The Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), on Monday announced plans to recover the N22billion airlines’ debts on the mandatory five per cent Ticket Sales Charges (TSC) and Cargo Sales Charges (CSC).
This was even as the agency said it has stopped airlines and ground handlers from growing their debt further.
Recall that domestic carriers had owed agencies in the nation’s aviation industry $6.9 million and N19.6 billion respectively. This includes 5% charge from the NCAA, passenger service charge, landing and parking fees to the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) and overflight charges to the National Airspace Management Agency (NAMA).
But, speaking in his office on Monday, the director general, NCAA, Capt. Musa Nuhu, said that NCAA had attached the payment condition to the issuance and renewal of Airline Operators Certificate (AOC) to new and existing operators to put a stop to the increasing debt of the airlines and ground handlers.
The NCAA boss explained that new airline operators were made to sign a tripartite agreement that the charges would automatically be deducted from them to avoid the problems associated with the payment of the charges in the past.
He said, “Almost all the airlines operating in the country have integrated to the automatic deduction of the five per cent ticket charges.
“What we have done now is that if you are coming in, we are not going to give you an Airline Operators Certifcate (AOC), until you sign the tripartite agreement for the automatic deduction so we don’t start arguing after six months.
“In the same vein, existing airlines that are seeking for AOC renewal are mandated to sign the automatic deduction to stop the debt profile from increasing.
On the legacy debts by the airlines, Nuhu said NCAA understood that the airlines, like other stakeholders in the industry, were passing through hard times.
The director general said the operators would not be forced to pay their debts at once, but they had to come up with plans on how to pay the debts without allowing a growth.
He added that NCAA was working with the operators to come out with plans and a lot of them have complied and very soon they were going to start talking to them one by one on how to settle their whole debts.
“We know we are all in difficult times, so we can’t say give us all our money but also you have to bring a reasonable plans on how you want to settle this amount,” the DG said.
Nuhu said the legacy debts would be reconciled and agreed upon with the affected airlines before the payment plans would be fully activated.
The director general also commended officials of Airlines Operators of Nigeria (AON) for their efforts at addressing the payment of the debts.
He also said the legacy debt owed by the airlines will be paid saying he has no authority to write of the debt owed by the airlines.
“I cannot write off any debt; I do not have the authority to write off a Federal Government’s debt without the approval of the appropriate authorities. You see, we have to keep doing the reconciliation once the debts keep growing, but now, we have to stop the debts from growing. If we did reconciliation in 2020 and the debts are still growing, I have to do another reconciliation, but now, we have drawn a line by insisting everyone has to come in newly. Some are paying and some have given us the timetable for payment.
“If we say they should come and pay, all the airlines will close shop, but what have we achieved with that at the end of the day? Don’t forget, we are to also help to promote the growth of the industry in as much as we want our money and we want the airlines to pay back the government money,” he said.