Louis Ibah

Stakeholders in Nigeria’s aviation sector have raised the alarm over the inability of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) to halt the rise in recent weeks in the number of private jets being deployed illegally for charter or unscheduled commercial purposes in breach of the country’s civil aviation laws.

The concerned stakeholders are also expressing the fear that the trend poses severe threat to safe flight operations in the country.

But the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) says it has waded into the allegation and would take steps to halt the breach by revoking the licences of defaulters.

“The NCAA will wield the big stick over charter operations by unauthorised permit holders forthwith,” said its spokesman, Mr. Sam Adurogboye.

“By this, any operator caught engaging in such unauthorised services will have its Air Operator Certificate (AOC) suspended or revoked,” Adurogboye added.

Our correspondent learnt that in the last two weeks, there were complaints by licenced charter operators that the industry had witnessed an increase in the number of private jets (or non-commercial aircraft) being used for commercial operations, particularly by politicians and political parties who are criss-crossing the country holding consultations, rallies and   canvassing for votes.

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Aviation analyst, Capt. John Ojikutu told aviation correspondents on Sunday that the NCAA could not be absolved of any blame in the breach of use of private jets for commercial use. Ojikutu alleged that perpetrators of these acts were government cronies whom he described as “powerful Nigerian” and noted that the NCCA appeared helpless in tackling the menace which was also denying the country revenue paid as landing charges at airports by commercial flight operators.

“Election campaigns are getting to high level and chartered flights are expected to be increasing in numbers too, possibly higher than they had been in the last two years,” said Ojukutu.

“The private aircraft operators not licensed for chartered are most likely to cash in the electioneering campaign season to make quick monies at the expense of the licensed operators and NCAA.

“There are many private aircrafts owned by some powerful Nigerians, some of them have powerful political office holders behind them and most of them have been known recently not to have been paying for landing and parking dues to FAAN and possibly the five per cent chartered service charges due to the NCAA,” Ojikutu added.

Adurogboye, the NCAA spokesman, however, warmed that “any member of the public transacting business with any unauthorised private-jet operator will be doing so at a high risk as such operations may not have valid insurance cover.

“For the purpose of verification and authentication, the list of current holders with appropriate authorisation to carry out Charter Operations can be found on the NCAA website: www.ncaa.gov.ng or enquiries could be directed to [email protected],” Adurogboye added.