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2009-07-11:NCAA Boss Predicts Doom For Aviation Industry

By Simon Ateba& Funmilola Oyelola

Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) Director General, Dr. Harold Demuren, yesterday, warned that despite successes recorded in the aviation sector in recent years, the industry in Nigeria might be heading to nowhere.

Demuren who was a special guest of honour at the fourth safety, security and service summit organised by Travel and Business magazine and held at the Murtala Muhammed Airport Terminal Two (MMA2),Ikeja, Lagos, lamented: “the work force is aging, the infrastructure is decaying, the funding is insufficient and unless we continue to train pilots, air traffic controllers and others, there is no future for the aviation industry in this country.”

He starkly disclosed that out of several thousands of pilots operating in Nigeria, less than 800 of them are Nigerians, with the rest coming from foreign countries, especially Europe.

Even then, he said, most Nigerian pilots are aged between 50 and 55 years old. With retirement age at 60 or 65 years, Demuren said, the country might be left without Nigerian pilots and this, he added, might be catastrophic.

“It’s bad, nobody should deceive you. Right now I think very clearly, we can say that the average age is about 50 or 55; that is not good for any industry. Pilots, NGS, air traffic controllers, we need to do a lot, there is no other way forward,” Demuren said.

“Nigerian pilots who are presently active are over 800 now, but we need more.Overall, foreign pilots on our register are several thousands, but age has caught up with some of them. You see, when you are over 60 or 65, we don’t think you can fly again. But we are also having young pilots coming up. We are also training some from NCAA.”

Demuren further disclosed that with brand new aircraft coming into Nigeria and other new equipment brought from Europe and America, the country will need people with expertise, which Nigeria does not have at the moment.

“As the new aircraft are coming in, they come with their challenges. We have a huge influx of foreigners coming in but I said safety cannot be compromised, the rest is secondary.”

Demuren also disclosed that the financial state of airlines would soon be made public with allegations that some of them have collapsed due to the current financial meltdown.

In the same vein, former Nigerian Ambassador to Portugal, Mr. Michael Ononaiye, urged the government to upgrade facilities at Nigerian airports, describing them as an eyesore to air travellers. He added that Nigerian airports must meet international standard and blamed the ugly situation on the polical leadership in the country.

Speaking on the Consumers Rights, Ambassador Ononaiye remarked that Nigerian travellers, most times, do not get value for their money while their complaints are not always addressed properly.

“Stewards don’t attend to passengers’ needs, while on board no airlines officials are available when passengers are looking for them,” he said.

Source:PM News

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