Director General of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), Capt. Musa Nuhu, has revealed that his administration is considering extending the life-span of Air Operators Certificate (AOC) from two to five years.
He said this during an emergency zoom meeting held recently where he appealed to industry stakeholders to submit memoranda that will shape the new Civil Aviation Regulation, CAR. Nuhu urged stakeholders to stand up and be counted, as the new regulation being proposed is meant to enhance the performance of industry players and aid them to realise an appreciable return on their investments in a reasonable time frame.
Nuhu harped on the emergence of a homegrown regulation but with greater contributions from more stakeholders to produce a sacrosanct regulation that shall be in total compliance with the International Civil Aviation Organization’s ICAO’s recommended standards and practices.
Nuhu said that the Act will aid in taking care of gaps in the regulation including but not limited to, illegal charter operations, foreign aircraft registration, inconsistent rules such as the conditionality for procuring AOC by schedule commercial operator and the general aviation, among others.
The Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Aviation, Dr. Emmanuel Meribole, who was present, said the memoranda submitted is too little to represent the large numbers of operators prospecting in the different value chains of aviation in Nigeria.
Hence he appealed to every investors prospecting in air transport to takeout time and contribute to the much-needed diverse opinions needed to shape the much touted reviewed civil aviation regulation in Nigeria.
Meribole said the timeline erstwhile stipulated had since expired but the memoranda submitted would not inspire a fair representation of opinion on salient issues that border on the safe, economic, and secured operation of investors in the fastest-growing sector of the national economy.
By the current understanding, submission of memoranda is now very urgent although no time frame was given at the meeting and the officials implied progress shall be made before the expiration of the first quarter of 2023.
An AOC is the approval granted by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), to qualified aircraft operators, so it can use the aircraft for commercial purposes. It is usually renewed after two years and its renewal has been a very contentious issue as many airlines believe that the time frame is insufficient as should be extended.
Erstwhile Chief Operating Officer of Tropical Arctic Logistics (TAL), Femi Adeniji, had in an interview with Daily Sun complained about the short time frame for AOC renewal, saying his company’s failed efforts at renewing its AOC caused it to lose over $2 million in 18 months.
Adeniji explained that in countries like the United States, AOCs are acquired for life unless such an airline has issues, which grounded its operations for years. He said that the same could be replicated in Nigeria and called on NCAA to amend its regulations and put them in tandem with developments around the world. According to him, the one-shoe-fits –all approach in the regulation needed to be expunged for true development to set in.
Chairman West-link airlines, Captain Ibrahim Mshelia, who spoke at the annual conference of the League of Airport and Aviation Correspondents, said for many years, Nigerian airlines have continued to groan under a challenged business environment that makes it difficult for them to thrive. He expressed frustration at the bottlenecks airlines face just to keep their businesses afloat. He said airline business especially in Nigeria is capital intensive, yet profit margins are very little.
He then listed some of the factors responsible for the collapse of domestic airlines after just a few years of commencing operations and he warned that if nothing is done urgently, operators will keep struggling to stay afloat. Instances of such aviation policies he considers to either be retrogressive, archaic or not in conformity with the global rule of practice include the procedure for obtaining and renewing AOC’s.