Helicopter operators hatch plans to thwart collection of landing levy

New information has revealed that helicopter operators are hesitant to adhere to the Federal Government’s directive to pay landing levies to the Federal Government through its concessionaire Messrs NAEBI Dynamic Concepts Limited, the company given exclusive authority to carry out this mandate.

While some of the operators have threatened to withdraw services, others are exploring legal options to frustrate the federal government’s efforts to keep track of helicopter movements within Nigeria’s airspace as Messrs NAEBI Dynamic Concepts Limited’s concession covers monitoring and surveillance of helicopter movement. 

Our correspondent gathered that those who opposed the FG’s decision have perfect their plans, to among others enlist themselves to the umbrella body of indigenous carriers, the Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON) to frustrate the efforts of the Concessionaire who was granted the right to carry out the job on behalf of the Federal Government. 

Some are said to even be attempting to initiate discussions with the Minister of Aviation and Aerospace Development in the bid to truncate the concession.

Industry watchers have cautioned that the AON and some of its influential members should not allow their reputation and capacity to be dragged into a matter that is set out to frustrate the implementation of a Federal Government directive.

The question however remains; why are the operators so concerned about a levy that is not even theirs to pay? 

Why are these helicopter operators trying to stop the collection of landing levies which are paid in other climes? How does $300 per landing compare to $6000 and $10000 that the Chopper operators charge the LOCs and IOCs per flight?

A source familiar with the development said, the Minister wishes that the owner of a dominant carrier does not dabble into the matter.

According to the source, “I can tell you categorically that the helicopter operators are divided; while some have complied and already paying the charge for any operation others are seeking to sabotage the Federal Government initiative by soliciting the intervention of the owners of one of the biggest airlines in the country to arm-twist the minister and mislead the public about the state of affairs in the aviation industry through negative media publicity on this matter.”

The source further hinted that the said businessman and owner of the Airline is struggling to hold his Aviation business together. “Why would any airline owner allow himself to be dragged into this matter when the Helicopter Operators are not the ones to pay this levy? They are merely collection agents.

Many questions are begging for answers. The benefits of the implementation of the directive of the Ministry of Aviation & Aerospace Development are multifaceted. Not only will it provide additional revenue to support the aviation sector, but it will also help the government monitor helicopter activity more closely, improve security and address the issue of unknown helicopters operating in Nigerian airspace.  

Community reports indicate that some unidentified helicopters have been sighted conducting air drops in remote locations. 

In furtherance of its effort to maintain transparency, accountability and proper documentation in Nigeria’s airspace, the government through its concessionaire intends to establish a comprehensive system to track and document all helicopter movements within the country’s airspace. This initiative aims to address issues around the activities of helicopters operating at low altitudes, where they can evade radar detection. NAEBI’s mandate is also to collect data through to effectively monitor and manage helicopter operations, ensuring that the country’s airspace remains safe and secure for all users. 

A recently published directive to Helicopter Operators signed by the Minister of Aviation & Aerospace Development, Mr Festus Keyamo said: “It is imperative that all operators and stakeholders fully comply with this mandate, by granting total access to Messrs NAEBI Dynamic Concepts Limited for the collection of this levy, on behalf of the Federal Government, effective immediately.

“Non-compliance with this directive will constitute a breach of this mandate and will be met with appropriate sanctions. The Ministry will enforce compliance without exception and will pursue all available remedies against any party that fails to adhere to this directive.

“Please note that the Ministry of Aviation will be monitoring compliance with this mandate closely and will take swift action against any violation.”