Nnaji harps on factors hindering domestic airline operations

THE House of Representatives Committee on Aviation has condemned the continued collection of import duties on imported commercial aircraft and spare parts despite President Muhammadu Buhari’s executive order exempting them.

The committee led by its chairman, Nnolim Nnaji during a press briefing earlier in the week frowned at what he called the persistence imposition of value added tax (VAT) on importation of aircraft and spares by the Federal Inland Revenue, (FIRS).

Speaking on the just concluded public hearing on civil aviation amendment bills which brought to the fore the myriad of challenges facing the domestic airlines which required urgent attention to save the industry from total collapse, Nnaji chronicled other problems confronting the airline operators to include: inability to access foreign exchange at the official rate, high cost of funds and lack of single digit lending interest rate, multiplicity taxations, fees and changes, multiple entry points and frequencies granted foreign airlines and the externalization of insurance placement for domestic airlines  as well as the unnecessary delay they suffer for weeks in clearing aircraft on ground (AOG) spare parts for aircraft.

The continued rising cost of aviation fuel (JET-A1), over regulation of domestic airlines and inadequate night landing facilities in most of the airports which reduces the airlines’ operating flight hours among others were also part of the concerns raised before the committee by the airline operators.

According to Nnaji:  “as a parliament, we are going to look into these demands and more especially to find out why the Nigeria Customs Service would not respect the president’s Executive Order on duty exemption meant to lighten the burden of the airlines.

“If developed countries could give bailouts in billions of dollars to their airlines to cushion the impact of coronavirus, with all the incentives at their disposal, you can understand what our airline operators are going through without help”.

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