The N15 billion debt profile of domestic airlines in Nigeria is generating reactions from stakeholders in the industry.
Few days ago, the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority warned the airlines that there was no going back in the automation of the remittance of the 5% ticket and cargo sales charges and that failure to comply would be viewed seriously by the agency.
The 5 % charges accrue from tickets and cargo collected on behalf of the agencies expected to be remitted afterward, unfortunately, the airlines have over the years failed to remit them.
The Association of Nigerian Aviation Professionals (ANAP) wants the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to intervene in the matter and find out what the airlines have done with the money.
The union has also called for the arrest and prosecution of all debtor airline operators in the country for the N15 billion debt profile.
In a chat with newsmen in Lagos,the secretary general of ANAP Comrade Abdulrasaq Saidu described the airlines action as an economic offense and because it had been left unchecked it has grown into an entitlement for the perpetrators which is killing the industry.
Comrade Saidu described the action of the airlines as stealing public funds by trick.
“ This money they are owing it is stealing by trick of public funds, air travelers pay that 5%, that money has never been a tax to any airline as some of them will erroneously lead people to believe. The money is a charge on passengers the airlines only collect it on behalf of government to allow facilitation, imagine the chaos at the airport where people are travelling if that money is collected as you intend to travel and the fraud that would happen.”
“ These payments’ were being made until Arik entered the fray and due to the impunity of the former managers the indebtedness started and so other airlines joined suit stating that if Arik was not remitting the charges why should they? Even at those times, some unions would take action and then an order from Abuja would override whatever they have done and the debt would continue to rise.”
“ In the past Minister, Fidelia Njeze intervened with the pay as you go technic but same airline scuttled it.’he added.
According to saidu, ANAP is ready to go the extra mile to help the agencies and service providers recover their debt through every legal means as according to him, the N15billion is a deliberately orchestrated debt.
“ We are calling on the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) because this is their purview. They need to wade in as this anomaly is killing the industry.
“ We disagree with the airlines who are trying to justify their criminal acts and impunity, spending public funds and we are calling the EFCC to come in because the money they are talking about never belonged to them in the first place. The money is for aviation development and so when unremitted how do they have justification to complain about regulation? Or training at NCAT? Or the pace of investigations at AIB? Or even infrastructure for that matter?”
ANAP is supporting the Federal Government through the NCAA and is demanding immediate remittance of those funds.
On the unions objective and why it was interested in these matters, Comrade Saidu stated: “ These are the kinds of things the unions should be agitating over mostly to get enough of the agencies funds so as to ensure salaries of staff and others are met.”
“ Besides apart from that, everyone says aviation is global business and we tout that here every time but globalization must come in all ramifications because as you know here there is no globalization in remuneration and ANAP aims at improving the working conditions in the industry that is why we came to being as a union.”