The Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) has warned domestic airlines operators and threatened to ground those that are facing financial challenges and are unable to meet their financial obligations in the course of their operations, including the payment of staff salary.
The regulatory body said airlines’ poor financial status could threaten safety in its operations, and failure to pay its staff would affect the commitment and motivation of the workers, adding that it could also tempt the airline to start cutting corners in its compulsory maintenance schedule and training.
According to the General Manager, Public Affairs, NCAA, Fan Ndubuoke, this warning was issued after the management of the regulatory authority held a meeting with all the indebted airlines.
“At the meeting, the management expressed serious concern over the non-payment of salaries by the airlines. It viewed the development as detrimental to the continuous growth the industry has witnessed in recent times,” Ndubuoke said.
NCAA explained that it took the action when it realised that consistently the financial health reports from the airlines were indicating gaps in financial stability.
“As far as the NCAA is concerned, the issue of non-payment of staff salaries is critical to safety. The moment an airline cannot meet its financial obligations, it is believed that the staff morale will be down and this can impact negatively on safety and security of its operations.
“The airlines were told that NCAA would not condone a situation where their staff will disrupt operations which will affect the travel plans of passengers who have purchased their tickets,” Ndubuoke also said.
Consequently, the authority said it wrote a warning letter to the affected airlines, informing them that non-payment of staff salaries is unacceptable to the agency.
“The regulator therefore warns the airlines that if this act persists, it will take recourse to sanctions, one of which may result in suspension of Air Operators Certificate (AOC),” Ndubuoke said.
NCAA recalled that last year, three airlines were suspended due to their inability to pay staff salaries and it is now insisting that until all the arrears of salaries are paid, these airlines would not be cleared for further operations.
The authority reiterated that it would continue to carry out financial health audit of airlines to ensure that the nation’s airline operations were healthy, safe and secure.