The Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) has pledged to support local airlines in fighting repressive rules occasioned by feisty aeropolitics in the global aviation industry.
The apex regulatory body, however, urged local carriers to properly involve NCAA in their international expansions, and promptly report foreign airlines working against Nigerian interest.
The Director-General of the NCAA, Capt. Musa Nuhu, said it would not be difficult to fight aggressive policies in aviation, but it begins with the local airlines complying with global standards.
Nuhu, while addressing aviation reporters, said Nigerian flag carriers would continue to suffer in the hands of other countries as regards charges of landing, parking and other miscellaneous fees, if they failed to do the right things.
He said the regulatory body meant well for the local operators in requesting that they should involve not just the Aviation Ministry but also the NCAA, embassy officials in the host countries they intend to operate.
“The advice I will give the airlines is that if you are going to another country to exchange your services, you should involve the regulatory bodies. If you, as a private organisation, go overseas to negotiate with a government entity directly, and in trying to protect their own airline you will certainly run into difficulties,” Nuhu said.
He added that it was the responsibility of the regulatory body to protect the interest of the airlines and ensure they grow.
“But we have to be carried along. If we are carried along in all the processes, then any treatment meted out at Nigerian airlines would be reciprocated to such countries’ airlines.
“If you make it difficult for our airlines, we apply the same reciprocal measures to their own airlines so it makes a big difference in how we relate with one another. We are here to help you grow; it is part of our responsibilities. Just carry us along; brief us and we will help you. We are here to help our airlines grow both domestically, regionally and internationally.”
The Federal Government in August warned that Nigeria would activate the principle of reciprocity in granting permission to airlines to resume operations in the country as it opened its airspace.
The Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, said the country’s position was informed by the ban placed by some countries on flights from Nigeria, and that Nigeria’s decision was taken in the interest of its citizens.
Air France, KLM, Lufthansa, Etihad Airways, Angolan TAG, Air Namibia and Royal Air Maroc were not approved to operate flights into Nigeria. Following pressure from some quarters, the government also banned Emirates Airlines from Lagos and Abuja airports over refusal to grant fresh visa applications submitted by Nigerians.
On the impounded aircraft by the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in July this year during the COVID-19 lockdown, Nuhu said the aircraft is not Nigeria-owned but US registered.
He said all investigations by the NCAA had been concluded and documents sent to the UAE and the country of registration, adding that all those who brought the country’s name to dispute in this incident would be sanctioned.
“They have responded and they asked for additional information, which we have given them. I received an email today from Dubai communicating with the United States, where the aircraft is registered. We have done our investigations and we are going to take some sanctions against those, who have violated our own regulations.”