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Airline Operators partner Customs to establish Aviation Desk

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Following major delays that happen during the importation of aircraft and aircraft spares despite the removal of Duties on them, the Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON) has said that it is working with the management of Nigeria Customs Service to establish Aviation Desk for the federal agency to enable its personnel undergo training on aviation matters for better understanding of the sector.

AON said that this would enable Customs to understand the importance of air travel and the urgency to clear aircraft spares, especially when under AOG (aircraft on ground).

This was disclosed by the Vice President of AON and Chairman/CEO of Air Peace, Barrister Allen Onyema during a recent meeting organised by Aviation Round Table (ART) in Lagos.

“For easy clearance of aircraft spares and other related imports by the Nigeria Customs Service, one of us, Captain Roland Iyayi spearheaded a move that AON should work with customs so that they would have an aviation desk. We suggested this to the leadership of Customs and they agreed. They are disposed to doing that with us, in establishing an aviation desk where some of their personnel will be trained specifically to deal with airlines.

“This is important because currently many of the officials do not understand how aviation works, like what is AOG. So, an airline’s aircraft spare parts might come and it might remain there for three weeks because they do not understand the urgency of clearing it so that the aircraft would return to work,” Onyema said.

He said that in other climes, once any aircraft spare part is brought in under AOG, Customs would allow it to be cleared immediately and later the airline would deal with the processes.

“This is because the aircraft is treated like a human being; it needs to fly due to the critical role it plays in the economy of any nation. But over here it is not the same thing. So, we need to expedite clearance of spares or aircraft from Customs. The ease of doing business should be improved. It is not only with Customs, but everywhere. This will enhance the support Nigerian airlines need to be stronger,” the AON Vice President said

Reiterating the challenges faced by domestic airlines, Onyema said that not having transit facility at any of the nation’s major airports is a hindrance to intra-regional connectivity and even international operations.

“Ideally, in passenger movement, airlines on international service can use airport with transit facility as hub where passengers are brought together and taken to other destinations, but Nigeria does not have such facility at any of its airports.

“To support Nigerian airlines to be stronger, the airport infrastructure must be improved too. Government officials said Nigerian airlines are not flying international. They compare them with Ethiopian Airlines. The Nigerian airport does not have a transit facility. We don’t have the infrastructure for transiting. We wanted to do it, but the infrastructure at the airports does not support it.

“We don’t really have a facility where we can bring a large number of travellers, keep them before we fly them to their destinations. Immigration and Customs will tell you that they have not provided for that yet. So, why are we now blaming the airlines for not doing these things? Put everything right and see the airlines succeed. That is the only time you can really assess the airlines rightly; when you have these things working for them. So, there is nothing like transiting, we don’t have the transiting infrastructure in Nigeria,” Onyema said.

On aircraft maintenance facility, the AON Vice President said Nigerian carriers lose millions of money in dollars maintaining their aircraft overseas because Nigeria does not have a major Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul (MRO) facility in the country.

“As I speak to you now, I am sure I have about eight aircraft abroad and these are costing millions of dollars. Even to ferry those planes abroad is a lot of money already. So, the Nigerian airlines is destined to fail from the beginning. You are dead on arrival because there are so many things against you. You don’t have MROs that could take care of maintenance. That should have been a major priority the government should have facilitated.

“I don’t believe in the government doing business but the government can provide the enabling environment for people of means to come and build the facility. If the government sets up MRO it will fail, because government businesses fail anywhere in the world. All they need to do is to provide the enabling environment and people will build the facility,” the Air Peace Chairman said.

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Aviation

Aviation sector to benefit from RIDF

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Aviation is set to be part of key economic drivers that will benefit from President Bola Tinubu’s proposed Renewed Hope Infrastructure Development Fund (RIDF).

In a statement by Ajuri Ngelale, the fund targets strategic sectors like agriculture, transportation, ports,  energy, healthcare, and education along with aviation.

The initiative plans to inject funds into vital national projects to foster growth, bolster local value addition, generate jobs, and spur innovation.

