Recent developments and trends
Are there any notable recent developments or trends in the aviation sector in your jurisdiction?
The Nigeria Civil Aviation Regulations were updated in 2015 to incorporate the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) amendments into the ICAO Standard and Recommended Practices. A new part (Part 20) was added to the regulations to conform to ICAO Annex 19 on Safety Management. Part 20 provides for safety management functions relating to the safe operation of aircraft.
What is the primary domestic legislation governing the aviation industry in your jurisdiction?
The primary domestic legislation governing the aviation industry in Nigeria includes the Civil Aviation Act 2006 and the Nigeria Civil Aviation Regulations 2015.
What international aviation agreements has your jurisdiction concluded?
Nigeria is a party to several bilateral and multilateral agreements. The multilateral agreements include:
- the Convention for the Suppression of Unlawful Seizure of Aircraft (Montreal, 1999);
- the Convention for the Unification of Certain Rules Relating to International Carriage by Air (Warsaw, 1929);
- the Convention on International Recognition of Rights in Aircraft (Geneva, 1948);
- the Convention on International Interests in Mobile Equipment (Cape Town, 2001);
- the Protocol to the Convention on International Interests in Mobile Equipment on Matters Specific to Aircraft Equipment (Cape Town, 2001);
- the Convention on International Civil Aviation (Chicago, 1944); and
- the Banjul Accord Group agreements and Yamoussoukro Decision.
Nigeria has also entered bilateral air service agreements with approximately 90 countries.
Which government bodies regulate the aviation industry and what is the extent of their powers?
The primary aviation regulatory body in Nigeria is the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority, established under the Civil Aviation Act 2006.
The authority is responsible for regulating air navigation in Nigeria. Its powers include:
- registration and inspection of aircraft in Nigeria;
- issuance, validation, renewal, extension or variation of certificates and licences;
- inspection and regulation of aerodromes and aircraft factories; and
- personnel licensing.
The authority is further empowered to make regulations with regard to civil aviation generally.
The Civil Aviation Act gives the minister for civil aviation supervisory authority over the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority. The minister is responsible for the formulation of policies and strategies for the promotion and encouragement of civil aviation in Nigeria and empowered to give directions to the authority on certain matters specified in the act.
The Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria, established by the Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria Act 1996, is the body responsible for maintaining and managing airports in Nigeria. Its principal functions include the development, provision and maintenance of all necessary services and facilities at airports and within the Nigerian airspace, for the safe, orderly and economic operation of air transport.
The Nigerian Airspace Management Agency was established under the Nigeria Airspace Management Agency Act 1999. Its functions include the provision of air traffic services in Nigeria, including air traffic control, visual and non-visual aids, aeronautical telecoms services and electricity supplies relating thereto.
Air carrier operations
What procedural and documentary requirements must air carriers meet in order to operate in your jurisdiction?
Air carriers must obtain the relevant licence to engage in air transport business in Nigeria.
Air carriers engaged in scheduled air transport between two or more states in Nigeria (domestic) must obtain an air transport licence. An application for such a licence is made to the director general of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority and must contain certain particulars, including:
- the type of air services to be provided;
- the proposed operational base; and
- the number and type of proposed aircraft to be used.
The documentary requirements include:
- duly completed application forms;
- certified true copies of its certificate of incorporation;
- particulars of directors;
- existing tax clearance certificates; and
- detailed business plans.
Air carriers providing non-scheduled or charter air services must hold an air transport licence or airline operating permit. An application for an airline operating permit is made to the director general along with the abovementioned information and documents.
Before operation commences, licence and permit holders must obtain an air operator certificate and meet certain requirements, including providing adequate insurance cover for passengers, cargo and third parties. Permit holders engaged in cargo operations must obtain air operator certificates from the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority before operations commence.
Foreign airlines engaged in scheduled operations into and out of Nigeria must obtain a foreign carrier operating permit and be designated under an existing bilateral air services agreement between its government and Nigeria. It must submit the necessary supporting documents through diplomatic channels to the Nigerian Aeronautical Authority and fulfil Part 10 of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Regulations before the permit will be issued. The information and documents required include:
- details of the airline;
- the airline’s aircraft documents (eg, a certified true copy of a valid air operator certificate and associated operations specifications issued to the foreign air operator by the foreign authority, evidence of comprehensive insurance and a certificate of aircraft registration); and
- the airline security manual.
