Airline operators have decried fortunes of some airlines in the country saying it is due to the harsh operating environment.

The Secretary General, Airline Operators of Nigeria, Capt. Mohammed Joji disclosed this yesterday at a public hearing organised by the House of Representatives Committee on Aviation.

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Joji disclosed that 47 airlines had folded up in the last 30 years owing to the unfavourable operating environment. He 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.”

“These led 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 airline operators also complained that foreign airlines were enjoying certain incentives that were denied local carriers.

“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 Lagos, and Abuja.”

The Airline operators urged the government to ensure transparency in its proposed plan to rescue the aviation industry.