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Domestic aviation still growing amid COVID-19 impacts – NCAA DG

Despite the impacts of COVID-19 on airlines’ operations, domestic aviation has kept growing as more entrants recently joined the sector and more are processing their Air Operator’s Certificates (AOCs) with the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority.

This was disclosed by Musa Nuhu, the director general, NCAA, at the agency’s Lagos office on Monday during an interactive session with members of the League of Airports and Aviation Correspondents (LAAC).

On the contrary, he said the private jet operators have reduced as the high cost of aircraft maintenance continues to drive them out of business.

Nuhu expressed satisfaction over compliance of domestic airlines with safety regulations.

“We have at least four more airlines processing their AOCs, we see that the domestic sector is growing, the rate of connections among cities is increasing, and for instance, Nigerian Eagle has gone far with AOC.

“We have the best relationship with the airlines but nobody can ground any airline without the approval of the DG, we could have issues here and there but the airlines have been in compliance with safety regulations but nothing is 100 percent”, he said.

Speaking on the debts owed by the airlines, the DG said the authority has stopped the debt from growing, noting that if the authority should recover all the debts from the airlines in one fell swoop, they are likely to close shops.

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He said with new entrants, there is a tripartite agreement on how they will remit their Passenger Service Charge (PSC).

“It is a legacy debt, a lot of them have mapped out their plans on how to pay”, he said.

Speaking on training for its airworthiness inspectors, Nuhu said, “we have inspectors who come to work for us for about eight years. They get all the training, they get all the experience and then they leave. Somebody is doubling, tripling and quadrupling their salary. So it’s a very difficult situation we find ourselves in.

The DG however said the CAA is talking with the ministry in a bid to find a lasting solution to the challenges, stating that one way to address this is by getting the Conditions of Service (CoS) approved to help retain technical personnel.

“We have been talking to the Ministry and we have gotten approval to see how we can improve our conditions of service subject to approval of the appropriate government agency so we can be able to attract and retain the core technical personnel. NCAA is technical in nature, our core competence is technical. We are working on that. We hope sometime soon, we will be able to get a handle of that,” he assured.

He also disclosed plans to partner with the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) in a bid to assist authority with digitisation and ICT systems.

“We are in the process of automating our internal processes, it will help us ease our work, we will be able to cope with inspection and more of the oversight works seamlessly”, he added.

The NCAA DG also disclosed that domestic training has saved the authority some significant funds, adding that the five core mandatory training have all been domesticated due to COVID-19 issues.

While disclosing that the training is conducted by International Civil Aviation Organisation (CAO) Certified instructors, he said about 500 courses are going to be reviewed.

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