FOLLOWING what it described as a financial crisis in the aviation sector, the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) has said that it is carrying out economic and financial audits of the remaining eight domestic airlines in the country in order not to let their financial woes gravitate into safety concerns.
Director-General, NCAA, Capt. Musa Nuhu, in an interview with aviation journalists on Wednesday at the Murtala Muhammed Airport (MMA), Lagos said that the regulatory body was already carrying out intensive financial and economic audits on at least three other indigenous airlines, while the remaining five would be done in batches to determine their health conditions.
The remaining eight scheduled airlines are Air Peace, Arik Air, Max Air, Green Africa, United Nigeria, Overland, Azman Air and Ibom Air.
Though Nuhu didn’t mention the three airlines the regulatory agency was presently conducting economic and financial audits on, a source close to the agency says Max Air may be among the airlines.
The DG also empathised with the airlines on the current difficult operating environment further escalated by the scarce of foreign exchange and the skyrocketing price of Jet A1, but said NCAA would not relegate safety to the background.
He said: “We are currently conducting financial and economic audits of airlines in the country. We have done two or three of the airlines and other airlines would be taken in batches. I will sit down and discuss with the management on the airlines on the way forward.
“Like I said, we have a financial crisis and we don’t want it to cross over into a safety crisis. We need to manage the situation. For now, we remain focused, while working to address the solution to the financial difficulties in the airlines. This cannot go on forever. So, we are working around the clock to find a solution to the problem.
“Yes, it is a very difficult situation, but we are just going to do what we are doing. We are working together and collaborating with others to address the situation in the industry. We, at the NCAA, are trying our best to keep the industry safe. Safety is paramount to us. Anything that affects safety will not be compromised or whatsoever. It is better for the airlines to be shut down than having a major incident or accident.”
Besides, Nuhu shed more light on the suspension of operations of Dana Air.
According to him, during the financial and economic audit of the airline, the NCAA discovered some “grave concerns” in the operations of the airline that may affect safety.
He, however, said that the audit of the airline was still ongoing, adding that the agency would give the airline a clear chance to resolve whatever issue it is having.
“What we found out was of grave concern to us. Investigations are still ongoing we are still talking to the management of Dana Air,” he said.
The number of scheduled domestic operators nosedived to eight from 10 about a week ago, following the suspension of operations by two airlines.
While Aero Contractors voluntarily suspended its operations, NCAA grounded the services of Dana Air following its alleged failure to run safe operations.