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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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TRT World Now Live on Turkish Airlines

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TRT World channel is now active on Turkish Airlines, delivering live television programming for passenger consumption.

Turkish Airlines now extends live TRT World broadcast across its wide-body aircrafts for its passengers to enjoy programming from Turkey’s first English broadcaster.

Commenting on the initiative Turkish Airlines Chairman of the Board and the Executive Committee, M. İlker Aycı said; “As the national flagship airline of Turkey, where the East and West meet, we offer Turkish hospitality to our guests on board. Today we are proud to offer TRT World’s objective perspective and alternative approach to news making to 122 countries we fly.”

İbrahim Eren, Director General and Chairman of TRT, said; “It is important to stay informed and up-to-date on world events. Passengers tune in to different outlets for news and it is vital to have variety in your sources to have a more well-rounded view of current events.

We are grateful to Turkish Airlines for delivering our content in-flight and making this challenge a lot easier during flight. Being accessible also onboard is a major achievement to fulfill our promise to offer our service everywhere, whatever platform our audience prefer to receive it.”

TRT World, international news platform launched in 2015 and headquartered in Istanbul, offers an alternative viewpoint on global and domestic events, challenging perceived narratives and providing a much needed new perspective on news.

Turkish Airlines’ in-flight entertainment system allows passengers to watch eight channels on board, including TRT World, that broadcast live over satellite.

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Air Peace Receives Fifth Embraer Regional Jet

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Air Peace has taken delivery of its fifth Embraer 145 Regional Jet, assuring that the development has deepened its capacity to relaunch its flights to Sokoto and start its Katsina service.

The carrier, which had earlier received four of the six 50-seater Embraer 145 Regional aircraft it recently acquired, said its goal of unifying Nigeria through air transport and extending its flight operations to unserved and undeserved cities was fast being realized under its subsidiary, Air Peace Hopper.

A statement signed by Air Peace Corporate Communications Manager, Mr. Chris Iwarah said the latest delivery touched down at the Murtala Muhammed Airport, Lagos at the weekend.

The new aircraft, marked 5N-BUX and named Udoka Ozor (Nee Onyema), the statement added, would be deployed on the Sokoto and Katsina routes in about two weeks’ time.

“We are pleased to announce the arrival of our fifth Embraer 145 aircraft in Lagos. The aircraft, which is marked 5N-BUX and named Udoka Ozor (Nee Onyema), landed at the Murtala Muhammed Airport, Lagos about 6.30 p.m. on Sunday, October 14, 2018.

“We have now received a total of five of the six Embaer 145 aircraft we recently acquired as part of our fleet expansion project. We are delighted that with the arrival of the aircraft, we will relaunch our Sokoto operations and start our Katsina service in the next two weeks.

“Air Peace is committed to our no-city-left-behind project under our subsidiary, Air Peace Hopper. We are honoured that our involvement in the aviation industry is fulfilling our goal of uniting Nigeria through air transport, creating thousands of direct and indirect job opportunities and lifting Nigeria’s economy.

“We assure the flying public and Nigeria that we will continue to deliver exceptional flight services and create massive employment opportunities for the people with our domestic, regional and international operations.

“We our indeed grateful to our valued guests and solicit their continued support as we take greater steps to make our dear nation proud in the global aviation community,” Air Peace said

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AMCON Says Some Local Airlines May Collapse Over Debt

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Some Nigerian airlines are facing the risk of collapse under the weight of huge debts, according to the country’s Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria, set up to rescue banks from bad loans.

“The industry remains in the throes of airlines burdened with debts, under administration or on the borderline of collapse,” Amcon chief executive Ahmed Kuru said at the 2018 Colloquium of the Nigeria Travels Mart (NTM) in Lagos.

The colloquium had the theme: “Corporate Governance and Airline Industry Development in Nigeria”.

Amcon acquired the country’s biggest airline Arik last year because of difficulties arising from huge debts and poor corporate governance, it said.

Nigeria’s more than 10 domestic airlines are struggling with difficulties arising from the country’s first economic contraction in a quarter century in 2016, and have seen reduced access to capital and limited leasing opportunities.

The AMCON boss said that lack of regulations and good corporate governance were the main factors responsible for the failure of Nigerian airlines, including the defunct national carrier, Nigeria Airways.

According to him, there are two major problems with the airlines in Nigeria; one being lack of an effective Board of Directors, thereby affecting internal policies and discipline, the other problem has to do with regulation.

“Given the ownership structure of most airlines in Nigeria, the board’s veritable check on management and excesses of airline owners who show very little patience for orderly and planned conduct of business, is practically absent.

“A functional board is necessary for the effective operations of airlines with long term survival and profitability objectives.

“Individuals with independence, experience and expertise from relevant sectors of the economy are not identified and engaged,” Kuru said.

He said on the other hand, regulations were either weak and lack the courage to enforce compliance based on current standards, or need more fine-tuning to ensure effectiveness of the airline.

Kuru said: “The aviation industry is as important as the health industry because it deals with the lives of travellers. It requires more regulations than even the banking industry.

“It is only in Nigeria that an airline can abandon you at the airport for more than five hours without any recourse.

“Indeed, there are consequences for frequent cancellations, however, I cannot recall any airline punished in the recent past.

“That is why I want to use this opportunity to appeal to the NCAA and other regulatory agencies in the aviation industry to show courage and ensure that sound corporate governance systems are enforced.

“A starting point can be the domestication and adoption of the draft Nigerian Code of Corporate Governance 2018.”

Also, Mr. Chris Amenechi, Vice-President, Pricing and Revenue Management, Copa Airlines, Panama, said Nigeria could become an aviation hub if the country addresses the infrastructure deficit in the sector.

He added that the NCAA should not be an economic regulator of airlines but should rather stick to the technical and safety aspects of the business.

On his part, Mr Simon Tumba, Chief Executive Officer of NTM, said the government should focus on airports concession following its decision to jettison the establishment of a new national carrier.

“I believe the government should give more priority to the issue of airports concession. This will give Nigeria an edge and hopefully catapult us to the needed growth in this sector.

“It is very important that this is executed in a transparent manner with full support of the workers,” he said

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