Foreign airlines conducting non-scheduled (charter) operations into and out of Nigeria must obtain Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority flight clearance. Further, foreign airlines engaged in non-scheduled passenger operations must carry out operations in conjunction with a Nigerian Air Travel Organiser’s Licence holder. A foreign airline engaged in non-scheduled cargo operations into and out of Nigeria must obtain authority approval and pay a royalty.
Nigerian airlines on international routes must obtain an air carrier’s permit. In addition to obtaining safety certificates, Nigerian airlines on regional and international routes must also join the International Air Transport Association and its clearing house and have adequate financial capability for such operations. An application for designation on international routes should be made in writing to the minister and contain particulars such as details of routes to be operated, the number and type of aircraft and points of departure and entry into Nigeria. The supporting documents should include:
- certified true copies of the certificate of incorporation;
- certified true copies of the memorandum and articles of association;
- a copy of a valid air transport licence; and
- details of insurance policies.
Ownership and control
Do any nationality or other requirements or restrictions apply to ownership or control of air carriers operating in your jurisdiction?
There are nationality requirements and restrictions regarding ownership of air carriers in Nigeria. Section 33(1) of the Civil Aviation Act provides that a licence, permit, certificate or other authorisation sought for the purposes of undertaking air transport will not be issued unless the applicant is a Nigerian citizen, or a company or body corporate registered in Nigeria with Nigeria as its principal place of business and controlled by Nigerian nationals.
However, this is without prejudice to the ability of foreign air operators from contracting states to the Convention on International Civil Aviation (the Chicago Convention) to operate in Nigeria in accordance with Part 10 of the Nigeria Civil Aviation Regulations.
Part 18 of the regulations provides that the majority shareholding of applicants for the air transport licence and airline operating permit must be held by Nigerians. Further, for foreign airlines applying to operate scheduled services into and out of Nigeria, majority ownership must be vested in the nationals of the state designating the airline.
What financial thresholds must air carriers meet to obtain operating authorisation?
Air carriers must have the following minimum paid-up share capital:
• N500 million for carriers engaged in domestic operations;
• N1 billion for carriers engaged in regional operations; and
• N2 billion for carriers engaged in international operations.
What is the required level of insurance coverage for air carrier operations?
Every aircraft operator must maintain adequate insurance covering its liability under the Civil Aviation Act and to third parties.
The minimum third-party liability insurance limit for aircraft engaged in operations in Nigeria is calculated in relation to the maximum take-off weight (MTOW) of an aircraft. Part 18 of the Nigeria Civil Aviation Regulations provides for the minimum third liability limit for each category based on the aircraft’s MTOW. The minimum insurance cover for aircraft engaged in the carriage of passengers, mail and cargo in Nigeria is calculated in relation to the aircraft’s available capacity.
What safety requirements apply to air carrier operations, including with regard to professional and technical certifications?
Part 17 of the regulations regulates aviation security and designates the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority as the appropriate authority for aviation security in Nigeria. The regulations empower the authority to direct every airport and aircraft operator to establish and implement an airline operator security programme appropriate to meet the authority’s requirements. The regulations cover all areas of aviation security, including:
- aerodrome security;
- aircraft operator security;
- cargo and regulated agent security;
- flight catering operator security;
- tenant-restricted area security; and
- other miscellaneous security issues.
One of the key instruments of authority regulation is the issuance or revalidation of licences such as the air operator's certificate, the air transport licence and the airline operating permit. Part 2 of the regulations also makes extensive provisions for the requirements for issuing, renewal and re-issue of aviation personnel licences, ratings, authorisations and certificates.
Part 20 of the regulations requires the authority to establish a state safety programme in order to achieve an acceptable level of safety performance in civil aviation. As part of its state safety programme, the authority will require all air carriers to implement a safety management system.
What environmental obligations apply to air carrier operations?
