Airline Operators Sue NCAA Over Fees

Stella Oduah, Aviation Minister

Stella Oduah, Aviation Minister

Non-scheduled airline operators in Nigeria are going to court to restrain the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority, NCAA, from enforcing the collection of new fees the agency announced recently.

NCAA had informed non-scheduled airline operators with foreign registered aircraft that they will be paying $4,000 before each departure as general aviation fees.

But the airlines said the fees are illegal and exorbitant.

“Yes, the non-scheduled airline operators are going to court to stop the government from collection the illegal fees,” said Mohammed Tukur, a stakeholder.

Tukur said non-scheduled airline operators are seeking an injunction restraining the NCAA or any other agency from collecting the illegal and outrageous fees.

Captain Mohammed Joji, another stakeholder, has sent a letter to Fola Akinkuotu, and explained that the new fees are not only illegal but the law quoted by the agency to justify them is wrong.

NCAA in two circular had informed non-scheduled operators that “in compliance with the provisions of Section 30(2) (q) & (s) of the Civil Aviation Act of 2006”, that all foreign registered aircraft engaging in non-schedule operations, shall from now on pay $4,000 as fees under the provisions of the law.

The agency said such fees shall be paid in advance and prior to any departure.

However, Joji said the policy under reference gives power to the Authority to regulate Civil Aviation in Nigeria but does not give NCAA the power to make such laws.

“The provision of Section 30 (2) (q), quoted above relates to Airworthiness Charges provided by the Authority as stipulated in CAR 2009 GAZETTED 10th July, 2009; No. 51, Volume 96 under the Government Rule 236.

“These charges are specifically for airworthiness services provided by the NCAA under “NCAA Fees Schedule” on page B1005 of the Regulation. It has no relationship to charges provided by NAMA for Navigation Services or Services provided by FAAN for landing and parking,” Joji said in countering the new fees.

He said although Section 30 gives power to the authority to regulate air navigation, the extant directive by the Director General is in contravention of paragraph 12 of Section 30.

The paragraph states, “In the exercise of its power to make regulations under this section,the Authority shall consult with stakeholders including airlines,aerodrome operators, air traffic control service providers, consumers and other relevant bodies and organisations in the aviation industry”.

Joji said all Aeronautical Information Publication (AIP) published by NAMA contains all the relevant charges for the purpose of Aeronautical Services provided in Nigeria.

He said every one of the 194 ICAO member states published its own AIP to be assessed by other member states to be conversant with the aeronautical charges to be paid in each one of the member states when they fly within the territories of other states.

“As far as we know, this is the only law that allows NCAA to collect and distribute funds. The percentage distribution of such funds cannot be altered without the approval of the National Assembly. Any change to the above constitutes a violation of the law and is a criminal offence.

“Additionally, No part of the approved budgetary allocation to individual Parastatals can be diverted to fund any Parastatals without re-course to the National Assembly. Anything to the contrary, also constitutes a violation of the law and is a criminal offence,” Joji said in the statement.

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“It’s most unfortunate that the subject of Foreign Registered Aircraft is in the spot light with financial impunity,” Joji said.

He said even if the charges were necessary, NAMA should present such charges to the NCAA whose responsibility is to consult with the stakeholders through either a Proposed Notice of Rule Making (PNR) or a Proposed Notice of Amendment (PNA).

“The charges can then be debated by the stakeholders in order to find basis for justification,” he said.

He added: “If NCAA on the other hand is the advocate of such charges, then the

Authority is negating its responsibility as industry regulator.”

He said Foreign Registered Aircraft currently pay ten times more in

Navigation Charges than their equivalent Nigerian counterparts.

These charges are paid in advance before departure, and are paid in United States dollars.

Joji said investment is coming into the country as a result of the confidence

the Foreign Investors saw in the Nigerian Economy.

“For whatsoever reason, there is no justification for these exorbitant charges.

“It may interest the DG to know that, on the average, there are 23 Foreign Airlines flying in/out of Nigeria on daily basis, operating 235 weekly frequencies equivalent to 1016 frequencies annually.

“Other airlines even fly two frequencies daily. These Foreign Airlines remit

about USD$1 billion annually to their home countries as capital flight. The Ministry of Aviation is simply collecting the so-called BASA funds at the expense of domestic schedule airline growth. The

NCAA is simultaneously collecting a huge sum of money in both Naira and US Dollar in the name of 5% Sales Tax and misappropriated it,” Joji said.

—Simon Ateba/Ado-Ekiti

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