MANAGEMENT of Air Peace has put to rest claims of debts owed to the the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) with details of dates and reason of payments and has accused the airport authority of peddling false information aimed at tarnishing its good corporate image.
In a statement reacting to the new claim by Air Peace Corporate Communications Manager, Mr. Chris Iwarah, the carrier said it furnished FAAN with the pieces of evidence of the two separate payments it made.
According to the statement, FAAN had claimed in a demand notice to us dated May 19, 2017 that Air Peace was owing it a total of N7, 376, 990.94 comprising landing and parking charges of N6, 802, 071.47 and electricity bill of N574, 919.47.
The airline further said it had made two separate payments. The first payment being a bank draft of N2,839,570.14 made on May 25, 2017 and another payment of N3 million in favour of FAAN on the Remita platform on May 31, 2017.
There was major controversy at the weekend when the Manager of the Akanu Ibiam International Airport, Enugu, Mr. Mgbemena Orjiako sealed off the airline’s counters over an alleged N7 million debt.
In a press briefing, the airline had said the action of the manager of the airport disrupted its flight operations for more than two hours and resulted in the loss of millions of Naira in revenue.
Air Peace condemned the sealing off of its Enugu airport offices, saying it had made payments to FAAN before the disruption of its operations in Enugu.
A new turn to the incident, however, emerged on Sunday when a group that claimed to be representing aviation workers quoted FAAN as confirming that it was yet to receive the payments made by Air Peace.
Reacting to the fresh claim Mr. Iwarah, said the carrier had furnished FAAN with the pieces of evidence of the two separate payments it made.
The airline said it got reliable information that FAAN had recruited several groups to make false allegations against it in the authority’s bid to lower its corporate reputation in the estimation of right-thinking members of the public.
“On Friday, June 9, 2017, we alerted members of the public to the shutdown of our flight operations by the manager of the Enugu airport over a claim of N7 million debt. Upon realizing its error, FAAN admitted that we were not owing it and apologized for the disruption of our flights and the inconveniences caused our esteemed guests whose flights were consequently delayed.
“While we were still trying to manage the crisis caused by the Enugu incident, we learnt on good authority that FAAN had recruited different groups lacking in credibility to attack our corporate image rather than being genuinely remorseful for its illegal action that disrupted our operations beginning from 5.30 a.m. when our staff resumed for duty at the facility. One of the hired groups circulated false information to the media on Sunday, alleging that the payments we made in favour of FAAN were yet to reflect and that the reckless disruption of our operations only lasted for 43 minutes.
“We consider this futile attempt to alter the shameful narrative and further tarnish our excellent corporate image a clear afterthought. FAAN cannot approbate and reprobate at the same time. The authority had confirmed to the media on Friday that we were not indebted to it and that the heedless action of its Enugu manager was a product of gross error.
“The authority had claimed in a demand notice to us dated May 19, 2017 that we were owing it a total of N7, 376, 990.94 comprising landing and parking charges of N6, 802, 071.47 and electricity bill of N574, 919.47. After reconciling our account with the authority, we made two separate payments. The first payment was a bank draft of N2,839,570.14 made on May 25, 2017. We made another payment of N3 million in favour of FAAN on the Remita platform on May 31, 2017. The bank draft and Remita receipt were duly sent to FAAN, which acknowledged receipt of the documents. The latest claim by the authority that our payments were yet to reflect in its system is, therefore, a very poor but worrisome attempt to feed members of the public with absolute falsehood. It is shocking that the authority would deliberately seek to poison the minds of members of the public against an airline that has always conducted its affairs in line with the law and discharged its obligations to government with a sense of urgency and patriotism.
“It is public knowledge that Air Peace is today the most responsible airline in the country. We make payments to FAAN and other agencies of government without any undue delay. Where there are no invoices or where we dispute any financial claim by the authority, we reconcile our figures with FAAN and make payments accordingly. Needless to say, once an aircraft takes off or lands, charges apply. These charges are settled upon reconciliation by the airline and the relevant aviation agency, not on a daily basis as FAAN and its paid agents would have members of the public believe.
“As such, it is puerile for FAAN to justify its shameful action in Enugu on our alleged failure to make payment after several reminders. Rather than working tirelessly to bring down a responsible corporate citizen as Air Peace, FAAN should channel its newfound energy towards positive efforts that would aid the survival of the nation’s airlines. The airlines have to exist for FAAN to survive. We urge the Federal Government to urgently call the authority to order before it inflicts more damage on the nation’s aviation sector. We also demand an unreserved apology from FAAN for deliberately tarnishing our image or risk our resolve to resort to all legal means to pursue the matter to its logical conclusion,” the airline said.