FAAN, concessionaire, airlines disagree over debts

THE Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) and one of its erstwhile concessionaires in charge of ports charges, Pan Express Services Limited (PESL), are at loggerheads over the amount of money owed the former by airlines and other users of its facilities at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport (MMIA), Lagos.

Pan Express, in a memorandum to FAAN, claimed that the 34 users of the facilities at the airport owed it billions of naira and attributed this to its inability to repay N582, 796,079.32, which it owed the agency before it was removed by the former Minister of Aviation, Mr. Babatunde Omotoba, on March 7, 2009.

The firm alleged that the users, which include foreign airlines and courier companies, refused to pay the debts, causing FAAN to write its clients for prompt payment or risk being sanctioned by the agency.

But surprisingly, most of the clients responded that they did not owe the agency and challenged it or its concessionaire to forward its accounts for reconciliation.

When FAAN received the response of the clients, it immediately wrote the concessionaire for verification, but as at the time of filing in this report, the concessionaire had failed to come forward for reconciliation.

One of the memoranda written to one of the clients, Airlines Services Limited (ASL), by FAAN on April 30, 2010 and signed on behalf of managing director of the agency by the Director of Commercial and Business Development, Mrs. Grace Etomi, and made available to The Guardian, indicated that ASL owed the agency N234,460.00

The four-paragraph memorandum with reference number FAAN/GM/CAR/DCDB/Vol. 1 had the subject: “Final demand for payment of debt owed FAAN’, reads, “Records obtained from PAN Express Services Limited (PESL)’s ledger as at March 21, 2009, shows that you are indebted to the authority to the tune of N234,460.00 from your operation at Hajj/Cargo Terminal of MMIA.

“As a result, the management has directed that you should offset the stated debt within seven days from the receipt of this letter. Please be informed that failure to effect payment on or before the deadline will leave us with no other option than to take further appropriate actions against you.

“While we look forward to receiving your cheque on or before this date, we count on your support and understanding”.

Other alleged debtors, according to the memorandum presented to FAAN by PESL include DHL/Landover; N245,568,565.05, Premier Logistics; N104,861,899.03, Merchant Express, N193,768,925.65, Base Aviation; N143,108,772.16, KLM Airline; N19,472,461.50 and British Airways; N3,231, 398.00.

Others are Emirates, Virgin Atlantic, Afriquiyah, Lufthansa and Air France Airlines, among others.

However, before the contract between FAAN and PESL was terminated on March 7, 2009, it had over N582,796,079.32 debt profile.

On its part, PESL claimed that the alleged debts were not owed by it but rather, by the users of the facilities of FAAN and maintained that it would not hesitate to pay regularly to the agency immediately the clients settled the debts.

However, a memorandum written to FAAN by Chairman of Pan Express, Peter Pan Okeze, itemised the debts owed FAAN (N582,796,079.32) by its clients to include debts of port charge; N439,203,888.53, air charter’s fee; N7, 780,645.16, tarmac/apron discriminatory charge; N101,145,387.10, transhipment fee; N33,023,983.53, multi-purpose gate fee; N800,000.00 and refund by KLM to Pan Express, N842,175.00.

Okeze further claimed that his company expended N248 million on the construction of the tollgate towards NAHCO Shed, which it built about two years ago. Motorists without stickers always pay N100.00 to access the gate.



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