Financial distress may lead to safety issues if not well managed–NCAA DG

Capt. Musa Nuhu, DG, NCAA

 

 

Posted by Sade Williams

 

Director General of Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), Captain Musa Nuhu has said that the Authority works regularly with industry players, especially, airlines to ensure that there is no room for safety issues, especially in financial distress situations.

He said when financial difficulty is not promptly checked or managed, it could lead to safety issues and may eventually lead the airlines to cutting corners in operations.

He said since aviation is safety sensitive, the NCAA will not fold its arms and watch things degenerate before it acts, adding that to ensure continuous safety and compliance with all  regulations and recommended practices, the regulatory authority ensures the airlines are up to date in all aspects.

Speaking during an interview in Lagos, he said, ‘We are doing our best to ensure that there is continuous safety in the air and we ensure compliance with all our regulations and recommended practices. We work together with the industry to see how we can assist, help the industry’.

Speaking on planned Aero Contractors resumption of flight services, Nuhu said the airline is good to go adding that it was not grounded due to safety  issues but on financial difficulty.

”Aero Contractors was not grounded based on safety issues, we did an audit of them because whatever audit you do, you have findings and they were all minor findings. There was no Level 1, 2, 3 findings. They were very insignificant. We notified them. We audited them and we found out that the issue they had was finance sustainability.

”Aviation is safety sensitive and whenever you have financial difficulty, it is just a matter of time, you will not be able to comply with all the regulatory requirements and some may start cutting corners. So, before financial issue becomes safety issue, we had a discussion with them and they on their own before we took any action, agreed with our findings and suspended their operations to enable them reorganise and get some funding to get more equipment. That is what they have done, we sat with them, they submitted, we asked for projection, which they did, we reviewed. The first one wasn’t good enough, they had to go and review it and it was quite satisfactory. We had MoU with them for payment of outstanding 5 per cent on Ticket Sales Charge (TSC). So, they are fine. As far as we are concerned, they can resume operations.”, he said.

Captain Nuhu, who decried the effect of Covid-19 on the airlines, said other issues such as  foreign exchange, Jet A1 crisis, had also impacted their operations,  but noted the the operators are trying to weather the storm under the difficult circumstances and that has also  increased NCAA surveillance on their operations.

”But the truth of the matter is that the outbreak of Covid-19 pandemic did not only put the airlines in a difficult situation, but exposed a lot of fractions within the system. A lot of airlines didn’t globally survive the Covid-19 and some are still being affected from the impact of Covid-19. When we thought we were recovering, then we had issues of foreign exchange, Jet A1 crisis, which further put the industry in a very difficult situation. They are trying under difficult circumstances and that increase our workload to continue the surveillance to ensure that safety margins are adhered to and we are getting there.”, he added.

Speaking on Yuletide preparations and flight delays and cancellations, he said calibration of navigation equipment has begun to ensure safe and seamless operations during the period.

He added that the NCAA will do its best to mitigate te challenges that may arise from the at Yuletide.

”There is always a rush for the travelling public in December. It is the airlines that will put measures in place and the airport operators and we ensure that proper mitigating measures are put in place to facilitate operations during the yuletide period. As far as issue of navigation facilities are concerned. Calibration has just started to ensure that they are all in top shape so that when the inclement weather comes in, flights can operate with minimum disruption.

”Flight cancellations can come from many reasons. I am not making excuses for any operator; sometimes, you have technical problem, weather and other disruptions that affect the flight schedules and sometimes, the airlines too, their planning is not the best. So, we work with everybody. It is not just the airlines; the airlines are part of the eco-system in the airport. Whenever we have the yuletide, we are going to have surge in passenger traffic that may be beyond the terminal capacity. That one also has an impact on the departure of an airline. Sometimes, the handlers are overloaded because of the loads. It will have an impact on the plan of the airline. So, we are doing our best to mitigate the challenges.”

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