Speaking at the headquarters of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority after receiving an Air Transport Licence for Nigeria Air, the Chief Executive of the airline’s management, Capt. Dapo Olumide, categorically stated that “it is very difficult to get the aircraft,” attributing this to the effect of COVID-19 on the aviation sector globally, among other factors.
Olumide, who received the licence on behalf of the proposed new airline, however, stated that efforts were ongoing to get all the aircraft, as this was a basic requirement by the NCAA before the issuance of another vital certificate.
Media had reported on Monday that the civil aviation regulator would present an ATL to the interim management of Nigeria Air in Abuja.
The ATL with number NCAA/ATR1/ATL214, which was presented to the airline, was signed by the Director-General, NCAA, Capt. Musa Nuhu, and would run for a period of five years from June 3, 2022 to June 2, 2027.
An Air Transport Licence is issued as authorisation to airlines to provide scheduled and non-scheduled services.
It is one of the licences received by airlines before they can commence operations just as they await the all-important Air Operator Certificate that fully guarantees them the right to begin air services.
The issuance of an ATL to Nigeria Air on Monday came four years after the branding and livery of the new airline was unveiled by the Federal Government during the Farnborough Air Show in July 2018 in London.
Since then, there had been several efforts and promises by the Federal Government to get the airline functional, as the airline’s boss insisted on Monday that the national carrier was making progress, based on the presentation of an ATL to the airline by the NCAA.
However, in his response to an enquiry on the airplanes needed for airline’s operations, Olumide stated that it had been tough to get them.
He said, “The aircraft are available but there are all sorts of issues because this is summer peak period. And as you know, post-COVID, all the aircraft were parked in the desert. The airlines are bringing them out slowly. It takes time to bring an aircraft out of storage.
“And there is a further complication, a lot of flights in Europe are being cancelled or delayed because most people were laid off during the COVID and they don’t have enough staff in the airports to turn around flights. So there are lots of cancellations going on.
“So it is very difficult to get the aircraft but we have discussions going on with Original Equipment Manufacturers and we are just waiting for the right terms of the agreement. We already have the aircraft identified because that is one of the requirements for the NCAA, but we are just trying to perfect titles and so on.”
Olumide concluded that the airline was still sourcing aircraft, stressing that the national carrier was in a Public-Private Partnership process with the Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission based on the approval of the Federal Executive Council.
“So we have to comply with the terms of proposals. So the sourcing is still in progress,” he stated.
Commenting on the licence that was issued the airline and the next stage for the carrier, the NCAA boss described the ATL as a big step required by Nigeria Air in its pursuit towards commercial flight services.
Nuhu said, “The ATL process is a step and one of the certificates required towards schedule passenger operations and it is a big step forward in the processing of the Air Operator Certificate which is presently ongoing.
“We are the civil aviation regulator. We support all operators, those currently existing in the industry, we work together, and those aspiring and processing, we work together with them and support them to ensure they get all their documentation after meeting their requirements without exception.”
Nuhu told the management of Nigeria Air that the NCAA was looking forward to seeing the airline fulfill the remaining requirements for the issuance of an AOC.
Asked to state what would be required to get the AOC since the airline had been issued an ATL, the NCAA helmsman replied, “An ATL is part of the process of getting an airline schedule operator flying and issuance of the AOC is ongoing.
“Once all the requirements are made and we are happy with the compliance with all our regulatory requirements and applicable standards, they would be issued an AOC.”