Capt. Ibrahim Mshelia, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO), of West Link Airlines has advised the Minister of Aviation and Aerospace Development, Mr. Festus Keyamo not to mobilize contractors to the site for the construction of the second Abuja Airport runway without the approval of the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), the industry regulator.
Capt. Ibrahim Mshelia stated this on Monday in Lagos in an interview with journalists.
Mshelia expressed delight with the plan to construct a second runway for the airport after many years of delays but said the regulatory agency should be allowed to direct the conduct of the exercise.
He emphasized that it was the duty of the NCAA to ensure the contractors met all the required standards like the location and the direction of the runway, including the design, insisting that this was not in the purview of the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN).
He said: “This is a concern for all of us. It has been in the books for a long and I think it is necessary, but one thing the minister should know is that he must not send contractors to the site without the NCAA’s approval. It is necessary for the NCAA to make the decision with the contractor on site, the location, and the direction of the runway. This is in the NCAA purview and not of FAAN at all.
“NCAA must first make sure that whatever design they bring, meets the safety requirements before sending contractors to site. Two, the minister must make sure he listens to the NCAA in everything he does. He did say he will no longer issue contracts to anyone without first talking to the industry expert, and the NCAA must be made to allow to do the right thing.
“The problem we are having in the industry is that the aviation industry is supposed to have 90 percent of technical staff and 10 percent of support staff, but the reverse is the case today. How does he want to work with that?
“We want to get work for Nigerians, but they must be qualified for the positions they are holding. If they are not qualified for a certain position, send them to where they are qualified to do the job. We are where we are today because the right things are not done.”
Flight delays in Harmattan
On flight delays, Mshelia explained that most of the reasons for flight delays were caused by the government and its agencies.
He emphasized that rather than the public, especially the air passengers, blaming the government, they impose such blame on the airlines.
He declared that the airlines were not responsible for the installation of navigational equipment at airports and stations, across the country, saying that the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA) and FAAN are responsible for these.
For instance, Mshelia said the Instrument Landing Systems (ILSs) and approach lighting in most of the airports are either not calibrated or fitted for flying purposes.
This, he said, led to the downgrading of most of the airports by the NCAA.
Mshelia regretted that despite the development in the global aviation industry and the installation of navigational equipment at airports and stations across the country, harmattan still disrupts flight services in Nigeria.
Mshelia insisted that at 200 meters weather, airplanes are supposed to land in Lagos and other major aerodromes across the country, but regretted that the absence of the equipment made this impossible for the operators.
He said: “The Chairman Senate Committee on Aviation, Buhari Abdulfatai, complained of delays, but who do you blame for this? The airlines are always blamed for delays, but sometimes, we may be wrong and sometimes, the airlines may be guilty.
“This weather we are approaching today may cause some delays. Every airline that we have must go through Section 7 of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Regulations (NCARs), which means the airborne equipment on board must be in compliance with the ground equipment.
“The ILSs that we have across the country are CAT 2, but they need approach landing systems to go with them, which is under FAAN duty. NAMA can get the ILS CAT 2, but if FAAN doesn’t provide the approach lighting system in the same class, the NCAA will be forced to downgrade it to almost zero. That is why we have the state minima.”