COVID-19 palliative not open to all-comer airlines – NCAA

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The director general of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), Capt. Musa Nuhu has said that any airline can apply for palliative but it would be given to functional carriers only.

Nuhu stated this on Wednesday while speaking as guest at a virtual gateway forum organised by the League of Airport and Aviation Correspondents (LAAC) in Lagos.

The director general who was responding to the question that a defunct airline had allegedly applied for the palliative while preparing for a come-back said: “Any airline can apply for the palliative – whether functional (airline) or not. If you try your luck it doesn’t mean that you will get it.

“There is a policy that participating airlines must be functioning and with air operator’s certificate. I also believe that the Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON) has its own rules and they know the criteria; I believe the AON will not put forward a non- functioning airline,” he said.

Responding to the issue of exploitation of Nigerian carriers plying regional and international routes, the director general advised such carriers to always carry the NCAA along to avoid unfair treatment.

“The airlines should always carry the NCAA, the ministry of aviation and the Nigerian embassy in the country they are flying into along; we are here to help them grow. It will be very helpful when the airlines carry the regulatory body along.

“And when they have difficulties they should complain to us; we will sit with them and guide them and even go with them. There must be fairness from both sides,” he said.

On the autonomy of the NCAA, the director general said the agency cannot excise itself from the ministry of aviation.

However, he said in the area of regulation, “we are doing that without interference by the ministry.”

Continuing, Nuhu said: “Without the support of the ministry it will be difficult to implement policies.

“We cannot totally isolate ourselves from the ministry; all the agencies are under the ministry. But in terms of regulation, we are doing that without interference from the Ministry. Some things will be difficult to implement without political support from the ministry.

“We implement our regulations irrespective of who is in the ministry. All the agencies are under the ministry, so we cannot operate in isolation. We have some relationship with the ministry; it is not realistic to divorce completely from the ministry” Nuhu added.

On the financial health of the domestic airlines, Nuhu said the COVID-19 has affected the economic fortunes of all airlines, not only in Nigeria.

He said even the strongest global carriers had been given bailout to survive.

“The financial health of airlines is not limited to Nigerian airlines; it is a global issue, especially due to the impact of COVID-19. We have seen airlines that have been given billions of dollars by their governments but they are still having issues. Many airlines have sacked their workers; even BA, Lufthansa, Emirates have sacked workers and withdrawn some aircraft. It is a global thing, but government is working on palliative,” he stated.

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