Airline Operators of Nigeria Hails NCAA For Refusing To Issue AOC To Nigeria Air
Domestic airlines, under the aegis of Airline Operators of Nigeria, have expressed gratitude to the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority for saving the aviation industry from the consequences of issuing an Air Operators Certificate to Nigeria Air without due process.
The association in a statement on Sunday by the spokesperson of AON, Prof Obiora Okonkwo, also appreciated the courage of the NCAA team, led by its Director General, Capt Musa Nuhu, for insisting that the right things must be done to protect the safety and integrity of the Nigerian aviation industry.
Recall that the Federal Government on Friday took delivery of the first plane of the country’s national carrier, Nigeria Air, amid protest from local airline operators that it was contrary to a court order, which barred the government from taking further action on the project.
The AON comments come following reports of the unveiling and water splash of the first aircraft associated with the Nigeria Air project; recent uproar and inquiries from Nigerians and the media.
Okonkwo said the AOC is a safety certificate by which the NCAA certifies that an airline is fit to conduct safe flight operations.
“As indigenous operators, we are happy and grateful to the NCAA for saving us from this punishment by resisting the pressure from Minister Hadi Sirika to grant an AOC to Nigeria Air without going through the due process.
“Besides, aviation is an essential sector that is critical to the economic development of Nigeria or any country. If tampered with, it will have a negative expanded multiplier effect on all aspects of the economy and life of Nigeria. AON, as a strong stakeholder, has a national and patriotic duty to guard against such happening. Otherwise, our investments in the aviation sector of Nigeria, running into billions of dollars, would have been jeopardized.
“Hence, we in the AON continue to salute the courage of the NCAA team led by Capt. Musa Nuhu, for insisting that the right things must be done to protect the safety and integrity of the Nigerian aviation industry, which they have nurtured to an enviable world standard,” read a statement by the AON.
He, however, said that the consequences of issuing an AOC to Nigeria Air without undergoing due process could be catastrophic, adding that for an airline to obtain AOC certification, it must undergo a five-phase certification process, which is a rigorous exercise.
He went on to say that he considers any unconventional granting of AOC without conforming to the standard due process as a serious infraction, punishable by law.
In addition, granting an AOC to Nigeria Air without it successfully going through the standard process could lead to Nigeria’s blacklisting by aviation safety agencies like the US Federal Aviation Administration and the European Aviation Safety Agency.
Subsequently, this could impact the country’s aviation industry as airlines from other countries will not come to Nigeria, and Nigerian airlines will not be allowed to operate in those countries.
The statement tagged ‘“Nigeria Air: Recent so-called flight inauguration and AON concern’ noted that the failure of Nigeria to pass the upcoming ICAO audit could result in further penalties, including losing its FAA CAT-1 Certification and Nigerian airlines being unable to lease aircraft to boost their operations. No lessor will trust the safety certification process of the NCAA if it overlooks the due process of issuing an AOC to Nigeria Air.
Furthermore, Okonkwo stated that the aircraft used for the static display in Abuja on May 26, 2023, was not the first flight of Nigeria Air into Abuja. He explained that the water salute given to the aircraft was a customary practice that typically marks the first flight of an aircraft to an airport. However, the aircraft in question was an Ethiopian Airline property with an Ethiopian registration number (ET-APL) that entered Nigeria as an ET flight.
By Lilian Ukagwu PUNCH