All active airlines in Nigeria are undergoing economic and financial audit, the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), the industry regulator, said on Wednesday.
The audit is also being carried out at a time airlines in Africa’s biggest economy are facing cost-related challenges, including difficulty accessing foreign exchange, and increasing cost of aviation fuel, which industry operators say make it difficult for them to cover the cost of operations.
Speaking at a press conference in Lagos, Musa Nuhu, the director-general of NCAA, said at this point, the authority was saddled with a responsibility to ensure that the current economic and financial crisis does not become a safety issue.
“Eight other carriers are undergoing financial and economic audit and this is done in batches. Right now, it is just a financial and economic crisis and we will do all we can to ensure it doesn’t get to a safety crisis. Currently, NCAA has grounded a considerable number of aircraft. Though airlines may be undergoing these challenges, the regulator would not compromise on safety,” Nuhu said.
He, however, declined comment on Dana Air, saying that the details of the NCAA’s investigation into the carrier would be made public when the investigation is completed. He also disclosed that not much was discovered on the technical, economic, and financial probe into Aero Contractor’s operations, affirming that the carrier opted to temporarily suspend operations to enable it carry out restructuring.
On the request by the Airline Operators of Nigeria, (AON), the umbrella body of indigenous carriers, for the abolition of five percent Tickets Sales Charge, (TSC), Nuhu said the regulator does not have the powers to grant such waivers as the TSC is 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,” the DG added.
On the status of the proposed national carrier, he said the NCAA would do all that was expected as long 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 the government. NCAA will play its role to ensure all requirements are met before it issues AOC to any intending carrier.”
On foreign airlines’ blocked funds in Nigeria, Nuhu said discussions were ongoing involving the federal ministries of finance, aviation and 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 seats on aircraft and the fare crisis, he said the NCAA was working out interim measures to ameliorate the situation.