The Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) has expressed satisfaction with the actions of Azman Air as it prepares to resume operations.
Daily Trust reports that Azman Air, one of the domestic airlines in Nigeria, was suspended, March 15 following serial safety infractions.
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In an interactive session with journalists at the weekend, Director-General of the agency, Capt. Musa Nuhu, clarified that the suspension of Azman Air was not personal.
He said the action was taken in the interest of safety and sustaining the safety record of the industry.
An audit of the airline was subsequently conducted and at the end the carrier was indicted for flouting key provisions of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Regulations (Nig. CARS) and the Nigerian Civil Aviation Act (2006 as amended).
Already the airline has commenced the implementation of the corrective action plans (CAPs) including the appointment of key operational staff which the audit report identified.
Amidst the shrinking flight options in the country especially in the Northern part of Nigeria where the airline has a strong presence, there has been pressure on the regulatory authority to lift the suspension.
But the DG said the airline has gone very far in implementing the CAPs, pointing out that the flying public would see a better Azman Air when the airline complies with the identified gaps and return to service.
“I can tell you the issue of Azman Air is going on well. We are working towards resolving it and hopefully soon. We are not going to release to anybody until we are satisfied,” he said.
“I must tell you the response we had from Azman has been very encouraging and very positive.
“They are taking all what we have explained to them. Now they understand it is even better for them to improve their business model. I have seen a shift and I can guarantee you that by the time Azman complies with all what we want, the public will see a different Azman Airline.
“We are not here to kill anybody or to ruin any airline, but to guide them to operate safely, efficiently and to provide the necessary services to the travelling public. I just received a very impressive response from them concerning what they have done. We are going to start serious training for their people next week.”
The DG explained that the Azman episode is a challenge for the regulatory authority to improve on its oversight.
He said, “Honestly, this Azman incident told us a lot about ourselves, areas that we might have found some deficiencies and we are trying to fill and make some changes to really make the organisation much more effective and efficient.
“We have had issues with some airlines, they came and we sat down with them. We discussed with them and we resolved it.
“Unfortunately, in this particular case when somebody goes to the public and impunes the credibility of an organisation. We need to defend our action as an organisation. What I want you to understand is that it is not we as a person and not even the DG, it’s not NCAA, but Nigeria’s reputation that is being damaged in the international space.
“If NCAA is somehow perceived as a corrupt organisation, believe me that all the operators and aviation businesses in Nigeria will have it difficult going to charter or lease aircraft. It makes the whole business much more difficult for us. It damages the industry. That is why we had to come out and explain to the world what happened.”
Nuhu added that as a regulatory agency, it was never under any pressure from any quarters to reverse its decisions. He said the support from the government has been encouraging.
“Except the Minister coming here and sitting down, nobody in the government has ever called me and told me to reverse my decision. Nobody. There are times the Minister took some decisions because he was not aware of some information, and I had to call him and tell him and he reversed the decisions.
“Nobody in government has ever called me to reverse or take any decision. I don’t deal with personalities, but what I see is the safe operation of the aircraft. I don’t care who is in the aircraft, whether he is the President or an Almajiri. What I see is the safety operation.
“We have not had any airline accident in the last 5 years and God forbid there will not be any during my tenure. Not only the accident, the number of incidents too that people will not hear about.
“We want to bring it out to make the system much safer. When you have these incidents, you use your equipment much more, instead of grounding the airlines because they have incidents, they do more flights and system becomes more efficient, effective to the benefits of the travelling public.”