Airlines Are Not Folding Up – NCAA

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Muhtar Usman

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THE Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority, NCAA, on Thursday, September 1, dispelled the notion that some domestic airlines are not folding up. Rather, it said they are merely suspending their operations.

The suspension, the NCAA said, was to enable the carriers undertake operational overhaul and strengthen their overall operational outlay.

Muhtar Usman, a captain and director-general of the regulatory body, in a statement said Aero Contractors currently has only one serviceable aircraft, which is in contradiction to the Nigerian Civil Aviation Regulations, Nig.CARS, which stipulates that no airline shall carry out scheduled commercial operation with only one aircraft, as minimum three aircraft is acceptable.

Usman said: “In other words, any airline with one aircraft is in contravention of the authority’s regulations, therefore, cannot be adjudged to be capable of providing safe operation. The only option available is to suspend your operations temporarily while other aircraft arrive in due course.”

He, however, stated that NCAA’s regulations provide a window for such operator to embark on non-schedule operations in the interim.

As for the First Nation Airlines, he disclosed that the airline was in the middle of an engine replacement programme for one of its aircraft, stressing that another aircraft was due for mandatory maintenance as its allowable by the regulatory authority.

In such circumstances, he said, the airlines could not continue to undertake schedule operations, hence the inevitable recourse to self-regulatory suspension.

“The NCAA wishes to reiterate that on no account will it compromise safety and security of airline operations in the airspace,” Usman said.

First Nation Airways on Thursday, September 1, said it was not operating because its Airbus 319 fleet was undergoing maintenance.

The airline said its current operational challenges were attributable to the more 70 percent devaluation of the naira.

Serah Awogbade, head, Commercial section of the airline, said the aircraft maintenance would be completed by September 15, 2016.

”First Nation is currently undergoing maintenance on A319 fleet. This maintenance exercise will be completed on or before September 15th, 2016.The Airline planned this maintenance action well ahead, notified passengers and flights are currently loaded online effective September 15th, 2016 – this will ensure that passengers continue to enjoy safe and reliable service that the airline is reputed for.

“Current foreign exchange constraint coupled with over 70 per cent devaluation of naira partly contributed in no small l measure to the development. The Airline’s plan remains on track to reinstating service as advised herein,” its statement explained.

Besides, Aviation unions comprising Air Traffic Services Senior Staff Association, ATSSSAN, and the National Union of Air Transport Employees, NUATE, on Thursday, September 1, occupied the head office of Aero Contractors at the Murtala Muhammed Airport, MMA, Lagos, following the decision of its management to suspend operations. The workers described the directive that they proceed on compulsory leave as unacceptable.

They said they should not be held liable for the incompetence of the management in mismanaging Nigeria’s oldest carrier.

Benjamin Okewu, ATSSSAN president, said the takeover of the airline followed the indefinite leave given to the more than 1,400 workers in its workforce.

—  Sep 12, 2016 @ 01:00 GMT

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