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FG moves to rescue airlines, highpoint of aviation in 2009

The Federal Government has moved to ensure that the aviation industry is raised to international standard.

A committee that was set up to actualise the Federal Government’s dream is on the verge of submitting its eport.

While government had paid so much attention to renewal of infrastructure and facilities at airports across Nigeria, little emphasis had been paid to struggling local carriers, who have been the main drivers for growth in the country.

In fact, no  government in the country had given a look-in to airlines, most of whom had had to close shop due to difficult operating environment.

Although the committee, headed by an operator, in the person of the chief executive officer of Overland Airways, Capt. Edward Boyo, had yet to submit its report to the presidency, there already are indications that government might provide some form of bailout for the airline. 

For most stakeholders in the sector, government’s move in this direction is the biggest thing to  happen to aviation in the aftermath of the deadly crashes of 2005 and 2006, which claimed over 300 lives.

A review of the year in aviation would not be complete without mentioning  the total radar coverage of Nigeria (TRACON) project, geared at covering the nation’s entire airspace from nine centres to enhance safety and security in air travel. 

Already, the Nation has started taking advantage of the project at centres where installation had been completed, including airports in Lagos, Abuja and Port Harcourt. 

The 53 million Euro project, which started in 2003 but was delayed till now due to cash problem, is expected to be totally delivered early next year by Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA), with the completion of installations in Kano, Talata Mafara, Maiduguri, amongst others.

Airport infrastructure renewal and aggressive pursuit of training and re-training of personnel in the sector largely accounted for the calm in the industry this year, as no single accident or major incident was recorded in the industry.  The implication of this had been a boost in passengers’ confidence in air travel, which ultimately translated to the high passengers’ traffic now witnessed in the sector. 

Observers believe that though much had been achieved in efforts to turn around the sector, much still needed to be done, especially with regards to regulation, which actually had been the highpoint of the achievements recorded in the last three years.

The regulatory agency, the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), had often complained of insufficient inspectors to adequately police airlines on adherence to Standard And Recommended Practices (SARPs) of the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO).  Although airline operators complain that the NCAA was breathing down their neck too heavily, experts hold that the agency should tighten the noose further as that, according to them, remains a sure way to avert the pitfalls of pre-2005.


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