NIGERIAN Air Traffic Controllers Association (NATCA) has called on the President through the Honourable Minister of State (Aviation) and the National Assembly to prevail on the defaulting members of Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON) to pay up charges so that the nation’s aviation industry would not collapse.
NATCA in a statement jointly signed by both the President and General Secretary Comrade Eyaru Victor and Alawode Banji respectively, such payments will save the industry from impending collapse and enhance the capacity of the agencies to effectively perform their duties.
NATCA reasoned that since AON members are paid for the services they render to the flying public, they should in turn be ready to pay for the services rendered to them by the aviation agencies.
According to the association, Federal government should also, as a matter of urgency, look at refining Jet A1 in the country to reduce its present high cost for the survival of the Airlines. The issues of multiple destinations in the country granted to foreign airlines should be reviewed by the Federal Government in the interest of the growth of our local airlines.
“We use this medium to appreciate the Federal Government on the dispatch with which Abuja Airports runway was reconstructed. We however appeal that the same zeal should be employed in fixing the Lagos Airports central taxiway (abandoned for more than a decade now), replacement of the unreliable Abuja Control Towers lift, upgrading of the already old nations radar facilities (TRACON), completion of the Kaduna Control Tower under construction to replace the burnt one and reconstruction of equally burnt Maiduguri Control Tower, to mention just a few, in the overall interest of air safety”, NATCA stated.
Emphasizing that the survival of the nation’s aviation industry can only be guaranteed if all stakeholders strictly play it by the rules, the aviation body noted that it is quite disheartening that some members of AON constituted themselves as clogs in the wheel of progress of the aviation industry by refusing to pay stipulated charges for the services they are provided with by the agencies.
It added further that “The AON in 2006 engaged NAMA in a legal battle on the payment of Terminal Navigational Charges (TNC) and En-route Navigational Charges (ENC). This was finally laid to rest by the unanimous judgment of the Supreme Court on 28th February, 2014 in favour of NAMA. Till date, some members of the AON refused to obey the law of the land employing different means to circumvent the judgment”.
According to the enabling Act No.48 of 1999 part III Section 7 (a), NATCA reminded that NAMAs statutory obligation is to provide Air Traffic Management systems within the Nigerian Airspace., adding that “as an IGR-sustaining Agency, NAMA derives its funding from services rendered to airspace users as empowered by part V Section II (b) (i) of the same Act. Many air navigational service providers in the world rely on similar charges to fund their operations. This reduces the financial burden on the Federal Government, encourages rapid development and renewal of facilities in the industry which in turn enhances quality of service delivery and air safety.
“In line with international practices, aviation charges were reviewed as they relate to different services provided by each of the agencies. The 5% Tickets and Cargo Sales collected by airlines and operators on behalf of the agencies is the direct contribution of travelling public to funding the industry’s operations. Unfortunately, the collected charges, running to several millions of naira, are not being remitted promptly by the airlines and operators who are mostly members of Airlines Operators of Nigeria (AON) despite that they collected the charges on cash-and-carry basis”, NATCA pointed out in the statement.