From right, the Director-General, NCAA, Capt Usman Nuhu, Managing Director of FAAN, Capt. Rabiu Yadudu and Acting Managing Director of NAMA, Engr. Mathew Pwajok, at aviation stakeholders, meeting in Abuja
The total amount of debts owed to the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) by domestic airlines in the country on the statutory 5 percent Ticket Sales Charge and Cargo Sales Charge (TSC/CSC) has risen to over N19 billion and $7.8 million over the years.
As if that was not enough, the airline’s indebtedness to the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) and the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA) has also stood at N18 billion and N5 billion, respectively.
The airlines owe FAAN landing and parking charges, while they are also hugely indebted to NAMA in terminal and navigational charges.
This is just as the Director-General, NCAA, Capt Usman Nuhu today warned that if the debts owed to the agencies were not paid back immediately in the next few, the aviation organizations may collapse very soon.
He gave the warning at a stakeholder meeting held with indigenous airlines and ground handling companies in Abuja.
In view of the hugeness of the debts owed aviation agencies, the NCAA boss gave the operators a one-month ultimatum to sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the NCAA, which would stipulate the repayment plans of their debts to the agency.
He expressed displeasure over a letter, which originated from the Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON), signed by the President of AON, Alhaji Abdulmunaf Yunusa, dated August 8, 2022, and addressed to the Minister of Aviation, Sen. Hadi Sirika, which, accused the agencies, especially the NCAA of muscling out the operators through multiple charges.
Nuhu, who noted that the airlines and the entire aviation industry were going through a very difficult period, especially at this time, insisted that all the charges collected by NCAA were statutorily and in compliance with the Civil Aviation Act 2006.
The airlines, he said were not responsible for the payment of TSC/CSC, but only collect such on behalf of the agencies from the passengers, wondering why the operators would accuse it of engaging in multiple levies.
He debunked the claim that the NCAA imposes excess baggage charges on airlines.
The NCAA boss used the opportunity to compare and juxtaposed the levies imposed on operators in Nigeria and Ghana while reeling out the huge differences.
He explained that for any of the charges to be amended, they would have to go through the National Assembly(NASS) and must be assented to by the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
He also informed that of the 5 percent TSC/CSC, the agencies still remit 25 percent of their revenues to the Consolidated Revenue Account created by the Federal Government and advised the operators to always crosscheck their facts before going to the public.
“NCAA relies 100 percent on its Internally Generated Revenue (IGR). The 5 percent TSC paid by passengers is 85 percent of NCAA revenue, while the other 15 percent 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. 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 subsidizing the airlines.”
Making his comments, the Acting Managing Director of NAMA, Engr. Mathew Pwajok reiterated that the charges of the agency were minimal when compared to other countries around the world.
He disclosed that the airlines owed NAMA over N5 billion for services rendered to them over the years.
On his part, the Managing Director of FAAN, Capt. Rabiu Yadudu also revealed that the airlines owe the agency N18 billion and also refuted the claim that it charges the airlines indiscriminately as claimed in its letter.
FAAN, he said did not impose any new burden on the airlines, adding 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 said that there was a need for the charges to be reviewed by the agency and that within the period, the airlines had reviewed their air tickets on numerous occasions.
Responding, the Managing Director, Skyjet Airline, Alhaji Kashim Bukar wondered why the DG NCAA brought the issue to the public glare.
He said that rather than make it a public issue, NCAA should have called the operators into a closed-door meeting to discuss the issue.
Also, the Managing Director, Overland Airways, Capt. Edward Boyo, a trustee of AON, apologized to the NCAA for the letter.
“I’m a trustee member of AON. On behalf of AON, I hope to apologize to you for the letter. The letter wasn’t intended to have this effect. Some parts of the letter were inappropriate. We apologize and I want to crave your indulgence to drop the issue,” he said.
Besides, the Vice President, AON, Mr. Allen Onyema, while speaking at the meeting said he was seeing the letter for the first time and expressed disappointment with some of the contents in it.
He regretted that there are factions in AON, which had prevented them from speaking with one voice.
Onyema agreed that he was at the meeting with the Ministry of Finance and Aviation where the issue of skyrocketing price of Jet A1 was discussed, but insisted that no one spoke badly of NCAA or any aviation agencies at the meeting