Sunday, September 15, 2013

Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority vows to shut unhealthy airlines

Worried by the state of some airlines, the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) has indicated its plans to shut down carriers that it adjudged to be unhealthy.

The Director-General of the aviation regulatory body, Captain Folayele Akinkuotu, made the disclosure at a media interaction at the weekend in Lagos.

He said already, the NCAA is interacting with airlines to know that bills are paid promptly, coupled with other factors that shows whether airlines are healthy or not.

Akinkuotu’s call could be a response to call by stakeholders on the need to recertify Nigerian airlines with a view to know their states following allegations that some owe their workers for more than six months.

Many of them are equally indebted to banks, aviation agencies fuel marketers running into several billions of naira.

Akinkuotu added that recertification is an on-going thing for the NCAA, adding, “We will need to keep an eye on the airlines. We plan to shut down airlines that are not healthy. We are interacting with airlines to know that bills are paid. We are not papering anything. Recertification is an on-going thing. We will need to keep an eye on the airlines. ’Recertification is about complying with the laws”.

The NCAA equally highlighted the difficulties airline operators go through; stressing that profit margin for airliners globally is very small.

According to him, “When you see an aircraft that is about to take off from Lagos to Abuja for instance and the cost per ticket is put at N20, 000 or N25, 000. You begin to calculate huge amount of about N3 million for the airline for that single trip. But we forget that the airline will pay for fuel, pay bills to the agencies, pay for catering, pay salaries, pay for offices and at the end of the day, they are left with virtually nothing”.

Also worrisome is the harsh operating environment for them and lack of good policy that puts them at great disadvantage against their foreign counterparts especially in the area of multiple designations that is willingly given to foreign airlines even they do not show much interest.

 The situation is attributed to the reason the lifespan of many Nigerian carriers do not exceed ten years.

  President, Aviation Round Table (ART), Captain Dele Ore regretted that the policies in the aviation industry were not enduring.

  Meanwhile, operators and experts have said Nigerian airlines are poorly patronised because of the erosion of confidence people have for air safety.

Speaking at the Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport with theme, “Airport Remodelling in Nigeria, Challenges and Prospect of Aerotropolis”, a top official of Lufthansa German Airlines, Adewale Sanni stated that the situation was worse in 2005 and 2006 when airplanes were falling from the sky.

  Sanni said during the dark period, many wealthy Nigerians going to Abuja or Port Harcourt chose to fly international airlines first to Europe before connecting to their original destinations.

  Sanni stated that it would be difficult for Nigerian carriers to be profitable because of the point-to-point operations they do.

  He cited Arik, explaining that the airline won’t be an option for people going beyond New York, adding that global airline alliance are the way to go in international business.

  Participants noted that the idea of airport refurbishment was laudable but noted that what was needed was a brand new airport for Lagos.

They noted that no amount of refurbishment would help the facility, owing to long years of degradation, just as they carpeted the lack of other means of transportation to the areas; a situation they highlighted defeats the idea of aeropolis project being touted by the government.

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