NCAA Assures of Air Safety Despite Hiccups in Flight Operations
The Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) has assured that air travel remains safe in Nigeria despite the crisis caused by high cost of aviation fuel and attendant high cost of flight tickets.
In order to ensure that airlines do not compromise on safety, the NCAA said the regulatory authority is currently carrying out financial and economic audit to ensure that the domestic carriers have enough funds to embark on schedule service.
This was disclosed yesterday in Lagos, by the Director General of NCAA, Captain Musa Nuhu who emphasised that the authority was saddled with the responsibility to ensure the current economic and financial crisis do not lead to safety crisis.
“Currently eight carriers are undergoing financial and economic audit and this is done in batches. Right now, it is just financial and economic crisis and we will do all we can to ensure it doesn’t get to safety crisis.
“NCAA has grounded a considerable number of aircraft. Though airlines may be undergoing these challenges but the regulator would not compromise on safety,” Nuhu added.
On Dana Air that was recently grounded by NCAA, the Director General said he would not give details on the airline because NCAA’s investigation into the activities of the carrier would be made public when investigation was completed.
He also disclosed that not much was discovered on the technical, economic and financial probe into Aero’s operations and confirmed that the airline opted to temporarily suspend operations to enable it carry out restructuring.
Reacting to the request of the Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON), the umbrella body of indigenous carriers for the abolition of five per cent Tickets Sales Charge (TSC), Nuhu said the regulator does not have the powers to grant such waivers. He said the TSC was a law signed by the president from the Civil Aviation Act passed by the National Assembly.
“We will look at how we can be flexible in attending to some of their requests without compromising safety,” Nuhu said.
On the status of the proposed national carrier, he said the NCAA would do all expected of it as much as the promoters meet the regulatory requirements. He said there was no preferential treatment for the airline in scaling the all-important Air Operators Certificate, (AOC) process.
“The national carrier is the policy of government. NCAA will play its role to ensure all requirements are met before it would issue out AOC to the intending carrier.”
On foreign airlines’ blocked funds in Nigeria, Nuhu said discussions were ongoing between Federal Ministries of Finance and Aviation as well as the Central Bank of Nigeria on how to resolve the issue.
Such intervention he said was not new as the federal government a few years ago, cleared part of the blocked funds to a reasonable level.
On depletion of seat on aircraft and crisis fares, he said the NCAA was working out interim measures to ameliorate the situation.
“All hands are on deck to ensure problems of the aviation industry is not treated in isolation of other national challenges,” he said.