Lagos — Captain Musa Nuhu is the Director General (DG) of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA). He assumed office at a time the global aviation industry was on the verge of being shut down following the COVID-19 pandemic. In this interview, he speaks on the challenges of civil aviation regulations during the pandemic and the effort being made to pull through it. What is the health status of Nigerian airlines with COVID-19? The challenge facing airlines is not only in Nigeria; it is a global thing. In the airline industry, the profit margin is very minimal. If you make five percent profit in the business, you are considered to have done excellently well. However, with COVID-19 and other difficulties, airlines' financial positions are not in their best. It is a global phenomenon and there are so many other issues that affect the financial health of airlines that are neither in the control of the Ministry of Aviation nor in the control of the civil aviation regulatory body. For instance, the provision of foreign exchange (forex); it doesn't come from us. If a country's foreign earnings go down, the central bank prioritizes. Due to a lack of aircraft maintenance organizations, pilots have to go outside the country for recurrent training, and that entails a lot of foreign currencies. So it is not easy. Also, Jet A1 (fuel) is a major factor that airlines have been having difficulties with. The ministry tried by going to the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) when this government came on board and Nigeria owed foreign airlines about $600 million in arrears. The minister, through consultations, was able to get that off our back and all the foreign airlines were paid. We visited the NNPC to see what kind of arrangement could be made for the production of Jet A1, and in addition, the interest rate, because airlines go borrowing at a very high-interest rate. These are the micro and macro factors that affect the health of the airlines. Nigerian airlines have faced ill-treatment abroad, especially for new routes, how is NCAA helping with this? I advise the airlines that if they are going to another country to negotiate their services, they should involve the regulatory body, the Ministry of Aviation, and their embassy in that country. A lot of airlines go and do the deal themselves. Reports say NCAA's autonomy is under threat because of interference from the ministry, is this true? The NCAA has autonomy in terms of regulations, but it cannot totally remove itself from the Ministry of Aviation. The ministry is responsible for policy development for the industry and we implement those policies through our regulations. So we must have a line of communication and consultation with the ministry, and also if you look at the organizational structure of NCAA, we have the minister, the board and then the DG, so we cannot totally isolate ourselves from the ministry, but l can assure you in terms of implementing regulations and otherwise, NCAA is the only body that is doing that and we are doing that without any sort of interference from the ministry.