The Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON), on Sunday, accused the Minister of Aviation and Aerospace, Sen. Hadi Sirika, of a dangerous agenda of killing local airlines in Nigeria and handover monopoly to Ethiopian Airline.
In a statement by the public relations officer, AON, Dr Obiora Okonkwo, the Nigeria Air airline has no Air Operating Certificate (AOC), hence cannot operate in Nigeria.
The operators, however, lauded the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), under the leadership of Capt. Musa Nuhu, for not succumbing to pressure to issue an Air Operators’ Certificate (AOC) to Nigeria Air.
The operators also said their action and move against the establishment of the airline was borne out of patriotism and nothing else.
“Nigeria Air has not commenced flight operations as required by law. Nigeria Air has not been issued with an Air Operators Certificate (AOC) by the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), which is the legal authority for the issuance of such certificate and as such, cannot conduct flight operations. Further to that, the aircraft is an Ethiopian Airline property that, even during the static display in Abuja, operated with an Ethiopian registration number as ET-APL. A further check at Nigeria Airspace Management Agency (NAMA) will show that the flight entered Nigeria as an ET flight.”
“On further investigation, we discovered some mind burgling dangerous agenda to kill the entire indigenous operators and handover monopoly to Ethiopian Airline in a dubious and fraudulent way against the economic interest of Nigeria, hence our court action supported by strong material evidence. 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 seven per cent 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, for strictly the interest of Nigeria and her aviation industry.”
“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. The 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 a 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 that is critical to the economic development of Nigeria or any country.
“If tampered with, it will have a negative expanded multiplier effect on all aspects of the economy and life of Nigeria. AON, as a strong stakeholder, 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”.
Obiora stated that their action was borne out of the desire to save their investments in the aviation industry, saying, “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 are owned by IAG, a company registered in Spain but owned by Qatar as the major shareholder. The Canadian government owns less than seven per cent 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, for strictly the interest of Nigeria and her Aviation industry,” he said.