Stories by Louis Ibah
In the last two months, the Nigerian aviation industry has witnessed a rise in the number of private jets being deployed illegally for charter or unscheduled commercial purposes in breach of the country’s civil aviation laws.
The Nigerian Civil Aviation Regulations [Nig.CARs] 2015 Part 188.8.131.52. states that: “No person shall use any aircraft licenced for private use in Nigeria for hire and reward or to provide non scheduled or charter air service unless such a person holds an ATL or Airline Operating Permit (AOP) issued by the the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority.”
But while aviation analyst, Capt. John Ojikutu acknowledges that there has been a general increase in number of private jet operations in the country in recent months in the country due to increased electioneering activities, he however attributes the breaches by some licenced private jet owners using their aircraft for commercial charter purposes to the inefficiency of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) to curb the menace.
Ojikutu alleges that perpetrators are mostly cronies of top government officials whom he described as “powerful Nigerian” and he noted that the NCCA appear helpless in subjecting them to the law.
Corroborating Ojikutu is another analyst, Mike Enumere, who said there was no way an owner of a private jet would successfully rent or lease his aircraft for commercial use without the knowledge of the NCAA.
Enumere said the use of licenced private jets for commercial purpose is denying legitimate licenced charter operators the opportunity to earn revenue.
“These private jet owners would most times offer rates that are 30 per cent lower than that which licenced charter operators would offer,” said Enumere.
“They are highly connected, they know how to source for their clients particularly politicians and political parties who are criss-crossing the country holding consultations, rallies and canvassing for votes. They are a threat to charter operators and this must be stopped,” added Enumere.
On his part, Ojikutu said the NCAA could not be absolved of any blame in the breach of use of private jets for commercial use. He however said the ugly trend was also denying the country revenue paid as landing charges at airports by commercial flight operators.
Said Ojikutu, “election campaigns are getting to high level and chartered flights are expected to be increasing in numbers too possibly higher than they had been in the last two years
“The private aircraft operators not licensed for chartered are most likely to cash in into the electioneering campaign season to make quick monies at the expense of the licensed operators and NCAA.
“There are many private aircraft owned by some powerful nigerians some of them have powerful political office holders behind them and most of them have been known recently not to have been paying for landing and parking due to FAAN and possibly the five per cent chartered service charges due to the NCAA,” Ojikutu added.
But the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) says it has waded into the allegation and would take steps to halt the breach by revoking the licences of defaulters.
“The NCAA will wield the big stick over charter operations by unauthorised permit holders forthwith,” said it’s spokesman, Mr. Sam Adurogboye.
“By this, any operator caught engaging in such unauthorised services will have its Air Operator Certificate (AOC) suspended or revoked,” Adurogboye added.
The NCAA spokesman also warmed that “any member of the public transacting business with any unauthorised private jet operator will be doing so at a high risk as such operations may not have valid insurance cover and in case of accident those involved and their families stand no chance of getting any form of indemnity.”