$7 million investment at risk over airline, NCAA spat

  •  AOC renewal in Nigeria faulty
  • Carrier didn’t meet  safety requirement-NCAA


A $7 million airline investment in Nigeria is about to go the way of others as Tropical Arctic Logistics (TAL), a Lagos-based non-scheduled domestic airline, has accused the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) of its refusal to renew its Air Operator Certificate (AOC). The AOC is a certificate that paves the way for airlines to operate in the country’s aviation industry.

Chief Operating Officer of TAL, Olufemi Adeniji in a statement made available to Aviation Metric at a press conference in Lagos alleged that there is verifiable evidence to prove that a staff of NCAA connived with NHV, a Danish operator, to ensure that its Air Operators Certificate (AOC) was not renewed. 

This is coming as Chairman of the airline, Baywood Ibe narrated to our correspondent how TAL’s operation had remained grounded for over one year, stressing that the regulatory agency declined its request for an extension and renewal of its AOC causing it to lose over $7 million following its closure.

He noted that he respects and supports the Director-General of NCAA, Capt. Musa Nuhu, considering his international experience, advised him to pull back a little to get the facts of the TAL AOC renewal issue before his further responses.


One of TAL’s helicopters

These issues according to him were not peculiar to TAL but most of the operators, stressing that his airline with its integrity has decided to address the issues which would also help in cleansing of the NCAA departments and their relationship with the operators describing it as full of irregularity and collusion by his team to stall renewal of its licence.

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He said, “TAL has decided to follow the due process no matter how long it takes without compromising. However, in life there is a limit to every patience especially when it pertains to corruption which becomes a threat to one’s investment.

“TAL has reached its limit and it has decided to suspend its actions in following through with AOC renewal despite concluding on phase three of the so-called renewal process. The renewal process in Nigeria does not align with the international practice although it is supposed to be the same as the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO), the global aviation regulatory body”.

Adeniji explained that during a previous DG’s era, there was an issue of an NCAA official who requested to be a shareholder in an operator’s board in order to pass their AOC.

“This was immediately stopped by the Director-General when reported and an investigation was conducted to unravel that claim and the operator was issued its AOC.  TAL applied for the renewal of its AOC on September 7th, 2020, 47 days before expiration of its AOC when 30 days is required to do this in accordance with Nigerian Civil Aviation Regulations Part 9 ( with all post holders completed as per, at Eduardo Ramos Maintenance Manager, Jose Mendez Maintenance Manager, Engr. Danjuma Hangar Maintenance”.

“There is abundant evidence that all manuals were submitted and some resubmitted with amendments as it was said that some were lost by the NCAA Airworthiness Department, MCM, AMP, MEL after seven months of submission. It is on record that futile attempts were made to heap the blame on COVID-19.

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“New manuals were however reprinted and resubmitted. Surprisingly, the lost manuals were later found. For your information, TAL helped to review these manuals using the NCAA checklist as requested by the officials to help avert any delay.

“Even with this having been complied with, the AOC renewal was still delayed by the Airworthiness Department of NCAA; consequently, operation has been grounded due to unusual delay in processing the AOC to date”.

“TAL then decided to apply for an extension of its AOC in a letter dated December 16, 2020 to avoid total grounding of its operation. This again was denied for reasons best known to the authority despite TAL’s possession of a complete post holder management. Is this the ease of doing business?

“ Up to date, TAL has the MCM (Printed twice) and the AMP (Printed three times) in the Airworthiness Department which claimed that its refusal to approve the manuals was based on the post holders in the manuals submitted in September 2020. The issue of manuals going back and forth with the NCAA is not unusual but it is unusual to come back claiming manuals are missing and later found after the new ones have been approved”.

In a swift reaction, Nuhu said that other airlines either had their AOC’s renewed or extended but that TAL didn’t meet all the safety requirements needed to get an extension or a renewal, insisting that the agency is not partial in carrying out its responsibilities.

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Private jets on airport tarmac

He said, “Tell TAL that if they have any proof of misconduct, the COO should come and sit with me and discuss it instead of making allegations and subtle threats against the Authority. When you make allegations without proof, you are not damaging officials of NCAA, the DG or NCAA, you are damaging the reputation of Nigeria and it makes it difficult for our operators to get aircraft and many other things and the cost of tickets will rise if the regulatory agencies are seen as corrupt or incompetent and the country would be classified as a flight risk area and it makes life much difficult for everyone”.

“TAL should go and meet the requirements for getting an AOC rather than going to the press and making false claims.  There are certain key officers that he doesn’t have. For instance, he doesn’t have pilots and engineers to run his operations, so how are we going to give him an AOC? Many airlines’ AOC renewal processes were delayed by COVID-19 and TAL is not an exception,” Capt. Nuhu said.

Wole Shadare