Harold Demuren, the Director General of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) was fired today by president Goodluck Jonathan with immediate effect.
His Excellency, Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, GCFR, President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, has approved the removal of Dr. Harold Olusegun Demuren from Office as the Director General of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) with effect from 12th March 2013. This is consequent to a careful consideration of Dr. Demuren’s unsatisfactory response to the numerous concerns of stakeholders in the aviation sector. Mr. President wishes him well in his future endeavours.
Demuren was appointed in 2005 but came under pressure after the Dana Air crash last year, as members of the National Assembly held him responsible and sought his removal. The Minister of Aviation is also reviewing the Civil Aviation Act to strengthen her grip over the NCAA, thereby threatening the agency’s autonomy.
Joyce Nkemakolam, the Director of Aerodrome and Airspace Standards, is appointed acting Director General of the NCAA.
The Managing Director of the Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), Mr George Uriesi, shed some light on the plans of the Federal Government to assist local airlines. First of all, he explained that the national airline being set up by the Ministry of Aviation will emerge from a merger of domestic airlines in March 2013:
The Federal Government will not launch a new national carrier but it will help some new companies’ access funding to build a new national carrier. A couple of airlines will merge by March 2013 to emerge as the national carrier. [The] conditions that will enhance these developments are currently being put together.
Secondly, he denied that the Federal Government will set up an aircraft leasing company or distribute aircraft among the local airlines. Rather, the Federal Government will assist airlines in negotiating and funding the acquisition of new aeroplanes:
The Federal Government of Nigeria is not buying any number of aircraft that as being rumoured about. The government is just negotiating with aircraft manufacturers to supply brand new aircraft at globally competitive price to Nigerian airlines and funds to make the purchase will be provided by the government.
Watch the full interview here.
The Federal Government has suspended the import of private airplanes and helicopters into the country. The measure was taken by the Ministry of Aviation a couple of months ago, in order to develop a new policy regarding the import and operation of private aircraft. No deadline has been set for the completion of the new regulations. A spokesman of the Minister confirmed the development, but stressed that the suspension did not affect the import of passenger aircraft being used by domestic airlines. The number of private aircraft in Nigeria has increased significantly over the past years.
There are very few aviation photographers in Nigeria. Some excellent series of pictures were made by Ken Iwelumo (click here and here) and Akinwale Makinde (click here and here) over the past years, despite the restrictions on photographing at Nigerian airports. Hopefully, more aviation enthusiasts will be able to share the Nigerian aviation scene with the wider world in the near future.
Blogger Chippla Vandu wrote a nice piece on spotting at Lagos in the 1990s a couple of years ago.
According to a local newspaper, it will possibly take up to two years before the Federal Government can actually allocate new aircraft to the domestic carriers. The main hurdle to be cleared for the acquisition of the thirty aircraft is a financial one: the authorities still have to work out a way to obtain funding for the purchase of a fleet of aircraft. The plan of the Minister of Aviation to acquire thirty aircraft has been criticised as misplaced, and the stakeholders in the industry are complaining that they are not involved in the decision-making process.
All in all, it appears that the Minister of Aviation is not very effective in implementing her policies:
- Of the eleven domestic airports that would be renovated in 2012 none has been finished, and there are complaints about the low quality of the jobs being done.
- The new GA Terminal in Lagos was opened in a hurry. The terminal is far from functional and poorly constructed. Furthermore, the legal issues with the owners of MMA Terminal 2 are not yet resolved.
- There are unanswered questions about the financing of the renovation and building of airport terminals.
- The emergency runway lights installed at Lagos Airport can only be used by departing flights, and the threshold lights are often blasted away by aircraft.
- The Minister promised she would tackle the price disparity by taking action against British Airways and Virgin Atlantic, but after the initial fuss, the whole case has gone quiet.
- She announced that she would revise the BASA agreements with several countries, but nothing seems to have happened.
- A new national carrier was supposed to start services before 2013, but this promise was not fulfilled either.
- The Aerotropolis project and an expensive ‘road-show’ to the USA, Canada and China did not yield any visible results.
- The Minister of Aviation was accused by politicians of denying foreign airlines access to Kano.
Now, it would be wrong to judge the tenure of this Minister of Aviation as a failure. But, most of her initiatives are surrounded by controversies, and she does not appear to be very effective in achieving her own goals. Of course, she is acting in a difficult political context, but acting for the sake of acting is not enough for sound policy making. And given the current state of affairs, her media advisors and officials should be cautious with writing self-congratulatory pieces (NAMA and FAAN) or with spreading conspiracy theories as an excuse.
