The director general of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), Capt. Musa Nuhu has dismissed the notion that airlines are grounded indiscriminately by anyone at the agency.
Speaking in an interview with airport correspondents in Lagos yesterday, Nuhu who reacted to the insinuation that airlines were suspended by senior officers in the agency said he is the only one to authorise the suspension of any airline.
“With regard to relationship with the airlines, I will refer you to AON and they can tell you about our relationship. In fact, I think we have the best relationship with the airlines now; I have not seen any problem with the relationship.
“Of course one or two people have complained; if we have 50, 30, 20 operators and one or two people complain, it’s normal, there is no big deal about it.
“Nobody in NCAA can ground any operator without the approval of the director general; absolutely nobody, nobody can ground anybody. As the director general I am the only person that can ground any operator but we have good relationship with the airlines and operators. But of course it’s not everybody that would be happy with us, that is normal,” he said.
On the humongous debts airlines owed to the agency, Nuhu said the first step was to stop what he called the “legacy debts” from growing by ensuring that airlines keyed to the automation process.
“We have stopped the growth of the debt; for the legacy debt we are working with the operators to come out with plans and a lot of them have complied and very soon we are going to start talking to them one by one on how to settle their whole debts.
“Reconciliation meetings with operators are ongoing on the legacy debts.
“We know we are all in difficult times; so we can’t say give us all our money but also you have to bring a reasonable plan on how you want to settle this amount. So, of all the airlines, maybe one or two are in the process of doing it. So that should not be an issue,” he said.
On the exact amount owed by the airlines, Nuhu said he did not have the actual figures; more so, the agency and the airlines may have different figures.
“I don’t want to give you wrong figures; I don’t like saying what I am not sure of. Even the legacy debt when we tell you, airlines are going to say no it’s not that. So we will sit down and do reconciliation meeting; we bring our numbers, you bring your numbers, if you don’t agree you bring evidence of payment. So that is why I don’t want to give numbers.
“There is this reconciliation meeting ongoing with the airlines and I have to thank the chairman and vice chairman AON, they came to meet us and extended an olive branch and we are working on that,” he added.
On airport certification, the director general said the international wing of the Murtala Muhammed Airport, Lagos and the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport (NAA), Abuja had already been certified.
However, he said they were now undergoing re-certification adding that progress had been made in that regard.
“We have a few gaps that are to be closed. Some have been closed; others, we are in the process of closing them. We are working closely with the management of the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) to close the open items to ensure that the re-certification process is completed as soon as possible.”
For the Enugu, Kano and Port Harcourt airports, Nuhu said they were undergoing initial certification processes.