RIGHT: President, Airline Operators of Nigeria, AON, Dr Abdulmunaf Yunusa, founder of Azman Airline and Barrister Allen Onyema, Vice President, AON, Chairman Air Peace
Indigenous airlines in debt to any or all of the federal government aviation services providers have been urged to approach the concerned agencies with a well-articulated repayment plan of whatever amount owed and commence servicing the debt without much ado.
The Airline Operators of Nigeria, AON, gave the directive to its members in a media release issued today, less than 24 hours after the Chief Executives of Nigerian Airspace Management Agency, NAMA, Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria, FAAN and the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority, NCAA, severally and collectively accused its members of owing over N46bn in toxic debt of services already enjoyed.
The airlines were accused of collecting Ticket Sales Charge, TSC, and Cargo Sales Charge, CSC, upfront yet failed to remit. Also where 90 days’ credit was the norm on the settlement of landing and parking fees including navigational charges yet, debt spiralled to billions of Naira.
In the media statement signed by the AON Vice President, Barrister Allen Onyema, who is the Chairman of Air Peace, disclosed that the AON had, “however, advise our members with such bad debts to engage the agencies and put forward repayment plans”.
The statement made it known that aviation business all over the globe, is not run on a cash and carry basis but allows for credit. It says, “every airline in the world owes debts which are settled as their operations go on. Nigeria is not an exception”.
The AON claimed as a matter of fact that part of the much-touted toxic debt is owed by some defunct airlines.
Onyema stated thus, “It is pertinent to point out that some of these debts are owed by some airlines that are no longer in existence”.
It however lamented that “Airlines in Nigeria are operating under a very harsh environment and need all the support from everyone”.
The statement set matters straight in respect of those who misconstrued what transpired between the airlines and the government agencies yesterday, that AON members were “accused … of defrauding government aviation agencies … of over N19billion Naira while converting same to ‘personal use”.
Onyema clarified that no statement of such ever emanated at the meeting yesterday. He recants such erroneous notion thus, “The Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON) wishes to state its very strong reservations for such accusations and we deny very strongly that our members are defrauding or defrauded government agencies of the said amount or any amount for that matter”.
The statement however acknowledged thus; “It is true that some of our members have very bad debts but not all our members owe such debts. The owing of debts in itself does not amount to fraud. We frown very strongly at the criminalization of all Nigerian airlines as a result of the said debts”.Share