ON December 20, 2016 three of the major unions in the aviation industry embarked on a strike against Arik Air for issues involving and not limited to non-payment of 7 months salaries, non-remittance of taxes and pension and stagnation of workforce since the airline began operations 10 years ago, this sad strike crippled the airline’s activities for a day, costing Arik Air millions, domestically, regionally and internationally.However, this situation sad as it is has opened yet another can of worms as it concerns the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) and the economic regulations of Nigerian airlines and has led to our asking once again, what is the law with regards economic audits as it is enshrined in the Nigerian Civil Aviation Regulations (NCARs)
The situation with Arik Air leaves no question as to whether the NCAA carries out such audits on these airlines because if salaries have not been paid at Arik Air for the past 7month then it is either the regulators have not been going through airlines’ books monthly as the NCARs stipulate or the airline, and we use our words carefully, have not fed the NCAA the right data to know the true situation of things.
Either way, it is nothing short of an indictment on the industry regulator to come out and ‘broker peace between the unions and management of the airlines’ when the dictates of the economic audit suggests that the CAA through foresight could have nipped the industrial action at the bud, especially as it regards salaries.
In a statement issued by the regulatory body, it had to intervene to avert the impending chaos, stating that the strike if allowed to linger would have brought to the huge volume of passengers who are travelling for the yuletide and end of the year celebrations.
Now in as much as that is true, it is our belief that the regulatory body intervened 7 months too late and the fact that the safety of every airline is tied to its economy and for staff to perform optimally and do their job without issues, it is important to ensure their payment so they do not result to cutting corners.
All these are tied to the economy of the airline, one would ask the NCAA if they had done any economic audit, as safety of every airline is indeed tied to that airline’s economic standing.
The regulators are always quick to say they do not want to regulate the airlines to extinction but what is currently happening is that they are ‘un-regulating’ these airlines to same extinction if care is not taken.
NCAA Regulations on airlines financial health Part 18.10.1. applies to the continuous monitoring of the operations of Nigerian licensed airlines for the purpose of ensuring their financial capability for safe and sustainable operations.
Part 18.10.2 also states that all Nigerian licensed airlines shall ensure proper, transparent and prudent financial management in the conduct of their operations.
Part 18.10.3. states that all Nigerian licensed airlines shall submit to the authority on a monthly basis, all financial data and records on their operations in the form and manner as may be prescribed by the Authority.
The CAA said airline financial health is something that is audited monthly and now given the fact that Arik owes staff 7 months one would ask the NCAA if they have done the needful as it pertains Nigerian airlines audit.
Then there is 18.10.4. which tells us that the NCAA shall evaluate the financial returns and make a copy of the report of the financial health assessment to the Management of the airline which may make representation to the NCAA.
Our take is this, instead of trying to pretend as if it has done the right thing in’ bringing peace’ between staff and management of Arik, the NCAA should endeavour to do its job and make sure that incidents like these are not allowed to escalate before the NCAA decides to step in and ensure that airlines are financially viable to do what they need to do.
This Editorial is the Point of View of Nigerianflightdeck.com