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Air carrier operations

Operating authorisation

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.

Financial requirements

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.

Insurance coverage

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.

Safety requirements

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.

Environmental obligations

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.

Charter services

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.

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