We have uncovered an advanced plot by a well-known hireling to blackmail, smear and tarnish the image and reputation of the Honourable Minister of Aviation, Princess Stella Adaeze Oduah with the sole aim of distracting her from consolidating the gains already recorded in the transformation of the Aviation sector in line with the Transformation Agenda of the Federal government.
The Federal Government has entered negotiations with Embraer for the acquisition of new aircraft for the domestic carriers. According to the Managing Director of the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), Mr. George Uriesi:
Domestic carriers use wrong equipment for most of their operations. There is no established record of sustainability for these airlines mainly because of the use of wrong equipment. Intervention fund by the Federal Government in the past to assist them re-fleet has failed because there was no evidence of the money being ploughed back into the airlines leading to them failing in the long run. Government wants to change this model entirely by floating a fund for the acquisition of new aircraft for the domestic carriers. In this regard, government is seeking a partnership with Embraer that will lead to a discussion on how these new aircraft will be procured at very competitive, fair, and concessionary rates.
The aircraft will be financed with a N80 billion loan from China:
The Federal Government may have borrowed $500 million (N80 billion) to buy the 30 brand new aircraft it planned to give to 10 domestic airlines as fresh intervention in the aviation industry. [T]he government borrowed the N80 billion from a Chinese bank. Stella Oduah, Aviation Minister, had said that she was not happy with the way the first N300 billion intervention fund was disbursed and spent, adding that the only way to save the industry from imminent collapse was to quickly intervene again.
On another note: the two ex-Air Nigeria EMB190s, owned by UBA, are still stored at Lagos Airport. Perhaps the Ministry of Aviation could acquire those first?
Two new Gulfstream jets are based in Nigeria:
- A GIV (N990EA) owned by Ernest and Nnenna Azudialu-Obiejesi of Nestoil. The aircraft sports the logo of their charity, the Obi-Jackson Foundation, with the motto ‘Chi na-enye’ (god gives).
- A G450 (N224BH) belonging to Akwa Ibom State. It’s rumoured that the state government has a second jet on order.
The Ministry of Aviation has completed its plans to set up a new national carrier in Nigeria before the end of the year. Instead of promoting one of the domestic airlines to the status of national carrier, the Ministry opted to create a new airline in partnership with a major European carrier that will provide technical support. The name of Lufthansa German Airlines has been circulating as possible partner in the past weeks, but Turkish Airlines could be a surprise choice too.
The ownership structure [of the new airline] will have zero government control in terms of management and equity holding but its controlling shares would be owned by Nigeria, who will become stakeholders through the sale of Initial Public Offer (IPO), while the partner airline would have management control and 49 per cent stake holding. “What is clear now is that government will not play any role in its ownership and control; it will be owned by Nigerians through IPO, although the template of that is still being worked on,” confirmed Joe Obi, the Special Adviser (Media) to the Minister of Aviation.
Civil society organisations have petitioned EFCC and the Special Fraud Unit (SFU) of the Nigerian Police to investigate the alleged financial mismanagement by the Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria and the Minister of Aviation. The petition states:
[An] amount which is in excess of N11 billion has been spent over different contracts awarded by the Minister of Aviation Mrs. Stella Oduah and the Managing Director of FAAN Mr. George Uriesi without following due process, no approval of the Bureau of Public Procurement (BPP), no due process certificate issued, and no federal Executive Council approval. These spending were neither budgeted nor appropriated in the 2012 Budget passed by the National Assembly, had no Federal Executive Council Approval and did not comply with the spending limits allowed by the delegated financial authority of the Government.
In particular, the MDs of FAAN, George Uriesi and Hajia Nana Aliyu, and the Minister of Aviation, Stella Oduah, have profited from the suspected large-scale embezzlement of the $76 million BASA fund.
A check confirmed that N3 Billion was used by the Minister of Aviation, Mrs. Stella Oduah, to secure a loan from Zenith Bank to buy a ship for the operations of Sea Petroleum & Gas, her company.
Read the full article here. Whatever the truth is, it’s time for the Minister of Aviation and the FAAN to account for their income and expenses.
