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- Lessors severe ties with Nigerian carriers
The Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) is constrained from removing disused aircraft from many of the nation’s airports following legal battles between the owners of the planes and lessors. This is despite Nigeria being a signatory to the Cape Town Convention.
Nigeria is a signatory to the Convention on International Interests in Mobile Equipment and the Protocol to the Convention on International Interests in Mobile Equipment on Matters specific to Aircraft Equipment, otherwise known as Cape Town Convention.
The Cape Town Convention Protocol stipulates that when an airline leases aircraft, the lessor is assisted by the airline and the Civil Aviation Authority of that country to retrieve the aircraft if the airline (the lessee) fails to abide by the terms in which the aircraft was leased.
Woleshadarenews gathered that many of the disused airplanes are kept on the apron following litigations from the operators since there is a clause in the convention that could make the lessee press for charges.
Most of the time, the litigations stretch for years in court, leading to corrosion and economic damage to airplanes.
Despite the strict conditions of these agreements, Nigerian airlines run to local courts to raise ex parte motion to stop lessors from taking back their aircraft. This puts the NCAA in precarious situation as it stands as surety for the pact.
As a result of bottlenecks put on the path of the lessors from taking back their equipment in the case of a default, many of them have cut leasing agreement with Nigerian airlines; a situation that has put some airlines (names withheld) out of business.
Some Nigerian airlines that were operating with one aircraft have ceased operations albeit temporarily as they find it extremely difficult to lease airplanes.
A common sight strikes the eyes of passengers throughout Nigeria’s major airports where old aircraft that belonged to bankrupt airlines share the ground with on-duty planes and wear out in the weather. Some of these retired planes have never been auctioned.
Others were auctioned years ago, but are still waiting for their new owners to take them away. The owners, in turn, cite the high transport costs and business shifts as the main reasons for the delays in picking them up.
The parking of disused airplanes particularly at the Murtala Muhammed Airport 2 (MMA2) is coming at a time the terminal operator is grappling with space following increase in airline operations from the terminal, forcing planes which are to pick passengers from the terminal to park elsewhere until other aircraft make way out of the apron.
Meanwhile, the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) is under immense pressure of where to keep disused airplanes as the original place designated for the unserviceable airplanes otherwise referred to as ‘burial ground’ is already being ceded for expansion of the apron at the domestic wing of the Lagos airport.
Speaking to New Telegraph at the Bi-Courtney Aviation Services Limited (BASL) Safety Awareness Campaign, which necessitated inspection of the aviation regulatory body to look at the safety gaps on the apron of MMA2 and ways to improve on them, BASL’s Safety Manager, Mr. Charles Aroguma, said the priority of the firm was to create space at MMA2.
The safety campaign, he reiterated, would help to address challenges that are inherent in their day-to-day activities, which include violation of apron safety rules and regulations, oil spillage during fuelling, working without personal protective equipment, the use of unserviceable equipment, activities of ground handling personnel, promoting quality reporting culture and prompt identification and intervention on potential safety-related issues in and around the apron.
His words: “It takes a lot of collaboration. We are continually talking about aircraft that are parked here. The way these aircraft were designed, they were not designed to be on ground. They are designed to fly. At times, it could be business model of the operators that is keeping them on ground. They should fine away to make them fly.”
“There was IRS here. We engaged FAAN. Here is First Nation aircraft. You cannot do anything without FAAN. You must consult them and work with them. I tell people, there is no process in aviation that one man can handle,” he added.
Speaking at the safety inspection exercise, Director of Airspace and Aerodrome Standards of the NCAA, Muhammed Odunowo, safety is very critical in the aviation sector.
He said: “It is very important that we come up with programmes like this to bring them back to what they should know about working in this type of critical environment. We want to make sure that the terminal is safe; we want to make sure that those who are flying out are also safe if when they take-off from MMA2 and get to their destinations. We want to make sure that those things that are required are done in accordance with statutory requirements and international standards.”