By Chinelo Obogo
Nigerian The Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) said that the scarcity of forex, the devaluation of the naira and the high cost of aviation fuel have contributed to plunge the aviation sector into a serious financial crisis.
Speaking to the media at the agency’s office in Lagos, NCAA chief executive Captain Musa Nuhu said domestic airlines were struggling with how to source foreign currency for their operations, how to source fuel and the devaluation of the naira which caused a decrease in passenger traffic and an increase in airfares.
He said, however, that relevant ministries are working hard to ensure that the problems facing the aviation industry are alleviated.
“This is a critical time due to the rising cost of aviation fuel and that is of serious concern to us. The Minister of Aviation and the Minister of Finance are making efforts to ensure that some form of relief can be obtained for the airlines for the sustainability of their operations. It really is a pathetic picture. We are not refining the Jet A1 in Nigeria and the conflict in Ukraine has caused a sudden increase in the price. At the same time, the naira is devaluing which is a double risk for the airlines they get all their revenue in naira and at the same time the dollar is not even easily available so this creates a huge problem for the airline. industry and we are currently facing a financial and economic crisis. But all relevant government organizations and stakeholders are working very hard to solve the problem. Overall, we ensure that that safety be the priority,” he said.
Reacting to the high cost of airfares, Nuhu said if airlines exceed a particular range, the agency should conduct an investigation to find out whether the price is reasonable or whether the airlines are involved in a practice that would compromise safety.
He said: “What the airlines do is they don’t give us a fixed price, they give us a range within which they can operate freely. But once it goes over the upper limit, they have to let us know, and we’ll have to do a reasonableness check of the airfare increase to find out. If we see that they have increased it, we will calculate the variables and find out if this is justified.