The Nigerian aviation industry in 2010 was relatively peaceful, as there was no accident recorded and the industry witnessed a lot of improvement. Some of the notable events that shaped the Nigerian aviation industry and kept stakeholders busy in 2010 are highlighted the way they happened, when they occurred and where by Correspondent Abel Orukpe.
It has been an interesting year for aviation, just like 2009, which did not record any air accident compared to 2005 and 2006 that were riddled with the Belview flight 210 accident, which crashed on October 22 2005, killing all the 117 passengers on board; Sosoliso flight 1145 that crashed on December 10, 2005 killing 108 passengers and Aviation Development Company (ADC) flight 53, which crashed in October, 29, 2006 with 97 deaths
In the absence of accident, the aviation industry organised some notable events that helped to raise awareness and at the same time shape the industry for a better future. Some were remarkable while other were not but one thing is clear; they contributed to one way or the other to the level of development in the sector
One event which drew the attention of all the security agencies and foreign airlines at the airport was the Security Sensitisation Seminar for Agents of Foreign Airlines organised by the NCAA at its training facility at the its headquarters annex, Lagos on February 25, 2010.
In April 12,2010, a ministerial conference on civil aviation security was held in Abuja and at the conference, the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) Director General, Harold Demuren, said that the detained passenger on Delta Airlines was not a Nigerian but a Gambian named Salieu Badjau. In April 26 and 27, 2010, the Nigerian Association of Aircraft Pilots and Engineers (NAAPE) organised its 12th biennial National Delegates conference with the theme, “Vision 2020:20 Imperative for the Aviation Industry” in Lagos. While in April 29, 2010, two aviation unions, the National Union Air Transport Employees (NUATE), Air Transport Senior Staff Services Association of Nigeria (ATSSSAN) and NAAPE, briefed aviation journalists on the Aero/Oceanic Bank face off. Present at the meeting were the secretary general of NUATE, Gideon Ogbuji, general secretary of ATSSSAN, Frank Ayede, and a pilot from Aero, Balami David. They issued a statement in which they called on the Minister of Aviation, Fidelia Njeze, to intervene in the matter that has to do with Aero’s indebtedness to Oceanic Bank
On May 5, 2010, NCAA in conjunction with the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA), Nigerian College of Aviation Technology (NCAT) and the Nigerian Meteorological Agency (NIMETH) briefed the media on aviation hazardous weather conditions, thunderstorm. Demuren told journalist at the media briefing that there was likely to be adverse weather challenges that might lead to delay and cancellation of flights. He also said that already pilots have been briefed on the issue.
Earlier on that same day, Onyeuku Uloaku, (nee Alamba), the lady who erected the statue of a corps member holding a defunct Nigeria Airways aircraft at round about close to the Presidential Lounge at the Murtala Muhammed Airport (MMA), Lagos link Road, told aviation journalists that she was sacked by the NCAA for reasons she said could not understand. Uloaku was given automatic employment by former Minister of Education, Kema Chikwe, following a community development project she embarked during her National Youth Service Corp (NYSC) programme. Later on that same May 5, 2010, at the media briefing where other agencies in the aviation sector attended, Uloaku’s case was presented to Demuren and he promised that he was going to look into the issue. The NCAA had communicated the sacked to her in a letter dated February 9, 2004 with reference number NCAA/HR/3002/VOL.1/1. It is, however, not clear if the lady has been re-called into the system.
May 24 in the aviation industry was eventful, as the embattled Bi-Courtney Aviation Services Limited (BASL) promoters of MMA Terminal 2 called a press conference to deny owing FAAN over N1 billion as alleged by FAAN instead accused the agency of owing BASL N11 billion.
Still on that same date, the Chairman of Air Nigeria, Jimoh Ibrahim, told journalists that experts have diagnosed the airline ailments and the report of the experts showed that the airline has 74 accounts but that it will be reduced to two or three for easy management. He wondered why an airline would maintaini such number of accounts.
May 25, 2010, the first Nigeria Airport Summit was held. The event with the theme, “Nigeria Airports Reforms /Globalisation was organised by Out Communications at MMIA, Lagos. The gathering was to discuss airports in the country, their challenges and the way forward to ensure they compete favourably with other airports in the world. Present at the summit were Managing Director of NAMA, Ibrahim Auyo, the then secretary general of African Airlines Association (AFRAA), FAAN, Director of Operations, George Uresi, and other parastatals staff.
The director of general of NCAA on May 26, 2010, told the world that the regulatory body would continue to carry out its certification of the aviation industry, which among other thing include airports, airlines and personnel. While on the following day; May 27, 2010, FAAN officially lunched its service charter at the MMIA, Lagos.
Delta airlines on May 27, 2010, held a media parley heralding the launch of its flight from Abuja to New York.