The Technical and Administrative Review Panel (TARPDA) set up by the Federal Government to investigate the Dana Air crash blames both the airline and the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority:
The panel found that certain maintenance practices by Dana Airline, particularly the use of Technical Logbook were not in conformity with standard and recommended practices. It was also found that in some instances, the surveillance by Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) inspectors on the airlines’ maintenance practices were below expectation.
The panel made a couple of recommendations to strengthen Nigeria’s aviation industry:
- A quick implementation of an Aviation Sector Emergency Programme (ASEP).
- Better training of NCAA staff and inspectors.
- NCAA should ensure that airline operators are put to closer surveillance.
- The Federal Government (FG) should intensify efforts to complete the ongoing reconstruction and remodelling of the terminal buildings and structures.
- The Central Bank of Nigeria should empower commercial banks to create a window for a long-term low-interest funding for direct lending to aviation.
- An aircraft leasing company with an initial investment of $10 billion should be setup by the FG to acquire modern aircraft directly from major manufacturers and lease to qualified Nigerian air operators at preferential rates.
- Greater emphasis should be placed on proper and adequate maintenance of aircraft, rather than age restriction.
- The FG should review downwards, all taxes and charges relating to airline operation, as well as take measures to reduce the cost of jet fuel.
- The FG should facilitate the formation of a local aviation insurance pool.
- The FG should take urgent steps to provide maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) facilities.
The construction of the new domestic General Aviation Terminal (GAT) at Lagos Airport is progressing steadily, despite criticism of the secrecy surrounding the financing and contractor selection process of the project. The Minister of Aviation could adopt more transparency in the execution of her further agenda, of which some proposals can be found here.
Minister of Aviation, Stella Oduah, will not enforce a ban on British Airways, Virgin Atlantic and other foreign airlines if they fail to lower their first and business class ticket fares. A thirty-day ultimatum given to the airlines to this end last month expires today.
The special Assistant on Media to the Minister of Aviation, Mr. Joe Obi, [said] that the ban can no longer take effect because the matter is now beyond the Aviation Ministry, adding that today has not yet ended. “Today has not ended. But, it is no longer a Ministry of Aviation matter as the Senate has intervened and it will be very disrespectful and prejudicial to the institution of the Senate to enforce the ban while they are still investigating the matter,” he said.
Meanwhile, the NCAA has released new guidelines for both domestic and foreign airlines:
- Every airline shall file every tariff, whether seasonal, discounted, promotional or otherwise and provide within the tariff, the different specific classes or type of passenger service (that is first class, business class, economy or whatever other class or type of service, the availability, the type of aircraft and the seating configuration used on such aircraft for each class or type of passenger service.
- The filed tariffs shall, in all cases, include all booking classes, available within the different travel classes or cabins and the specific fare for that booking class including all applicable terms and conditions.
- Every airline shall immediately remove any distinction between surcharges and base fare on their tickets and cargo sales (excluding any third party fees or taxes) and have one single integrated fare.
- Other than approved statutory taxes, which are collected only on behalf of appropriate regulatory authorities, every other component of the cost of travel shall be included in the single integrated fare.
- Every airline shall provide within its tariff in relation to the different specific classes or types of passenger service, the integrated fare applicable, its availability, the existence of special or promotional fares, and the general fare basis code and lastly that-
- Every airline shall file with the Authority, its tariffs in the form prescribed (to be provided by NCAA) and may publish, sell, implement, enforce or otherwise market the said tariffs upon the approval of the Authority.
In its ongoing tussle with the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), Maevis challenged the agency to account for N42 billion revenue remitted to it between August 2008 and January 2012. Maevis also brought a charge of contempt against FAAN, claiming that the agency breached the court’s order by forcefully ejecting Maevis from Lagos airport.
This article gives a few examples of the mismanagement and fraud in the Nigerian aviation sector by ministers and various agencies over the past years.
Most Nigerians have (…) observed that for years now, substandard services seem to have become ideal in Nigeria’s aviation industry as the country cannot boast of most of the things that are normal in aviation sectors across the world. (…) Street Journal’s findings revealed that the aviation sector is in its present state mainly because of the many frauds that have bedeviled almost every agency in the ministry over the years.
Last month, new responsibilities were given to the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA) to manage Nigeria’s airspace. The agency now also oversees the airfield lighting and bird harzard control at all airports. NAMA took over the calibration unit otherwise known as Navigational Aids Flight Inspection and Surveillance (NAFIS) from the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) too. This weekend, the NCAA transferred its HS 125-700 calibration aircraft (5N-AVK) to NAMA. The Federal Government has also concluded plans to acquire an additional calibration aircraft. Nigeria still depends on ASECNA, the Senegal-based regional equivalent of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) in the Francophone West African countries to have its navigational aids (NAVAIDS) calibrated.
