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22nd November, 2013.

Operators Protest New Airline Charges, Take Govt to Court

By Chinedu Eze

Operators of non-schedule airlines have protested the new charges introduced by the federal government describing the charges as outrageous and out of tune with international practices. The operators have also filed a case in court to stop the charges.

A major operator, who is based in Lagos disclosed on Wednesday that those charges would discourage international visitors to the country because it means that anyone coming to the country with his jet would have to carry $3,000 cash, which he would pay before he would be given a start up to take off.

Another operator based in Kaduna said the charges were ill advised, noting that it is not every airline that has aircraft that carry out charter services; and that the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) should identify those who operate such service and charge them such fees.

On Monday the Nigeria Airspace Management Agency (NAMA) began the enforcement of the new charges and foreign-registered aircraft is meant to pay $3000 on round trip, while locally registered aircraft should pay $2,500.

The agency dubbed the charges luxury tax, which it said should be paid by the highbrow, net worth individuals who enjoy the charter services.

An operator who also owns private terminal facility in Lagos said, "Such charges are not done anywhere in the world. By introducing these charges they are just killing Nigeria's economy and this means that foreigners that come to Nigeria should have a cash of $6,000 to pay as charges. Nigeria should join the league of modern world," he said.

The operator also said with emphasis, "The Ministry of Aviation is killing the nation's economic system; it is very bad because these charges add no benefit to the economy; rather it makes Nigeria look backward. Government should think because this policy is ill-advised."

The source also remarked that NCAA knows those who are doing charter, so it would be wrong for the agency to impose the charges on everybody when they know how to identify and specifically charge the charter operators.

"NCAA knows those who are doing charter. It is those ones they should punish; it is not good to spread the charges on everybody. We have filed a case at Abuja court praying that government should stop the charges. People are angry. This is not the way to do things."


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