The Director-General of Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), Capt. Musa Nuhu has called for the collapse of the Lagos-Accra air transport market as a domestic market because of proximity lamenting the high costs of flights between the two cities.
He stated that fares on the Lagos-Accra route, a journey of about 45 minutes are ridiculously high with fares going as high as $500; the same amount it would cost to travel to the United States from Europe.
The high cost of travel between Accra and Lagos according to Nuhu is a result of high taxes and charges which are very high in Africa.
He stated that while the country has experienced massive growth in the country’s domestic, he said the same cannot be said of growth at the regional level and intercontinental level.
Collapsing of the market as domestic he stated can only be done through politically between the two nations, saying, ‘I don’t see why we cannot see Lagos-Accra as domestic market. It can be done”.
Speaking at African Airlines Association (AFRAA) SkyConnect Leadership Dialogues with Capt. Musa Nuhu, Director General – NCAA anchored by the Director Government, Legal and Industry Affairs, AFRAA, Mr. Raphael Kuuchi monitored virtually by Aviation Metric on Wednesday, Nuhu noted that the unexpected growth in domestic aviation came with its attendant challenges in the areas of infrastructure and the need for capacity to manage the growth from the regulatory aspect.
He stated that the growth witnessed within a short period of time saw a very huge number of airlines that met the requirement for Air Operators Certificate (AOC) which had doubled from 16 to 32.
“We had to take a lot of steps by coming up with short-term immediate plans and long-term plans too so that we can cope with increased oversight of our functions. All of our processes will be automated. That will take away a lot of paperwork and provide us with a more effective and efficient way to help us get accurate data step-ups and do projections going forward.”
‘We have all major airlines operating in this market. Obviously, the domestic market is huge but the country’s airlines and African needs need to think of more regional flights to help the continent interconnect effectively in the spirit of the Single African Air Transport Market (SAATM).”
The NCAA DG airline business within Africa is very expensive, making international airlines have more of the market share in the continent’s aviation market, adding that many of the continents are scared to compete with mega European, Middle East, and American carriers.
“It is not a level playing ground for private airlines to compete with state-owned airlines because of the fear that the state-owned airlines will lower their fares because they are subsidized by their governments. They find it very difficult to compete with government-owned airlines”.
Nuhu however stated that governments cannot be blamed for setting up airlines and supporting their airlines because of the need to make air travel accessible to many, for interconnectivity and for commerce.
‘At the same time, private airlines find it difficult to compete. That has hampered SAATM. AFRAA and the African Civil Aviation Commission (AFCAC) have to look at the issue of SAATM. Governments have limited resources. We really need private sector players too so that SAATM can achieve its potential.”
Nuhu reiterated that the continent’s airlines and aviation need to improve on safety and security, advising that there should be collaboration b between AFRAA and AFCAC to improve safety, stressing that there has to be a significant improvement.
He disclosed that Nigeria would be facing the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) safety audit in August or September this year, just as he called for collaboration to scale the ICAO audit.
“We are having an ICAO audit in August or September this year. We have the resources but we need to work together to improve confidence in aviation safety. We need to help each other more.
On how airlines can cut costs and mitigate the cash crunch affecting their operations, the NCAA boss listed the high cost of aircraft maintenance, monetary policy, and high cost of jet fuel among others as costs airlines have had to contend with.
He stated that there must be a coordinated study to see how these costs can be brought down, just as he carpeted many of the continent’s airlines for poor choice of aircraft, poor or bad route planning, adding that all these would eventually catch up with them in the long run.