- FAAN claims restrictions due to marketers’ Apron passes expiration
Delays and cancellations may ruin the Easter celebrations for air travellers as the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria ( FAAN) seems to be enforcing some form of restriction to oil marketers at the airports after increasing their Apron pass charges by 100% with intent for the oil marketers to pay before access is granted.
According to a well placed source, the charge which used to be N150,000 per annum was jacked up to N500,000 per annum some weeks back with marketers trying to negotiate feeling that the charges were extremely high and unilateral until it came down to N200,000.
However, FAAN says that is not the true picture as the marketers Apron passes expired and could not go in as per regulations.
From what NigerianFLIGHTDECK can gather, this increment is across all airports operated by FAAN and is likely to affect air travel this Easter period if nothing is done however, the implementation seems to have taken effect at the Nnamdi Azikiwe Airport Abuja, to the chagrin of oil marketers, airlines and indeed travellers.
In the case of the Abuja Airport, NigerianFLIGHTDECK learnt that there have been meetings with the Airport Manager, at least thrice since the increment was done with the meetings ending on stalemates.
It was further learnt that on Tuesday, FAAN acceded to the appeals for reduction and asked the marketers to pay N200,000 instead of the earlier demand but no time was given with the marketers arguing that it takes time to process.
As of Wednesday, the situation was said to have abated when the marketers were allowed in after an initial blockade by the airport managers.
However, as of this morning, the situation has re-escalated as due to the blockade by FAAN, the marketers are now unwilling to supply their vendors at the airport.
The impact of this is simple, disrupted flight operations leading to delays and maybe even cancellations as flights are landing and there is no fuel for them to refuel.
This situation with the charges will most likely affect everyone including ground handlers etc and our correspondent learnt the increase is actually across the board but Abuja is taking action today and this may have started affecting airlines who may need to refuel before their next flight.
Airlines are already complaining as one has had to cut its losses even with a100%load factor from Lagos to Akure at 4pm because with the delay , the airline can no longer meet up with sunset even if it departs with our normal schedule.
“Passengers’ Easter plans destroyed because of the FAAN and Fuel marketers stand-off.”
Another airline operator lamented that its aircraft has been on ground in Abuja since. And they have just granted access to marketers to supply but was pained that,”the delays for the rest of the day are massive. They choose the beginning of the Easter weekend to do this!”
Some airlines are equally being smart by taking more fuel from the originating point to avoid having to wait for fuel at the destination especially if it is Abuja but that can only last as a temporary solution since the increment is across board.
FAAN in a telephone reaction through, Ag General Manager Corporate Communication, said the marketers’ Apron passes had expired and that,” you know it is a highly regulated industry and of we don’t play by the rules, it is still going to be put out there that we are wrong. Most of their apron passes expired and its an annual payment and they knew of this so they could have worked accordingly.
“How much os the increment, its from N150,000 to N200,000 and as you know it is within the law to review these charges. We are a revenue generation agency and do not get subventions fron the government we depend on our internally generated revenue and we need these funds for maintenance and a whole lot, so it is not a crime to review.
As at the last communication with our source, he confirmed access has been given at Abuja Airport with a proviso to operate for three hours.
The source also confirmed that indeed all pass had almost expired and they found out at the point of processing passes without prior information from FAAN.
He explained that the processing could not continue until the payment issue was resolved. “After resolution they still require adequate time for processing…its not just payment.”