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Safety of air passengers our priority—Aviation ministry

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By GABRIEL AGBEJA

Senator Hadi Sirika

ABUJA- The Ministry of Aviation on Tuesday in Abuja said its priority was to ensure the safety and security of air passengers and cargoes.

Mr James Odaudu, the Special Assistant to the Minister of Aviation on Public Affairs, made this known in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN).

Odaudu said that the ministry and the agencies under its purview were working assiduously  daily towards achieving the feat to boost confidence and integrity of the aviation sector in the country.

According to him, the Minister of Aviation, Sen. Hadi Sirika, has made safety and security of the flying public paramount since he assumed office.

“Right from the inception of the administration, the Minister of Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika has placed emphasis on safety and security of passengers and cargoes.

“This is why any noticeable safety concern is thoroughly investigated and handled appropriately, “ he said.

On Dana Air suspension, Odaudu said the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) had to suspend Dana Air licence as a result of noticeable safety and financial concerns.

According to him, the suspension is to enable NCAA carry out the necessary regulatory of ongoing audit.

“If at the end of the process, the Airline is found to be healthy, its services will resume.

“ NCAA has said in a statement recently that DANA Air suspension is made pursuant to Section 35(2), 3(b) and (4) of  Civil Aviation Act, 2006 and Part 1.3.3.3(a) (1) of Nigeria Civil Aviation Regulations (Nig.CARs), 2015.“

On Aero Contractors suspension, he said that the airline`s scheduled passenger flights were self-imposed as a result of inability to meet operational costs occasioned by the high cost of aviation fuel.

The minister’s aide added that Aero was however still operating charter and helicopter services and carrying out its Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul (MRO) services.

In a related development, Mr Mathew Pwajok, the Acting Managing Director, Nigerian Airspace Managing Agency (NAMA), however, told NAN that suspension of Dana Airline and Aero Contractors would have negative impact on national economy.

According to him, the downcast of the two airlines being currently handled by NCAA, a regulator for both economic oversight and airworthiness on the airlines, was a big concern to all relevant stakeholders in the industry.

“Anything that will affect the volume of flights is a negative to NAMA capability and revenue as NAMA does not manage empty airspace.

“In the absence of airlines, there is no Airspace Management Agency. We will not have anything to manage. So, it is of concern to us to ensure that the airlines are operating.

“ That is why we go about deploying latest facilities to upgrade our facilities to provide the service that is safe, secure, economical and efficient and cost effective to the airlines.

“That is to ensure that the airlines are doing well and stay in business and also keep us in business. We don’t have business if there are no airline to manage, “ NAMA boss said.

Pwajok said the agency had recently intensified efforts to acquire sophisticated tools that were effective and efficient to reduce flight challenges in the Nigerian air space.

“On our own part, we have done a whole lot in terms of reducing flight time, fuel consumption for operator, and flight delays by automating most of our processes.

“ And by implementing satellite base navigation to reduce flight time for the airlines, by implementing total radar coverage network to ensure that aircraft are safe and secure.

“This will reduce operating cost for the airlines and also ensure that they are comfortable and they can continue in the business, “ he said.(NAN)

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