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FG Loses N100bn on Aviation Charges -Expert

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Capt. John Ojikutu (retd.), an aviation expert, says the Federal Government lost over N100 billion in Ticket Sales Charges (TSC) and Cargo Sales Charges (CSC) in the aviation sector between 2013 and 2017.

Ojikutu, a member of the Aviation Round Table (ART) and Chief Executive Officer of Centurion Securities, said this in a statement on Sunday, in Lagos.

The Director General of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) had recently said that both domestic and international airlines operating in Nigeria sold tickets worth N502.2 billion in 2017.

Usman said the ticket sales increased by 14.2 per cent (N82.7 billion) compared to the N422.4 billion sold in 2016.

According to him, the airlines also made N400. 9 million in 2017 through cargo charges compared to the N285 million generated in 2016. However, Ojikutu faulted the figures released by the NCAA on the airlines’ earnings and passenger traffic, claiming that it was being subjected to some sort of manipulations which needed to be investigated.

He said: “One might agree with the NCAA that not all those who bought tickets could have used it within the reviewed periods and others could have changed their traveling plans and got their fares refunded.

“However, what is very clear is that the passengers recorded by Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) are known as those who passed through the passengers access control and screening points into the aircraft.

“They are those recorded by the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA) as persons on board and they are those, I believe in, as harmonized passenger traffic figures.

“Therefore, the harmonized figures given by NCAA are deemed to have utilised or expended their purchased tickets.’’

Ojikutu argued that the approximately four million international passengers and 10 million domestic passengers were those who bought tickets and had expended their purchased tickets.

He said, for instance, if all international passengers were to pay N350, 000 per flight without considering those on First Class and Business Class, this would amount to N650 billion and not N411 billion or N502 billion provided by NCAA for 2016 and 2017, respectively.

“Similarly, if we consider that each of the 5 million outbound domestic passengers paid N18,000 again without factoring the First and Business Class passengers fares, the earnings cannot be anything less but more than N90 billion.

“The total tickets sales earnings for each of the years can therefore not be less than N740 billion and the NCAA 5 per cent tickets sales charges for each of the year cannot be less than N37 billion,’’ Ojikutu added.

He also noted that the figures released for the CSC were given without specifying on the volume of cargo that generated the charges which again subjects it to manipulations.

“Overall, the shortfalls are huge and the government through the NCAA is losing an average of about N20 billion annually on TSC and CSC and government has lost more than N100 billion between 2013 and 2017.

“The NCAA must come clean of these irregular figures that do not add up.

“If stakeholders must listen to her that the earnings figures were given only by the airlines, the NCAA should be courageous enough to ask them to show evidence for the balance of over N300bn annually on tickets sales.

“Otherwise, NCAA must take responsibility for all the shortfalls,’’ Ojikutu said.

According to him, in the alternative, the Minister of State for Aviation, the Federal Inland Revenue Service and the National Assembly Aviation Committees should separately set up investigation panels to look into these earnings and shortfalls.

He said the unremitted funds could help in addressing the various inadequacies of systems infrastructure and human capital development in the prime safety areas in the sector.

The General Manager, Public Relations, NCAA, Mr Sam Adurogboye, in responding to the statement, said that the allegation was a cheap blackmail from people seeking unavailable consultancy jobs from the authority.

Adurogboye said: “We have declared over and over that we stand by our figures, with abundant explanations.

That position still stands. “Our figure is a harmonised one with FAAN and others. Our figures have been authenticated by external auditors and the National Assembly.’’

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NCAA Warns Airlines Against Unauthorised Charter Operations

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The Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) has threatened to wield the big stick over charter operations by unauthorised permit holders.

Mr Sam Adurogboye, General Manager, Public Relations, NCAA, gave the warning in a statement on Sunday in Lagos.

Adurogboye said that any operator caught engaging in such unauthorised services forthwith, would have its Air Operator Certificate (AOC) suspended or revoked.

He said: “Consequently, the general public is hereby reminded that holders of Air Transport Licence (ATL) and Airline Operating Permit (AOP) with valid AOC are the only authorised operators to carry out Charter Operations.

“This is in line with the NCAA statutory responsibilities of safeguarding the interest of the general public and that of the investors in the aviation sector.

