The Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) yesterday denied reports in a section of the media that domestic airlines are folding up as a result of the economic recession in the country.
The NCAA explained that the airlines were merely suspending operations to enable them undertake operational overhaul and strengthen their overall operational outlay.
The NCAA made this position known in a statement issued Thursday by its Director-General, Captain Muhtar Usman.
Aero Contractors and First Nation Airways earlier this week suspended their operations, leaving passengers stranded and staff in a limbo over their fate, in view of the present economic hardships.
In his statement, Captain Usman said Aero Contractors, at present, has only one serviceable aircraft, adding that this in contradiction to the Nigerian Civil Aviation Regulations (Nig.CARS), which stipulates that no airline shall carry out scheduled commercial operation with only one aircraft, adding that the minimum acceptable number is three.
“In other words, any airline with one aircraft is in contravention of the Authority’s regulations therefore cannot be adjudged to be capable of providing safe operation. The only option available is to suspend your operations temporarily while other aircraft arrive in due course”, he explained.
He, however, stated that NCAA’s regulations provides a window for such operator to embark on non-schedule operations in the interim.
The airline industry regulator also said First Nation Airlines on its part, is in the middle of an engine replacement programme for one of its aircraft, stressing that another aircraft is due for mandatory maintenance as its allowable by the regulatory authority.
In these circumstances, the NCAA said these airlines clearly cannot continue to undertake schedule operations, hence the inevitable recourse to self-regulatory suspension.
“The NCAA wishes to reiterate that on no account will it compromise safety and security of airline operations in the airspace”, it said.