There are indications that new airline startup, Cally Air may have its Air Operator’s Certificate (AOC) delayed following the status of the two Boeing aircraft that make up its fleet.
Cally Air, operated by Aero Contractors on behalf of Cross River state, only began operations on July 15, 2021, covering Lagos, Kano, and Abuja with two B737-300s.
The airline had on April 6, 2021 took delivery of its first aircraft, B737-300, 5N-BYR bought from Magnetic Leasing. The second aircraft, B737-300, 5N-BYQ, was also leased from Magnetic Leasing and delivered on April 28, 2021.
The 22-year-old jet is the first of two former airBaltic B737-300s secured from Magnetic Leasing by the new airline, which is a public-private partnership (PPP) between the Cross River state and Dana Air, in a bid to boost tourism to the state.
Configured with 144 all-economy seating, 5N-BYR previously flew with airBaltic, as YL-BBR from March 31, 2009, to June 30, 2020, whereafter it was stored.
TheWILL has, however, found out that of the two Boeing 737-300 aircraft, one is alleged to have developed a minor fault while the other will be due for maintenance check by the end of September, 2021.
What this means is that that, when the second aircraft leaves for maintenance checks, the new airline will be left with no airworthy aircraft, a situation, aviation experts have said may affect the issuance of the AOC.
An AOC is the approval granted by a national aviation authority (NAA) to an aircraft operator to allow it to use aircraft for commercial purposes. This requires the operator to have personnel, assets and systems in place to ensure the safety of its employees and the general public. The certificate will list the aircraft types and registrations to be used, for what purpose and in what area; specific airports or geographic region.
Commenting, the General Manager, Public Relations, Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), Mr Sam Adurogboye told TheWILL that the AOC issue is very serious business with stages that no airline can bypass.
Adurogboye who said that he was yet to get an update on the matter said the AOC acquisition process has five stages: pre applicant phase, compliance phase, demonstration phase, inspection phase and certification phase.
Although, Adurogboye did not confirm whether the airline’s aircraft is faulty or not, he affirmed that the NCAA ensures all airlines pass through the five stages for acquiring an AOC.
Earlier, the Director General, NCAA, Captain Musa Nuhu had given an update on the number of new applicants seeking AOCs.
According to Nuhu, there are three to four intending airlines, all at different stages of the process..
“The domestic industry in Nigeria is growing. People don’t feel comfortable going on the road, so, they prefer to travel by air. Also, the interconnectivity is growing between all facets of the corners of the country,” Nuhu said.
“That is why I said when we are doing our regulations, we discuss with stakeholders; when people have issues like this, we sit down and discuss and we will find a way of adopting or changing our regulations to reflect such matters without compromising safety, security, efficiency and effectiveness in the system.”
Meanwhile, Cross River state Governor Ben Ayade had during the celebrations to mark the airline’s commencement of daily flight operations from Calabar Airport to Abuja and Lagos on August 1, 2021, said Cally Air will serve the new Obudu International Airport, which is expected to be complete by December 2021.
Ayade said the aircraft will be operated and maintained by Aero Contractors until Cally Air receives its AOC.
“It takes six months for the licence to come.
“We will continue with Aero Contractors until Cally Air has its full management team and a full AOC,” Ayade said.