Ifeanyi Ogochukwu, said strengthening of economic regulation of NCAA was key to the survival of airlines and growth of the sector.
Ogochukwu, a licenced Air Traffic Safety Electronics Specialist, said the regulatory agency should be empowered more to effectively carry out oversight functions of the entire industry, including charter operators.
“The economic regulation is key for NCAA to continue to discharge its duties in the sector. NCAA must have the authority to enforce and implement compliance of economic regulation of the industry. It is obvious that most of the airlines don’t have a bigger plan, as some people who have money just go into the business and start running an airline without structure or business plan, and of course, it is bound to fail.
“Also, NCAA should have more power to regulate charter services in the Act. A lot of people in government are using charter services to do some shady business in the industry. NCAA should have the regulatory authority to effectively regulate the charter services,” Ogochukwu said.
Speaking in the same vein, the Director, Centre for International Advanced and Professional Studies (CIAPS), Prof. Anthony Kila, said NCAA as a critical agency in the sector should be empowered to discharge its duties without interference.
Kila canvassed for a new NCAA that is customer-centric, flexible and one that works in harmony with airlines and other organisations in the sector, adding that its economic regulation should be more potent with the new Act.
“For the economic regulation, the essence of this is to make sure that customers are not stranded, no matter who runs the airlines. The reason they should be sound economically and safe technically is to make sure our sky is safe.
“Therefore, a good economic regulation should not be the one that will make life unnecessarily difficult, but work with them to ensure that it is sustained. That means you have to look at the cost of insurances for airlines, regime of paying for landing and parking for airlines.
“Overall, the new NCAA should be passenger-centric. If anyone can understand that the reason they are on that table to discuss, deliberate and consult is purely to make life easier, safer and more reliable for the passengers, that is the way we can get there,”
The experts insisted that effective economic regulation would force airlines to prudently manage their operational funds