The Director-General of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), Capt. Musa Nuhu has stated that it would submit the restart plan to the Presidential Task Force on COVID -19 on Wednesday, June 24, 2020, all things being equal.
He said this at a virtual meeting during another round of stakeholders’ forum at the weekend.
Nuhu appealed to stakeholders especially the airlines that according to plan, the restart plan would be submitted to the Presidential Task Force on Covid-19 by Wednesday, June 24, 2020, all things being equal.
“We are yet to get there but we are pretty close. The plan is that by Wednesday, we will submit our report to PTF. I reiterate we are pretty close.”
The Chairman of the NCAA COVID-19 Committee, Engr. Godwin Balang on his part enumerated the guidelines control measures employed by NCAA to work towards the restart of the industry.
‘We have to develop the guidelines on the uncharted ground which is to: issue regulations in compliance with the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) Standard and Recommended Practices (SARPs), issue guidelines to the aviation industry and approve the restart of the aviation industry in totality or at the individual level.
According to Balang, “restart and recovery guidelines are based on 10 key principles which are to:
- Protect people in harmonized but flexible measures
- Work as one aviation team and show solidarity
- Ensure essential connectivity
- Actively manage safety, security, and health-related risks
- Make aviation public health measures work with aviation safety and security systems
- Strengthen public confidence
- Distinguish restart from recovery
- Support financial relief strategies to help the aviation industry and
- Ensure sustainability and learn lessons to improve resilience.
Balang also gave the level of readiness by components of the industry such as airlines, air navigation provider, ground handlers and meteorologists and other. According to him, the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA) is 80 percent ready; airlines (domestic) are 70 percent ready; NIMET is also ready and domestic airports at 57 percent.
The NCAA helmsman said the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) is carrying the bulk of the pressure and a lot of drastic efforts are being made.
“I can tell you that because I know how hard they working. We have done well, we just have few efforts to make. Airports are the most critical parts of the value chain.
“On the part of the NCAA, no CAA is set-up to deal with a system that needs to shut down and restart. We need to get it done well. We are doing a mini-audit of the whole ecosystem at the same time. We do not need to have all the airlines, airports, or the ground handlers ready before we restart the system. We are almost there,” Nuhu said.
Reacting, The current NANTA President, Mrs. Susan Akporiaye in her submission, said NCAA should consider real-time or animated video of the simulation of the new normal will look like.
Former National President of NANTA, Mr. Bernard Bankole said, “We need to have on the spot check-in form of a dry-run. All the kiosks at the terminals need to be rid of. “We need to reduce the numbers of personnel at the terminals and we need to know what the ‘New Normal’ will look like. There should be a template. He also said the concession of the airports is necessary while we are going through the restart process”.
Responding, the DG said, “Simulation at the airport will be decided in a couple of days.” On concession of the airports, “It is ongoing and it will be done.”
The Chairman of the Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON), Capt. Nogie Meggison and Captain Ufom demanded a restart date for planning sake.
The NCAA DG while reacting said, “Your lack of operations put NCAA in a difficult situation. Our revenue is down by 90 to 95 percent. We are almost ready. Like I said earlier, not all airlines and airports have to be necessarily ready before the restart. If anything goes wrong, the NCAA will be held responsible. Sometimes this week, the proposed restart date will be made known. If the airports get it right, the airline’s job will be made easier. The airlines that have disinfected their aircraft should show proof to NCAA. On the middle seats, we need to listen to the health authority, even though I do not support the middle seat regime. We are liaising with the health authority to get the best for the airlines. It is our interest that airlines start flying yesterday.”
The Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) Managing Director, Capt. Rabiu Yadudu pleaded with the stakeholders, adding that the preparedness of airports bothers mostly on safety and security. “Please bear with us. It is primarily on safety and security issues. We need to improve what we have. That is why we started training our personnel. On procurement, there are things you do not get on time. We will get a drastic pace from 21st June 2020. With the public enlightenment, we are working with the NCAA.”
Meanwhile, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) Area Manager for West Africa, Dr. Samson Fatokun after appreciating the NCAA DG on his transparency style announced free support training offer to FAAN to assist with their expertise.
“IATA has offered to support FAAN free of charge. This is so we can share with them the best practices”.
On the middle seat regime, Fatokun said, “The International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) Council Aviation Recovery Taskforce (CART) report says when the flight is not full, you can space passengers. The CART does not say you have to make the middle seats empty. It does not solve the problem and not based on science. It is economically unviable”
Responding to IATA’s gesture for support, FAAN MD said, “We have accepted their help and we are so grateful. We are even going to sign an agreement with IATA soon. This is timely”
On the question of when the regional and internal operations will take place after the restart for domestic operations, NCAA DG said, “The health authority will have a say on the international and the regional operations.”