Director-General of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), Capt. Musa Nuhu has attributed most of the flight disruptions currently being experienced in the aviation sector to huge debts which airline operators owe the various aviation fuel marketers.
As a result of this, the marketers insist on doing business with them on a cash-and-carry basis.
Nuhu stated this at a press conference held in Lagos on Wednesday.
“Some of the airlines have outstanding debts and the oil marketers want cash from them. As a result of that, they have to go and look for money. That is what has caused most of the delays and flight cancellations you are seeing. I agree that Jet A1 is expensive and scarce in some places,” he said.
He also spoke on the high cost of aviation fuel describing it as a “critical issue.”
“It is of serious concern to us. I know the effort that the minister of aviation, Mr. Hadi Sirika has made. Some days ago, the Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON) met with him and they went to the ministry of finance to ask for forex both for the airlines and importation of aviation fuel.
“It is really a pathetic situation. We do not refine Jet A1 in Nigeria; it is imported. The conflict in Ukraine has brought back a sudden increase in the price of Jet A1 internationally. And at the same time the dollar is not readily available. So what we witness now is economic and financial crisis,” he said.
On the suspension of the operations of Dana Air, Nuhu said the airline would remain shut until certain issues are addressed.
He said the agency did economic and financial audits on the airline and in the process discovered “series of violations that were of grave concern to us.”
“For the interest of safety, we decided to stop their operations until the(se) matters are resolved. Investigation is still ongoing; it is not yet completed. We are not here to kill anybody; we are here to work with everybody to ensure the operators provide safe, secure and efficient services. Investigations are still ongoing with the management of Dana,” he said
On Aero Contractors, the director general said the airline informed the agency that it (Aero) was suspending its operations for the purpose of restructuring and repositioning.
“We have collected some economic and financial health of some airlines. And when that of Aero came, they sat down with us; they did a presentation on how they are trying to restructure and reposition. They told us that they were planning to suspend their operations voluntarily. They presented a very good plan and when they are through they will come back to us. We will sit down with them to assist them in any way we can,” he added.