Nigerian Air operators commend FG, customs over removal of duty waivers on aircraft, spares

The Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON) has commended the federal government following its swift response in removing the 7 per cent surcharge on imported aircraft and spares.

The operators also appreciated the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) for the support it has given to the airline commercial owners.

The Vice-Chairman of AON who is also the Chairman and CEO of Air Peace, Allen Onyema made the commendation on behalf of other Nigeria operators while clearing the air over his position at the interactive forum at the senate on July 6, 2021, when he spoke on behalf of the airlines on the challenges the operators are facing which was misconstrued.

The position which he said was made on behalf of the Nigeria operators before the Senate was said to have been misrepresented to mean the position of Air Peace alone.

Onyema who condemned the misrepresentation explained that the Senate Committee on Aviation held an interactive meeting with all the aviation agencies in Nigeria led by the Minister of Aviation, Sen. Hadi Sirika together with all Nigerian airlines represented by the AON leadership in which he represented the association as Vice President and made the said presentation on behalf of the body.

“The meeting was called by the Senate to discuss the reasons for the recent upsurge in flight delays and flight cancellations amongst other issues and challenges facing the aviation industry. It was on this occasion that AON made its presentation of challenges facing all the airlines. Our member airlines were present but we made an articulated collective presentation to the Senate, which I read as the Vice President on behalf of the association.

“It was on this occasion that AON presented the issue of the partial implementation of the Finance Act 2020 which prohibits the payment of duties and VAT on imported aircraft and aircraft spares by the Customs Service. Of note, was the presence of a 7 per cent Surcharge on the assessed duties which was not supposed to be. This caused delays in the clearance of aircraft and aircraft spares leading to the grounding of aircraft that would have been flying,” he explained.

The AON Vice Chairman stated that after the Senate meeting, the airlines contacted the Minister of Finance and Minister of Aviation on the aforementioned challenges and both Ministers, “as representatives of a responsible government, swung into action immediately.

“AON, for the avoidance of doubt, commends the Federal Government for its unflinching support for the growth of indigenous investments in Nigeria. This was very evident in the manner the government got this challenge addressed immediately within 48hours to the joy of the airlines.

“We equally commend the Nigerian Customs Service for also assisting the airlines, including but not limited to Air Peace which was used as an example, in getting their aircraft spares and aircraft released. Our planes have since started flying,” he said.

Onyema said since the 7th day of July 2021, airlines have been clearing their aircraft spares and aircraft without having to pay any 7 per cent surcharge.

“It is therefore very mischievous for any media outfit to be circulating videos of the presentation of AON complaints made on July 6th two weeks after the said presentation and two weeks after the issues had been resolved as though they are still existing.

The target of the sponsors of this falsehood is the Federal government. I personally frown at the ethnic angle presently circulating in the social media that the ‘Fulani is destroying Air Peace.

“Those who want the country to go up in turmoil will never stop fanning divisive falsehood. The video was deliberately doctored to show only my face while obscuring the presence of the entire Senate committee members, Minister of Aviation and the leadership of all Aviation agencies in Nigeria. The target here is also me.

“It is very untrue that Air Peace is being dealt with by the ‘Fulani’ rather the Federal Government led by President Muhammadu Buhari is very protective of every indigenous investment including those of the airlines,” he added.

According to Onyema, contrary to the insinuations that only Air Peace was singled out by Customs to pay those contested surcharges; it was all the airlines that were affected.

“Nobody is ‘dealing’ with Air Peace rather this government is very protective of Air Peace. This is evident in the government refusing to allow one Middle East airline from coming into Nigeria because its Covid-19 protocol was discriminatory and unfavourable to a Nigerian airline. Which airline is that? Air Peace, of course.

“Those using social media to destroy the country and promote hate should think of the consequences of their actions. Azman Air was affected and it is owned by a Fulani. Max Air was affected and it is owned by a Fulani. The list goes on. Why are we bent on spooling out the falsehood that causes disunity and tremendous disaffection in the country? Why are people bent on promoting hate amongst our diverse peoples? For those promoting hate, the Rwandan story beckons on them,” he added.

The AON Vice Chairman said the present government, in its pursuit for the growth of indigenous airlines, helped in getting the Bill removing duties and VAT from imported commercial aircraft and aircraft spares passed while the President wasted no time in giving his assent and signing into law, describing the move as commendable.

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