…says Authority processing 18 AOCs
…proposed Abuja airport closure approved for safety reasons
By Sade Williams
Airlines, both foreign and domestic in 2016, sold tickets worth over N330 billion between January and October 2016, Captain Muhtar Usman, director general of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), has said.
At a press conference at the Authority’s annex at Lagos airport on Monday, he also said that between January and December 2015, both foreign airlines and domestic airlines sold tickets worth over N385 billion in 2015 adding that in 2016, 42,000 passenger traffic were recorded daily while 597 flights daily were recorded.
According to the statistics presented by the DG, in 2015, 42,000 passenger traffic was recorded daily while the Authority 700 flights were recorded daily.
He however added that last quarter 2016 data is being collated and authenticated..
Usman, who revealed that there are several new applicants for Air Operators Certificate (AOC), said the Authority is already processing ‘18 firm applications adding that ‘9 are at the level of intent’.
While revealing some of the Authority’s four point agenda to include: sustaining zero accident in aviation; increase in safety oversight; wider and more regular surveillance; stringent enforcement and issuance of appropriate sanctions, he said he plans to involve all stakeholders; ensure airlines’ compliance with Nigerian Civil Aviation Regulations and that all outstanding debts to be paid as part of his success path in 2017.
According to him, passengers comfort is paramount in plans of the Authority adding that it plans to dissuade belligerent passengers on approaches to issues while it will above all, there has been and will be sustained Safety oversight and surveillance.
Parts of the achievements of the NCAA, he said include but not limited to reviewing and amending the Nigerian Civil Aviation Regulations (NCARS) which officially took effect from July, 2016, accreditation of the only helicopter flying school in the sub region to offer air transport pilot license and certification of aviation security screeners at the nation’s airports.
Others include issuing of guidelines to owners and users of remotely piloted aircraft/drones to curb prevalent collisions with aircraft in the airspace; attainment of level three in state safety programme implementation process, adding that Nigeria is now in the same level with USA, U.K etc, in safety rating.
While revealing that economic recession, paucity of foreign exchange, inability of foreign carriers to repatriate funds and scarcity of aviation fuel, were some of the challenges which confronted the sector in 2016, he said beyond the challenges, Nigeria’s air transport industry retained its attractiveness with increase in Bilateral Air Services Agreement (BASA).
According to him, Nigeria has BASA with 88 countries while it increased to 90 countries in December 2016.
Meanwhile, the Director General has said the NCAA approved the proposed closure of Abuja airports for runway repairs for safety reasons.
He said the Authority had been monitoring maintenance of the runway over the years adding that it was aware of the issue.
He however lamented that if a second runway was available, there would not be any need to close the airport during repair of the first one.
He revealed at NCAA, all staff were trained in line with ICAO SARPs, including local and foreign training, adding that the Authority innovatively domesticated some foreign mandatory training, deploying huge resources.
“NCAA has world class professionals in sufficient numbers, the industry is replete with astute professionals including active licensed pilots totaling 2,226; active licensed aircraft maintenance engineers totaling 1,532; active licensed flight dispatchers totaling 543 and active licensed air traffic controllers totaling 313; active licensed cabin crew 1,888; there are 254 licensed air traffic safety electronic personnel license and 100 aeronautical station operator’s personnel”, he said.