Nigerian airlines operate in difficult environment, says NCAA DG

  • How to resolve SAATM challenges to achieve potential



The Director-General of Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), Capt Musa Nuhu said the country’s carriers are operating in a very difficult environment, adding that an airline cannot operate in isolation from the economy it is operating. To him, the Nigerian economy is in very difficult times.

Nuhu, in an interview with Aviation Metric in Abuja, decried the cost of financing which put the cost at 25 percent, further describing it as ‘killing’.

He said, “You take a loan and you are paying 25 percent of whatever you make to the bank. You are not talking about your expenses, your costs, and your current and long-term liabilities. Quite a few of them are in a financial dire strait and some are okay. So, that is the way it is. It is a very difficult environment for the airlines and we also do sincerely sympathise with them and we will try and see where we have the flexibility to make life easy for them.”

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Private jets on airport tarmac

He explained that in the case of insurance, virtually all the carriers undertake insurance from Lloyds of London which according to him requires a huge amount of foreign exchange.

He further stated that the premium on aircraft which is usually for one year would take a huge toll on airlines that have more than ten airplanes is a huge task.

“That is why we say pay quarterly, at least to reduce the financial burden, especially on the requirement of getting foreign exchange at a time.

“So, we try to assist the airlines in that area, and those who have debts, we reach an agreement with them. If I have N1 billion with you, I am not asking you to pay that N1 billion to me, because if I do that, I am going to kill your business.

“So, we reach a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) and they pay an amount that will not cripple their operation. But also, they have to pay a reasonable amount to clear those outstanding debts. Those are the areas we have flexibility with the industry.”

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The NCAA DG highlighted challenges posed by the Single African Air Transport Market (SAATM), just as he commended the work done by the Director-General of the African Civil Aviation Commission (AFCAC), Ms. Funke Adeyemi for promoting the continent’s air transport liberalization policy.

He disclosed that one or two major issues with SAATM were the mistake of comparing Africa with Europe which has one regulatory body, the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA).

“In Africa, we have 24 different regulatory bodies with 24 different regulations. So, this makes it difficult, until we Africans learn to be one and have a single regulatory body like EASA. If you are coming from a country with a requirement and you come to Nigeria, I start giving you another requirement that is a very difficult thing to do. in Europe, they have one political organisation, the European Commission.”

“They make their policies and it is applicable to all. But, here everybody does his own policies and goes their own way. Honestly, unless we find a way to resolve these issues, even if SAATM is implemented, it is not going to achieve its potential.”

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Nuhu noted that his agency had started informally talking to some Directors-General of some four, or five countries to see how they could look at the regulations to have some kind of harmonisation between these countries.

Such harmonisation he said would lead to joint training and other things they can do together.




“If an airline is coming from Country A to Country B and we have harmonisation, it is like a local flight. So, to me, that is the way to go. We want to start, and I hope we are able to hit the ground on that and when other countries see that it is succeeding, everybody wants success, and everybody will want to join the band.”

Wole Shadare