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Airlines operators bemoan sector’s woes

…vow to tackles challenges, elect new exco

The newly elected members of the umbrella body for airlines, the Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON), said they were ready to confront issues that have affected airline operations in Nigeria. The executives listed airlines’ challenges as multiple taxation, high per cent Value Added Tax (VAT), scarcity of foreign exchange and removal of duty waiver, which they said have crippled their operations.

Nigerian airlines are faced with 34 charges levied against them by government agencies and organisations in the aviation sector that have made the nation’s aviation rank among the highest taxed sector in the world. The levies are divided into aeronautic and nonaeronautic revenues and are added to charges collected from passengers as air tickets. Further investigations revealed that 21 of the charges are paid into the coffers of FAAN, six are paid into NCAA and NAMA collects three while Bi-Courtney collects four of the charges from the airlines that operate at its terminal. Also inimical to the operations of carriers is scarcity of foreign exchange. According to the operators, since 2015, indigenous operators have been hard hit by increase in exchange rate, which has had negative effects on their business.

The operators expressed concern over difficulty in accessing dollars for ease of their business. The operators met recently with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) governor, Godwin Emefiele, on the need for the apex bank to make foreign exchange available to them at the official rate.

The newly elected President of AON, Alhaji Abdulmunaf Yunusa, who is also the founder of Azman Airline, said: “As an active member of AON, I am fully aware of all the pending matters and problems facing our association such as the issue of multiple taxation, VAT, duty waiver and forex.” He admitted the daunting task of leading the association to solve its myriads of problems, but promised that the executives would do their best to achieve success for the airlines. Other newly elected executive members at the Annual General Meeting of the association held at the Murtala Muhammed Airport terminal two (MMA2) conference hall are, Chairman of Air Peace, Mr. Allen Onyema, who was elected Vice- President and Barr. Shehu Wada, who is of Max Air. Also, Managing Director/ CEO of Med-View Airline, Alhaji Muneer Bankole and his counterpart at Overland Airways, Capt. Edward Boyo, among others, were elected as members of the Board of Trustees. Yunusa took over from Sir Nogie Meggison who has been the Chairman of AON. The AGM also approved the change of leadership nomenclature from Executive Chairman to President.

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