Capacity in the aviation industry further depleted yesterday as the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) yesterday suspended Azman Air’s licenses thereby grounding its operation.
Daily Trust reports that the airline had been forced to suspend operations over the non-renewal of its Air Transport License (ATL).
The ATL is one of the certifications an airline must have and regularly renew before it can operate.
This is coming a few weeks after the NCAA threatened to sanction the airline over huge indebtedness of over 42bn and $7.8m accruing from the ticket sale charge and cargo sale charge (TSC/CSC).
The DG said, “This is not a charge and this is not their money, it is money collected in trust for us from passengers and they squandered it. We are not asking them for an interest rate, no penalties, we just want our funds remitted.
“I cannot keep explaining to the Minister, to the Accountant General, to the Presidency why we cannot remit money meant for them to them. We have been forced to carry out this action,” he said.
There are indications that more airlines might be affected in a few days to come over the issue of indebtedness which the NCAA has committed to aggressively pursue.
The TSC/CSC is a statutory charge paid on every ticket which the airlines are expected to remit to the NCAA for onward sharing with aviation agencies.
The TSC/CSC is shared among five aviation agencies including the NCAA, the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA), the Nigerian Meteorological Agency (NiMET), Accident Investigation Bureau (AIB) and the Nigerian College of Aviation Technology (NCAT), Zaria.
In accordance with the law, NCAA gets 58 per from the total five per cent which forms 70 percent of its operating cost while the other four agencies share the remaining 42 per cent.
The DG clarified that the NCAA only withheld the renewal of the airline’s ATL and not the AOC, even as it confirmed that the airline has put forward a payment plan which is not favourable to the agency.
He said, “The airline owed us N1.2 billion as TSC/CSC. We invited them, set up a committee for that purpose. Azman said they would pay the sum of N10 million monthly out of the debt, which we refused. They later came up to N20 million, but we insist on N50 million monthly. If we had agreed to the N10 million monthly, it would take them about 12 years to repay back the money it had already collected and by then, the money would have been lost.”
The General Manager, Azman Air Services, Suleiman Lawal in an interview with Daily Trust however assured that the airline would resume flight operations on Friday while apologizing to customers on the recent development.
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He said, “We are not happy with what actually happened. We apologise to the customers for what happened. There was miscommunication and that was what caused the whole problem and I assure you that we will resume with flying arms.
“We have paid for everything. It’s a miscommunication that we had and we are going to resume operation by tomorrow.”