By Chinelo Obogo
Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) has said that scarcity of forex, devaluation of the naira and high cost of aviation fuel has contributed to plunging the aviation sector into serious financial crisis.
Speaking to the media at the agency’s office in Lagos, the Director General of NCAA, Capt. Musa Nuhu, said domestic airlines are contending with how to source forex for their operations, how to source fuel and the devaluation of the naira which has caused a depletion in passenger traffic and increase in flight tickets.
He however said that the relevant government ministries are working hard to ensure that the problems facing the aviation industry is alleviated.
“This is a critical period because of the rising cost of aviation fuel and it is of serious concern to us. The Minister of Aviation and the Minister of Finance are making efforts to ensure that some form of alleviation can be gotten for the airlines for the sustainability of their operations. It is truly a pathetic picture. We don’t refine Jet A1 in Nigeria and the conflict in Ukraine has brought about the sudden increase in the price. At the same time, the naira is getting devalued, so it is double jeopardy on the airlines. They get all their revenue in naira and at the same time, dollar is not even readily available. So it is creating a huge problem for the industry and what we are facing now is a financial and economic crisis. But all the relevant government organisations and stakeholders are working very hard to resolve the matter. In all, we are ensuring that safety is priority,” he said.
Reacting to the high cost of air fare, Nuhu said if the airlines exceed a particular range, the agency would have to carry out investigation to know if the price is reasonable or if the airlines are involved in any practice that would compromise safety.
He said: “What the airlines do is that they don’t give us a fixed airfare, they give us a range in which they can operate freely. But once it gets above the upper limit, they have to notify us and we will have to do a reasonableness check on the increase in airfare to know. If we see that they have increased it, we will calculate the variables and know if it is justified.