Reason six aircraft is now minimum for airlines to operate in Nigeria – NCAA

Musa Nuhu, director-general of the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), says airlines must have strong financial capacity and a minimum of six aircraft to be allowed to operate in the country.

Nuhu made the disclosure during a virtual meeting with aviation correspondents.

He said the major problems facing domestic airline operation in the country is lack of capacity to overcome challenges.

The director-general said the new policy is not only for new startups but also for existing operators, adding that existing operators have been given a deadline to comply with the policy.

Prior to now, domestic airline operators are required to have at least three airworthy aircraft before commencing operation.

“The problem is that a lot of the airlines don’t even have the capacity to meet current financial obligations,” Nuhu said.

“If you have three aircraft for instance and you lose one out of it, it has become a problem to meet up with your operations. Then, you start to have issues of flight delays, cancellations and all that.

“The number of aircraft you will have will depend on the kind of operations you want to do. You can imagine somebody who comes in with just one or two aircraft and one of the aircraft goes out of business, and sells tickets to the passengers, thinking of what will happen.

“For you to have six aircraft, it shows you have a very strong financial background of running an airline.

“It is not only for new entrants, but the old ones too have a period by which they have to comply. If everybody has one or two aircraft, we will keep having this recurring problem. We have to avoid that.

“People will criticize, but every country is different. We have to look at our own peculiar history and try and come up with solution, but regulations are not cast in stone.

“If the situation changes, the regulation would be reviewed accordingly. Whenever it is necessary, we don’t have to wait for five years before we make amendments.”

The NCAA boss said any airline that could afford to acquire six aircraft has the financial capacity to operate scheduled service.

He added that with such capacity, the airline would not easily go under after a few years, while still having its name in the NCAA registry.

“From records, about 12 years ago, we had only 16 AOCs, right now, we have 32, out of which 12 are scheduled operators.

“We cannot keep operating the way we are operating. Changes have to come in and we have started the process.

“We are acquiring a regulatory software and in the next one or two weeks, we are going to be ready with the software and training of our staff is going to start on the use of the software.

“We are going to make sure that 80 percent to 90 percent of NCAA processes are automated and also third parties are going to be automated.”

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