FG to cub private jet proliferation with high charges

By The Citizen

The Federal Executive Council FEC, Wednesday approved the new National Civil Aviation policy that will ensure that all private jet owners in the country pay higher charges in accordance with international best practices.

Minister of Aviation, Princess Stella Oduah who briefed State House Correspondents after the weekly FEC meeting at the presidential villa, Abuja said the existing aviation policy which was last revised eleven years ago did not provide for strict enforcement of payment of charges by private jet operators.

She said the private jet operators were not paying what they should pay.

According to her, “the question is not of taking advantages, it is a question of doing the right thing. Are they paying what they are supposed to pay? The response is no they are not.  But we want to make sure that they do pay what they are supposed to pay. These are part of what the policy is addressing. We want to make sure that private jets are private jets and commercial jets are commercial jets and each will operate within the boxes they are meant to operate so we don’t want to overcharge anyone, we don't also want to undercharge. We want to do what is global standards”.

The policy she noted also addresses issues pertaining to the rights of passengers and owners of aircrafts, while spelling out clear guidelines on general aviation.

The new policy has captures enforcement of rules to enhance standards.

With the revised policy, the Accident Investigation Bureau AIB, would now ensure that its responsibilities go beyond investigation of  accidents but implementation of outcomes and findings.

Oduah said, “You must all agree with me that since then several things have taken place. The security situation has changed and so the challenge has become more paramount that we must be intune with the global standards. We had to also revise the policy to ensure that safety is given optimum importance in the way we do things, definitely technology is involved in using the airports and so you can see its very important that we enhance the technology that we have within our airports and our airports facilities and so several of these was the essence in which we had to quickly review our aviation policy.

“In doing that major highlights were general aviation. When we talk about general aviation we are talking about the private jets. As of today we have about a hundred of them and having them we have no law, no policy no regulation to make sure that they are operating the way they should operate within ICAO laws and our aviation policy. But most importantly to be in tandem with global best policies, we also had to highlight passengers bill of right. What that means is that all passengers rights are being protected and at the same time the rights of the airlines operators should be protected as well so that you do not have conflict between passengers and operators. The policy has to take into cognisance the fact that you must have healthy operators. It is only when you have healthy operators that safety can be given the regards that it should be given. So in doing that you have to create a new directorate that focuses on economic and commercial regulations. For us it is very important. Again when an airline is unhealthy they will have difficulty in compliance as far as the safety regulations are concerned, but the policy has to address those issues.

“We also highlighted the bilateral relations that we have. What has been happening in the past, we had bilateral relations that are supposed to be reciprocal in nature but in practice it is not. We get paid royalties which does not resolve our problems so we had to change it to where we have full benefits of our bilateral relations which regards to airline operations.

“Then that of national carrier, to have a policy that really addresses how we accomplish the national carrier that is in tandem with what Mr. President had promised, a private sector driven national carrier that represents who we are, what we are and our aspirations are taken into cognizance. General safety and security at the airport, how best we can address them and monitor them because it has become a challenge in view of the new security issues that has emerged.

“Generally we talked about Accident Investigation Bureau (AIB). The policy was very elaborate on how AIB should operate. AIB should not just investigate accidents and incidents they should ensure that the outcome of their report is fully implemented. So AIB will police NCAA to ensure that all the outcome of their invesitagion is adequately addressed. Finally it is the cognizance of the need to have a national climate policy, the policy addresses the framework that will drive that issue very well. We have been having climate issues and it's not going to stop so we must have policies that will address these issues”.