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NCAA, Airlines And Payments Automation

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The current imbroglio in the Nigerian aviation industry arising from automation of payment systems has pitted the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) against the domestic airlines under the aegis of Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON).
The dispute arose from the deadline issued to the eight domestic airlines to automate their remittance of the statutory five per cent Ticket Sales Charge/Cargo Sales Charge (TSC/CSC) to the regulatory authority which ended on March 31.
While the NCAA insists on the immediate compliance with the directive, the airlines want it to be suspended until the parameters which constitute the charges are clearly and properly defined.
The decision to collect the charges on behalf of the NCAA was a suggestion by the airlines operators in 2001.
It was unanimously adopted and an agreement signed by all parties after series of meetings and exchange of correspondences; it was subsequently enshrined in all the subsisting regulations.
However, the remittances have become a thorny issue between both parties due to lack of transparency and flagrant refusal of some of the airlines to put the money back into the coffers of the agency.
Thus, the NCAA had on December 6, 2016 mandated the airlines to automate the process by January  1, 2017.
Mr Sam Adurogboye, the General Manager, Public Relations of NCAA, says there is a move to put an end to airlines indebtedness to the agency which currently stands at over N15 billion.
He notes that the Aviation Revenue Automation Project (ARAP) system is being introduced to ensure transparency, accurate billing and prompt payments of charges due from the airlines to the NCAA.
According to him, this is in line with the Nigerian Civil Aviation Regulations (NCARs) 2015, Vol. 2, Part 18.12.5.
“The NCARs 2015 states thus: that all domestic and international airlines operating in Nigeria should forward to the authority through an electronic platform provided by the authority, all relevant documents such as flown coupons, passenger or cargo manifest, air way bills, load sheets, clients’ service invoices and other documents necessary for accurate billing within 48 hours after each flight’’.
Adurogboye says it was pertinent to point out that this directive has the full backing of the Federal Government for full implementation and strict compliance.
However, following series of meetings between the airline operators and the Director-General of NCAA, Capt. Muhtar Usman, the deadline was extended to March 31, to give them more time to comply with the directive.
With the expiration of the deadline, the NCAA issued a final compliance notice to the airlines, warning that “failure to comply will be viewed seriously as the authority will be forced to invoke the necessary provisions of the law against defaulting airline’’.
Reacting to the ultimatum, the AON President, Capt. Nogie Meggisson, says it is done in “bad faith’’ because the issues surrounding it have yet to be resolved.
“AON has no problem with the NCAA going ahead to automate the collection and remittance of the said charges.
“However, the NCAA needs to give clarification on what constitutes the five per cent Ticket and Cargo Sales Charge.
“The five per cent TSC is only applicable on base fare in compliance with industry practice and as currently  applicable to international carriers operating out of Nigeria,’’ Meggisson said.
He also accuses the NCAA of discriminating against the domestic airlines because foreign airlines are not mandated to join the same automation platform.
“It is apparent that NCAA is preying on domestic airlines which they see as an easy target, a cash cow and for cheap publicity.
“They are over regulating domestic operators and pushing domestic airlines to the edge of insolvency and bankruptcy.
“It is this kind of policy that has reduced the lifespan of Nigerian airlines and has consumed over 25 airlines in the last 30 years since deregulation in 1982,’’ he says.
According to him, in spite of the tax burden on airlines, the infrastructure and service level continue to deteriorate across all facets of the industry under the same authority.
He adds that while airlines in other West African countries operate 24 hours, Nigerian carriers are subjected to daylight operations only till 6.30 p.m. in most our airports.
Responding to Meggisson’s call for the suspension of the payment system, Adurogboye insists that the airlines must comply with the directive or risk sanctions by NCAA.
He says it is pertinent to point out that the NCAA is an autonomous regulatory agency which continues to remain solvent by cost recovery in line with ICAO Standard and Recommended Practices (SARPs).
Adurogboye says this could only be derived from the five per cent ticket and cargo sales charges statutorily.
He notes that the directive to automate covers both domestic and foreign airlines, adding that the foreign airlines have complied fully by remitting their collections through the International Air Transport Association/Billing Settlement Plan (IATA/BSP).
However, some industry watchers have appealed to both parties to amicably resolve the issue in the interest of the sector, especially as a result of its pivotal role in the socio-economic development of the country.

