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Condemnation trails reps directive to NCAA on NG Eagle

Players in the Nigerian aviation industry have castigated the House of Representatives’ Committee on Aviation on the call for the suspension of issuance of Air Operators’ Certificate (AOC) to a startup airline, NG Eagle, by the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA).

This is following the order of the House of Reps Committee on Aviation to NCAA to halt issuance of AOC to NG Eagle

Gabriel Olowo, president, Aviation Round Table (ART), in his reaction to the development described the House committee as an interloper, insisting that it is not within its purview to issue such a directive to the regulatory agency.

Nnolim Nnaji, chairman of House Committee on Aviation had on Wednesday in Abuja hinged the directive on the petition received from a section of the unions, asking for NCAA not to issue the airline an AOC, which would enable it to operate as a schedule carrier.

The unions, Association of Nigerian Aviation Professionals (ANAP) and the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria, (FAAN) branch of the National Union of Pensioners (NUP), according to him, had alleged that Arik Air, which is under the receivership of the Assets Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON) was massively indebted to FAAN.

The same NG Eagle is being financed by AMCON and the unions purported that the corporation was trying to evade payment of the monumental debts owed to all the aviation agencies by Arik Air and decided to launch NG Eagle.

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Gabriel Olowo insisted that it was not the responsibility of the National Assembly to direct NCAA to issue or turndown application for an AOC for impending airline, stressing that issuance of AOC must follow the recommended practices of the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO).

Olowo further said that even the Ministry of Aviation or the Minister of Aviation lacked the power to order NCAA not to issue an AOC to any impending airline and wondered where the aviation committee derived its power from.

Olowo, who is also the president of Sabre Network, West Africa, declared that the autonomy of NCAA was not negotiable, stressing that once the regulatory body assented to the directive, the Nigerian civil aviation would collapse finally.

He declared that if the National Assembly felt any airline was not qualified to operate in the country, it could go to court to challenge its status, but not ordering NCAA not to issue operating certificate to a qualified operator.

He said: “This amounts to interloping. I don’t think it is the responsibility of the congress (National Assembly) to direct NCAA to issue or not to issue AOC. This is established in ICAO regulation, that no matter how powerful the ministry, which is the political arm of government, it can only wield influence, but not to dictate to NCAA.

“The criteria to award AOC are under the purview of NCAA. That is the agency that has the right on who to issue licence to. NCAA is recognised internationally as an institution to regulate civil aviation. The autonomy of NCAA is not negotiable. We will be killing NCAA if we allow such interferences over its activities.”

Also, John Ojikutu (rtd.), the chief executive officer of Centurion Securities Limited, told said that the National Assembly could not interfere on critical issue concerning the issuance of AOC, which follows strict regulation.

Ojikutu wondered where the committee got its power from.

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