Centre for Leadership Advancement and Development (CLAD Africa) has said the Senator Hadi Sirika-led Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) has been the most transparent, sensitive and responsive to the yearnings and aspirations of both airlines operators (domestic and foreign) on one hand and customers on the other hand.

CLAD Africa said it is an “incontrovertible fact that there is remarkable turnaround in our airports under the present management of FAAN” which statutorily is responsible for managing all commercial airports in Nigeria and provide efficient services to both passengers and customers in accordance with best global practice.

CLAD Africa is reacting to a previous report that Murtala Muhammed Airport is the most expensive in the world. The reports had quoted Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON) and Association of Foreign Airlines and Representatives in Nigeria (AFRAN), grumbling over multiple charges. In a statement yesterday, Executive Director, CLAD Africa, Dr. Bashir Muhammad said “the claims are not only ridiculous but laughable to say the least.”

Muhammed claimed that Nigeria is one of the best business environments that airline operators have the most lenient service charges and flexible rates from the regulatory authorities. Dr Mohammed who said Airports charges have not been reviewed in recent times, Nigeria charge one of the least charges despite the prevalent foreign exchange rate.

“We challenge the foreign airlines to publish the list of all charges they pay and compare it with charges they pay in New York, London, Paris, Cairo, Johannesburg and other airports across Africa and Europe. We view this as a strategic campaign of calumny to blackmail indigenous airlines from undergoing intercontinental flights and reduce them to continental flights only in a desperate attempt to maximize profits,” he stated.

CLAD Africa saluted what it described as the innovative leadership of Senator Sirika and encouraged him to continue his transformation drive of our airports to compete globally with the best airports and shouldn’t be distracted by the antics of mischief makers whose aim is to discredit the transparent leadership of the President Muhammadu Buhari led administration. “The FAAN should rather focus on upward review of service charges to meet up with what is obtainable in other climes and ensure BASA royalties payment promptly,” he added.

“The FAAN charges are in line with the recommended threshold by the International Air Transport Association (IATA) and International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO).

Therefore, the claims by AON and AFRAN are nothing but sheer misinformation to cause unnecessary disaffection in the industry and faint the present FAAN management in bad lights. Both domestic and foreign airlines are exempted from paying VAT as incentives for the operators and while air fares had increased in recent times, the handling rates had not changed. The airlines have consistently changed their fares which have remained to date as one of the most outrageous fares in any country. In the same breath, foreign airlines have stopped paying Bilateral Air Service Agreement (BASA) royalties,” the statement stated.