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$4,000 tax: Charter airlines, FG set for battle

By on October 3, 2013

Charter airline operators in the country have secretly gathered a team of ‘strong lawyers’ to battle the Federal Government at the Federal High Court in Lagos over the legality of the $4,000 tax the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority recently imposed on the operators, an investigation by our correspondent has shown.

The NCAA had a few weeks ago directed commercial operators of private jets to pay $4,000 for every flight within the country.

Affected airlines and aircraft operators, under the aegis of the Airline Operators of Nigeria, have, however, described as draconian the policy, which they say amounts to double taxation and an illegality.

As a result, the NCAA has filed a suit at the Federal High Court, Lagos, challenging the reluctance of foreign and locally-registered aircraft operators to pay the levies.

But airlines sources told our correspondent on Tuesday that a group of charter operators had contacted a team of lawyers, who are versatile in aviation laws, to tackle the NCAA in court in about two weeks’ time.

The source explained, “A few of us, about 17 of us have signed a document and we have appointed two famous lawyers in the country, who are also versatile in aviation laws (names withheld), to tackle the Federal Government in court over the matter.

“You know there is a little crisis in the leadership of the Air Operators of Nigeria at the moment; so, this is really creating an issue on how to deal with the matter when the NCAA took AON to court.

“NCAA has made a mistake by taking the matter to court. They will now expose the illegality of everything they have been doing.”

In an originating summons dated September 23, 2013, the plaintiff (NCAA) is praying the court to determine whether by true construction of sections 30 (2) (q) and 30 (5) of the Civil Aviation Act, 2006, it is empowered to impose fees on all foreign and Nigerian registered aircraft engaged in non-scheduled operations.

The agency deposed that the payment of the said fees was to take effect from the date of the issuance of the order.

According to a memo to commercial private jet operators obtained by The Punch last week, the NCAA ordered that Nigerian-registered private jets would henceforth pay $3,000 for every departure, while foreign registered private jets would pay $4,000 per departure.