Sunday, 24th September 2023

NCAA issues local airlines deadline over N19b, $7.6m ticket debts

By Joke Falaju, Abuja
31 August 2022   |   3:10 am
The Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) has said local airlines are owing N19 billion and $7.6 million in ticket charges.

Airplane. Photo: PIXABAY

The Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) has said local airlines are owing N19 billion and $7.6 million in ticket charges.

The regulator, who accused the operators of deliberately wanting to cripple its operations, said the airlines must, in the next 30 days, commit to a payment plan or be suspended.

NCAA Director General, Musa Nuhu, who made the submissions, yesterday, during a stakeholders’ meeting, pointed out the indebtedness was crippling the organisation’s finances and pitting it against the Federal Government as a revenue-generating agency.

He explained that all airlines are indebted to the NCAA, Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) and Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA).

Nuhu noted: “NAMA is owed over N5 billion and FAAN is also being owed over N19 billion by the same Nigerian registered airlines.”

The DG said rather than the airlines thinking creatively to grow their businesses and the industry, they have targeted the regulator with a “campaign of calumny and falsehoods.”

The Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON), on the other hand, had accused NCAA of multiple charges.

In a letter addressed to the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed, AON had said the charges occasioned by the forex and Jet A1 (aviation fuel) crises were choking the players.

Irked by the tone of the complaint, the NCAA DG said the accusation was unfair, unfounded and smacked of blackmail.

He clarified that the NCAA charges the airlines just cost recovery, as the bulk of its revenues comes from statutory charges on air tickets, borne by customers, adding that the airlines deduct the funds without remitting them to the aviation agencies.

Nuhu stated that the accusations were far from the truth, insisting that a comparative analysis of charges between Nigeria and Ghana revealed that the latter bills over 100 per cent higher.

He hinted at a review, as according to him, the Authority had not carried out the exercise in about 13 years amid rising operational costs.

Reacting, Chief Executive Officer, Skye Jet, Kashim Bukar Shettima, urged an amicable resolution of the matter.

He said the DG could have engaged the AON privately on the issue to avoid “washing their dirty linen in the public.”

“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,” Shettima added.