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NCAA begins recovery of N22.2bn debt from airlines

Why over 50 carriers went into extinction in 20 years – Sirika

From next week, air transport may be disrupted throughout Nigeria as the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NAMA) has concluded plans to embark on recovery of over N22 billion owed the aviation agencies by many of the existing and defunct airlines spanning over 20 years.

The disclosure was made yesterday by the Director- General of NCAA, Capt. Musa Nuhu, in Abuja at a public hearing on the repeal and enactment of civil aviation bills of all the aviation agencies. Nuhu said that was the only way to compel the airlines to pay debts owed. He decried the attitude of many of the airlines that failed to remit what they collected as five per cent Ticket Sales Charge (TSC) and Passenger Service Charge (PSC) collected on behalf of the agencies. Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika had, on Monday, put the debt of the Nigerian airlines over the last 10 years to aviation agencies at about N22.2 billion.

Nuhu said: “We are going to start taking action and implement actions to recover most of the monies. We have started action last week on airlines that owe us. The irony is that these are taxes the airlines collected from the passengers. These are not their money.

They collected but refused to remit. “We have also heard that the government has refused to assist the carriers. We all remember that in 2011, the airlines received close to N200 billion. They are yet to pay back. If foreign airlines are paying, why are our own airlines not paying?” Earlier, Sirika elaborated on some of the charges the carriers described as ‘too many’ and not in the interest of the carriers, saying these charges had been in existence for so long and enshrined in the country’s constitution. He lamented the constant death of over 50 airlines in the last 20 years, attributing their demise to poor business plan, wrong use of aircraft that are fuel guzzling and cost inefficient.

Records made available by NCAA show that no fewer than 40 registered airlines, scheduled and non-scheduled, have collapsed in the last 15 years. Among the carriers are Associated Aviation, Allied Air, Hak Air, Kabo Air, TAT Nigeria, Belview, Sossoliso, Chanchangi, Sky World Express, Virgin Nigeria, ADC, Concord Airlines, IRS and Okada Air. The minister gave an example of an airline that wanted approval to bring in four engine airplanes that other nations are doing away with.

“Most of these airlines; if you look at their business plan, you would feel like crying. Most of these failed airlines have the same business plan. If you look at Aero Contractors that was successful for more than 50 years, they derailed with a poor business plan. We know where the airline is today. Many people you see today have no business in airline business.”

Chairman, Senate Committee on Aviation, Smart Adeyemi, sought to know what could be done to ensure reduction in cost of air travel. Sirika said it would involve the carriers operating the right type of aircraft, adding that some operators used to acquire geriatric aircraft because they cost little, but very expensive to maintain. Sirika added: “I have seen somebody who lost $20 million even before he started. Before, we had the culture of flying turboprop aircraft, but today, Nigerians like to fly jet engine aircraft, but it comes with a cost.”




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