The environmental obligations applicable to air carriers in Nigeria are provided for in Part 16 of the regulations. It provides for noise standards for the issue of noise certificates, fuel venting standards for the issue of fuel venting certificates and emission standards for the issue of emission certificates. This regulation applies to all aircraft registered and operating in Nigeria and certification will be granted or validated by the authority for an aircraft on the basis of satisfactory evidence that the aircraft complies with requirements stipulated in the regulations.
Air traffic control
How are air traffic control services regulated in your jurisdiction?
Air traffic control services are provided by the Nigerian Airspace Management Authority. The Nigeria Civil Aviation Regulations make extensive provisions for air traffic control and require a pilot in command to request and obtain air traffic control clearance through the submission of a flight plan to an air traffic control facility before operating a controlled flight or a portion of a controlled flight. The regulations also require the pilot in command to inform air traffic control of his or her scheduled path and maintain two-way communication at all times. The pilot is prohibited from deviating from air traffic control instructions except in an emergency.
Do any licensing requirements apply to specific routes?
For domestic flights, there are no licensing requirements for specific routes. Air carriers are free to fly any route within the country, subject to giving notice of the flight schedule to the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority, the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria and the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency. However, international routes are subject to air service agreements between Nigeria and other countries.
Are any public service obligations in place with respect to remote destinations?
No public service obligations are in place with respect to remote destinations in Nigeria.
Do any special provisions apply to charter services?
There are no special provisions for charter services other than the general regulations under the Nigeria Civil Aviation Regulations for air carriers seeking to operate charter services. Air carriers seeking to operate charter services must obtain air operating permits or air operating certificates and provide adequate insurance cover for passengers, cargo and third parties. Domestic airlines engaged in non-scheduled operations are prohibited from selling tickets or conducting any form of scheduled operations and must submit their client invoice and passenger manifest to the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority for each flight.
Foreign airlines must obtain flight clearance from the authority to conduct charter operations into and out of Nigeria. Foreign airlines engaged in charter passenger operations into and out of Nigeria can operate only in conjunction with a Nigerian Air Travel Organisers' Licence holder. The regulations also make provisions for non-scheduled cargo operations.
What taxes apply to the provision of air carrier services?
The taxes which apply to air carrier services include:
- value added tax at 5% for all invoiced services payable to the Federal Inland Revenue Service; and
- air ticket and cargo sales tax at 5%, to be collected by the air carrier and paid to the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority.
Air carriers must also pay levies charged by the authority, the Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria and the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency. Generally, companies registered in Nigeria are also subject to other forms of tax, including company income tax, payroll tax and education tax.
Consumer protection and liability
Are airfares regulated in your jurisdiction?
Section 30(4)(d) of the Civil Aviation Act requires every Nigerian and foreign carrier to file and keep open for public inspection, tariffs showing all rates, fares and charges imposed by the carrier. In addition, the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority may approve or reject tariffs so filed if they are inconsistent with approved rates specified by the authority under the act and the Nigeria Civil Aviation Regulations or rules and orders. However, there are no such rules or orders at present, as airfares are deregulated in practice.
An air carrier must obtain authority approval to introduce and increase add-on charges or surcharges. All tariffs must be filed at least seven days before the rates enter into effect.
What rules and liabilities are air carriers subject to in respect of:
(a) Flight delays and cancellations?
The rules and liabilities for air carriers for a flight delay and cancellation depend on whether it is a domestic or international flight. For flight delays, the duration and time of the delay determine the assistance to be provided by air carriers.
The necessary assistance for domestic flight delays includes:
- providing reasons for the delay within 30 minutes of the scheduled departure time;
- free refreshments (eg, water and soft drinks);
- two telephone calls, text messages and emails;
- immediate cash reimbursement of the full cost of the unutilised ticket at the purchase price.
Where the delay is between 10:00pm and 4:00am, or at a time when the airport is closed at the point of departure or arrival, hotel accommodation and transport between the airport and place of accommodation must be provided.
For delays of international flights, air carrier assistance should include:
- compensation of at least 30% of the passenger’s ticket price;
- two telephone calls, text messages or emails free of charge;
- hotel accommodation; and
- transport between the airport and place of accommodation.
