AON reveals Nigerian airlines risk US, EU aviation ban

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The Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON) has disclosed that Nigeria risks being banned from the airspace of the United States and European countries due to the handling of Nigeria Air’s certification by the Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika.

In a statement issued on Sunday, the spokesperson of the AON, Obiora Okonkwo, said Sirika is pushing for the commencement of Nigeria Air’s operation without undergoing the “rigorous five-phase certification process before it is granted” the Air Operators Certificate (AOC).

Okonkwo said the AOC is a safety certificate issued by the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA). He explained that failure to complete the process is considered a serious infraction by the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO).

He said should Nigeria Air be issued the AOC certificate through the back door in order to hasten its operation, international aviation safety agencies like the US FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) and the EASA (European Aviation Safety Agency) could blacklist Nigeria.

Consequently, Nigerian airlines would not be allowed to fly into the US and European countries, likewise, these nations would restrict their airlines from travelling into Nigeria’s airspace.

“The Air Operators Certificate (AOC) is also a safety certificate by which the NCAA certifies that the holder has demonstrated that it is fit to conduct safe flight operations. To achieve this, a prospective airline is put through a rigorous five-phase certification process before it is granted. Implication of granting an AOC to Nigeria Air without it successfully going through the process is considered by the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) as serious infraction, which is also punishable. It is capable of causing Nigeria to be blacklisted by aviation safety agencies like the US FAA and the EASA (European Aviation Safety Agency).

READ ALSO: NIGERIA AIR: Local airlines accuse Ethiopian Airlines of abusing court order

“Further implications include that airlines of those countries will not come into Nigeria, and Nigerian airlines will not be allowed to operate into those countries. It also means that Nigeria will definitely fail the upcoming ICAO audit and, by way of further penalty, lose its FAA CAT-1 Certification. Nigerian airlines will also not be able to lease aircraft to boost their operations because no lessor will trust the safety certification process of the NCAA,” Okonkwo stated.

AON commended NCAA for resisting the pressure from Sirika to issue the AOC certificate to Nigeria Air without standard process, “As indigenous operators, we are happy and grateful to the NCAA for saving us from this punishment by resisting the pressure from Minister Hadi Sirika to grant an AOC to Nigeria Air without going through the due process. Besides, aviation is an essential sector which is critical to economic development of Nigeria or any country.

“If tampered with, it will have negative expanded multiplier effect on all aspects of the economy and life of Nigeria. AON, as strong stakeholders, have a national and patriotic duty to guard against such happening. Otherwise, our investments in the aviation sector of Nigeria, running into billions of dollars, would have been jeopardised. Hence, we in the AON continue to salute the courage of the

“NCAA team led by Capt. Musa Nuhu, for insisting that the right things must be done in order to protect the safety and integrity of the Nigerian aviation industry, which they have nurtured to enviable world standard,” the group’s statement reads.

AON questioned why the process of floating Nigeria Air has been in secrecy, with the promoters nowhere to be found to speak on behalf of the national carrier, considering it is private sector-led and not government.

In the statement, the group also opined that there’s a dangerous agenda to kill the entire indigenous operators and hand over the monopoly to Ethiopian Airlines in a dubious and fraudulent way against the economic interest of Nigeria.

“The Ministerial Committee on the Establishment of a National Carrier recommended the establishment of a National Carrier that is private sector-driven with minimum government involvement.

“That was jettisoned by the Minister who is the person doing everything from designing the logo, unveiling it at the Farnborough Air Show in the UK, establishing the company, providing offices etc, while the so-called private investors are saying and doing nothing. As soon as that recommendation was jettisoned every other thing about Nigeria Air was engulfed in secrecy.

“On further investigation, we discovered some mind burgling dangerous agenda to kill the entire indigenous operators and handover monopoly to Ethiopian Airline in a dubious and fraudulent way against the economic interest of Nigeria, hence our court action supported by strong material evidence . For us, it is a patriotic action to save the Nigerian Government, people and economy from exploitation and to also protect the Nigerian aviation sector and our investments.

“Otherwise, AON really cares less about the ownership of Nigeria Air if the intentions are genuine and for the common good with strict compliance with the due process. After all, Ethiopian Airline is already operating multiple landing rights in Nigeria, British Airways is owned by IAG, a company registered in Spain but owned by Qatar as the major shareholder.

“The Canadian government owns less than 7% of Air Canada’s National carrier. Takatso, a Pan-African consortium, recently took over South Africa Airways, e.t.c. All we are saying is, LET THE RIGHT THING BE DONE, THE RIGHT WAY, FOR STRICTLY THE INTEREST OF NIGERIA AND HER AVIATION INDUSTRY,” AON revealed.

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