The Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority, on Tuesday, said it would withdraw the licenses of domestic airlines within 30 days beginning from August 30, 2022, if the airlines fail to sign a Memorandum of Understanding on how to clear the about N46bn debt which they owe aviation agencies.
It said this in response to a letter written by the Airline Operators of Nigeria to the Ministers of Finance and Aviation, where the airlines accused aviation agencies of stifling the growth of the sector through multiple charges.
Speaking at a stakeholders’ meeting in Abuja, the Director-General, NCAA, Musa Nuhu, described the letter as false, saying the charges had remained the same since 2009 but would be reviewed soon, a development that might trigger another hike in airfares.
At the meeting, it was established that the domestic airlines owed NCAA N19bn and $7.6m (N3.22bn as at Tuesday’s official exchange rate of N423.38/$), while their indebtedness to the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria was put at N18bn.
They also owe the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency N5.73bn, bringing their cumulative indebtedness to the three agencies to N45.95bn.
Speaking at the meeting, Nuhu said, “The Minister of Aviation wrote to us about a letter which the airline operators wrote to the minister and it was also part of a meeting they had with the Minister of Finance.
“And basically, it’s (the letter) blaming the aviation agencies, supposedly for multiple charges, creating difficulties for the airlines. We asked, what are these multiple charges? We’ve not charged anything that is not charged in any part of the world.”
The NCAA boss stated that in his response to the letter from the AON, he made it clear that the Ticket Sales Charge and Cargo Sales Charge were statutory charges enshrined in the Civil Aviation Act 2006.
He said “The truth of the matter is that neither the five per cent TSC nor the five per cent CSC is charged or paid by the airlines. Section 12, Subsection 1 of the CAA 2006 is clear that these charges are to be collected from the passengers and on cargo by the airlines and paid to the authorities.
“These charges are not paid by the airlines as claimed by the AON. The airlines are only to collect these charges and pay over to the authority. The TSC and CSC are shared among aviation agencies, namely NAMA, NiMet, NCAT, AIB and NCAA at the pre-determined measure stated in the CAA.
“And these funds are not only meant for the agencies, we pay 25 per cent of it to the consolidated revenue of the federation. So, it is not only the agencies’ money, it is also the Federal Government’s money.”
Nuhu said the NCAA, FAAN and NAMA were not funded by the Federal Government, stressing that they were run on the Internally Generated Revenue from the sector and also made remittances to the Federation Account.
“The TSC paid by passengers contribute almost 85 per cent of NCAA’s IGR. So without the TSC I can’t even sit in this room. The airlines contribute less than 15 per cent of the authority’s IGR as payments fees for services provided to them by the authority on a cost recovery basis,” he stated.