By Chinelo Obogo
Tropical Arctic Logistics (TAL), a Lagos-based non-scheduled domestic airline has alleged that the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) colluded with a foreign firm to shut down its operations.
Chairman of TAL, Emperor Baywood Ibe, who spoke to Daily Sun at the weekend, alleged there is verifiable evidence to prove that a staff of NCAA connived with NHV, a Danish operator, to ensure that its Air Operators Certificate (AOC) was not renewed.
Baywood said for over one year, TAL’s operations have been grounded as the regulatory agency declined its request for an extension and renewal of its AOC causing it to lose over $7 million followingits closure. The airline’s chairman alleged that although TAL met all the requirements for its AOC renewal, NCAA still declined its request. He said TAL later discovered that NHV, its foreign partner allegedly connived with a staff of the agency to ensure the AOC doesn’t get renewed.
“NHV used to be our business partner but we found out that they were dubious and we decided to pull away. They were operating with our AOC and used it to import some containers which it failed to declare its contents to Customs, leading to their seizure. It was because of that that we cut ties with them. Following that development, the CEO of NHV threatend to report us to the regulators to ensure that our AOC is not renewed and that no lessors will lend us aircraft anymore if we pull out of the business partnership.
He further added “We later discovered that during the same time we were processing the renewal of our AOC, they went behind us to open talks with the General Manager, Certification and Surveillance, Godwin Balang to ensure that NCAA denied us our renewal request.
“When we started, we had all our post holders. But because of the long delay and the fact that we were not operating, our staff started resigning. But when anyone that resigns, we made efforts to replace that person. However, it was after the NHV threats that our AOC won’t be renewed that we started having issues with NCAA and we have proof. The process of getting an AOC is more rigourous than renewal, yet we went through it and didn’t suffer any incident throughout while we were operating.
“I invested over $7 million into the airline and everything has gone down the drain because NCAA refused to renew our license. We stopped operations for more than a year now and we have lost everything. We have told NCAA officially that they have frustrated us out of business and we have shut down. When you see an airline that comes up and after one year the airline folds up, it’s usually because of frustration from NCAA. I decided to speak out and I don’t care what it will cost me,” Baywood said.
When Daily Sun reached out on phone to the Director General of NCAA, Captain Musa Nuhu, he said that AOC application in NCAA is not processed by one person and no single individual with the exception of the DG can prevent anyone from getting it. He also said that other airlines either had their AOC’s renewed or extended but that TAL didn’t meet all the safety requirements needed to get an extension or a renewal, insisting that the agency is not partial in carrying out its responsibilities.
“Tell TAL that if they have any proof of misconduct, the COO should come and sit with me and discuss it instead of making allegations and subtle threats against the Authority. When you make allegations without proof, you are not damaging Godwin Balang, the DG or NCAA, you are damaging the reputation of Nigeria and it makes it difficult for our operators to get aircraft and many other things and the cost of tickets will rise if the regulatory agencies are seen as corrupt or incompetent and the country would be classified as a flight risk area and it makes life much difficult for everyone.
“Please tell him to bring the evidence he has because I will not take it lightly. He either brings proof of corrupt practices or report to the appropriate authorities. I have had issues with many airlines and they come, we discuss in a professional manner and we find a solution. TAL should go and meet the requirements for getting an AOC rather than going to the press and making false claims. There are certain key officers that he doesn’t have. For instance, he doesn’t have pilots and engineers to run his operations, so how are we going to give him an AOC? Many airlines’ AOC renewal processes were delayed by COVID-19 and TAL is not an exception,” Capt. Nuhu said.
Daily Sun also reached out to the Chief Executive Officer of NHV, Mr. Steffen Bay, who said the claim that they have anything to do with the AOC renwal was false. “The whole idea that we could influence an AOC process in Nigeria is preposterous. TAL has no AOC, no aircraft and no business. We had a one year technical partnership agreement which we didn’t renew, since then they’re trying to cause problems for us. TAL had fabricated documents before. I could send you the documents they forged if you’re interested,” he said.