AIRLINE Operators of Nigeria ( AON) has expressed reservation over accusations of defrauding government with debts but has called on its members with bad debts to engage the agencies and put forward repayment plans.
The AON reacted based on a report from Abuja stressing that it owes aviation agencies N42bn and $7.8 million dollars which according to the Director General of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority ( NCAA) will cripple the agencies.
Subtly admitting some indebtedness, the AON stated that airlines were operating under harsh conditions in the country and that every airline in the world is indebted which are settled as their operations go on hence stating that it was no reason to criminalize the airlines.
A statement signed by Vice President, AON, Barr. Allen Onyema read,”Our attention has been drawn to news making the rounds that the DG NCAA, Capt. Musa Nuhu, “accused airlines of defrauding government aviation agencies like the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) and the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA) of over N19billion Naira while converting same to ‘personal use’”.
“The Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON) wishes to state its very strong reservations for such accusations and we deny very strongly that our members are defrauding or defrauded government agencies of the said amount or any amount for that matter.
“Airline Operations, worldwide, is not a cash and carry business. Every airline in the world owes debts which are settled as their operations go on. Nigeria is not an exception.
“It is true that some of our members have very bad debts but not all our members owe such debts. The owing of debts in itself does not amount to fraud. We frown very strongly at the criminalization of all Nigerian airlines as a result of the said debts.
“Various parties were present at a stakeholders’ meeting and the DG NCAA did not at any time use such words to describe Nigerian airlines. Rather, the meeting ended on an amicable note with everyone agreeing to work together to address the debts.
“It is pertinent to point out that some of these debts are owed by some airlines that are no longer in existence.
“We, however, advise our members with such bad debts to engage the agencies and put forward repayment plans.
“Airlines in Nigeria are operating under very harsh environment and need all the support from everyone.