The federal government on Tuesday directed that every aircraft on commercial operation in Nigeria must have at least one Nigerian pilot in the cockpit, saying the directive takes effect from this month.
The government has also directed that the multiple charges levied on commercial airlines by aviation agencies must be reviewed and streamlined while the exploitative fares charged passengers, including fuel surcharges, must be reviewed downwards.
These were part of the new aviation reforms unveiled by the Minister of Aviation, Osita Chidoka, in Lagos during the launch of Aviation Commit Initiative which is aimed at providing better service for customers and improving the revenue that accrue from the aviation sector for the federal government.
Chidoka also directed removal of cargo charges on agriculture produce exports in order to encourage exporters and generate foreign exchange, adding that there should be immediate end to commercial operation by privately-owned aircraft.
Chidoka, said any private airline doing commercial operations without regularising its operations before Thursday February 5 would be grounded by the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA),
The minister made all these known shortly before the unveiling of Aviation Commits Initiative.
He also directed that all airlines operating in Nigeria without a Nigerian pilot in its crew by July 1, 2015 would also be grounded, as he said airlines can now operate round-the-clock and no longer limited by time because by end of May this year every airport in the country would have airfield lighting, which will enable aircraft to land in the night
The government is already installing the runway lighting at 13 airports in the country and the projects would be finished by the stated date.
As part of the aviation reforms, all agricultural produce meant for export are to be exempted from paying five per cent cargo charge.
Also, all domestic airlines would be required to train their pilots yearly, as a condition to renewing their Airline Operators’ Certificate (AOC) in addition to abiding by existing regulations
The minister said: “By the 5th of February, all private registered aircraft in general aviation operation which also provide commercial services will be grounded by the NCAA.
“We will publish their names and we are saying that by Monday (February 9), none of them will be on our airspace if they do not regularise their operations. We have 90 foreign registered airlines and 111 Nigerian registered, so we hope they will all come under this regulatory purview.
“We will also harmonise charges to avoid multiplication of levies.”
According to the Minister, the Aviation Commits initiative is a customer-centric step by the ministry to “bring back the customer.”
The initiative will be a campaign to create awareness on the passengers’ bill of right.
“The initiative is aimed at re-packaging, re-branding and re-directing the aviation industry in Nigeria towards enhanced service delivery and customer satisfaction,” the Minister said.
“It is the first bold attempt by the aviation sector in Nigeria to acknowledge the need for service improvement to its customers and publicly commit to carrying out such improvements as appropriate,” he added.