…Says AON Will Not Presenting Moribund Carriers
The Director General of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), Capt. Musa Nuhu has stated categorically that only functional airlines in the country would be eligible to access the much awaited and talked about Federal Government palliative.
Nuhu, who disclosed this while fielding questions at the LAAC Zoom Gateway Forum, today, further explained that all the airlines are free to apply for the palliative.
He however said that it was the duty of the Federal Government to ensure that the fund is accessible to operational airlines.
According to him, “Any airline can apply, whether functioning or not but it is a policy that participating airlines must be functioning and with an Air Operators Certificate. I also believe that the AON has its own rules and they know the criteria, I believe the AON will not put forward a non- functioning airline”.
The NCAA boss said the Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON), the umbrella body of all domestic airlines in the country, would not make the mistake of putting forward the names of a moribund airline for the palliative.
The Federal Government due to the ravaging effect of COVID-19 had promised to give the aviation sector the sum of N27 billion as part of measures to restart air travel and keep the airports safer.
On arguments by most industry analysts that NCAA is still attached to the apron string of the Ministry of Aviation and how the agency can achieve full autonomy, the NCAA boss stated though the agency is autonomous, but that it cannot isolate itself from the Ministry of Aviation
In his words, “We cannot totally isolate ourselves from the Ministry but in terms of regulating, we are doing that without interference from the Ministry, but some things will be difficult to implement without political support from the Ministry.
He continued, “We implement our regulations irrespective of who is in the Ministry. All the agencies are under the Ministry, so we cannot operate in isolation, we have some relationship with the Ministry, it is not realistic to divorce completely from the Ministry.”
On the state domestic airlines in the country, Nuhu stated that what is obtained in Nigeria is not different from what is practiced in other parts of the world.
To buttress his point the NCAA DG noted that some of the airlines in other parts of the world that were given millions of Dollars as palliatives are yet to recover from the effect of COVID-19 pandemic, adding that international airlines such as British Airways (BA), Lufthansa among others are sacking workers and withdrawing some of their aircraft from operating because of the negative effect the pandemic had on them.
Recalled that BA retired all the 31 Boeing 747 aircraft in its fleet due to the effect of COVID-19 and also cut about 12.000 jobs
Other UK airlines, such as EasyJet and Virgin Atlantic, have also cut the number of their staff and operations.
“The financial health of airlines is not limited to Nigerian airlines; it is a global issue, especially due to the impact of COVID-19. We have seen airlines that have gotten millions of subsidies from their governments, yet they are having issues. Many airlines have sacked workers, BA, Emirates, Lufthansa sacked workers and are withdrawing some aircraft. It is a global thing. But the government is working on the palliative,” the DG assured.