- 47 Airlines Have Folded up in Nigeria
Airline operators on Wednesday blamed the dwindling fortunes of some airlines in the country on the harsh operating environment.
They told the House of Representatives Committee on Aviation that 47 airlines had folded up in the last 30 years owing to the unfavourable operating environment.
The Secretary General, Airline Operators of Nigeria, Capt. Mohammed Joji, who spoke on behalf of his colleagues, attributed the development to “policy formulation, policy deviation and policy contradictions on the part of the executive arm of government.”
The committee, which is chaired by Mrs. Nkiruka Onyejeocha, held a public hearing at the National Assembly on the need to rescue the airlines from imminent collapse.
“Forty-seven airlines have gone under due to policy somersault and high operating costs,” Joji said.
He stated that the Federal Government tried to address the situation in 2006 through the Presidential Task Force set up by former President Olusegun Obasanjo.
However, he noted that there had been no remarkable change in the way government agencies in the aviation sector churned out policies because the report of the task force was not implemented.
Joji said, “These include high operation costs, leading to unstable operating environment such as the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency charging dollars for domestic operators flying within the Nigerian airspace.
“It was for that reason the Presidential Task Force set up by the then President Olusegun Obasanjo submitted its report in March 2006. The published white paper approved among other things the following: government accepted the recommendation to grant zero tariff and Value Added Tax on aircraft, aircraft spare parts and ground equipment.
“Government also approved the removal of the five per cent VAT on ticket sales and cargo charges. The task force also noted that VAT is never charged on transportation in any part of the world because transportation is a basic service, which drives the economy. The task force’s recommendation can be collaborated by the VAT Decree No. 102 of 1993.”
The operators also complained that foreign airlines were enjoying certain incentives that were denied local carriers.
One of such is the approval of multiple destinations to foreign airlines, which they said had adversely affected their own operations.
Joji explained, “The Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority policy of levying operators flying on scheduled flights out of Nigeria is a punitive measure devoid of any economic sense to the airlines.
“The Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria charges the most expensive land rate in the world at N60,000 per square metre. That is more expensive than choice land in Victoria Island, Lagos, and Asokoro in Abuja.”
The Managing Director, Medview Airline, Mr. Olanrewaju Lukman, told the committee that Joji’s presentation adequately captured the feelings of the operators.
He said while the government’s plan to concede four major airports to private operators might sound appealing, it could be distorted if the process was not made transparent.
“If anything meaningful must be achieved in the proposed plan to rescue the aviation sector, then transparency must be the watchword,” he argued.
FG Asks Customs to Ground Private Jets over Failure to Pay Import Duties
The Federal Government of Nigeria has instructed the Nigerian Customs Service to ensure the grounding of 91 private jets, which are owned by some particularly rich Nigerians, over the payment of import duties.
The individuals in question have allegedly refused to pay their import duties, which are running up to about N30 billion. This has prompted the Federal Government to make the call to ground their private jets.
The Comptroller-General of the Nigerian Customs, Col. Hameed Ali (retd.) has since written a letter to the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA), the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) and the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) instructing the agencies to ground the concerned private jets with immediate effect.
The letter was dated November 2, 2021 and was addressed to the Director-General of the NCAA, Capt. Musa Nuhu. The same letter was also sent and addressed to the Managing Director of the FAAN, Capt. Rabiu Yadudu and the Managing Director of NAMA, Capt. Fola Akinkuotu.
In the letter, the three addressed agencies were instructed to ground the private jets by refusing them proper administrative and operational flight clearances until further notice.
The letter went ahead to state that the indefinite refusal of administrative and operational flight clearances will be lifted once the Nigerian Customs Service has issued an Aircraft Clearance Certificate, and the certificate is provided to the agencies as evidence of cooperation.
Nairaland’s findings report that some of the private jets which are victims of the grounding order are owned by senior pastors of some Pentecostal churches across the country, Chief Executive Officers of some earlier oil companies, the Chairmen of some Tier-1 banks in the country, as well as some Tier-1 banks themselves with one of said banks owning two upmarket jets themselves.
However, some of the owners of these jets have written letters of protest to the Customs Service, stating that they cannot pay import duties because the private jets in question are under lease payments.
Seplat Energy to Acquire ExxonMobil’s Nigerian Shallow Water Business
Seplat Energy Plc, Nigeria’s leading indigenous energy company, has confirmed that it is in the process of acquiring ExxonMobil’s Nigerian shallow water business.
ExxonMobil has been selling off its businesses in Europe, Africa, and Asia in recent years to focus on a few mega-projects at home and abroad.
The statement reads, “Seplat Energy Plc, a leading Nigerian energy company listed on the Nigerian Exchange and the London Stock Exchange, notes the recent press speculation and confirms that Seplat Energy, together with a partner, is in competitive discussions to acquire ExxonMobil’s Nigerian shallow water business.”
According to Seplat, there is no certainty as to the outcome of the ongoing discussions.
“Deliberations are ongoing and accordingly, there can be no certainty as to the outcome. A further announcement will be made as and when appropriate, in line with regulatory requirements,” Seplat stated.
The announcement is coming a few days after Seplat Chairman, ABC Orjiako resigned from his position as the Chairman of the company following a debt scandal with Zenith Bank Plc.
Uber to Halt Services in Parts of Belgium
Uber will stop its ride-hailing service in most parts of Belgium tomorrow after a court ruling on Wednesday which extends an order given in 2015, banning its p2p (Peer to Peer) UberPop service to also cover professional drivers who provide its ride-hailing service.
Uber told TechCrunch that it is currently closely examining the details of the ruling, in order to arrive at a decision on whether or not to appeal the decision with the country’s Supreme Court.
This also follows a temporary decision to discontinue Uber’s service in Brussels, a decision which was referred to as “exceptional and unprecedented” by the tech giant. The company said that it was merely taking a step to complain about the lack of reform rules which forbid drivers from using smartphones.
After the ruling by the Brussels appeal court, private hire vehicle drivers have been obstructing a major tunnel in the capital of Belgium.
In a statement made concerning Friday’s impending shutdown, the chief of Uber in the country, Laurent Slitsagain criticized the government for not providing a reform which it has been soliciting for, stating that the decision was made depending on regulations which are now outdated as they were written before smartphones.
The company stated that the government has promised a reform but has failed to deliver said reforms for the last seven years.
According to Bloomberg, the shutdown will not be applicable to a small number of drivers who are licensed in the Flemish region of Belgium, and are therefore still permitted to use the application. Uber confirmed that the Appeal Court ruling only applies to drivers with Brussels licenses.
In another statement, Slits stated that the tech giant is hugely concerned about the 2,000 possessors of LVC licenses (rental car with driver licenses) who according to the country chief will lose their ability to generate earnings.
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