By Lawani Mikairu
Lagos—THE Director General, Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority, NCAA, Captain Usman Muktar said, yesterday, that the current economic recession in Nigeria forced United and Iberia airlines to suspend their operations in Nigeria as the airlines claimed the operating conditions were no longer conducive for their operation.
Captain Muktar made this known, yesterday in Lagos, when he received members of the House of Representatives Committee on Aviation led by its Chairperson, Mrs Nkeiruka Onyejeocha at the corporate headquarters of NCAA.
The members, who were on oversight function at the agency, had asked the DG why some foreign airlines suspended operations in Nigeria.
The DG also said the foreign airlines had been unable to repatriate their earnings due to the foreign exchange policy of the federal government.
He, however, said the intervention of the Minister of State, Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika has assisted the airlines to repatriate 50 percent of their earnings to their respective countries.
He added that the high cost of aviation fuel in Nigeria has made the airlines relocate to neighbouring countries like Ghana to refuel because Jet A1 is cheaper there
On how this has affected the aviation agencies, Captain Muktar said: “NCAA and the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria, FAAN, are 100 per cent Internally Generated Revenue, IGR, based agencies. The more flights we have, the more cash inflow that comes to us, but revenues have been affected in recent months due to pulling out of some of the airlines and reduction in services.”
In her remarks, the Chairman House Committee on Aviation, Hon. Nkeiruka Onyejeocha said that the committee focus is on how to ensure safety in the Nigerian aviation industry.
The lawmaker noted that some of the airlines are not complying with the regulations of NCAA and urged the agency to improve on economic regulations of the airlines.
She contended that if the NCAA had carried out its duties as expected, some of the airlines that closed shop recently would still have been in operation.
Onyejeocha further said that the committee was interested in the way and manner the NCAA management had expended the revenues appropriated to it in the 2016 budget.