Airline operators parley FIRS over multiple taxation, VAT removal
Air Peace denies pilot’s link with Niger Delta militants
Commercial airline operators in the country have taken the problem of multiple-taxation to the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) towards getting a favourable bargain.
The eight operating airlines, under the aegis of Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON) and the International Air Transport Association (IATA), demanded from the FIRS steps toward harmonisation of about 37 various charges and levies on the airlines and the outright cancellation of the mandatory five per cent Value Added Tax (VAT).
The move, following a similar meeting with the Acting President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, was to enhance a conducive business environment for the airlines and boost their chances of survival.
In a related development, Air Peace Airline has denied reports that one of its pilots, First Officer John Paul Nku, is a former Niger Delta militant.
The airline, in contrary to claims making the rounds in the social media, said although Nku was one of the beneficiaries of the presidential amnesty programme, he is not a repentant militant but one of over 5,000 non-agitators from Niger Delta communities.
The Corporate Communications Manager of the airline, Chris Iwarah, said that the pilot was erroneously tagged as a former militant.
“It is, therefore, improper to describe Nku as a former militant simply because he was identified as one of the beneficiaries of the PAP,” Iwarah said.
Chairman of AON, Captain Nogie Meggison, at the FIRS office in Abuja, said airlines had no issue with paying or collecting the statutory VAT for FIRS but that there was need to take a closer look at fairness of the charges on airlines.
He called for more dialogue between the FIRS and AON in order to better understand the automation process and allow smooth operations for both parties.
Meggison also appealed to the Chairman of FIRS, Mr. Babatunde Fowler, to take a closer look at the issue of VAT for domestic air transportation in Nigeria, adding that if VAT were to be removed, it would make it more affordable for passengers with less funds at this time of economic recession to be able to fly.
The measure, he said, would increase turnover generated by airlines thereby resulting in increased revenue to FIRS from more passenger traffic, more landings and a boost of other direct and indirect businesses linked to aviation.
Chairman of the tax agency said that the government was not out to make profit but to make life more comfortable for the people, including the airline investors.
The AON thanked the FIRS boss for his kind consideration and the concessions offered to airlines as a step forward in alleviating one of the many challenges that has consumed about 25 airlines over the years.
Also, IATA Area Manager, South West Africa, Dr. Samson Fatokun, said airlines in Nigeria had an average mortality rate of about 10 years, adding that there was an inherent problem in the environment that continues to lead to this mortality rate.
He, therefore, called on the FIRS to view the issue as a case for airlines to survive and the industry to be sustained.