Nigeria: NCAA Warns Pilots, Others Over Adverse Weather

2 December 2020

The Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) has issued an advisory circular to caution pilots, airline operators and others against severe harmattan haze/fog phenomenon prevalent in Nigerian airports.

This is coming as the International Air Transport Association (IATA) has said that $53 million proceeds from sales of foreign airlines' tickets are still trapped in Nigeria, just as African countries owed the foreign carriers a total of $516 million.

NCAA explained that the adverse weather condition will subsist from October in the far North, November in the North-central and December in the southern part of the country.

In addition, early morning fog may be experienced in the months ahead, especially along the coastal areas in the south.

The Director-General, NCAA, Captain, Musa Nuhu, who signed the circular, said the advisory was necessary to bring forth the evolving weather information to the attention of all stakeholders who need to perform their roles.

To ensure safe and efficient flight operations during the period, pilots, operators and Air Traffic Controllers (ATC) are directed to observe a series of responsibilities, which include that crew/operators and ATC shall be conversant with each aerodrome weather minima and ensure strict adherence to the requirements.

This means that each airport has its own weather minima different from others and air traffic controllers must have knowledge of this.

"Air traffic controllers might temporarily close airspace when hazardous weather conditions such as heavy fog or severe dust haze reducing the visibility to below airport operating minimal are observed or forecasted by Nigeria Meteorological Agency (NIMET).

"Pilots/flight crewmembers shall obtain adequate departure, en-route and destination weather information and briefing from NIMET aerodrome offices prior to flight operations," the circular said.

NCAA also directed the pilots to exercise maximum restraint whenever adverse weather is observed or forecast by NIMET and brief passengers accordingly.

"The travelling public is, however, urged to exercise restraint and show understanding in this Yuletide month as flights may be delayed or cancelled on an account of weather situations.

"From the foregoing, the regulatory authority will expect strict compliance with this advisory circular as violation would be viewed seriously," the agency said.

IATA: Nigeria Owes Foreign Airlines $53m from Ticket Sales

IATA has said that $53 million proceeds from sales of foreign airlines' tickets are still trapped in Nigeria, just as African countries owed the foreign carriers a total of $516 million.

IATA, at its just-concluded 76th Annual General Meeting, added that international airlines are owed $824 million globally.

IATA's Regional Vice President for Africa and the Middle East (AME), Mr. Muhammed Albakri, said foreign airlines operating into Nigeria are having difficulties repatriating the total sum of $53 million, which is the proceeds from ticket sales of their operations, back to their operational base.

He stated that Nigeria and other African countries have blocked funds that amounted to $516 million.

"$516 million out of $824 million in blocked funds is in Africa. With the IATA revelation, it means the rest of the world has $308 million of the blocked funds," Albakri said.

According to him, Nigeria with $53 million trapped fund is the fourth among the 12 countries with a similar issue.

Others are Zimbabwe $160 million; Eritrea $79 million; Algeria $54 million; Ethiopia $52 million; Sudan $45 million; Libya $27 million; XAF Zone $27 million; Angola $9 million; Mozambique $6 million; Burundi $3 million and Zambia $1 million.

IATA explained that the main cause of the blocked fund is the inaccessibility to foreign exchange (forex) by operators as the countries' economies are suffering due to COVID-19 pandemic, adding that most countries are struggling economically with its attendant effect on global airline industry.

IATA has been at the forefront of the campaign, soliciting governments' support for the aviation industry in order to salvage the situation.

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