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NCAA threatens to sanction domestic airlines over N19bn debt, issues 30-day ultimatum

The Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) has threatened to sanction domestic airlines for over N19 billion debt on ticket sales.

The authority said this on Tuesday in Abuja at a meeting organised by the ministry of aviation and its agencies with scheduled airline operators and ground handlers.

Speaking at the meeting, Musa Nuhu, director-general, NCAA, said he had appealed to the airlines to pay their debts.

Nuhu said the airlines were currently owing about N19 billion on ticket charges collected from passengers but refused to remit to the agency.

He also said sanctions would be taken against any defaulting airlines if they refused to pay within a month.

“The airlines must enter an MoU on how they will pay their debts in the next 30 days from August 30, 2022, or their license (sic) will be suspended at the expiration of the deadline,” he said.

Nuhu said he was displeased with the recent letter written by the Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON) to Hadi Sirika, minister of aviation, demanding a review of multiple charges from aviation agencies.

He added that all the charges met best practices as obtained all over the country, adding that many neighbouring countries even charge higher than Nigeria.

“We cannot provide services and you want the government to grant a waiver. How can the agencies manage to survive?” he said.

“NCAA sustains on internally generated revenue (IGR) without any money from the federal government.

“We have not increased our charges in 13 years. We are still collecting the same charge. So, nothing like a burden on airline operators.”

On his part, Matthew Pwajok, acting managing director, Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA), said local airlines ought to be considerate in their dealings.

According to him, the local airlines were owing the sum of N5.73billon as of June 30, for both terminal navigation charges (TNC), and enroute navigation charges (ENC).

He added that the domestic airlines were also indebted to NAMA on international operations to the tune of 9,086,401.78 dollars as of June 30.

Pwajok said the agency may suspend the provision of its services to any airline still owing and refuses to pay on time.

NAMA is 100 percent self-funded from its internally generated revenue for salaries, running costs, training, and capital projects, and 25 percent of the revenue generated by the agency is deducted at source by the federal government,” he added.

Also speaking on the matter, Rabiu Yadudu, managing director, Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), said such debts will go a long way in improving the standards in the airports.

He also urged the AON to strengthen their collaboration with aviation agencies to collectively develop the industry.

“Sitting down to work together will rapidly help the growth of the aviation sector. No airline has ever come to FAAN and has been turned down by FAAN. We reason together,” Yadudu said.

Collaboration is the way of the aviation industry. There is absolutely no reason to undermine one another. We need one another. We need to respect and protect each other.”

Responding to the appeal, Kashim Shettima, chief executive officer, Skye Jet, said the NCAA is also not “perfect”, and issues raised could be resolved amicably.

“Yes, airlines owe money but the airlines are also deeply challenged because they can’t get fuel or access dollars freely. They buy dollars in the black market. We must come together to resolve our problems,” he said.

In addition, Allen Onyema, AON vice-president, and CEO of Air Peace, appealed to all domestic airlines that were indebted to any of aviation agencies to pay their debts.

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