FG extends mandatory landing charges to helicopters in Niger Delta, others
•Engages Naebi Dynamic for collection
As part of a revenue drive in the aviation sector, the Federal Government has extended the regime of mandatory landing charges to helicopter operations nationwide.
The regime, erstwhile exclusive to fixed-wing aircraft, will now warrant over 200 helicopters in the country to pay certain fees per landing.
The Guardian learnt that besides millions of dollars in revenue to rake in yearly, the new window would improve surveillance on low-flying aircraft through new navigational equipment and boost aerial security in the country.
Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, had recently unveiled the consultant and other stakeholders in Port Harcourt, saying the initiative will help to increase revenue generation in aviation and create over 15,000 new jobs.
Managing Director (MD) of the consultancy firm, Naebi Dynamic Concepts Limited, Chike Stanley, yesterday, explained that the new revenue window was the outcome of extensive research and investment “to improve the airspace safety and security.”
Stanley noted that there are about 200 helicopters in the country, with the majority in the oil and gas services in the Niger Delta area. “What we have added is the landing charges on the International Oil Companies (IOCs) and other parties that engage helicopter services. We are not charging operators, but their customers,” he said.
He said the collection was in line with global best practices, though Nigeria is coming late to the party.
“I commend the Federal Government and the Ministry of Aviation for standing boldly that this must be implemented. It is a global practice; sanctioned by the Chicago Convention. So, whatever is done in American Aviation, in Canada, and even in Ghana, should not be an exception in Nigeria. The IOCs cannot pretend that they do not know of this standard practice even in their own countries,” Stanley said.
The collection of those charges would be made at over 200 helipads, heliports, airstrips, aerodromes, fixed-based organisations, floating production storage and off-loading platforms nationwide.
The MD added that the terms of reference come with value addition on the part of the consultant.
He disclosed that “several helicopters currently fly (low-level) into the country without being captured by the radar system.” However, with the ongoing investment in multilateralism by the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA) and on ground equipment Naebi is installing, “no helicopter would fly into Nigeria unnoticed and unidentified.”
“You will recall we had an issue of an unknown helicopter allegedly killing some fishermen some time ago. It went unidentified. We want such occurrences to end and the FG agreed that ‘this is laudable, we can work with you’. That is how we got to the stage.”
Stanley urged the IOCs and Local Oil Companies (LOCs) to comply with the regime. “We want the IoCs to comply because by not complying, more than 5,000-15,000 employees (proposed beneficiaries of the window) will be losing their jobs. The states are eager and working with us to make sure we have a conducive environment to work and employ their people. So, they are telling the IOCs to also cooperate with us.
“You will agree with me that most helicopter companies fly below the radar and you cannot capture them. We will, therefore, buy a radar system that can capture them. That is investing good money in the aviation sector. We are building a multinational control centre to record how many choppers fly in and out of the country; and from point A to B.
“Partnering with NAMA is to improve an existing system and this improvement means a lot of money has to be spent to improve the system. We are building ours to complement and there is a lot of equipment we are bringing in. We are also giving data to the government; to know how many helicopters fly in and out of the country. Government needs to know how many choppers there are in Nigeria,” he said.