COVID-19 pandemic and the National Civil Aviation Act

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The Problem Statement

Nigeria’s aviation is weak and lacks policies which have remained abysmally low and relatively dysfunctional in its contribution to the gross national product. These unsuccessful occurrences have witnessed slow enforceability and adequacy of the air law and policies guiding the operation, administration of air transportation: institutional efficiency and effectiveness and the public institutions in charge of the aviation sector.

Despite the mishaps and shortcomings in the aviation industry, running an airline in Nigeria is a hard business. Indeed, most commercial airplane operators still dwindle in the face of bottleneck economic hardships and the institutional weakness of the government agencies.

Hence, there is a need to fill this gap and curb out the causes of incessant plane crashes in Nigeria and forestalling future developmental policies and political will to enforce them.

The Policy Solution

An Act to repeal the Civil Aviation Act Cap. 51 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 1990 as amended and to re‐enact the Civil Aviation Act to provide for the regulation of Civil Aviation, establishment of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority; and for related matters.

The Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) is one of such agencies established by the Nigerian Civil Aviation Act 2006 (CAA).

The Act empowers the Authority to make regulations on registration and prohibition of aircraft from flying unless certificates of airworthiness issued or validated under the regulations with compliance to maintenance, the licensing, inspection and regulation of aerodromes, aircraft factories and places where aircraft have landed and licensed in pursuance to the regulations.

Furthermore, Other legislation includes the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria, Act 1999 which is charged with the responsibility of managing all commercial airports in Nigeria and providing service to both passenger and cargo airlines and Nigeria Airspace Management Act 1999, which handles air traffic services, airspace management, aeronautical telecommunications etc.

In lieu of the global standards, the CAA has incorporated provisions of Annex 13 to the Convention on International Civil Aviation (the Chicago Convention), which governs investigations of both international and domestic air accidents, and the Convention for the Unification of Certain Rules Relating to International Carriage by Air (the Montreal Convention 1999) and its Protocol.

This relates to international standards and recommended practices and its adoption in accordance with the Convention and any amendment of the Convention or of any such Annex made in accordance with the Convention.

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NIGAC Constructive Position/Take

The COVID-19 pandemic has greatly impacted the aviation industry. Airlines all over the world, Nigeria not excluded, are on the verge of a looming cash crisis.

Nigeria’s  House of Representatives has revealed that the aviation sector needs about N50bn to cushion the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Federal Government had earlier proposed a N4bn bailout.

The Federal Government have to step up and increase the bailout fund for the aviation sector and enforce the duty waiver commercial aircraft and spare parts to ensure the sector’s viability. Air connectivity and adherence to international standards is another key issue Government should squarely focus on.

Needless to say, the Federal Government has to ensure that the proposed concession of the four major airports is rightly done and the listed benefits are accumulated.

 

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