The Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON) has stated unequivocally that domestic airlines in the country did not and have not received any form of funding from the Nigerian Government in the past 30 years since the deregulation in 1983.
The chairman of AON, Captain Nogie Meggison made this declaration to correct what he said was contrary to widely held beliefs, opinions and publications in the recent past that they were given an intervention fund by the Federal Government.
Meggison noted that domestic airlines in the country are privately owned establishments and have been funded solely by their owners without any form of injection of funds by the Federal Government.
According to him, like any other highly capital intensive private entity doing business in Nigeria and employing Nigerians that might be in need of funds, airlines are free to and do approach the banks for loans which are serviced regularly at stipulated interest rates.
“Contrary to what most people in the public think, the airlines never received any direct fund from the Federal Government intervention. Rather, what happened was that the funds released went to the banks in an effort to keep them afloat for bad debts owed to banks by the airlines during a period of economic recession of 2011,” Meggison Stressed.
This was corroborated by the Minister of State for Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika, during the Senate hearing on the investigation of disbursement and utilization of $40 million afrixim loan and N86.6 billion Federal Government intervention fund held at the national assembly complex, Abuja on June 20, 2016.
“If monies were sent to a bank for a specific purpose and it was used for other purposes not directly to the airline account, then that matter should be looked into seriously,” Sirika stressed.
“It is very sad to note that despite all these numerous burdens on the shoulders of the Nigerian airlines which leaves them virtually able to survive or even make ends meet; airlines are still expected by the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) to pay taxes out of their losses, making the operating cost more expensive to run an airline in Nigeria than anywhere else in the civilized world today due to multiple and excessive taxation from the NCAA, FAAN and NAMA.”