“The Nigerian Civil Aviation Regulations (Nig.CARs) 2015 Part 18.2.3.1. states thus: No person shall use any aircraft in Nigeria for hire and reward in public transport category to provide non-scheduled or charter air service unless such a person holds an ATL or AOP issued by the authority.

“For the purpose of verification and authentication, the list of current holders with appropriate authorisation to carry out charter operations can be found on the NCAA website: www.ncaa.gov.ng.

“It therefore follows that members of the public transacting business with any unauthorised operators will be doing so at a high risk as such operations may not have valid insurance cover.

“The NCAA will continue to ensure strict compliance with safety regulations as violation(s)will be viewed seriously, ‘’ Adurogboye said.

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Air Peace Launches Direct Flights to Banjul, Increases Accra Service

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West Africa’s leading carrier, Air Peace has said it will begin non-stop flights from Lagos to Banjul, The Gambia from Monday, January 7.

The airline said it would no longer route its Lagos-Banjul flights through Accra, Ghana. The carrier had earlier broken its connecting flights to Freetown, Sierra Leone. It now operates direct Lagos-Freetown-Lagos flights.

In a related development, Air Peace said it was consolidating its leadership of air services on the West Coast of Africa with scheduling of more flights on the Accra, Ghana route.

The development, the carrier said, would avail travellers an exciting opportunity to cut cost and travel time. It pledged to continue to adjust its schedules to better serve its customers on the West Coast of Africa.

“We are pleased to announce the commencement of our non-stop flights to Banjul, the capital city of The Gambia, from Monday, January 7, 2019. We had routed our flights to Banjul through Accra, Ghana.

The new schedule follows our experiment with direct flights from Lagos to Freetown. The pieces of feedback we have received from members of the flying public indicate that they prefer to take direct flights to Freetown and Banjul.

The option saves air travellers money and time. “We have also increased our offering on the Lagos-Accra with more flights. The new Banjul and Accra flight operations,we are sure, will not only deepen our West Coast operations, but also deliver a variety of smart options to our valued customers.

“We are a customer-centric airline and the strategy of our leadership of the airline business in Nigeria and West Africa is anchored on attaching great importance to the feedback of our esteemed customers,” Air Peace said.

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Air Peace Begins Inaugural Flight from MMA2

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A Nigerian Airline, Air Peace, on Wednesday said it had expanded its operations to the Murtala Muhammed Airport 2 (MMA2), Lagos with an inaugural flight to Kaduna.

Air Peace Reports have it that the airline’s Embracer 145 jet, with registration number, took off at 7:20 a.m. from the MMA2 enroute Kaduna Airport.

Speaking on the development, Mr Chris Iwarah, the Corporate Communications Manager, Air Peace, said the airline was delighted to have been able to move some part of its operations to the MMA2.

Iwarah noted that although Air Peace had its main hub at the General Aviation Terminal (GAT), Murtala Muhammed Airport, Lagos, the expansion aimed at positioning the Airline for better services.

He said Air Peace would henceforth operate its Lagos-Akure, Lagos-Asaba, Lagos-Kaduna and Lagos-Port Harcourt as well as NAF Base flights from MMA2.

Iwarah said other new domestic routes to be will be launched soon would also be done from the terminal which would in future accommodate all flights under the airline’s subsidiary, Air Peace Hopper.

“ We are quite hopeful that the expansion of our Lagos base to MMA2 will afford us the space and convenience to deliver first-class flight experience to our loyal customers.

“As a customer-oriented carrier, it is only strategic that we seek a better operational atmosphere for seamless passenger facilitation and exceptional customer service experience.

“This exactly is what MMA2 offers with its state-of-the-art facilities and we are indeed proud of our decision to annex it to our Lagos hub,” he said.

Mr Rodger Whittle, Executive Director, MMA2 described the action of the Airlime as a fantastic thing for the operator and same for the MMA2.

He said: “I think it is very exciting for us that Air Peace has come to MMA2 and we can now happily say that all the airlines in Nigeria operate from the MMA2. “It brings the destinations of MMA2 to 24. Air Peace is bringing Akure as well as Port Harcourt NAF Base.

Mrs Eniola Ade-Solanke, Head, Corporate Communications, MMA2 said the airport terminal had the capacity for regional operations and attracting major airlines through the provision of excellent passenger experience.

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