Airspace boycott by airlines cut NAMA’s revenue base

There are indications that the revenue of the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA) has drastically dwindled due to loss of revenue from over-flier charges which form the bulk of the agency’s revenue.

The paucity of funds has seriously affected the smooth running of the agency. Failure to quickly resolve the issue could further plunge the parastatal further into crisis. NAMA is self-sustaining.

It generates its own resource and funds most of its projects from internally generated revenue and only gets assistance from the Federal Government when the projects are beyond its capacity.

A top official of the agency, who spoke to Woleshadarenews on the condition of anonymity, stated that the communication challenge between pilots and air traffic controllers has made airlines and pilots to rely on neighbouring countries for air traffic navigation because of some ‘black spots’ in the airspace which the agency is tackling.

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Although Nigeria’s airspace black spot has reduced by over 70 per cent, the inability to cover the country’s vast airspace 100 per cent has contributed immensely to avoidance of the airspace by foreign airlines as they choose to fly longer distances by avoiding it entirely even when the situation does not appear totally bad.

Managing Director of NAMA, Captain Folayele Akinkuotu, admitted this much when he said any air traffic communication that is not crisp clear is a recipe for confusion, adding that, “Our radio communication today is not the best.”

Air traffic controllers disclosed that flight operations without a clear communication between the pilot in the cockpit and controllers in the tower held dire consequences for safety of the flight.

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They noted that the present Controller-Pilot VHF Communication coverage of Nigeria’s airspace is a far cry from the required international standard, but it is still work in progress with NAMA.

 

They stated that over the years, it has been quite a herculean task for Air Traffic Controllers to communicate effectively with pilots. Woleshadarenews investigation shows that the aviation agency is hampered by many of its equipment that is trapped at the sea port which it finds very difficult to clear from the Nigeria Customs.

The multi-billion naira high power airspace equipment are said to rot as the managing director shuttles between Lagos and Abuja to get waiver clearance for them.

It was learnt that NAMA was asked by the Nigeria Customs to pay N120 million clearance fee for each of the consignments that are estimated to cost over $20 million in all.

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The agency felt that since the equipment is for urgent critical safety intervention in the aviation industry, they should ordinarily been given a waiver to clear them urgently from the sea port.

Our correspondent learnt that Minister of State for Aviation, Hadi Sirika, is very concerned about the situation and was making frantic effort to prevail on President Muhammadu Buhari to compel the Customs Service to release the facilities.

 

Wole Shadare