In case of cancellation, all passengers must be offered assistance for domestic and international flights (eg, refreshments, meals, hotel accommodation, transport and telephone calls). Such assistance is not mandatory where:
- in respect of domestic flights, passengers are informed of the cancellation at least 24 hours before the scheduled time of departure; and
- in respect of international flights, passengers are informed of the cancellation at least seven days before the scheduled time of departure or where they are informed less than seven days before the scheduled time of departure, such passengers are offered re-routing according to terms specified in the Nigeria Civil Aviation Regulations.
Passengers are also entitled to immediate cash reimbursement for cancelled domestic flights. For international flights, passengers are entitled to reimbursement within fourteen days at the purchase price for the part or parts of the journey not made or for the part or parts already made if the flight is no longer serving any purpose in relation to the passenger’s original travel plan, together with, when relevant, a return flight to the first point of departure at the earliest opportunity.
When passengers are informed of the cancellation, an explanation must be given concerning possible alternative transport. An air carrier need not pay compensation for a cancellation if it can prove that the cancellation was caused by extraordinary circumstances beyond its control.
(b) Oversold flights?
Where a flight is oversold, the airline must ensure that the smallest practicable number of persons holding confirmed seats reservations on that flight are denied boarding involuntarily and request volunteers for denied boarding before applying its boarding priority.
Volunteers must be compensated with at least 25% of the fare or ticket price for domestic flights and 30% of the ticket price for international flights. Volunteers are entitled to immediate cash reimbursement for domestic flights and reimbursement within fourteen days for international flights of the full cost of unused ticket at the purchase price for the part or parts of the journey not made, and for the part or parts already made if the flight is no longer serving any purpose in relation to the passenger’s original travel plan, together with, when relevant, a return flight to the first point of departure at the earliest opportunity, or re-routing to their final destination.
In relation to each passenger solicited to volunteer for denied boarding, the air carrier must disclose all material restrictions and advise whether he or she is in danger of being involuntarily denied boarding and, if so, the compensation that the air carrier must pay if the passenger is involuntarily denied boarding.
If an insufficient number of volunteers come forward, the carrier may deny boarding to other passengers in accordance with its boarding priority procedures.
(c) Denied boarding?
If boarding is denied to passengers involuntarily, the air carrier must immediately compensate the affected passengers in the same way as the volunteers. Affected passengers are entitled to refreshments, meals, hotel accommodation, transport and telephone calls.
(d) Access for disabled passengers?
Air carriers must give priority to persons with reduced mobility and anyone accompanying them, unaccompanied minors and families (maximum of two adults) where at least one child is aged five years or under.
(e) Lost, damaged or destroyed luggage?
Where a passenger’s baggage, whether carried on the same or a later flight, is lost or suffers any damage attributable to the air carrier, the passenger is entitled to compensation in accordance with the provisions of the Convention for the Unification of Certain Rules relating to International Carriage by Air.
For compensation purposes, a passenger’s baggage is presumed to have been permanently and totally lost if, within seven days for domestic flights and 21 days for international flights (counted from when the passenger or consignee should have received the baggage), the baggage is not delivered to the passenger or consignee. Checked baggage fees will also be refunded if the baggage is not delivered to the passenger within 24 hours of the flight’s arrival.
(f) Retention and protection of passenger data?
There is no primary data protection legislation in Nigeria. However, the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 guarantees the right to privacy of citizens, their homes, correspondence, telephone conversations and telegraphic communications. The Nigerian Information Technology Development Agency – which is responsible for planning, developing and promoting the use of information technology in Nigeria – has also issued draft guidelines on data protection.
What rules and liabilities apply to the air carriage of cargo?
The rules and liabilities applicable to an air carrier for the carriage, damage, delay, destruction and loss of cargo is contained in the Convention for the Unification of Certain Rules relating to International Carriage by Air.
Part 8 of the Nigeria Civil Aviation Regulations also provides that cargo may be carried in a passenger compartment only if it is stowed in an approved cargo bin that meets certain requirements contained in the regulations.
Marketing and advertising
Do any special rules apply to the marketing and advertising of aviation services?
Part 19 of the regulations provides rules for the marketing and advertising of aviation services. All air carriers, tour operators or their agents must ensure that the price stated for any air transport, package or package component is the entire price to be paid by the passenger to the air carrier, tour operator or agent. Failure by air carriers, tour operators or their agents to do this will be declared by the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority as misleading and the air carrier will be liable to pay a civil penalty, as well as seizure of all inappropriate excess gains and profit from the advertisement or promotional scheme. Criminal referrals are also possible.
