FAAN, airline operators disagree over payment of charges

The Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria and domestic airline operators have taken opposing positions on the payment of charges to aviation agencies.

The Airlines Operators of Nigeria had announced on Sunday that it had directed its members to stop the remittance of sundry charges to FAAN, the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority and the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency by November 1, following the non-resolution of the crisis in the aviation industry and the high cost of the charges.

However, FAAN said on Wednesday that all the airlines had been fulfilling their obligations to the aviation agencies.

The Coordinating General Manager, Communications, Aviation Parastatals, Mr. Yakubu Dati, said this in a telephone conversation with our correspondent.

He said all the airlines in the country were remitting the charges accurately to the various aviation agencies.

In an emailed statement he later sent to our correspondent, Dati said the charges collected from the airlines were being used for developmental projects aimed at improving the aviation sector.

He said, “Our attention has been drawn to a fictitious and misleading news release authored by the supposed spokesperson of the Airlines Operators of Nigeria, Mr. Mohammed Tukur, alleging that airlines under the aegis of the association would stop paying their charges to all aviation agencies with effect from November 1, 2013, pending the review of such charges.

“According to Tukur, the airline operators will stop remitting such charges to the affected agencies as a result of obsolete infrastructure at Nigerian airports, epileptic navigation aids, lack of accountability in the utilisation of aviation taxes, among other clearly malicious, ill-motivated and unfounded allegations.

“To the best of our knowledge, all operational airlines in the country continue to maintain a cordial business relationship with all the aviation agencies providing them services because they know that the present administration has shown undeniable commitment to the development of the country’s aviation industry.”

Dati alleged that Tukur was not in a position to speak for all the airlines, adding, “The said release was only a figment of the imagination of Mr. Tukur, who currently does not work for any airline and, therefore, cannot rightly speak for Nigerian airlines.”

Tukur, however, said in a telephone interview with our correspondent that the airlines had complied with the AON directive on the stoppage of remittances to the agencies.

He said the action would continue until the Federal Government “cleared the mess in the aviation sector,” adding that remittances from the sale of tickets to the NCAA had also been stopped.

Tukur had in a statement on Sunday announced that the airlines would no longer remit charges to the aviation agencies until the sector was rid of corruption.

He also queried the imposition of “astronomical charges” by the various aviation agencies on the operators.

He added that despite this, there was a lot of corruption in the sector, citing the latest armoured car scandal involving the Minister of Aviation, Ms. Stella Oduah, as a notable example.

Meanwhile, NAMA has said the Nigerian airspace has continued to enjoy increased patronage from foreign airlines in the last few months following improved air navigation services.

A statement from NAMA on Wednesday said a total of 15,078 over-flights or foreign flights operated by 364 airlines were recorded in the first six months of the year.

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