BY: Sade Williams/Business a.m.
Musa Nuhu, director general, Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), has said that the extension of Air Operators’ Certificate (AOC) granted to airlines by the authority will ensure continuity in the system just as he advised stakeholders to make clarifications on matters before they go public.
In an interview in Lagos, the NCAA chief said the airlines in question or the authority may for one reason or another, be unable to complete the renewal processes within the stipulated period, thus the extension has to be granted in order not to stop operations altogether.
“To renew AOC, there are certain conditions and processes that must be completed. If for whatever reason, either from the operator or the NCAA, we cannot complete those processes before the expiration of the AOC, we will extend it for them.
“Extension is for the system to continue to ensure that all regulatory requirements are complied with for the renewal. Sometimes for some reasons, some operators are not able to meet certain requirements on time or it may be, on our own part, we cannot complete the process; then, we say, instead of disrupting the system, we give them extension for that period so that they can continue their operations.
“Before the extension completes, their renewal is given. People just talk without seeking clarifications. So, we look at the situations, give them extension while we continue to work to complete the renewal process. Renewal is not automatic. It is a process with steps, which must be completed,” he said.
On the maximum period of extension, the NCAA boss said: “The most we have given, if I am not mistaken, is 90 days, but usually, it is hardly more than 30 days. We do this thing so that the system will keep functioning. You can imagine if we are unable to complete the process either on the part of the airline or NCAA, we now ground one or two airlines, can you imagine the chaos that we will have in the industry?
“So, people need to understand, rather than the blanket condemnation without clarifications on what the actual issue is and why we are doing what we do. It is the same people that will turn around and insult us if we don’t renew the AOC of a particular airline. Whatever you do, head or tail, you lose.
“I want to appeal to some of the industry analysts or stakeholders to come to us before making any public comments. When they hear stories or something, they can come to us and seek clarifications, rather than go out there and make wild comments, which aggravate the system. I read a lot on different platforms daily and sometimes, it is annoying when some certain people who are respected members of the industry and are supposed to be the conduit for the industry, make false comments for whatever reasons without seeking NCAA clarifications,” he added.
Speaking on multiple designations granted foreign airlines, Nuhu explained that the issue of Bilateral Air Services Agreement (BASA) is a policy of the federal government, adding that the NCAA only makes a few contributions.
“Unfortunately the NCAA is not the one responsible for BASA negotiations to airlines. It is a policy issue and this is led by the Ministry [of Aviation]. The NCAA makes its own contributions, but the final decision is by the ministry. So, anyone that blames the NCAA for that is either out of lack of understanding of how BASA negotiations work for Nigeria; and every country has its own peculiarity on how they do BASA. In Nigeria, it is the ministry.”
On AOC for Nigeria Air, he said the process is ongoing but the Authority has nothing to do with security clearance.
“The only thing I can tell you is that the promoters of that airline have applied and their AOC is ongoing. I don’t have any assurances of when the licences would be. You see, when you apply for AOC or any certification, some issues that are not completely under the purview of the NCAA, like seeking security clearance for the applicant, security agents do that. I don’t have control over security agencies to give such clearances. They have applied and it is ongoing, we are waiting for security clearance,” he noted.