Private Aircraft Operators Carry Passengers For Reward In Nigeria, Says Operator

Private Aircraft Operators Carry Passengers For Reward In Nigeria, Says Operator

There are private aircraft operators in Nigeria, who carry passengers and get paid for doing so.

This is according to Capt. Ibrahim Mshelia, the Chairman, West Link Airlines. Speaking in an interview with aviation journalists, he said there had been occasions where privately registered aircraft carried passengers that hitherto, intended to travel with his airline, and they eventually paid such company for the service.

“I have been into chartered flights before I got the Air Operators’ Certificate (AOC) for the West Link Airlines. I was managing a company before I set up my own. Before then, I had always been in the advocacy of doing the right thing and that is why I decided to set up my own airline. To tell you whether it is true or not, I can tell you that it is true because as a certified operator, I know most of the passengers who are regular. There was a time some of them complained to me that I charged more, but that they had got it cheaper. One of them told me the name of the airline, but I told him that I don’t know which certified airline will charge you less than what I am charging you. If the airline is charging lesser, maybe it is not going to the market to buy the same fish I am selling. He might be buying the fish free, and cooking the same pepper soup for you.

The fact is that government should be more worried because it is losing a lot of revenues. I pay the 5 per cent Ticket Sales Charge (TSC). Even if I don’t have the cash with me, I owe it and I must pay it and I can’t jump it. But those that are doing these sharp practices are not captured in the NCAA data. So, NCAA cannot go after them.

Then, I think the Department of State Security (DSS) should have intervened because this was purely economic sabotage, for them to remain for this long, even when the former Director-General of NCAA suspended some of them.

That is why I feel that if the Director-General of NCAA has a full autonomy, then he would do his job without looking at the body language of the minister. The passengers are also endangering themselves by flying private jets because no insurance would want to compensate the victims when the accident occurs. The NCAA should ask the DSS to check the operations. I can tell you that within three to four weeks, the truth will be known.

What business do you operate when you fly three of four times in a day? Yet, the airline will claim it is flying private,” explained Mshelia.

On the call for airlines merger in Nigeria, he said:I think we are joking. It is not a culture like Nigeria that airlines will merge. We will never be able to merge because everybody comes with his own model and we will never agree on models. For instance, look at the Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON) today. We don’t have a body as far as I am concerned because some people think their ideas should be superior to others. In a group, you don’t think like that, you have to convince people to marry your idea.”

“However, the issue about merger in Nigeria is that people want to have ownership and die with it without transferring it to expatriates that can handle it.

We blame a lot of things for the death of airlines in Nigeria, which are probably not the case for the death of airlines. The most important of them all is the will of the government to have a robust aviation industry. That is not there. If government is actually interested in developing aviation, it will be there in its policies. There will be deliberate policies to grow the industry and this General Aviation will be the solution to it. That is why for me, I advocate for complete autonomy of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) under the current administration. This will do a lot of good for the industry and some of these challenges will be checkmated.”


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Albinus Chiedu

Albinus Chiedu is a journalist, aviation media consultant, events management professional, and author. He has practiced journalism since 2000.

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