Chinelo Obogo, Lagos
The Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON) has said than rather than cut corners Nigerian airlines will shut down operations if the burden of running the airline business becomes unbearable.
Reacting to a statement credited to the chairman, Senate Committee on Aviation, Smart Adeyemi, saying that the airlines are likely to cut corners in their operations if the condition becomes cumbersome, the operators in a statement signed by its President, Abdumunaf Yunusa, said there is no iota of truth in the statement, insisting that Nigerian airlines have not cut corners, do not cut corners and will never cut corners.
In advocating for more bailout funds for airlines, Adeyemi was reported to have pleaded with the Federal Government to stop the Customs department from re-introducing the payment of duties and VAT on the importation of commercial aircraft, commercial aircraft spares and engines noting that the reintroduction is flagrant disobedience of the Executive Order by President Muhammadu Buhari who had previously granted zero duty and zero VAT on the importation of commercial aircraft, aircraft spares and aircraft engines.
He said that this decision by Customs could make airlines to start cutting corners because of their inability to clear their spare parts.
But the AON insisted that Nigerian airlines are the safest in the world and rather than cut corners, they will shut down operations.
‘The attention of AON has been drawn to the reports in certain news media, quoting a Senator, saying that as a result of the financial problems brought to the airlines by the effects of COVID-19 and, as result of lack of adequate government bailouts for the airline, that the airlines had resorted to cutting corners.
‘AON wishes to state categorically here that there is no iota of truth in this statement. Nigerian airlines have not cut corners, do not cut corners and will never cut corners. We want to believe that the Distinguished Senator was misunderstood and quoted out of context because there is never any available fact supporting such a conclusion.
‘It was equally reported in most media that the senator, in asking that Nigerian airlines be supported with adequate bailout funding, warned that if this was not done, that some airlines may resort to cutting corners.
‘We wish to state categorically that no Nigerian airline would cut corners under any circumstance. Nigerian airlines will never compromise safety under any circumstance. If the burden of running our business becomes unbearable as a result of the Customs duties and VAT, we would rather shut down and suspend our operations rather than cut corners.
‘Again, the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority(NCAA) is alive to its duties and would never allow such to happen. Nigerian airlines, as a result of the stringent safety regime being run by the NCAA, are the safest in the world,’ the AON said.