By Chinelo Obogo

The Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON), has lauded the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), for not issuing an Air Operators’ Certificate (AOC) to Nigeria Air.

Reacting to the display of the Nigeria Air aircraft on Friday, the association said everything about the plan for the national carrier from inception till now has been wrong.

The AON in a statement signed by its spokesman, Prof. Obiora Okonkwo, said that they do not support the national carrier because it is not in the interest of Nigeria’s aviation. While noting that granting an AOC to Nigeria Air without going through the necessary process, has grave consequence, the AON said; ‘The Air Operators Certificate (AOC) is also a safety certificate by which the NCAA certifies that the holder has demonstrated that it is fit to conduct safe flight operations. To achieve this, a prospective airline is put through a rigorous five-phase certification process before it is granted. Implication of granting an AOC to Nigeria Air without it successfully going through the process is considered by the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) as serious infraction, which is also punishable.

“It is capable of causing Nigeria to be blacklisted by aviation safety agencies like the US FAA and the EASA (European Aviation Safety Agency). Further implications include that airlines of those countries will not come into Nigeria, and Nigerian airlines will not be allowed to operate into those countries. It also means that Nigeria will definitely fail the upcoming ICAO audit and, by way of further penalty, lose its FAA CAT-1 Certification. Nigerian airlines will also not be able to lease aircraft to boost their operations because no lessor will trust the safety certification process of the NCAA. As indigenous operators, we are happy and grateful to the NCAA for saving us from this punishment by resisting the pressure from Minister Hadi Sirika to grant an AOC to Nigeria Air without going through the due process. Besides, aviation is an essential sector which is critical to economic development of Nigeria or any country. If tampered with, it will have negative expanded multiplier effect on all aspects of the economy and life of Nigeria. AON, as strong stakeholders, have a national and patriotic duty to guard against such happening. Otherwise, our investments in the aviation sector of Nigeria, running into billions of dollars, would have been jeopardised.

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“Hence, we in the AON continue to salute the courage of the NCAA team led by Capt. Musa Nuhu, for insisting that the right things must be done in order to protect the safety and integrity of the Nigerian aviation industry, which they have nurtured to enviable world standard.

“For us, it is a patriotic action to save the Nigerian government, people and economy from exploitation and to also protect the Nigerian aviation sector and our investments. Otherwise, AON really cares less about the ownership of Nigeria Air if the intentions are genuine and for the common good with strict compliance with the due process. After all, Ethiopian Airline is already operating multiple landing rights in Nigeria, British Airways is owned by IAG, a company registered in Spain but owned by Qatar as the major shareholder. The Canadian government owns less than 7% of Air Canada’s National carrier. Takatso, a Pan-African consortium, recently took over South Africa Airways, all we are saying is let the right thing be done the right way in the interest of Nigeria and her Aviation industry,” it said.