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Airline Operators Count Losses As Forex Scarcity, Naira Devaluation Trap Aircraft Abroad

Several commercial aircraft in the nation’s aviation industry are stranded abroad due to lack of access to foreign exchange at the official market, foreign exchange scarcity, devaluation of naira and lockdown in some foreign countries where the checks are going on.

Scores of aircraft are stranded abroad amidst the second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic, and the situation has been compounded by the sharp rise in foreign exchange rates, which has disrupted their operations.
C-checks are carried out on aircraft in the Middle East, America, Europe, while few airlines use the Ethiopian Airlines’ facilities at Addis Ababa in Ethiopia.

The checks are, however, carried out in foreign currency, for instance, it costs a min­imum of $1 million (about N470 million) to carry out a C-check on aircraft, while such checks may cost as high as $2 million (N940 million), depending on the scope of work to be carried out on such an aircraft.

However, with the gradual easing of the lockdown, many operators hope for timely delivery of aircraft that were stranded abroad during the lockdown when most Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul (MRO) facilities were shut down, but lack of access to foreign exchange at official rate, forex scarcity and devaluation of naira have shot up their expenses.

LEADERSHIP checks have shown that no fewer than 50 air­craft are flown by about eight scheduled operators in the country at the moment and the Nigeria Civil Avia­tion Authority (NCAA) has imposed a calendar limit for a C-Check at every 18 months.

However, the situation with the aircraft abroad has affected airline operation and servicing of new routes due to the capacity gap created by the absence in the nation’s airspace.

Airpeace, the largest carrier in the country still has 17 aircraft trapped abroad while undergoing C- checks. Also, aircraft in the Arik fleet have also been trapped abroad for several months due to mandatory maintenance.
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