By Yunus Yusuf, Ikeja.
The Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) has suspended the Air Transport Licence (ATL) of Azman Air for failure to remit the N1.2 billion Ticket Sales Charge (TSC) it collected from passengers.
The Director-General of NCAA, Capt. Musa Nuhu, made this known in a statement in Lagos on Thursday.
Nuhu explained that the airline was also suspended for failure to submit security clearance for the renewal of its ATL, which expired in April 2021.
Nuhu said the N1.2-billion-debt was the revenue that accrued from the five per cent Ticket Sales Charge (TSC) and Cargo Sales Charge (CSC), collected from the air travellers by the airline.
Proceeds from the TSC and CSC are shared among five aviation agencies, including NCAA and Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA).
Others are the Accident Investigation Bureau (AIB), Nigerian Meteorological Agency (NiMET) and the Nigerian College of Aviation Technology (NCAT), Zaria.
NCAA gets 58 per cent from the total proceeds from TSC and CSC, as it is the major revenue source for the agency, while the other four agencies share the remaining 42 per cent.
Nuhu decried that the regulatory agency had made efforts to recover the debt from the airline over the years, but “the carrier was recalcitrant in paying back the sum despite collecting it from the passengers.”
Azman commenced scheduled operations in 2014.
The withdrawal of the airline’s ATL has consequently rendered its Air Operator Certificate (AOC) invalid.
Nuhu stressed that NCAA’s management had held series of meetings with Azman Air leadership on how to defray the debt, but both parties failed to reach an agreement.
He said that the airline’s management had promised to pay back the sum of N10 million monthly, in efforts to settle the N1.2-billion-debt, while the regulatory body had insisted on N50 million monthly payment.
Besides, the director-general said that the airline could not provide its security clearance, which was one of the prerequisites for renewal of ATL.
Nuhu said: “We didn’t suspend Azman Air’s Airline Operator Certificate, but suspended their ATL, which had earlier expired.
“The ATL earlier expired in April 2021, but we gave the airline extension because of the disruption to aviation activities by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“This was what we did for other airlines, too. However, we wrote a reminder letter to the airline six months to the new expiring date, which is statutory.
“Later, the airline requested for another extension of 90 days, but we only granted it 60 days.
“At the expiration of the 60 days, we also gave it 30 days’ reminder, which elapsed on Wednesday night; yet nothing was done by the airline.”
Nuhu said that the airline owed N1.2 billion as TSC and CSC, adding: “We invited them and set up a committee for that purpose.
“Azman said that they would pay the sum of N10 million monthly out of the debt, which we refused.
“They later came up to N20 million, but we insisted on N50 million monthly.
“If we had agreed to the N10 million monthly, it means it will take them about 12 years to repay back the money it had already collected and by then, the value of the money would have been lost.”
Nuhu also threatened that the ATL or AOC of any other airline that owed the agency’s five per cent TSC/CSC would not be renewed.
He appealed to other carriers to pay up the backlog of their debts.