5 May 2007

Nigeria: Recapitalisation: FG Clears Additional 7 Airlines

Abuja — Four days after the expiration of the April 30 deadline to airlines operators to recapitalise their operations, the Federal Government yesterday said it has re-certified additional seven airlines to fly the nation's airspace having met the set requirements.

The airlines are Wings Aviation, Pan African Air-lines, Kings Air and Travels Ltd, Kabo Air and Travels Ltd, Capital Airlines Limited, Caverton Helicopters and Bristow Helicopters.

The Federal Government two months ago directed airlines to recapitalise their operations by April 30 this year and vowed that any that failed to meet the requirements would have its licence withdrawn. The capitalisation thresholds were set at N500 million for flight operations within the country; N1 billion for flight operations within the African continent as well as Mecca and Jerusalem and; N2 billion for international flight operations.

At the expiration of the deadline Monday, the Federal Government cleared 13 airlines namely Aero Contractor Airlines, Afrijet Airlines, Allied Airlines, Associated Airlines, Bellview Airlines, Chanchangi Airlines, Donier Aviation Nigeria Limited, NICON Airways, IRS Air-lines, Overland Airways, Air Midwest, Arik Airlines and Virgin Nigeria as well as withdrawing licences of seven others including Avia-tion Development Company (ADC), Sosoliso Airlines, Fresh Airlines, Albarkar Airlines, Chrome Airlines, Dasab Airlines and Sky-power Airlines.

Air Midwest was, however, announced as a new entrant into the nation's aviation industry.

Minister of State for Air Transportation, Chief Femi Fani- Kayode while addressing newsmen in Abuja on the outcome of the recapitalisation exercise, stressed that, "no other airline operators, apart from those that I have listed as from today, that is domestic carriers, would be allowed to fly Nigerian airspace. As at today (April 30, 2007), they would not be allowed in the Nigerian airspace for any reason whatsoever."

Fani-Kayode, however, added that, "the only way they can be allowed to fly is if they satisfy the NCAA and achieve that share capital base. They can still do so. If they are ready to do that and if it is proved and shown to the NCAA that they have done it, then of course the ban on them would be lifted."

When prompted for clarification on that aspect, he explained that if any of the failed airlines applies afresh for licence in line with the new capitalisation requirements, they would be granted, so far they also satisfy NCAA guidelines.

Fani-Kayode noted that the successful airlines satisfied the requirements after their capital claims were verified at the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC).

"Not only that they have made the requirements on papers but we have cross checked at the Corporate

Affairs Commission and we have firmly established that they have actually managed to have that level of paid-up and they have met the criteria. We have to congratulate them and commend them and more importantly, we have to congratulate and commend the NCAA under the leadership of Dr. Demuren for effecting this government policy effectively and put this in place," the minister said.

The minister while commending the courage and hard work of those that achieved the capitalisation benchmark noted that "about half of those that have been approved to fly didn't have the resources before but they rallied round and made it."

"We are beginning to get it right. We will continue to do so. This is the first step, because we believe strongly that, ultimately what we need is to see mergers between the airline operators. We want them to come together and merge to have a bigger, better, stronger airlines in our country to ensure higher safety standards," he had said.

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