- Looking to balance aging inspectors with young ones to grow the system
NIGERIA Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) has argued that the cost of getting an Air Operators Certificate (AOC) as a commercial airline operator in Nigeria is less than a return business ticket from Lagos to Kano, stating that airlines are only paying N200,000 to get the certificate as it is subsiding the industry
This is just as the regulatory agency has reacted to Airline Operators who are canvassing the removal of NCAA from the civil service structure stating that they understand where the airlines are coming from as being able attract more technical staff will help the system move faster and it was working to balance the system.
Director General of the NCAA, Captain Musa Nuhu who spoke to the media over the weekend explained that there are some quarters that feel NCAA is taking a bulk sum from the 5 per cent Ticket Sales Charge and Cargo Sales Charge (TSC/CSC) but stressed that it doesn’t get any allocation from the Federal Government budgets unlike other agencies.
He argued,”There is a bit of adjustment on the 5 per cent TSC/CSC and I have heard a lot of people say that NCAA is taking a bulk sum from the 5 per cent. That 58 per cent that we take is about 95 per cent of my own source of income. For the other agencies, whatever they get from it may be about 20 per cent of their own income because they get from other charges they render to clients.
“But, NCAA doesn’t get any allocation from the Federal Government budgets. All the other agencies get from the government budgets. People just look at the TSC/CSC, but they don’t look at the bigger picture. Other agencies get annual budget from the Federal Government, landing and parking charges, over flier charges and other sources of revenues. So, all these things were taken into consideration before arriving at whatever we get from the 5 per cent.
“Also, don’t forget, our fixed schedules have remain the same over the years. To get an Air Operators’ Certificate (AOC), it is just N200,000. That is less than a return business ticket from Lagos to Kano, basically, we are subsiding the industry. That is the least charge. Some organsations are buying planes worth tens of millions of dollars, but they are only paying N200,000 to get a certificate that will pronounce them as a commercial operator. Don’t you think something is wrong somewhere?
“The N200,000 cannot even do manual reviews of the process, not to talk of training or retraining an inspector and you still pay him his salaries to provide those services to the airlines. So, that is one of those things we need to look forward to because the N200,000 is less than $300. I have countries in Africa that charge $200,000 for an AOC.”
On the AON letter to the Senate, the Director General showed understanding as the airlines complained that some of their services are delayed due to inadequate technical personnel which delays their operations but said the regulators are looking at long term solutions.
AON’s letter to the Senate had demanded that the NCAA be removed from the Civil Service payment Structure so they can competitively employ professionals in the industry to deal with inadequate manpower to aid their clients meet their needs.
In responding the DG said,”On AON letter, they came in and complained that some of their services are delayed and we explained to them that we do not have enough inspectors because they have a lot of work to do. So, we have to prioritize the system, but if we have more hands, the work will be quite faster. And I understand the concerns of the airlines; they invested money and they don’t want delays. If you delay them, they are losing money.
He explained earlier,” NCAA is a government agency and not an independent body; we operate under public service rules and government salary structure. We have very experienced pilots with minimum of 4,000 flying hours. That is the recommendation to be a flying instructor, but our pay is poor when compared to what the industry is paying.
“Our pay within the civil service structure seems to be great, but if you compare that to the closest we need from the industry, our pay is poor. So, people will rather go and work in the industry as a captain, earn some millions of naira, than to come here and earn less than N1 million.
“The only people that come to work for NCAA as flight operation inspectors are people who have retired from flying. People who have attained the age of 65 years or more and we employed them on special contracts and even as a special contract staff, when you get to 70 years of age, you are supposed to leave.
He explained further,”If you employ someone who is 65 years old, it takes you about 18 months to two years to train him and by the time he’s going to function as a full inspector, he has three years to go. He has to go by age 70. This is not a very efficient system. We need to find a right balance within the senior inspectors and the younger ones so that we do not have this every four years disruption where we have to start looking for inspectors. It is very disruptive and it is not the most efficient use of resources. We certainly need the elderly people for their experience, but we need to strike the right balance,” Nuhu said.