- Accuses domestic airlines of conspiracy
AIR Transport Services Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (ATSSSAN) has accused domestic airlines of colluding to cheat the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) on the remittance of the 5% Ticket Sales Charge(TSC) and Cargo Sales Charge (CSC) stating that airlines fraudulently calculate the charge with base fare alone exempting Fuel surcharge (YQ).
President of ATSSSAN, Comrade Ahmadu Illitrus made this known in an interactive session held at Lagos Airport during the weekend vowing that the union will not fold its arms and allow the Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON) mislead Nigerians and the world about the true state of the indebtedness of domestic airlines to aviation agencies.
Ilitrus explained that contrary to misinformation that the NCAA was discriminating against domestic airlines, it is a known fact that international airlines ticket coupons generated from IATA showed that TSC is based on total cost of ticket including fuel surcharge(YQ)which domestic airlines exclude while calculating the 5%.
Comrade Illitrus said “The International ticket coupons generated by IATA for tickets sold in Naira and in USD in Nigeria showed that the 5% TSC for both sales were based on the total cost of the ticket, that is inclusive of fuel surcharge (YQ) and base fare”.
He also stated that all Nigerian domestic operators charge the 5% TSC only on base fare excluding YQ, a situation ATSSAN says is fraudulent considering that “over 80% of the ticket cost is hidden under YQ and other sundry cost. For instance, on a one leg journey LOS – ABV (Lagos –Abuja) that cost N23, 000.00, the QY is usually about N19, 000.00 while the base fare is N3, 000.00. The 5% TSC is then calculated only.
Wondering the propriety of the allegation that the Federal Government and NCAA are siphoning indigenous airlines through tax, Comrade Illitrus stated that airlines are to be blamed since they have refused to pay up over the years amassing a massive debt profile for themselves.
Illitrus said “What we have witnessed over the years is that the domestic airlines i.e AON members and non-members alike collect the 5% TSC from passengers and refuse to remit to NCAA and or remit only a negligible percentage of the money and illegally utilize the larger unremitted percentage, thereby creating a huge deficit of unremitted portion of the money which now forms what is termed debt”.
On the call for the cancellation of the 5% TSC on the basis that it is outdated, the ATSSSAN President who seriously criticized the move by airline operators stressed that such advocacy negates the philosophy of ICAO on the financial Autonomy of civil aviation regulatory authorities and therefore is not achievable.
The union leader therefore, posited that “Financial autonomy is a key requirement for autonomy of the CAA. It has been established that political interference in the operation of a CAA is most visible in jurisdictions where the CAAs depends on subventions from the Government. On the other hand, the CAAs have feared better where they are financially independent”.
He further stated that if AON has another source of funding for NCAA considering the current lean finances of the Federal Government and the enormous safety and security responsibilities conferred on it, ATSSSAN will not object to that.
“If we may ask, in what way has the regime of the 5% TSC affected in the negative the operation or survival of Nigerian indigenous airlines who actually collect the Charge from passengers and pocket it? Today the domestic airlines have illegally coveted over 16 billion 5% TSC”, Illitrus said.
According to the ATSSSAN President, domestic operators which are used to having their way under previous governments in Nigeria have several designations on bilateral routes on reciprocal basis un-utilized, yet they complain about the foreign carriers who are just utilizing theirs under same agreements.
Advising the presidency, Illitrus stated that instead of chastising aviation Agencies for putting in place measures to recover their funds from airlines in line with the directive of Mr. President Muhammadu Buhari , AON should be bold enough to admit that its members have behaved unprofessionally over the years and advise them to remit the sums in their possession.
Expressing awareness for high number of airlines that closed shops between 2000 till date, he equally pointed out that they are yet to see any connection between the airlines’ closures and the actions or inaction of the NCAA.
“Since commencement of operations in 2000, the NCAA has invested huge resources in the development of enabling legal and regulatory framework to ensure safe, secure and economically sound civil aviation sector in Nigeria. It therefore, attributes demise of airlines in the country to poor capitalization, lack of good corporate governance, absence of local maintenance/ repair facilities, and absence of infrastructures to enable 24 hour flight operations into some aerodromes amongst others”, he said.
“ATSSSAN wants to use this medium to advise all airlines not to tow the path of disobedience to existing laws. Whilst we are committed to a strong and stable aviation industry, we will not relent from our statutory responsibilities to our teeming workers were non remittance of TSC impacts negatively on the ability of the affected agencies to meet the welfare needs of our workers. If airlines do not want us to disrupt their operations, they should remit forthwith all 5% TSC in their possession to the relevant Authority”, ATSSSAN President said.