The UK Civil Aviation Authority with over 1,000 aeroplanes in their airspace, has less than 400 personnel handling their safety oversight.
The Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) has a staff strength of over 1,000, with about 300 core technical personnel, regulating far less than 1,000 aircraft. Adequate resources are required to cater for welfare of this volume of personnel whereas NCAA’s revenue generation is restricted to a few revenue sources like Ticket Sales Charge (TSC) paid by air passengers and federal government allocation.
This is one of the treasons Nigeria’s airline operators have at various fora, accused the NCAA of contributing to their economic deficiencies through regulatory policies by allowing its burden perceived to be self inflicted, to negatively affect their economic strength.
For instance, after the Certificate of Release to Service has been issued by a Facility for an aircraft to be brought into Nigeria based on appropriate certifications, the airlines feel that spending money to send NCAA inspectors to travel for inspection is not necessary as this contributes to the airline’s cost burden.
Secondly, “if three airlines are using the same Simulator Facility, why insist on inspecting them separately for each airline? Why not inspect them together? The truth is that they are interested in the allowances to be paid. They need extra remuneration for their staff. So, why don’t you review the salary package and make sure it is adequate and get those inspectors to stay on their job? Anytime inspectors leave this country, an airline suffers. The inspector is supposed to take care of certain assignments but the airlines have to wait,” says Mr. Roland Iyayi, Chief Executive Officer, TopBrass Aviation.
There is this impression that NCAA inspectors have to be physically on ground for inspection and this questions the role of Quality Assurance person positioned at such airline to represent and make reports directly to NCAA.
The 5% TSC paid by passengers to NCAA was introduced in the years when the country recorded less than 10 million passenger volume annually. Now that the traffic is up to 15 million passengers annually, it means that a higher volume of passengers are paying this 5% TSC. This ought to translate into higher revenue for the NCAA and ability to live up to its responsibility.
Besides, less than 10% of Nigeria’s 180 million population are able to afford flight tickets and 5% TSC is part of the air fare. What regulatory effort exists to increase demand for air travel by the populace? “All of these are detrimental to the airlines,” says Iyayi.
Again, the activities of other aviation agencies such as Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) and Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA) are supposed to be regulated by NCAA but this does not seem to apply as regards multiplicity of charges that airlines pay to the agencies. Amidst all these, the airlines have to spend on provision of airports infrastructure that is not available to enable them operate into some Nigerian airports despite that fact that airports infrastructure provision is the responsibility FAAN. This is part of what the airlines perceive as “regulatory overload”
“In the last decade when Nigeria recorded high air accident rates, the regulator had to become heavy-handed and drive technical competence to sanitize the system” says Mr. Tunde Fagbemi, Chief Executive Officer, Springfountain.
“No one runs an industry of this nature on 5th generation systems. It is time to focus on economic regulation. At the same time, the operators should be ethical enough to do the right thing,” adds Fagbemi.
However, Aviation Safety Round Table Initiative (ASRTI) has stressed the need for airline operators in Nigeria to strike a balance between quest for profit and good ethical conduct in the provision of airline services.
In a communiqué issued at the end of ASRTI Quarter4 Business Breakfast Meeting held in Lagos, the body had requested that airlines in Nigeria should be managed in compliance with good corporate governance requirements. It equally requested for “a procedural discipline and commitment to corporate governance rules in the process of establishing and operating airlines in Nigeria.”
Participants at the meeting blamed absence of good corporate governance for the failure of about 150 airlines in Nigeria within the last 50 years.
Iyayi emphasized the need to address issues affecting the industry holistically instead of handling them in pie meal.