June 1, 2010, Aero Contractor commenced flight operations to Uyo, the Akwa Ibom State capital with a B733-500 series with 55 passengers for an aircraft configured to carry 104 passengers from the from the Murtala Muhammed Airport (MMA) terminal 2 to the 3.6km runway. The registration of the aircraft is 5N—BLC with flight No AJ151. The aircraft returned to Lagos with 43 passengers.
June 2, 2010, chairman of Virgin Nigeria, Jimoh Ibrahim, announced that Virgin Nigeria has been changed to Air Nigeria, adding that the name change was made sequel to the resolution of the board on May 14, 2010 and that it has been registered with the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC). He added that the change was borne out of the need to have a national carrier that reflects the Nigerian identity and safeguard the integrity of the Nigerian people.
On June 18, secretary general of African Airlines Association (AFRAA), Nick Fadugba, who was elected into the position in February 18 of the same year resigned his appointment. In his resignation letter dated 10 June 10, 2010, he wrote, “Since 18 February, 2010, it has been an honour and a privilege for me to serve as secretary general of AFRAA, an intense period spent single-mindedly addressing the many challenges facing African airlines today”.
He continued, “After careful deliberation, I have now come to the conclusion that I can better serve the African Aviation industry and African airlines in my previous capacity as founder and chief executive officer of African Aviation Services (AAS) rather than as secretary general of AFRAA.”
The reason for Fadugba’s resignation was unknown, but frustration at the lack of change towards professionalism may be part of it. AFRAA is a body that promotes the development of safe and efficient air transport in Africa
On July 14, 2010, Aero launched its first mobile web and SMS ticketing services in Africa called Aero Webmobile. It was launched by the Head of Commercial, Robert Prophet, at its private terminal in Lagos.
July 21, 2010, NCAA debunked the insinuation in some quarters that without a national carrier Nigeria cannot get the FAA Category 1 status, arguing that the existence of a national carrier was not a prerequisite for the attainment of Cat 1.
In August 5, 2010, the Managing Director of FAAN launched the agency’s credit policy manual, while August 13, the Governor of Taraba State, Danbaba, was formally initiated by the Nigerian College of Aviation Technology (NCAT) led by the rector of the College, Adebayo Araba, as a full-fledged pilot having completed his Private Pilot Licence (PPL) in the college.
On August 23, 2010, the United States, FAA, granted Nigeria aviation Category 1 status. This status allows Nigerian carriers to fly directly to the US. Arik Air was also certified to fly directly to the US, therefore becoming the only Nigeria carrier approved for by FAA.
August 30, the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA) introduced the system of ‘Pay As You Go’ as a means of payment for airlines enjoying its services. According to the Managing Director, Ibrahim Auyo, is to ensure that airlines debt to agency is not accumulated.
September 1, NAMA begins the implementation of ‘Pay As You Go’. The first causality was Arik Air as it operation was grounded for refusing to comply with the new system. Not ready to incur further loss, Arik Air in the evening of that very day paid $25,000 for its regional and international operations and also paid N50 million for its domestic operations. The airline commenced full operations on September 2, having been left off the hook by NAMA.
October 17, this year’s Muslim pilgrimage to Mecca, Saudi Arabia. It was flagged off by the Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Abubakar Sa’ad II.
On October 18, 2010, the much talked about project, Total Radar Coverage of Nigeria (TRACON), which was built by Thales S. A of France at the cost of Euro 66.5 million was commissioned by President Goodluck Jonathan. Also on October 18, Accident Investigation Bureau (AIB) organised its annual Safety Conference in Lagos, where accident investigation and aviation experts from different organisations of the world discussed how to make air transport safe .It was a two-day programme.
On December 11, the second Lagos Airport Marathon, which drew marathoners from different part of the country, took place at the Murtala Muhammed Airport (MMA), Lagos. Kefas Williams, a police constable won the second edition of the Lagos Airport Marathon organised by Business Travel Magazine. He finished the 21-kilometre race at the MMIA, Lagos in a time of 56minutes and 12 seconds. The second position was won by Danjuma Gyam, from Plateau State, while the third position was won by Femi Olusanya also of the Nigeria Police Force.
In the female category, Dinatu Yohanna, also police constable with number 23234 won the first position in 1hour and 5 minutes, Pereira Oluwabukola, a student of Epetedo High School, with number 2392, and who belong to Greater Tomorrow club, won the second position in a time of 1 hours minutes, while Genevieve Njoku with number 2322 and who work with Civil Defence Corp came third
One of the major events that happened in December 17, 2010, was the commencement of flight operations from Washington –Accra—Lagos. Present at the inauguration were Njeze, Managing Director of the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), Richard Aisuebeogun, Demuren, Nigeria Ambassador to the United States, Adebowale Ibidapo, Adefuye and Airlines Vice President of Sales, Transatlantic, Middle East and India, Charles Duncan.
One of the events that happened in December 17, 2010, was the opening of the Akanu Ibiam International Airport Enugu by President Goodluck Jonathan. The airport was reopened 10 months after rehabilitation was carried out on its runway.