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FG bars domestic airlines from flying foreign-registered planes

By on September 28, 2013

Effective October 1, 2013, no Nigerian airline, whether domestic or charter, will be allowed to use foreign-registered planes in their fleet, according to a new order from the Federal Government to airlines operators through the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority.

The order, contained in a letter addressed to all domestic and charter airlines in the country, was signed by the Director-General, NCAA, Captain Fola Akinkuotu.

The letter, dated August 28, 2013, was obtained exclusively by our correspondent on Thursday.

According to it, any domestic or charter airline wants to bring in a foreign-registered plane for whatever reason will only be allowed to use such a plane for a period of six months.

The letter titled, ‘Order on operation of foreign-registered aircraft in Nigeria’, read in part, “Pursuant to sections 30 (5) and 30 (7a) of the Civil Aviation Act, 2006, the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority hereby makes the following order: 1. Wet-lease-in aircraft into Nigeria: No Air Operator Certificate holder shall wet-lease-in an aircraft into Nigeria for the purpose of commercial air transportation for a total period of more than six months. 2. Effective date: This order shall take effect from October 1, 2013 and all AOC holders shall comply there from.”

The development, it was learnt, was part of the Federal Government’s move to reform the aviation sector.

For the purpose of commercial operation, using a foreign-registered plane (also known as aircraft wet-lease-in) means only foreign pilots and engineers can touch or operate such plane, except a Nigerian pilot or engineer goes an extra mile to obtain a foreign licence from the country where the plane was registered.

Government sources said the number of foreign-registered planes being used for commercial operations in the country was becoming alarming and that there was a need to reverse the trend because it had led to increase in unemployment among Nigerian pilots and engineers.

The new order will affect a few commercial airlines and a number of charter operators who are currently using foreign-registered planes for their operations.

Some of the planes are registered in South Africa, United States and some European countries.

The order came on the heels of the government’s decision to impose a fee of $4,000 per flight on foreign-registered private jets and $3,000 per flight on Nigerian-registered private jets.