Debts owed aviation agencies by domestic airlines in Nigeria within the last decade has reached N22.2 billion (Ghs 337,077,860.28).
This, is according to the nation’s Aviation Minister, Senator Hadi Sirika.
Senator Sirika speaking at a public hearing on the Civil Aviation Amendment Bills by the National Assembly in Abuja, intimated that the domestic carriers owe local aviation agencies $6.9 million and N19.6 billion respectively – totaling N22.2 billion – and lamented their inability to pay the debts to the agencies.
The debts, he pointed out include; 5 per cent charge from the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), passenger service charge, landing and parking fees to the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) and overflight charges to the National Airspace Management Agency (NAMA).
Senator Sirika speaking further at the public hearing, revealed plans by the Federal Government to start disbursement of the N5 billion approved fund for airlines in the country.
“The Federal Government has approved N4 billion as a bailout for the airlines and N1 billion for other businesses within the aviation industry, we are already putting arrangements for the disbursement in place and once we start, it would be transparently done,” he said.
But Chairman of the Senate Committee on Aviation, Senator Smart Adeyemi, opined that the N5 billion bailout fund would not be enough to keep domestic airline operators in business.
He posited that other countries have given huge bailout funds to their airlines in order to sustain their operations and retain their manpower, hence the Federal Government should do same.
Further warning that, if the challenges facing the domestic airlines were not urgently addressed by Government, most of the carriers may collapse.
“Let’s look at the cost of spare parts for the airlines and the duties that they perform. Though we might argue that the business is a private one, it is centered around safety. The N4 billion approved for the airlines by the Federal Government is too little to make an impact on the operations of the airlines,” he said.
The Civil Aviation Amendment Bills public hearing by the National Assembly, is to help modernize and make the country’s aviation industry be in tandem with international best practices.
The public hearing according to Senator Adeyemi, is to encourage the quality and content of the bills, ensure economic growth, improved job creation, provision of Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul (MRO) facilities and safety of the industry.
The six aviation agencies, which their Acts are being amended or repealed, are the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) Act, the Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) Act, the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA) Act, the Nigerian Meteorological Agency (NIMET) Act, the Nigerian College of Aviation Technology (NCAT) Act and the Accident Investigation Bureau (AIB).