Since this weekend, many domestic flights have been cancelled as airlines can not meet up with their scheduled flights, due to aviation fuel scarcity.
The Assistant Secretary General of Airlines Operators of Nigeria (AON), Mohammed Tukur condemned the situation saying “this is the time airline operators should be wary of what is sold to them as aviation fuel…this is the period kerosene could be sold to unsuspecting carriers in the name of aviation fuel.”
Some foreign airlines headed to Accra to refuel their aircraft, where the commodity is also cheaper.
The minister of aviation ordered British Airways and Virgin Atlantic to lower their prices or be banned from the Nigerian airspace:
The Federal ministry of Aviation has given the British Airways, Virgin Atlantic and all international airlines operating in the country a 30-day ultimatum beginning from Monday, March 26, 2012 to dismantle the regional fare imbalance between what Nigerian passengers pay for international flights and their counterparts in the West African sub-region or face an immediate ban from operating in Nigeria.
In response, the British government warned that it would take retaliatory steps against Nigerian airlines:
Reacting to the ultimatum last night, Britain said banning private airlines would amount to a “heavy-handed action that would be catastrophic.” Consequently, Britain said it would not hesitate to retaliate if the federal government goes ahead with the threat to ban after 30 days. Britain said only business and first class fares were more expensive to Nigerians than neighbouring countries because of high demand for those seats.
“It is wrong to suggest that Arik has been prevented from flying into Heathrow. Our understanding is that Arik is just unwilling to pay for the cost of renting or buying landing slots,” the British spokesman said. He added that it was something all airlines who want new slots into Heathrow needed to do.
British Airways stated that:
All of our fares are set on a sound commercial basis and remain fully competitive with other carriers in the region including Arik Air.
It may be recalled that earlier this year a panel in Nigeria set aside a $235 million fine levied against British Airways and Virgin Atlantic by the nation’s government over allegedly fraudulent fuel surcharges on tickets. The panel of experts issued a ruling that the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority lacked the regulatory power from 2004 to 2006 to fine the airlines, the period authorities alleged the price-fixing took place.
The whole saga begun when Arik Air complained that they could not secure landing slots at London Heathrow for their Abuja-London service, after which Nigeria called for a review of the BASA-aggreement.
With regard to the complaints about price disparity, it is surprising that all the reports only focus on the prices for business and first class (with comparatively strong demand in Nigeria) rather than economy class, the operational costs at Lagos airport in relation to those in other west-African cities are not taken into account either, and finally many other airlines – domestic and foreign – charge relative high prices to/in Nigeria due to the obsolete infrastructure and high operating costs. The whole issue of high ticket prices requires a broader approach and more structural policies from the Nigerian aviation authorities, rather than targeting particular airlines by interfering in the market.
The Nigerian minister of aviation Stella Oduah announced that she is taking measures to curb regional ticket price disparity:
There are things we need to do as well to ensure that doesn’t happen; that includes the penalty that we’re going to impose on any airline that gets involved in regional imbalance, and also to know the factors that encourages that – one of which is supposedly the aviation fuel, which we will tackle. We will hedge it against international rate, so we’re using that as a benchmark price. In summary, regional price imbalance is an illegal act; its offensive and we will not encourage it. We will fight any airline that participates in that. It’s one of the major reasons that we will make sure that our airports are functional and passengers are encouraged to use our airlines and aircraft operators.
Media and public in Nigeria have repeatedly complained about the high international air fares from/to Nigeria.
In the interview the minister also commented on the new national airline that should be launched this year:
We need a national carrier that will represent who we are, that will portray us in the bright light. It will be owned by Nigerians and managed by Nigerians for Nigerians, on a commercial basis – no government involvement at all, and many companies and individuals have indicated interest in this venture.
The Federal Government has given British Airways, Virgin Atlantic and other international airlines operating into Nigeria thirty days to end ‘fare disparity’, where Nigerians pay higher for international flights than their West African counterparts. Minister of Aviation, Stella Oduah, said airlines that fail to abide by the ultimatum, which starts today March 26, would be banned from operating in Nigeria.
No new entries will be posted for the time being. Thank you for your understanding and interest in the blog.