All air carriers must file all adverts and promotions with the authority. Further, an airline, tour operator or agent cannot charge or collect any additional fare (whether taxes, commission, brokerage fees or administrative charges) from passengers not expressly displayed and described in the marketing material or advertisement.
Do any special rules apply to consumer complaints handling in the aviation industry?
Part 19 of the Nigeria Civil Aviation Regulations provides special rules for complaints by passengers. A passenger may lodge a complaint with the consumer protection directorate of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority, or any other competent person designated by the authority, after the consumer has notified the air carrier of such a breach and the complaint remains unresolved. Air carriers must have a designated officer for the purpose of receiving and resolving passenger complaints.
On receipt of the complaint, the authority will conduct an investigation, further to which an assessment report will be prepared and recommendations made. The assessment report will be reviewed by the authority, which may:
- strike out the complaint;
- advise parties to use mediation;
- determine that the complaint should be made subject to the authority’s administrative hearing procedure; or
- take another action that it deems necessary.
What are the requirements for entry in the domestic aircraft register?
Under Part 4 of the Nigeria Civil Aviation Regulations, an aircraft is eligible for registration in Nigeria if it is owned by a citizen, permanent resident, corporation doing business in Nigeria, a Nigerian government entity or has been leased to one of the aforementioned. The aircraft must not be registered under the laws of any other state and must not be more than 22 years old, subject to an exception for aircraft used exclusively for general aviation purposes. A person wishing to register an aircraft must submit an application with supporting documents to the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority.
Mortgages and encumbrances
Is there a domestic register for aircraft mortgages, encumbrances and other interests? If so, what are the requirements and legal effects of registration?
There is no register of aircraft mortgages, encumbrances and other interests. The regulations provide that the authority must establish and maintain a Legal Interests in Aircraft Registry, which for each aircraft registered in Nigeria lists proprietary rights, interests, liens and other dealings. However, there is no such registry as yet. Such interests can be registered when applying for registration.
As Nigeria is a party to the Geneva Convention (Convention on the International Recognition of Rights in Aircraft 1948) and the Cape Town Convention (Convention on International Interests in Mobile Equipment 2001), all rights of property in aircraft and mobile equipment and other interests are recognised.
What rules and procedures govern the detention of aircraft?
Section 27(3) of the Civil Aviation Act gives the authority the power to take all steps reasonably necessary, including the power to ground any aircraft in order to ensure compliance with the act. Section 52 provides for detention of a foreign aircraft on the basis of infringement of certain intellectual property entitled to protection in Nigeria until the owner makes a deposit. The tribunal and procedure are set by the minister of aviation.
Pursuant to the specific power granted under Section 53 of the act, Rule 184.108.40.206 of the regulations provides that an aircraft which is involved in a violation for which a civil penalty has been imposed or may be imposed on its owner or operator may be subject to detention by the authority in accordance with its enforcement procedures.
Schedule 5 of the act incorporates the Convention on International Interests in Mobile Equipment, which recognises (Article 39) the right of a state entity, inter-governmental organisation or any other private provider of public services to arrest or detain an object under the law of that state for payment of amounts owed to such entity, organisation or provider, directly relating to those services in respect of that object or another object.
Safety and maintenance
What rules and procedures govern aircraft safety and maintenance?
Part 2 of the regulations provides for personnel licensing requirements for maintenance engineers, while Part 3 regulates approved training for maintenance personnel. Part 5 prescribes regulations on airworthiness, as well as aircraft maintenance and inspection.
Under Part 5, all aircraft registered in Nigeria or operating within Nigeria must receive a certificate of airworthiness on application to the authority. Aircraft that are not airworthy are ineligible for operations. Part 5 also includes requirements for maintaining an aircraft in an airworthy condition. Persons are prohibited from performing maintenance, preventive maintenance or modifications on an aircraft other than as prescribed in the regulations. Certain failures, malfunctions and defects must be reported by owners or operators of aircraft to the authority. All aircraft must be maintained in accordance with an approved maintenance programme. The regulations also regulate persons authorised to perform inspections and require the keeping of maintenance and inspection records in a prescribed form. Part 6 provides for the registration and monitoring of approved maintenance organisations in Nigeria.
