Posted by Sade Williams
The tripartite House of Representatives Committees on Aviation, Commerce and Human Rights investigating the unprecedented flight delays and cancellations in recent times have identified lack of collaboration and coordination among the various stakeholders as major contributory factors to the problems.
At the investigative hearing coordinated by the Aviation Committee Chairman, Honourable Nnolin Nnaji, it was decided that the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority, (NCAA) headed by Captain Musa Nuhu, and the service providers, the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria, (FAAN), the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency, (NAMA) as well as the handling companies should meet with airlines and come up with a well thought out plans on how to address the issue.
The Chairman of the United Nigeria Airlines, Dr Obiora Okonkwo had earlier painted a gloomy pictures of how the cumulative loss of times ranging from ticketing canters to the congestion at the aircraft parking area, the apron, delay in start up permit from the control tower and the congestion at the taxi way before take off as part of the challenges pushing up the delays.
He stated that “once the flight is delayed in take off at any schedule it leads to the delay in the next leg of the operation and that’s how it builds up”.
The United Nigeria Airlines Chairman further listed the general poor airports’ infrasture, inadequate handling equipment at some airports and the problems of weather as well as closure of airspace during very important personality, (VIP) movements as part of the contributory factors to the flight delays.
Dr Okonkwo also pointed out that most of the airports the domestic airlines operate into were designated visual flights aerodromes, (VFR) which means that you have to operate to such airports before sunset adding that,, ” once you can’t take off and land at such airports before 6:30 pm you have to cancel the operation “.
The chairman of Air Peace, Chief Allen Onyema also speaking along same line stated that because of the visual flight rule, the airlines were constrained to twelve hours use of an airplane in a day instead of eighteen hours adding that, “what it means is that an operator who leased an aircraft for his operations is already losing from take off”.
Chief Onyema added that if majority of the airport could be opened to traffic at least up to midnight, it would offer the operators better utilisation of the aircraft stating that with such development, an aeroplane could be deployed to operations for up to eighteen hours par day.
The Managing Director of the Federal Airports Authority, (FAAN), Captain Rabiu Yadudu who acknowledged that the industry was encountering infractural gap noted that such was not enough to justify delays of up to two to three hours and above which the airlines had in recent times subjected passengers to.
He disclosed that the authority has begun to expand the aprons at the general aviation terminals in Lagos and Abuja to address the issue of congestion and promised to collaborate with sister agencies and the airlines as directed by the committee to see how the problems of delays could be tackled .
Honourable Nnaji noted that the industry was pivotal to the development of the national economy and stressed the need for the Federal Government to invest more in aviation so that many more airports could operate beyond sunset ( beyond 6 pm).