CEM REPORT | Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), has said the financial difficulties facing the aviation sector is been handled.
The body noted that the challenge of fuel and foreign exchange liquidity crises had forced operators into a “pathetic” reality and of “grave concern”.
The Director-General (DG) of the apex regulatory body, Capt. Musa Nuhu, speaking with journalist in Lagos said efforts are on to salvage the sector from collapse.
He mentioned that the NCAA had commenced financial and economic health audits of airlines while reinstating that the safety of passengers remains a priority and non-negotiable.
“Nobody has to tell you that these are very difficult times. We have done three (airlines) and are still on two or three because we are taking them in batches. We also sit down to have discussions with the relevant management.
“Right now, we have financial and economic crises. We don’t want it to cross over to become a safety crisis. That is why we are doing this to manage the crisis and find solutions to the crisis they (operators) are facing. That is why we are working round the clock to find solutions to the problem.”
The DG while hinting that Dana Air and Aero Contractors had closed operations over financial issues, noted that the Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, had been working with the Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON) to find solutions to the forex crisis and assuage the rising cost of aviation fuel.
He added that the current fate of the aviation industry could not be treated in isolation from the economic environment that it operates.
“What is happening to aviation is happening to all sectors but air transport has become very critical now due to other challenges of travelling by road. But we cannot quantify the lives of human beings. So, with all these challenges, safety remains a priority and it supersedes all other considerations.
“NCAA is neither a police agency nor here to close businesses. On anything that affects safety, there will be no compromise. I will rather shut down an airline than allow them to operate unsafely.
“The truth is that it is a very difficult situation, but all parties, even up to the presidency, are working. All hands are on the deck to ensure that the aviation industry does not collapse. We have no choice but to keep aviation working.”
According to Guardian, eight active airlines are operating a cumulative 38.77 percent fleet capacity, with a total of 60 out of 98 listed aeroplanes grounded, pending the availability of foreign exchange earnings to defray maintenance costs.
This week most seats on the busy Lagos, Abuja, Port Harcourt, Kano and Kaduna routes, where available, were sold for between N76, 000 to N180, 000 for one-way economy seats. Round-trip tickets ranged between N140, 000 to N260, 000, depending on route, airline and time of purchase.