Group to FG: Use $100m BASA fund for safety facilities

BASA funds should be used for critical safety infrastructure development

Aviation industry pressure group, Aviation Round Table (ART), has called on the Federal Government to ensure better management of the Bilateral Air Services Agreement (BASA) funds, which are funds that accrued from the nation’s air services agreement.

President of the group, Mr. Gbenga Olowo, made this call in a statement made available to New Telegraph.

He advised that the funds should be well managed to provide critical aviation safety facilities.

Olowo called for the establishment of an inter-governmental agency stakeholder group led by the regulator for the administration and management of BASA funds and for implementing our aviation development plans.

In 2014, BASA fund, which accruals had risen to over $100 million, was tampered with and allegedly diverted to fund projects outside the aviation sector and one that was not clearly accounted for.

The funds, which are paid by foreign airlines operating into Nigeria, stem from the commercial agreement between Nigeria and host countries of the international carriers may have been depleted without definite projects executed with the funds.

It is domiciled with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), but managed by the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), with the director general as signatory.

In 2014, the then Ministry of Aviation hinted that Nigeria may abolish commercial agreement, an offshoot of BASA, which defines the amount of money an airline should pay for each passenger, but indications show that this was not carried through.

Oluwo said: “Bilateral Air Service Agreements (BASAs), Multilateral Air Service Agreements (MASAs) and International Routes are the nation’s infrastructure and assets, while air traffic rights are like oil blocks and therefore, should not be treated with levity in administration or by unilateral exploitation. Therefore, BASA funds should be used for critical-safety infrastructure development as provided for in the Civil Aviation Act 2006.”

On the establishment of the local Maintenance Repair Overhaul facility, he said: “There is a need for local airlines to pull resources together and establish a local maintenance hangar as a way of minimizing their aircraft maintenance cost.”

He disclosed that for Nigerian airlines to attract funding facilities from financiers and institutions that are predominantly based outside Nigeria, the carriers must be within parameters of viability, capacity and the potential to earn more revenue from commercial agreements in view of the weakness of the local currency.

The group also called for regulatory consolidation process that increases the minimum fleet for AOC issuance for scheduled passenger airline operations from two aircraft to 20 aircraft.

Also, to enhance safety and security around the nation’s airports, the industry pressure group resolved that airports need to put perimeter fences to adequately comply with the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) Annex 17, stressing that they have called for deployment of security gadgets and invisible security presence around the airports to further boost security.

“There is a need to have surveillance cameras in and around every airport in Nigeria to be complimented with the establishment of Aviation Industry Cybersecurity Emergency Response Team (CERT) to enhance Aviation Security,” the group said.

“Additionally, we need to enhance the airport perimeter fences where there are no security fences to sufficiently comply with Annex 17.”

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