CHARTER airline operator, West Link Airline has decried as economic sabotage , private aircraft using their equipment for hire and reward and has called on the Nigerian Civll Aviation Authority ( NCAA) and the Directorate of a State Security (DSS) to sanction such people.
Chairman of West Link, Captain Ibrahim Mshelia who spoke to reporters on the trend among many other issues said that certified charter operators were feeling the impact because businesses are being taken from them but that this also affects the NCAA as these individuals do not remit the mandatory 5% Ticket Sales Charge (TSC).
Regulations ( Nig CARS) 2015 Part 18.2.3,1. state that Air Transport License ( ATL) holders and Airline Operating Permit ( AOP) holders with valid Air Operators Certificate ( AOC) are the only ones authorized to carry out charter operations in the country as no person shall use aircraft in Nigeria for hire and reward without the above requirements.
The regulators also mooted this in June 2020 during the lock down when they banned private jets from charter flight services as part of efforts to check abuse.
According to Mshelia, even passengers of those illegal operators are endangering themselves stating that if anything happened to them, the owners of aircraft would leave as the aircraft was not certified for hire and reward and so would not e en compensate them or their families.
He said,” I have been into chartered flights before I got the Air Operators’ Certificate (AOC) for the West Link Airlines. I was managing a company before I set up my own. Before then, I had always been in the advocacy of doing the right thing and that is why I decided to set up my own airline. To tell you whether it is true or not, I can tell you that it is true because as a certified operator, I know most of the passengers who are regular, but there was a time some of them complained to me that I charge more, but they he had got it cheaper.
“One of them told me the name of the airline, but I told him that I don’t know which certified airline will charge you less than what I am charging you. If the airline is charging lesser, maybe it is not going to the market to buy the same fish I am selling. He might be buying the fish free and cooking the same pepper soup for you.
“The fact is government is should be more worried because it is losing a lot of revenues. I pay the 5 per cent Ticket Sales Charge (TSC), even if I don’t have the cash with me, I owe it and I must pay it and I can’t jump it. But, those that are doing these sharp practices are not captured in the NCAA data. So, NCAA cannot go after them.
“Then, I think the Department of State Security (DSS) should have intervened because this was purely economy sabotage, for them to remain for this long, even when the former Director-General of NCAA suspended some of them.That is why I felt that if the Director-General of NCAA has a full autonomy, then he would do his job without looking at the body language of the minister.”
“Even, the passengers are also endangering themselves by flying private jets because no insurance would want to compensate the victims when the accident occurs. The NCAA should ask the DSS to check the operations. I can tell you that within three to four weeks, the truth will be known.
“What business do you operate when you fly three of four times in a day? Yet, the airline will claim it is flying private,” he said.