NCAA to audit airlines in dire financial straits

The economic audit of Dana Airlines by the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) would be extended to some other carriers that are said to be showing frailty and may be wobbling financially.

Many Nigerian carriers are in financial dire straits and find it extremely difficult to meet up with their daily needs and operations they are collectively indebted to the aviation service providers to the tune of over N22 billion, and debts to fuel marketers run into several billions of Naira, debts to aircraft crew, workers and maintenance firms.

An official of the NCAA who spoke to Aviation Metric under the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media said the aviation regulatory body has slated many other airlines for financial audits, but was silent on the carriers.

NCAA DG, Capt. Musa Nuhu

The source noted that many of the airlines are going through difficult times, arguing that it is very difficult to see any carrier with good financial health, adding that something needs to be done urgently to stem the risk of many of them falling into a situation that would make them stop operations.

READ ALSO:  Brussels attacks slow European traffic as African airlines record growth

Former Commandant, Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos, Grp. Captain John Ojikutu (Rtd) said what the regulatory was doing ought to have been done a lot of time ago, adding that the NCAA is required to audit the balance sheet of the airlines every year.

His words, “They are supposed to have done it a long time. In fact, they are supposed to be doing it every year while the audit of the aviation agencies is supposed to be every four tears according to NCAA regulations. We blame the NCAA for most of the things that are happening”.

“In the days of Dr. Harold Demuren, they were proactive and took actions when it was necessary. We are seeing lethargy from the NCAA. But it is better than not doing it at all. The audit of Dana should have been done long before now especially when it became very glaring that the airline is massively owing aviation service providers, fuel marketers, workers, and others. This could lead to cost-cutting and eventual accident.”

“People are complaining; they are owing staff salaries on multiple fronts, maintenance, owe flight line technician, pilots and you cannot guarantee safety. There are two audits that should be held and they are safety and financial audits. All other airlines should be audited to know how strong they are”.

READ ALSO:  Corporate Governance: NAHCO CEO Commends Company’s Board


Nigerian airlines

Meanwhile, Dana Air whose operations were suspended by the NCAA said it had commenced the operational audit as advised by the authority and we are fully cooperating with the agency to ensure our quick return to flight operations.

A spokesman for the agency, Kingsley Ezenwa in a statement said operational audits are regulatory and airlines are required to suspend their operations when the regulator calls for it and confident that having been successful in previous audits, we will come back even stronger and better.

The audit is also an opportunity for us to prove once again and reassure our guests, clients, and partners that we remain strong, safe, efficient, and reliable.

“As an airline, we are not insulated from the multiple challenges airlines and the aviation industry is grappling with daily which includes the recent skyrocketing cost of aviation fuel at N830/ltr, unavailability of forex, ground handling services, inflation, multiple taxations amongst other operational challenges which airlines have made frantic efforts to communicate to the flying public and the government”.

READ ALSO:  Sirika Moves To Pilot Nigerian Aviation To New Heights

“While this short stay off the market remains painful and heartbreaking for us, our customers, clients, and partners, we remain very hopeful and very confident of our position”, he added.

The NCAA had suspended Dana Airlines’ Air Transport Licence (ATL) and Air Operator Certificate (AOC) indefinitely, with effect from 20th July 2022.

The decision was the outcome of a financial and economic health audit carried out on the airline by the authority, and the findings of an investigation conducted on the airline’s flight operations recently, which revealed that Dana Airlines is no longer in a position to meet its financial obligations and to conduct safe flight operations.

Some existing Nigerian airlines

The NCAA acknowledged the negative effect this preemptive decision will have on the Airline’s passengers and the travelling public and seeks their understanding, as the safety of flight operations takes priority over all other considerations.

Wole Shadare