Efficient use of low-interest loans and financing options will secure advantageous arrangements for project financing and operation.

The focus on aviation enhancement involves modernising major airports nationwide with targeted investments and infrastructure upgrades.

The statement reads, “On aviation enhancement, the focus is on the revitalization and modernization of major airports nationwide. Through targeted investments and infrastructure upgrades, major airports will undergo comprehensive refurbishment, including improvement in terminal facilities, runway expansions, and the implementation of cutting-edge technologies to enhance safety and operational efficiency.”

For agricultural infrastructure, the focus includes developing robust networks like storage facilities and irrigation systems.

In port revitalisation, the goal is to modernise facilities and attract investments to enhance Nigeria’s regional trade hub status.

“By modernizing port facilities and implementing advanced monitoring systems, the goal is to optimize efficiency, attract investments, and bolster Nigeria’s position as a regional trade hub,” the statement read.

Key road projects like Lagos-Calabar Coastal Road aim to enhance connectivity and stimulate economic growth.

Rail projects like Lagos-Kano and Eastern lines will modernise transportation networks for speed and reliability.

President Tinubu’s approval of the RHIDF absorbs the PIDF, expediting project delivery for Nigerians’ benefit.

Projects funded under the RHIDF will have a national spread, reflecting the commitment to equitable development.

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ICAO Aviation security audit team debriefs Nigeria, indicates strong outing

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The Team Lead of ICAO Security Audit Programme, Callum Vine, announced Nigeria’s strong performance during a debrief after its Audit.

Nigeria recently concluded the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) Security Audit Programme the continuous Monitoring Approach (USAP-CMA) according to a statement emanating from Director, Public Affairs and Consumer Protection, FAAN, Obiageli Orah.

The USAP-CMA aims to improve aviation security compliance by analysing Member States’ performance and implementation of security standards. It focuses on Annex 17: Security Standards and Annex 9: facilitation compliance, along with associated procedures and security practices.

The event held at NCAA Headquarters saw Vine praise Nigeria’s robust policies and agencies, acknowledging their speed in addressing identified deficiencies without complaints.

He mentioned that the full audit report would be available within 60 days, followed by a 30-day period for comments.

FAAN’s Managing Director, Mrs. Olubunmi Kuku, affirmed using the audit results as a roadmap for continuous improvement.

She urged stakeholders to collaborate closely, share best practices, and uphold the highest security standards in the industry.

The debrief was attended by Dr. Emmanuel Meribole, representing the Minister, and Captain Chris Najomo, Acting Director General of NCAA.

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Aviation

Arik Air receives Best Sustainable Airline Company award

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Arik Air has bagged the award for  Best Sustainable Airline of the Year,  2024 by the World Quality Alliance and Quality Standards Journal.

The airline’s Public Relations and Communications Manager, Mr Adebanji Ola, disclosed this in a statement made available to newsmen in Lagos.

Ola said the award was presented to the airline at the National Quality Summit 2024 held on March 22 in Abuja.

According to Ola, the Award General Committee of the National Quality Order of Merit, said the award was meant to celebrate leadership innovations and creativity in quality management.

Ola noted that Dr Ovie Shaka, Vice Chairman, Organising Committee of the National Quality Order of Merit Awards 2024, explained that the award was aimed at identifying, recognising and rewarding companies.

“The award also aims at rewarding personalities and products that apply quality assurance culture and quality management best practices.”

He said the award was presented by Stanley Ohenhen, on behalf of the Organising Committee and received by Arik Air’s Director of Safety, Capt. Jide Bakare.

Ola quoted Arik Air’s Chief Executive Officer, Capt. Roy Ilegbodu, as saying that the award is another testament of the airline’s fastidious adherence to operational safety standards.

Ilegbodu said Arik Air was committed to continual improvement of the management system and operational performance.

Recall that Arik Air also won the 2023  Best In-flight Service Airline by the Nigerian Aviation (NIGAV) Award.

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