Decision to suspend Azman Air operations not punitive measure -NCAA boss

.. Says Green Africa Airways, NG Eagle, Chanchangi, many other airlines coming up

The director general of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority, NCAA, Capt Musa Nuhu has stated that the decision to suspend Azman Air operations is not a punitive measure.

Speaking during an interview the members of the League of Airport and Aviation Correspondents, LAAC, in Lagos over the weekend, Capt. Nuhu stated that the regulatory body takes the issue of safety utmost which is the agency’s number one priority including safe operation of airlines.

He explained that it is NCAA responsibility and duty to guide and work with the operators and assist them to ensure that they are in compliance with its regulations.

I have seen a shift and I can guarantee you that by the time Azman complies with all what we want, the public will see a different Azman airline, Nuhu said.

He stated further that NCAA is not here to kill anybody or to ruin any airline, but to guide them to operate safely, efficiently and to provide the necessary services to the travelling public.

The NCAA boss added that: “I just received a very impressive response from them concerning what they have done. We are going to start serious training for their people next week. Where we find gaps, they have already started employing people and they are really working and co-operating. Honestly, I am very happy and feel very relieved at their response to us”.

He said the issue of Azman Air is going on well as the NCAA is working towards resolving it soon.

Nuhu observed that Nigerian aviation market is not mature enough, adding that there is a huge opportunity there for the Nigerian market to grow.

He said: “That is why you see that many airlines are coming up in the country. We have Green Africa Airways, NG Eagle and so many other airlines coming up. I am sure that Green Africa Airways, NG Eagle are the next to fly. The market is there. It is economics”.

On the issue of not having enough aircraft inspectors, Capt Nuhu noted that NCAA certainly do not have enough inspectors.

“It is an issue that we discussed when we had a meeting with the Ministry. There are issues of condition of service. I cannot come and work for NCAA and I am 40 or 45 years old to come and start earning 25 per cent or 30 per cent because I want to work for NCAA. It was a very unfortunate situation. I for once cannot unilaterally address that issue. So, we have documents from salary wages commission. We met the Chairman and he confirmed they are working on it. That will resolve the issue on short term, but I am looking at the issue on a longer term solution. Because what is happening now, especially flight inspection operators, people in their retirement, they fly till 60 or 65 and retire. It is not a Nigerian issue,” the DG said.

He pointed out that flight operation inspectors is a global issue, even United States and Europe have that problem because the government cannot pay what the airlines are paying.

He said the Authority can put certain conditions to make it attractive for people, pre-retirement.

On domestic Airlines charging the appropriate fares and the forex issue, NCAA DG said the minister has been to the CBN and doing what he can, but because of the scarcity of forex, the government has its own policy on priotisation.

In his words: “The minister has been fighting for the airlines since when I was working in his office. To be honest, I can make a strong case to consider this people, but we can help ourselves by supporting the MROs that the government is trying to do. That will significantly reduce the amount of forex airlines would need. If we can do those things in Nigeria, not only that we will reduce the outflow of forex, it will also create employment for us. It is a double win for the country”.

Nuhu noted that the high fares has to do with the economics of demand and supply.

“Don’t forget because of this forex difficulties, airlines are not operating their fleet at full capacity. That also has impact. If one of the airlines is out of the system, you try to fill that gap. That will put extra demands on the other routes,” Nuhu said.

He emphasised the need for airlines to use the right fleet.

Nuhu explained further that: “The trend I see people going for Embraer, CRJ, ATR. So, there is a paradigm shift. People are beginning to realise you can’t use Boeing 737 aircraft for short flights. I can see Air Peace had got an E-195, he is gotten two and he said on the long term, he is going to replace all its B737. United Nigeria is using Embraer 145. Green Africa is using ATR 42, 72.
There is one that has started processing its documents, he wants to use Embraer 145. Chanchangi wants to come back and they want to use ATR. They are planning to come back. The demand is there. The thinking is changing because this B737 business is not working for us. It is going to take a while. The economics is forcing the change. It is a positive change in the industry”.

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