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NAMA threatens to ground domestic airlines over N5bn debt

By on December 5, 2014

The Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA) has threatened to ground the operations of domestic airlines over their failure to pay their charges which have accumulated to over N5 billion.

Such action will have adverse implication on the socio-economic activities of the country as no flight belonging to the indebted airlines will be given start-up to take off.

The agency said before it introduced the pay-as-you-go system, the airlines have owed the debt and refused to pay despite entreaties and cajolings.

The agency also said it was willing to spread the debts to be paid at instalment by the airlines which were invited by NAMA in the past to structure the payment pattern the way it suited them but almost all the airlines failed to honour the invitation.

Inside source from the agency said it had written the airlines seven times inviting them for debt reconciliation but the request was rebuffed and when a meeting was organised, only very few attended.

THISDAY gathered that the indebtedness of the airlines had started taking its toll on the agency which now struggles to carry out its critical functions such as upgrade of facilities, training of staff and payment of staff allowances among several others.

The agency said in order not to be found wanting in performing its roles, it did not have any option now than to sanction the airlines, adding that NAMA is self-sustaining as it generates revenue which it uses to fund itself and with the new rule that it must pay 25 per cent of its earnings to the federal government coffers, it becomes inevitable that the airlines must pay debts owed the agency.

THISDAY also gathered that the case was tabled before the Minister of Aviation, Osita Chidoka, who on Tuesday acquiesced to the request of NAMA to ground the airlines over the debts.

When contacted, the General Manager, Public Affairs, NAMA, Supo Atobatele, confirmed the indebtedness of the airlines but declined to confirm the plan to ground the airlines affected.

Two weeks after the bonded warehouses were closed and operations suspended at the cargo terminal of the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos, the Comptroller General of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), Alhaji Dikko Inde Abdullahi, yesterday ordered the bonded warehouses owned by the Skyway Aviation Handling Company Limited (SAHCOL) and the Nigeria Aviation Handling Company Plc (NAHCO aviance) be re-opened.

Sequel to this development, THISDAY learnt that the Comptroller of Customs, the Murtala Muhammed International Airport Command, Tajudin Olarenwaju, had been transferred out of the command.

The closure was predicated on the unruly behaviour of clearing agents who allegedly threw stones at a team of senior customs officials who came to inspect the activities at the bulk breaking section of NAHCo aviance warehouse and also on the allegation that operators at the cargo terminal have breached security at the facility.

former Minister of State for Education and Rivers State governorship aspirant on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Chief Nyesom Wike.