What is the state of regulation on unmanned aerial vehicles (drones) in your jurisdiction?
Part 8 of the regulations relates to the certification and operation of remotely piloted aircraft or unmanned aerial vehicles. The authority has issued Guidelines and Requirements for the Grant of a Permit for Aerial Aviation Services. No one can launch a remotely piloted aircraft or unmanned aerial vehicle in Nigerian airspace without obtaining requisite approvals from the authority and the Office of the National Security Adviser. Operators must comply with the conditions stipulated in their permits or face punishment. The operating rules contained in Part 8 of the regulations include:
- requirements for authorisation from the authority and security agencies;
- territorial restrictions;
- approval of flight plans; and
- certificate of airworthiness.
The requirements to apply for an aerial navigation services permit are detailed in the guidelines.
How are air accidents investigated in your jurisdiction?
Section 29 of the Civil Aviation Act establishes the Accident Investigation Bureau to investigate the cause of accidents. The Civil Aviation (Investigation of Air Accidents and Incidents) Regulations 2016 provides for the manner of exercising and carrying out the bureau’s powers, duties and functions. The extent of investigations and the procedure to be followed is determined by the commissioner. On completion of an investigation, the investigator in charge must prepare a report, which should be made publicly available as soon as possible.
What liability regime governs death, injury and loss arising from air accidents?
Liability for death, injury and loss from air accidents is governed by the Civil Aviation Act. Section 48 of the act domesticates the Montreal Convention for the Unification of Certain Rules Relating to International Carriage by Air.
What are the reporting requirements for air accidents?
The Nigeria Civil Aviation Regulations prescribe that where an accident or incident occurs, notice must be given to the Accident Investigation Bureau by the quickest means of communication available, and in the case of an accident occurring in or over Nigeria, notice must also be given to a police officer operating in the area where the accident occurred.
The persons required to give notification include the pilot in command of the aircraft involved at the time of the accident or serious incident or, if he or she is fatally injured or incapacitated, the quality assurance and safety personnel, owner or operator of the aircraft, other crew members and, where the aircraft is not registered in Nigeria but operated by an undertaking established in Nigeria, the undertaking.
The regulations also provide for the content of the notice to be given to the bureau.
What rules govern the ownership of airports (both public and private)?
The Civil Aviation Act provides that the minister for aviation may approve the establishment and development of aerodromes anywhere in Nigeria, provided that a licence for an aerodrome will not be granted to anyone other than:
- a citizen of Nigeria; or
- the federal government, a state government, a local government or any company or corporation owned or controlled by the government; or
- a company or corporation registered in Nigeria and with its principal place of business in Nigeria.
What is the authorisation procedure for the operation of airports?
In order to operate an airport in Nigeria, the operator must hold an aerodrome certificate granted under Part 12 of the Nigeria Civil Aviation Regulations.
An application for the issuance of an aerodrome certificate is made to the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority in the appropriate form prescribed and must be accompanied by relevant documents. The authority grants the certificate to the applicant if the aerodrome facilities, services and equipment are in accordance with the standards specified in the authority’s aerodrome standards manual and regulations.
An aerodrome certificate remains in force for three years, unless it is suspended or revoked by the authority. The renewal of an aerodrome certificate must be commenced at least 90 days before the expiry of the existing term.
What ongoing operating requirements apply (including obligations relating to safety, security and facilities maintenance)?
The regulations make extensive provisions for the operation of an aerodrome. An operator of a certified aerodrome must:
- have an aerodrome manual with specified content;
- comply with the standards specified in the aerodrome standards manual and with any conditions endorsed in the aerodrome certificate;
- employ adequate numbers of qualified and skilled personnel to perform all critical activities for aerodrome operation and maintenance;
- train all personnel before the initial performance of their duties and retrain them at least once every three years;
- implement a safety management system acceptable to the authority (as prescribed in Part 20 of the regulations) and require all users of the aerodrome to comply with the requirements; and
- develop and maintain an emergency plan for the aerodrome with specified content.
What airport charges apply and how are they regulated?
The Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria, the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority and the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency impose airport charges. Where the federal government grants a concession for the management of the airport to a private company, the concessionaire is also entitled to impose charges for the use of the airport. Some of the charges include:
- landing fees;
- parking fees;
- passenger service charges; and
- ticket or cargo charges.
The charges are regulated by the government agency which imposes them, backed by the enabling legislation, regulations and bylaws made by such agencies. The fares and charges imposed by private airport operators are regulated by the authority. Part 18 of the Nigeria Civil Aviation Regulations requires all airport operators to provide the authority with a schedule of the charges and tariffs imposed by them and prohibits them from imposing any charges unless approved by the authority.
What regulations govern access to airports?
Bylaws made pursuant to the Federal Airports Authority Act provide for access to airports. Unauthorised persons are prohibited from certain areas of airports clearly marked as restricted.
The Nigeria Civil Aviation Regulations also regulate access to the airport, requiring the aerodrome operators to restrict access to movement areas and safety areas only to:
- ground and operation vehicles in possession of an airside vehicle permit or company logo;
- drivers with an airside driver’s permit; and
- pedestrians necessary for aerodrome and aircraft operations.
What regime governs the allocation of airport slots (including slot transfer, revocation and disputes)?
Generally, slots are allocated on a first-come, first-served basis. However, allocation is ultimately determined by the airport operators, which is usually the Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria. There are also a few privately operated airports.
How are ground handling services regulated?
Persons operating ground handling services in Nigeria must be licensed by the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority.
Do any sector-specific competition regulatory/legal provisions apply to the aviation industry in your jurisdiction?
The Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority is empowered by Section 30(4)(i) of the Civil Aviation Act to make relevant orders, investigate and determine unfair or deceptive practices or unfair methods of competition in air transportation, the sale of tickets or the provision of other allied aviation services. Part 18 of the Nigeria Civil Aviation Regulations includes rules on unfair methods of competition and anti-competitive practices which apply specifically to the aviation industry.
Code sharing and joint ventures
What (if any) competition concerns arise in relation to code sharing and air carrier joint ventures?
No specific competition concerns relate to code sharing. Part 18 of the regulations prescribes notification requirements for joint ventures and joint ventures are prohibited where the proposed transaction substantially increases the ability to exercise market power by giving the ability to a company or group of companies acting jointly to profitably maintain prices above competitive levels for a significant period or by any other anti-competitive means.
What rules govern state aid in the aviation industry? Do any exemptions apply?
No rules directly regulate state aid in the aviation industry.
Have there been any notable recent cases or rulings involving competition in the aviation industry?
In 2011 an investigative panel was set up by the authority regarding unfair and deceptive methods of competition relating to passenger fuel surcharges practices by Virgin Atlantic Airways and British Airways. The panel determined that:
- the airlines were in a duopolistic situation;
- the airlines exploited the duopolistic situation or their dominant positions to impose a fuel surcharge, independent of the natural forces of demand and supply; and
- the mutual communication between British Airways and Virgin Atlantic limited the choice available to passengers.
The authority imposed fines, but in 2012 an appeal panel decided that according to the regulations in force at the time that the incidents occurred, only a cease-and-desist order and not fines could be imposed.
What aviation-related disputes typically arise in your jurisdiction and how are they usually resolved?
Aviation-related disputes which typically arise include:
- disputes resulting from aviation lease agreements;
- challenges by airlines or airport operators to regulatory actions by sector regulators; and
- passenger claims against airlines, especially in relation to carriage of goods and delayed or denied boarding.
The issues which frequently arise for determination in this regard are:
- limitation of liability;
- application of international conventions; and
- breach of contract.
Disputes are usually resolved at the Federal High Court. The Nigeria Civil Aviation Regulations have a dispute resolution mechanism for passenger complaints against airlines (Part 19 of the regulations). Where complaints are made by passengers, the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority investigates and then dismisses the complaint or recommends the complaint for mediation or its administrative hearing procedure. At the conclusion of an administrative hearing, the authority may make directives, such as for the payment of compensation. An authority directive can still be challenged at the Federal High Court. Contracts may include other dispute resolution mechanisms (eg, arbitration), but parties often resort to the Federal High Court for injunctive reliefs or other orders to maintain the status quo.