Okonkwo backs NCAA’s probe of contaminated fuel, seeks N250 billion soft loans for aviation

 Chairman of United Nigeria Airlines, Prof. Obiora Okonkwo has backed the decision of the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) to probe the circumstances leading to water in the tank of MAX Air while also asking the aviation regulatory body to beam its searchlight on the oil marketers with a view to preventing the supply of contaminated products to airline operators.

Also, the Federal Government has been advised to encourage investment growth through policies and soft loans, rather than giving out handouts to the people.

United Nigeria Airlines 

Okonkwo stated this in Lagos on Friday during the Annual All Markets Conference of the Indigboamaka Progressive Market Association with the theme: ‘Catalysing Partnership with Traders through Innovation, Technology, Analytical, and Sustainability.

He stated that the NCAA had taken the right step to investigate the source of the contaminated aviation fuel involving Max Air’s Boeing 737-300 aircraft of July 7, 2023.

Okonkwo stated that there are certain measures taken by fuelers and airlines before fuel is dispensed into the tank of aircraft, saying such steps should be adhered to strictly by all operators.

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He also called on NCAA to carry out a pseudo-audit of the fuel marketers in order to ensure total compliance with industry standards.

He lauded the current management of NCAA, led by Capt. Musa Nuhu said that the apex regulatory body in the sector had lived up to expectations so far.

United Nigeria Chairman, Prof. Obiorah Okonkwo

“The plan to investigate the fuel marketers is a confirmation of all that I have been saying all along that we have an active and vibrant NCAA, which guarantees the safety of the air passengers. It can only take a vigilant regulatory to observe when there is a problem and if they have gone as far as identifying with the supplier of bad fuel, we are happy with that development.”

“As for Max Air, there is nothing absolutely to worry about. It can happen to any airline at any time. If there are questions from NCAA, it is left for them to give answers to the agency, which I m sure they will do.

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On the statement by NCAA that airlines and pilots are responsible for the quality of fuel dispensed in their aircraft tanks, Okonkwo said that this was in the interest of the airlines and the flying public.

He said that this would make the operators more responsible for their responsibilities of ensuring safety and force adherence to Standard Operation Procedures (SOP).

He, however, appealed to NCAA to put in place more acceptable audits on the fuel suppliers, stressing that the airline operators had consistently canvassed this position.

Okonkwo also said that the doling out of N500 billion palliatives to the less privileged as planned by the Federal Government may not be the solution to the country’s problems.

According to the United Nigeria Airlines Chairman, the government should rather look at how it could use the savings from the fuel subsidy to strengthen business owners in the private sector to stimulate the economy and create wealth.

He suggested that if the government could give the airline operators about N250 billion for instance as a soft loan, it would go a long way in boosting the economy.

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He also called for transparency in the disbursement of the loans to the beneficiaries.

“If the Federal Government can set aside about N250 billion for the aviation sector as soft loans, not grant or free money to the aviation sector, what it means is that there will be more aircraft, which can be deployed to some of the new routes. It can also energize and capitalize on us going to the international routes.

Jet A1

“The outcome is that there will be more people employed, revenue generation by the airlines and the government will make more money. Flying overseas will bring about foreign exchange earnings and it will reduce the pressure. By and large, it will help people who don’t have jobs.

Wole Shadare