Airline operators commend FG, Customs on duty waivers on aircraft, others

The umbrella body of airline owners, the Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON) on Tuesday commended the federal government for the swift response in removing a 7 per cent surcharge on imported aircraft and spare parts as well as the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) for supporting the operators.

Vice president of AON and Chairman, Chief Executive Officer of Air Peace, Mr. Allen Onyema stated this while frowning at the media distortion of the proceedings in an interactive forum at the Senate on July 6, 2021, where he made a presentation on behalf of the airlines on the challenges the operators are facing, but was distorted by some sections of the media.

Allen explained that online media had reported the meeting as an issue concerning Air Peace alone and brought ethnic dimension to it, which he described as highly condemnable.

The Senate Committee on Aviation called for the interactive meeting with all the aviation agencies in Nigeria led by the Minister of Aviation, Sen. Hadi Sirika together with all Nigerian airlines represented by the AON leadership in which he represented the association as Vice President.

He affirmed that “The meeting was called by the Senate to discuss the reasons for the recent upsurge in flight delays and flight cancellations amongst other issues and challenges facing the aviation industry. It was on this occasion that AON made its presentation of challenges facing all the airlines. Our member airlines were present but we made an articulated collective presentation to the Senate, which I read as the Vice President on behalf of the association.”

“It was on this occasion that AON presented the issue of the partial implementation of the Finance Act 2020 which prohibits the payment of duties and VAT on imported aircraft and aircraft spares by the Customs Service. Of note, was the presence of a 7 per cent Surcharge on the assessed duties which was not supposed to be. This caused delays in the clearance of aircraft and aircraft spares leading to grounding of aircraft that would have been flying,” he explained.

The AON Vice president stated that after the Senate meeting, the airlines contacted the Minister of Finance and Minister of Aviation on the aforementioned challenges and both Ministers, “as representatives of a responsible government, swung into action immediately.”

“AON, for the avoidance of doubt, commends the Federal Government for its unflinching support for the growth of indigenous investments in Nigeria. This was very evident in the manner the government got this challenge addressed immediately within 48hours to the joy of the airlines.

“We equally commend the Nigerian Customs Service for also assisting the airlines, including but not limited to Air Peace which was used as an example, in getting their aircraft spares and aircraft released. Our planes have since started flying,” he said.

Onyema said since the 7th day of July, 2021, airlines have been clearing their aircraft spares and aircraft without having to pay any 7 per cent surcharge.

“It is therefore very mischievous for any media outfit to be circulating videos of the presentation of AON complaints made on July 6th two weeks after the said presentation and two weeks after the issues had been resolved as though they are still existing.

The target of the sponsors of this falsehood is the Federal government of President Muhammadu Buhari. I personally frown at the ethnic angle presently circulating in the social media that the ‘fulani’ is destroying Air Peace.