By Louis Ibah
Bi-Courtney Aviation Services Limited (BASL) has decried the refusal of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) and the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) to grant it the nod to operate regional flights out of the Murtala Muhammed Airport Two (MMA2), Ikeja, Lagos, despite making the requisite investments and meeting all the regulatory conditions for such operations.
The company has also flayed the decision of FAAN to continue to operate domestic flights out of the General Aviation Terminal (GAT) of the Murtala Muhammed Airport (also known as the MMA1) in deviance to the terms of the concession it entered with the Federal Government for the operations of domestic flights out of Lagos State.
Chairman/CEO of Bi-Courtney Aviation Services Limited, Dr. Wale Babalakin, who stated this at an event to mark the 10th year of the Federal Government’s concessioning of the domestic wing of the Murtala Muhammed Airport Lagos to BASL, said the breach of the contract had cost the firm a loss of over N200 billion.
Babalakin said BASL commenced operations on May 7, 2007 with Chanchangi Airlines being the first commercial flight to fly out of the MMA2, an airport it built following a 35-year concession deal signed by former President Olusegun Obasanjo.
He also debunked claims it was indebted to the Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON). “We owe no dime to AMCON,” said Babalakin who explained that it was the Federal Government that owed the firm as a result of the breach of the concession contract. He said as a result of this contract breach and the attendant losses, a Federal High Court in Lagos, in 2012, had ruled that the government had violated its agreement and awarded damages to the tune of about N132 billion. He said the government was yet to pay the damages despite losing in its appeals at the Appeal and Supreme courts.
Babalakin puts the total losses the firm had incurred in the last 10 years under the concession at over N200 billion, noting that even if it were to ask AMCON to take away the N100 billion it alleges BASL owed, the government would still be indebted to the firm to the tune of over N100 billion.
He said a hard lesson had been learnt and that while the company was open to dialogue to resolve the crisis, the way forward was for the government to respect contracts it signs with private firms at all times if it must attract private sector investment into the country.
Babalakin lauded the management and staff of the company for working hard to deliver quality services to airlines and passengers who use the MMA2, noting that the firm had been unable to declare any profit in the last 10 years of operations due to the hostile operating environment.