NIGERIAN aviation authorities have banned all charter services with privately-registered aircraft with effect from today as part of a drive to combat the abuse of the coronavirus lockdown and the embargo on flying.
Like most other countries, Nigeria suspended all flights when the coronavirus pandemic broke out, closing all of her airports and suspending all aviation activities. With the gradual easing of the lockdown now taking place, several nations have resumed flights but Nigeria is yet to open up her airspace.
However, many wealthy Nigerians and government officials have got around the ban by chartering private aircrafts to fly them around both internally and internationally. In a bid to end this, the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) has banned charter services with privately-registered aircraft and also queried its directors who allowed such planes to be used for charter services.
NCAA director-general Captain Musa Nuhu, said it would ground such aircraft when used for charter flights or revoke the operating licence of anyone that disobeyed the directive. Across Nigeria, about 50% of the 100 privately-owned aircraft have been used for charter operations during the Covid-19 lockdown and efforts to stop their owners have failed in the past.
In a addressed to the NCAA’s Directorate of Operations and Training, Directorate of Airworthiness Standards and the Directorate of Air Transport Regulations, Captain Nuhu stated that aircraft duly registered as privately-owned should not be used for commercial charter. Unlike private aircraft, planes designated for commercial charter service are usually subjected to stringent regulation, especially in the area of maintenance, to ensure that they are airworthy to operate safely.
They also pay a 5% charge to NCAA. However, privately-owned aircraft are not subjected to such regulatory measures and they do not pay any charges to the regulatory authority, while their maintenance is at the discretion of the owners.
Captain Nuhu said: “Following the recent revelations of misuse of permit for non-commercial flight (PNCF) and use of improperly registered aircraft for illegal charters during the Covid-19 pandemic, would henceforth be stopped from operating for hire and reward. All affected airline operators of Nigeria holders shall be notified immediately.”