From Fred Itua, Abuja
The Senate has made a case for substantial increase in the bailout of N4 billion to the Airlines Operators of Nigeria (AON).
But Aviation minister, Hadi Sirika, immediately expressed disappointment that the airlines operators were yet to remit the some of $6.993million and another N19.4billion to the Federal Government through the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA).
“We have concerns and they are very genuine. NCAA operates on cost recovery basis. The Airlines Operators are owing us $6,993,234 and another N365,374,686. These are monies we get from tickets and they ought to be remitting this money so that we can train more inspectors and keep the industry safe,” the minister disclosed.
At a public hearing in the Senate on some Bills to amend and update existing Aviation laws in the country, chairman of the Senate Committee on Aviation, Senator Smart Adeyemi, stated that the N4 billion approved for the airline operators is too small going by what is happening globally in the aviation sector.
“If we really want to keep the airline operators in business, and we don’t want them to close shops and go home, the Federal Government should shore up the amount it wanted to give to the airlines operators. For a developing nation like Nigeria, we need to encourage the airline operators to remain in business. The situation would be worse if we fail to support them and they would have to be cutting corners,” Smart stressed.
Earlier, the representative of the AON, Chinasa Unaegburam, sought a drastic reduction in the charges imposed on airline operators by the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) to allow them operate efficiently.
“We are proposing that we have our fees at a cost recovery level to ensure that these agencies are run efficiently in the system. The aim is also to ensure accountability and transparency.
According to Unaegburam, the AON are groaning under what she called unbearable charges.
“We propose 1.5% but it is subject to negotiation. The operators have to operate efficiently which is a very important issue for the operators,” She added.
The Aviation minister equally told the committee that the essence of the executive bills is to address the genuine concerns of all the stakeholders in the aviation industry.
“The Federal Government has approved N4bn as bailout for the airlines and N1bn for other businesses within the civil aviation,” He added.