Only 55 per cent of the local airlines in Nigeria have been able to comply with the deadline on the directive for them to clear all their indebtedness to government agencies, Ripples Nigeria findings have revealed.
The Federal Government, in a bid to end airline indebtedness to its agencies had in 2012 accepted the suggestion by the Airlines Operators of Nigeria (AON) for an automatic deduction of five per cent from every ticket on passenger and cargo in Nigeria.
But the regulator, the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) had complained of its inability to achieve success in the collection of the charge without the airlines being dully automated.
It was on the strength of this that a mandate was issued to the airlines, especially the domestics ones, to upgrade their system on or before 2016, which was later extended to January 2017 as the deadline for compliance.
However, the economic downturn was said to have hit the sector, leading to some outstanding ones among them, including Arik and Aero Contractors being acquired by ANCON, a government debt-recovery agency.
The NCAA, while announcing the extention of the deadline again to June 2017, in February, said it would no longer shift ground from that date.
But findings by Ripples Nigeria have shown that there is not much improvements from what the situation was in 2016 up till June 2017, with less than 60 pet cent of the operators attaining total compliance status as at the last deadline.
It was further learnt that at the last meeting of Captain Nogie Meggisson-led AON executive council, with the NCAA management, other issues bordering on operational costs facing members were tabled as having made it difficult for its members to achieve 100 per cent compliance to the policy.
A reliable source said the operators had rather requested the regulators to, on their behalf, implore the Minister of State Aviation, senator Hardi Sirika, to intervene in convincing creditor-banks to the operators of the possibility of giving them more time to re-negotiate their loan servicing.
“The operators were blunt in telling the regulators that the huge loan burden and the failure of government to reduce charges that they are currently paying through its agencies have contributed to their inability to effectively pay the five per cent surcharge on tickets”, a source said.
But the NCAA spokesman, Sam Adurogboye, said the idea of having the automated system in Nigeria is not solely for the deduction of the ticket charges, as being speculated.
Hear him: “Nigeria, as a signatory to all the bilateral agreenent with, ICAO, IATA and other multilateral agencies, must have its aviation industry run in line with modern operational standard in all other countries.
“It must be said that the idea of all operators being automated compliant is in line with the circular, NCARs 2015, vol.2, part 18.12.5, under which all remittancey/payments systems are to be made in order to ensure transparency as well as accurate billing.
“The NCARs state that all domestic and international airline’s operating in Nigeria shall forward all operational reports to the NCAA through an electronic platform provided by the Authority. As such, all relevant documents such as flown coupons, passenger or cargo manifest, air waybills, load sheets, clients’ service invoices and other documents necessary for accurate billings are to be submitted within 48 hours after each flight”.
The spokesman said that the international operators had all complied with the directive, adding that the next line of action on defualting airlines would be made public soon.
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