Covid-19: NCAA to submit aviation restart plan to PTF wednesday

The director-general of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), Captain Musa Nuhu has revealed plans to submit the Nigerian aviation restart plan to the Presidential Task Force on Covid-19 by Wednesday (24th June, 2020), all things being equal.

Capt. Nuhu in his effort to be accountable to stakeholders in the industry concerning the restart of the aviation sector, conveyed another round of stakeholders’ forum over the weekend

The NCAA DG in his address appealed to the stakeholders especially the airlines to bear with the authorities, stressing that even though they are yet to get there but they are pretty close.

Responding to the issues raised , by the stakeholders, the NCAA helmsman said the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) is carrying bulk of the pressure and a lot of drastic efforts are being made to address all their concerns,
“I can tell you that, because I know how hard they are working. We have done well, we just have few efforts to make. Airports are the most critical parts of the value-chain,” he said.

Captain Nuhu told the airline operators that: “Your lack of operations put NCAA in a difficult situation. Our revenue is down by 90 to 95 per cent. We are almost ready. Like I said earlier, not all the airlines and airports have to be necessarily ready before the restart. If anything goes wrong, NCAA will be held responsible. Sometimes this week, the proposed restart date will be made known. If the airports get it right, the airlines job will be made easier. The airlines that have disinfected their aircraft should show proof to NCAA. On the middle seats, we need to listen to the health authority, even though I do not support the middle seat regime. We are liasing with the health authority to get the best for the airlines. It is our interest that airlines start flying yesterday.”

He explained that: “On the part of the NCAA, no CAA is set-up to deal with a system that needs to shut down and restart. We need to get it done well. We are doing a mini-audit of the whole ecosystem at the same time. We do not need to have all the airlines, airports or the ground handlers ready before we restart the system. We are almost there.”

On when the regional and international operation will restart after the restart of domestic operations, NCAA DG said: “The health authority will have a say on the international and the regional operations.”

The DG NCAA appealed to the stakeholders to exercise little patience.

In his submission, the chairman of the NCAA Covid-19 Committee, Engr. Godwin Balang enumerated the guidelines control measures employed by NCAA towards the restart of the industry.

He noted that: “We have to develop the guidelines on uncharted ground which is to: issue regulations in compliance with the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) Standard and Recommended Practices (SARPs); Issue guidelines to aviation industry and approve restart of aviation industry (in totality or at individual level).

According to Balang, “restart and recovery guidelines are based on 10 key principles which are to: protect people in harmonized but flexible measures; work as one aviation team and show solidarity; ensure essential connectivity; actively manage safety, security and health related risks; make aviation public health measures work with aviation safety and security systems; strengthen public confidence; distinguish restart from recovery; support financial relief strategies to help the aviation industry; ensure sustainability and learn lessons to improve resilience.”

Balang also gave the level of readiness by components of the industry such as airlines, air navigation provider, ground handlers and meteorologists and other.
He maintained that the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA) is 80percent ready; the airlines (domestic) are 70percent ready; Nigerian Meteorological agency, NIMET is also ready while domestic airports are 57percent ready.

In her submission , the president of National Association Nigerian Travel Agencies, NANTA, Mrs. Susan Akporiaye said the NCAA should consider real time or animated video of how the simulation of the new normal will look like.

Speaking also, the immediate past president of NANTA, Mr. Bernard Bankole pointed out the need to have on the spot check in form of a dry-run.
He sad all the kiosks at the terminals need to be rid of.

“We need to reduce the numbers of personnel at the terminals and we need to know what the ‘New Normal’ will look like. There should be a template. He also said the concession of the airports is necessary while we are going through the restart process,” he said.

In his contribution, the chairman of the Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON), Captain Nogie Meggison and Captain Ufom demanded a restart date for planning sake.

Also, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) area manager for West Africa, Dr. Samson Fatokun announced free support training offer to the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria, FAAN in order assist with their expertise.

“IATA has offered to support FAAN free of charge. This is so we can share with them best practices,” Fatokun said.

On middle seats regime, Dr. Fatokun stated that: “The International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) Council Aviation Recovery Taskforce (CART) report says when the flight is not full, you can space passengers. The CART does not say you have to make the middle seats empty. It does not solve the problem and not based on science. It is economically unviable”
In his response, the managing director of FAAN, Capt. Rabiu Yadudu pleaded with the stakeholders and said the preparedness of the airports bother mostly on safety and security.
In the words of Yadudu: “Please bear with us. It is primarily on safety and security issues. We need to improve on what we have. That is why we started training our personnel. On procurement, there are things you do not get on time. We will get drastic pace from (21st June, 2020) tomorrow. With the public enlightenment, we are working with NCAA.”

Responding to IATA’s gesture, FAAN MD observed that: “We have accepted their help and we are so grateful. We are even going to sign an agreement with IATA soon. This is timely”

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