November 29, 2023

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Nigeria Air Take-off Date Yet in the Realm of Conjecture

5 min read

When the much-touted national flag carrier which has taken over half a decade to birth will begin caressing the skies is still left in the realm of conjecture.

The number one personality of air transport regulator in Nigeria, Capt Musa Shuaibu Nuhu, Director General, Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority, NCAA, gave the indication in a media chat.

Capt Nuhu publicly acknowledged as a fact that the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority, NCAA, had received an application from the promoters of Nigeria Air, for an Air Operator Certificate, AOC.

Musa Nuhu declared, “the only thing I can tell you is that the promoters of that airline have applied and their AOC is ongoing”.

Capt Nuhu Shuaibu Musa, Director General, Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority, NCAA

On why he could not give a possible date for the issuance of AOC to the purported startup, the NCAA helmsman said the issues involved were beyond him and his agency because the State’s Department of Security Service, DSS, would still conduct background checks on the key officers of the proposed airline.

The DG said when such a report or the nod of approval unanimously on the board of directors would come, was outrightly out of the regulatory authority’s purview.

He however pledged that all within the NCAA to do as to the issuance of the certificate would be done with dispatch which was the authority’s usual practice.

Please enjoy the thread of the chat below;
Question: What’s your take on Airlines airfares fluctuations and the accusation of NCAA interference? Also, consider the relevance of FCCPC in the entire consumer protection process

Ans: FCCPC has its own functions, which are different from that of the NCAA. FCCPC deals with consumer protection and NCAA deals with air transport regulations, which I think still deals with the issue of airfares.
All airlines are supposed at the beginning of each year to file their airfares to NCAA and most of the airlines do that. However, during the year, if the airfares are going to be higher than the ones filed before the NCAA, the airline is supposed to notify NCAA. Then, we will do our reasonableness check and if we are good with it, we tell them to go ahead, but if not, we will tell them no.
It is not unfettered deregulation that they can do as they like, there are guidelines to that in our regulations.

Question: What is NCAA’s role in the multiple designations bestowed on most foreign airlines?
Ans: Unfortunately, NCAA is not the one responsible for BASA negotiations to airlines. It is a policy issue and this is led by the Ministry. NCAA makes its own contributions, but the final decision is by the Ministry. So, anyone that blames NCAA for that is either out of a lack of understanding of how BASA negotiations work for Nigeria; and every country has its own peculiarity on how they do BASA. In Nigeria, it is the ministry.

Question: How far has NCAA gone with the AOC of Nigeria Air and what is the likely month Nigerians and the world should expect its issuance?

Ans: The only thing I can tell you is that the promoters of that airline have applied and their AOC is ongoing. I don’t have any assurances of when the license would be. You see, when you apply for AOC or any certification, some issues that are not completely under the purview of the NCAA like seeking security clearance for the applicant, security agents do that. I don’t have control over security agencies to give such clearances. They have applied and it is ongoing, we are waiting for security clearance

Question: What are the underlying principles for the extension of AOC for some operating airlines?
Ans: To renew AOC, there are certain conditions and processes that must be completed. If for whatever reason, either from the operator or the NCAA, we cannot complete those processes before the expiration of the AOC, we will extend it for them.

The extension is for the system to continue to ensure that all regulatory requirements are complied with for the renewal. Sometimes for some reason, some operators are not able to meet certain requirements on time or maybe on our own part, we cannot complete the process, then, we say instead of disrupting the system, we give them an extension for that period so that they can continue their operations.

Before the extension completes, their renewal is given. People just talk without seeking clarifications. So, we look at the situations and give them extensions while we continue to work to complete the renewal process. Renewal is not automatic. It is a process with steps, which must be completed.

Question: What’s the maximum period for an extension?

Ans: The most we have given if I am not mistaken is 90 days, but usually, it is hardly more than 30 days. We do this thing so that the system will keep functioning. You can imagine if we are unable to complete the process either on the part of the airline or NCAA, we now ground one or two airlines, can you imagine the chaos that we will have in the industry?
So, people need to understand, rather than the blanket condemnation without clarifications on what the actual issue is and why we are doing what we do.
It is the same people that will turn around and insult us if we don’t renew the AOC of a particular airline. Whatever you do, head or tail, you lose.

Question: What is your parting shot?
Ans: I want to appeal to some of the industry analysts or stakeholders to come to us before making any public comments. When they hear stories or something, they can come to us and seek clarifications, rather than go out there and make wild comments, which aggravate the system.
I read a lot on different platforms daily and sometimes, it is annoying when certain people who are respected members of the industry and are supposed to be the conduit for the industry, make false comments for whatever reasons without seeking NCAA’s clarifications.

We are open and ready to answer questions from the public. I expect people to seek clarifications. When you don’t seek clarifications and you go and make statements that are contrary, you are only making more problems for the industry, Capt Musa Shuaibu Nuhu, concluded.

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