NCAA, operators, disagree over cause of distress among airlines
Airlines operators and the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) have disagreed over the reasons for the low survival rate and demise of airlines in the country.
Among the airlines that once ruled the Nigerian airspace were: Nigeria Airways, Bellview, Sossoliso, Chanchangi, Air Nigeria, Virgin Nigeria, Associated Aviation, Hak Air, Kabo Air and TAT Nigeria, EAS, Max Air, Discovery, Concord, ADC Airlines, IRS, Albarka Air and Okada Air, among others.
Chief Executive Officer of Jed Air, Capt. Nogie Meggison, said the system had failed to recognise airlines as crucial in stimulating the economy out of the recession.
According to Meggison, the recent take-over of Arik Air and Aero Contractors by the Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON), in the face of huge financial burdens, was the fallout of multiple and sometimes unfair charges, levies and taxes airlines are forced to grapple with on a daily basis.
Head of Operations of one of the commercial airlines, told The Guardian that domestic airlines have always been a cheap target for the agencies that are putting additional pains and burden on operators through multiple taxes, charges and levies which they demand from airlines with impunity.
According to him, the Civil Aviation Act of 2006 (Part 18.12.3) requires that the NCAA regulate civil aviation and the charges imposed by civil aviation authorities and/or agencies. These charges, in consultation with stakeholders, are to be approved and reviewed periodically by both parties.
Apparently given the volume, most of the airlines are till date owing NCAA, Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) and Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA) among others to the tune of about N50 billion.
NCAA spokesperson, Sam Adurogboye, however, refuted the claims of the operators, saying the mandatory charges are never levied on operators, rather add-on on passengers.
According to Adurogboye, “The laws are so clear, if you are not able to fulfill safe operations as your operations continue, then naturally you will find your way out of the business. For example, if you do not have insurance for airplane, naturally that airplane will be on ground.
Continuing, he said: “Airlines will go under if they don’t operate within the law. We used to have 150 airlines, but today we have what we have because someone is doing the job. We are not supposed to run airlines for the owners and there is nothing like multiple charges.
“United States has a history of the greatest mergers. If big carriers in the U.S. are merging, why are Nigerian airlines shunning mergers?” he said.
Adurogboye added that what is most critical to survival and growth is corporate governance and having the right equipment to run operations.