The Director General of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority(NCAA), Capt. Musa Nuhu has said that the oldest airline in the country, Aero Contractors did not suspend its operations for safety issues but rather for financial sustainability.
The Director General’s comment is coming as the airline concludes plans to resume flight operations on December 5,2022.
He said this while commenting on the planned resumption of flight by the airline.
Nuhu explained that Aero Contractor was not suspended for safety reasons but for financial sustainability, adding that the NCAA carried out an audit on the airline and that the findings on the airline were minor.
He added that the regulator conducted audits to prevent finance issues from snowballing into safety issues.
“Aero Contractors was not grounded based on safety issues, we did an audit of them because whatever audit you do, you have findings and they were all minor findings. There were no Level 1, 2, 3 findings. They were very insignificant. We notified them. We audited them and we found out that the issue they had was finance sustainability.
“Aviation is safety sensitive and whenever you have financial difficulty, it is just a matter of time, you will not be able to comply with all the regulatory requirements and some may start cutting corners. So, before the financial issue became a safety issue, we had a discussion with them and they on their own before we took any action, agreed with our findings and suspended their operations to enable them re-organise and get some funding to get more equipment. That is what they have done, we sat with them, they submitted, we asked for projection, which they did, we reviewed,” the DG said.
Nuhu said that the first one the airline did was not good enough and that the airline had to go and review it and it was quite satisfactory.
On the payment of the outstanding 5 per cent debt on Ticket Sales Charge (TSC), the NCAA boss said that the regulatory body signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Aero Contractors on how it will pay the debt.
He said the airline having fulfilled all the conditions are free to commence flight operations
In his words, “they are fine. As far as we are concerned, they can resume operations.”
On the safety level of airlines operating in Nigeria, the DG said, “We are doing our best to ensure that there is continuous safety in the air and we ensure compliance with all our regulations and recommended practices. We work together with the industry to see how we can assist the industry, but the truth of the matter is that the outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic did not only put the airlines in a difficult situation, but exposed a lot of fractions within the system,” he said.
Nuhu posited that a lot of airlines did not globally survive the COVID-19, adding that some are still affected from the impact of COVID-19.
The Director General pointed out that when the NCAA thought airlines were recovering from the pandemic , the issues of Foreign Exchange, Jet A1 crisis, which further put the industry in a very difficult situation came.
The airlines, he said are trying under difficult circumstances and that according to him further increased the NCAA’s workload to continue the surveillance to ensure that safety margins are adhered to and that the industry will get there.
Speaking on the flight delays and cancellations during yuletide, Nuhu stated that flight cancellations can come from many reasons such as technical problems, weather and other issues that affect flight operations.
According to him, “I am not making excuses for any operator; sometimes, you have technical problems, weather and other disruptions that affect the flight schedules and sometimes, the airlines too, their planning is not the best. So, we work with everybody. It is not just the airlines; the airlines are part of the ecosystem in the airport. Whenever we have the yuletide, we are going to have surge in passenger traffic that may be beyond the terminal capacity,”