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‘Pay up immediately!’ NCAA threatens airlines, demands for N19bn debt payment

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‘Pay up immediately!’ NCAA threatens airlines, demands for N19bn debt payment

THE Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) has threatened to ground local airlines whose current debt obligations to it collectively stand at N19 billion and $7.6 million, from unremitted ticket charges paid by passengers.

Asides from these debts owed to the industry regulator, the airlines also owe the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) and the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA) sums of N18bn and N5bn, respectively.

The Director-General of the NCAA, Captain Musa Nuhu, warned, at a stakeholders meeting with indigenous airlines and ground handling companies today in Abuja, that if the debts owed to the agencies were not paid back immediately, the aviation agencies and, by extension, the aviation sector risked collapse.

Nuhu gave the airlines a month’s ultimatum to sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the NCAA, which would stipulate the repayment plans of their debts to the agency.

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The NCAA DG, who noted that the airlines and the entire aviation industry were going through a difficult period, explained that all the charges collected by the NCAA were statutory, and in compliance with the Civil Aviation Act 2006.

Nuhu wondered why airline operators would accuse the NCAA of engaging in multiple levies, saying the Authority was not responsible for the levying of ticket sales charge (TSC)/cargo sales charge (CSC), but was only collecting them from passengers on behalf of the other agencies.

He further debunked the claim that the NCAA imposes excess baggage charges on airlines.

The NCAA DG explained that for any of the charges to be repealed, it would have to go through the National Assembly and must be assented to by the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

He also explained that out of the five per cent TSC/CSC revenue, the agencies remit 25 per cent to the Consolidated Revenue Account created by the Federal Government, and advised the operators to always cross-check their facts before going to the public.

He added, “The NCAA relies 100 per cent on its internally generated revenue (IGR). The 5 per cent TSC paid by passengers is 85 per cent of NCAA revenue, while the other 15 per cent comes from airlines as payment for services provided, and they are all cost recovery. We don’t also impose any excess baggage charge on the airlines. I wonder where the operators saw this.

“The airlines have intentionally refused to pay the debts owed us despite the fact that they have collected such from the passengers. The airlines collect money and refuse to transmute such to the right authorities.

“The Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON) wants us to provide services for free for them. What the airlines are trying to do is to defunct NCAA. You have refused to give us our legitimate money. The fees we are charging the airlines are just cost recovery and we are actually subsidising the airlines.”

The Acting Managing Director of NAMA, Mathew Pwajok, saying that the charges of the agency were minimal when compared to those in other countries around the world, confirmed Nuhu’s claim that the airlines were owing NAMA over N5bn for services rendered to them over the years.

The FAAN DG, Rabiu Yadudu, also disclosed that the airlines were owing the agency N18bn, and debunked the claim that it charges the airlines indiscriminately, as the AON alleged in its letter.

Yadudu declared that FAAN was not imposing any new burden on the airlines, stressing that its landing and parking charges for international operators were last reviewed in 1998, while for the local airlines, it was reviewed last in 2002.

He saw a need for FAAN to review its charges, pointing out that within the period, the airlines had reviewed their air fares upward on numerous occasions.

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