Asowata is of the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN)

 

Solomon  Asowata

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Firm Launches New Radio Campaign For Product

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An oil and gas firm, 11 Plc, has launched a new jingle for its mobil super lubricants.
The firm in a statement recently indicated that it is the sole distributor of Mobil fuel and lubricant brands in Nigeria, noting that the radio campaign was aimed at making the brand Nigerian customers’ choice.
“The campaign, which hit the airwaves three weeks ago, was launched to create fresh awareness for all category users of the premium lubricants during the Easter and Ramadan period and beyond”, the statement said.
According to the firm, Mobil Superbrand is a global family of premium passenger vehicle engine oils that provides different levels of protection to match whatever conditions users of the products may encounter.
The company said its vision was to be the number one business group in Nigeria in terms of sustained service, quality and reliability and the first brand of preference by the consumers whilst conducting operations with high safety standards and environmental compliance.
It added that it aimed to provide the best in class products, services and solutions to customers with a focus on safety and environmental standards.

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Arik Air Explains Flight Cancellation In PH Airport

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Arik Airline has clarified that the incident that resulted in passengers getting stranded at Port Harcourt Airport last Tuesday was due to adverse weather conditions.
This was disclosed in a statement signed by the Public Relations Manager of the airline, Adebanji Ola.
Some passengers of the Arik Air had expressed frustration over being left stranded at Port Harcourt Airport after their flight to Lagos was abruptly cancelled.
The affected passengers, scheduled for the flight from Port Harcourt to Lagos State, got upset by the development, and took to social media platforms to express their grievances.
Nevertheless, the airline had in the statement, reiterated its commitment to safety, highlighting its strict policy to avoid flying in inclement weather conditions, which they said had necessitated the cancellation of the affected flight.
It extended its apologies to customers whose travel plans were disrupted by the unforeseen circumstances, reaffirming its dedication to prioritising passenger welfare.
“We are aware of a recent story circulated in social media alleging that passengers were left stranded at Port Harcourt Airport under our care. It is imperative that we provide clarity on this matter to rectify any misconceptions.
“In the evening of Tuesday, April 2, 2024, our flight W3 744 Lagos-Port Harcourt was compelled to make an air return due to adverse weather conditions, specifically heavy rainfall and thunderstorms in Port Harcourt.
“Consequently, both the Lagos-Port Harcourt (W3 744) and Port Harcourt-Lagos (W3 745) flights had to be cancelled.
“It is crucial to note that by the time of the cancellation, our banking facilities at the airport had ceased operations, rendering funds unfeasible at that moment.
“However, the passengers were promptly briefed on the situation and advised to return the following day for re-protection on available flights”, it stated.
The statement added that on Wednesday, April 3, 2024, all the affected passengers from both Lagos and Port Harcourt were successfully accommodated on available morning and evening flights.

Corlins Walter

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Settlement On Course For Redundancy Benefits – Aero Airline 

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The Aero Contractors Airline has affirmed  its commitment to clear the remaining five per cent of redundancy benefits owed its workers.
Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of the airline, Captain Ado Sanusi, in a press release said the firm was intensifying efforts to address outstanding financial commitments.
He faulted the move by workers union, the National Association of Aircraft Pilots and Engineers (NAAPE), to issue a press statement, despite ongoing efforts to resolve the issue amicably.
“This should not be an opportunity for disharmony, dialogue is a process. There was a letter written, there was a process agreed upon, and all of a sudden they went to the press. We are ready to resolve the issue”, the CEO stated.
NAAPE had recently issued a letter threatening to go on a protest over non-payment of outstanding redundancy benefits to its members.
The group accused the management of Aero Contractors of depriving the affected former workers access to their entitled benefits.
The protest letter, addressed to the management of the airline, read in part: “Consequent upon the avalanche of complaints received from our members who have been deprived of their fundamental entitlements and denied the rightful collection of their redundancy benefits in the last seven years and given the anguish and mental agonies suffered by them, We are compelled, as responsible representatives of these eminent men/women, including the dead, to protest through this letter and express our bitterness over management’s seeming lackadaisical attitude, insincerity and insensitivity to the continued wellbeing of these great Nigerians”.
The Aero CEO, however, clarified that in the last seven years, the company has paid approximately 95 per cent of the redundancy benefits.
“We should be given credit because this management initiated the process of paying off redundancy. We want our prospective investors to understand that we are a very responsible company, and we take our obligations seriously, not only for staff but also in other areas.
“We update them on a day-to-day basis to ensure business continuity. It is a very tough environment in which we are operating”, he said.
Sanusi stressed the importance of maintaining transparency and communication with stakeholders throughout the process.
He said despite challenges posed by fluctuating exchange rates and fuel costs, Aero Contractors remained steadfast in its efforts to uphold its obligations and ensure business continuity.

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